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Revit families, what are they?

Are you a new Revit user or will you be using it for the first time on an upcoming project? If that’s the case, you’ll no doubt soon be asking yourself the question – what are these things called Revit families?

Are Revit families just 3D objects?

Families are the key building blocks of every BIM project in Revit. Their form make take 3D, 2D or both, adapted as required for their given market. Families can meet project-specific requirements that arise from each speciality for the coordination and calculation of facilities.

To use a well-known analogy, think of Revit families as sophisticated, intelligent CAD blocks or symbols. However, it’s important to know that families contain much more information than a traditional block – hence their intelligence! They are not simply 3D objects with a Revit file extension. Combined with descriptive ‘what am I’ metadata, Revit families are often a mix of 3D and 2D geometric information.

Some considerations before creating families

When it comes to family creation and development, it is important to consider a balance between the different types of information that should be applied. Since Revit is a detailed, data-rich platform by nature whose project models can quickly escalate in terms of file size, you’ll want to create efficient families whenever possible. In general, Revit users, aka BIM modellers, will avoid the use of families that slow down their computers. For this reason, it is crucial to keep file sizes within reasonable numbers. Whilst Revit is capable of opening project models in excess of 2GB, it is better to keep file sizes below 500MB wherever possible. Likewise, a general preference is to keep Revit families below 500Kb (optimally 200-300KB).

Who are the creators and users of Revit families?

The process of creating a Revit family starts first with a need, followed by a definition of the end result and outputs required.

  • Manufacturers: BIM is becoming an integral part of the digital pre-construction of most projects. Contributing with equipment and components for its realisation means to be one step ahead of the competition. In a growing BIM market, this can bring you closer to becoming the final supplier of those components. Online BIM libraries can bring both generic and certain branded families to market. Howver, those offered and directly by the manufacturer are the ones of maximum reliability in terms of their content. Often regularly updated, they also obey the conditions of the original product, codes and names. In addition, the user accesses infographics and technical specifications from the manufacturers page, making the process much easier.
  • BIM and Revit modellers: Live projects require content to be updated or modified almost instantly. Having a team that responds to these needs is an advantage for any multidisciplinary team. They will be capable of providing Revit families ‘on demand’, of rapid execution and under market or project standards. It is very important to take into consideration that these end users will expect the families to behave in specific ways. Therefore, remember to use industry best practice during their development.
  • Project Managers, Contractors and Engineers: Throughout the project lifecycle, different stakeholders will use Revit families for different purposes. For example, during the development phase, engineers will use the project model, comprised in part of families, for coordination and clash detection. During the construction phase, Contractors will use the families to extract Quantities Take-Off information. Project Managers may use the models for overall coordination and to keep track of progress and changes. For these reasons, it is important to consider all the different stakeholders and potential uses of the Revit families.

At GlobalCAD we specialise in BIM services and Revit family creation, helping a range of clients across all the categories listed above. From architectural detailing components through to MEP equipment (plumbing, electrical, BMS and more). Get in touch to find out how we can help you deliver high quality Revit families to your customer base.

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