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Revit or AutoCAD, which is right for you?

If you’re wondering whether you should be using Revit or AutoCAD in your projects, there’s another key question you should ask yourself: what am I trying to achieve?

Although both Autodesk software packages have some similarities, they operate and ‘feel’ quite different. Understanding your desired outcome and outputs will definitely help you make a better decision. Whilst both Revit and AutoCAD can produce 2D drawings, 3D models and renders, the workflows they use can vary considerably.

A little bit of history

AutoCAD has been in the market since 1982. It has been the go-to software for architectural, engineering and drafting firms for several decades. One of the keys to AutoCAD’s success has been its versatility, enabling users to perform a very wide variety of tasks. From creating construction drawings to 3D modelling and visualisations, pretty much everything is possible in AutoCAD. But in the era of BIM, the rules seem to be changing.

There’s been a significant push from design consultancies and contractors alike to adopt Revit, the ever-increasing requirement to deliver BIM on projects being a primary driver. Does this mean you should use Revit instead of AutoCAD? As we eluded to above, it all depends on what you are trying to achieve. Revit in its current form is still relatively new when compared to the maturity of AutoCAD. It’s been in the market since 2000, although it wasn’t until 2002 that it was purchased by Autodesk.

But what’s the main difference between AutoCAD and Revit?

Whilst AutoCAD comprises an accomplished drafting toolset for all design disciplines, Revit’s original focus was on designing buildings. The reason why so many people are now turning to Revit is that its capabilities go far beyond simple building design. In fact, many people simply think Revit at the first mention of BIM, the two appear to be inextricably linked. And it’s that Building Information Modelling that’s exactly what Revit was designed for. Rather than creating disconnected lines and blocks as some CAD packages do, Revit generates a single, unified 3D model which contains an intelligent and logically formed informational database. With Revit you don’t just model 3D elements, you produce intelligent building information at the same time – and with little or no extra effort!

BIM Level 2 Compliance

One of the key advantages of Revit over AutoCAD is an innate ability to deliver projects with a BIM Level 2 compliance (and beyond). Within your Revit project model you can develop all the project information required for construction. This includes traditional fabrication/construction drawings, but also important asset information, often defined in the project’s BIM Execution Plan (BEP) as needing to be delivered in a COBie format. It can include data such as asset reference, materials, specification, finishings, colours, etc. This asset data becomes particularly important after the development phase, not only simplifying the procurement process for contractors, but also reducing maintenance and operational costs during the whole life of the building.

Revit or AutoCAD COBie MEP

One of the main requirements for BIM Level 2 compliance is to have a coordinated, clash-detected model, and Revit will also help you with that. Whilst coordination can sometimes be a manual and tedious process in traditional CAD systems, Revit has built-in tools to carry out clash-detection. This is particularly helpful when it comes to developing the building’s MEP design. As part of your iterative design process you will have to make many changes to your model. Revit can make it easy for you as it will reflect any changes made, automatically throughout the project model – in your cross-sections, in your floor plans, etc. This simple but effective workflow will save you significant time compared to using CAD toolsets.

Design calcs and Revit

Another good reason to consider the use of Revit when working on a building project is that you won’t need to do lots of separate calculations, structural analysis or rebar detailing. Revit will do all or most of that work for you! Indeed, you can keep all the calculations and analysis within Revit (and associated plugins), minimising errors that arise from having separate files. It can even do a building performance analysis for you!

If all the above wasn’t enough, Revit can also produce photorealistic renderings and visualisations. Again, Revit can help you not only to increase the quality of your outputs, but also save you significant time along the way. Whilst AutoCAD does have capabilities for 3D renderings, Revit’s impressive powerhouse of built-in functionalities to do most everything you need, makes for an impressive final product!

So which one should you choose?

It really does depend on your project base and client requirements for CAD or BIM. You may find that the need to deliver BIM is a prerequisite and Revit will be stipulated in the client’s Exchange Information Requirements (EIR) document, especially for local and central Government works and BIM Level 2 compliance. For architectural and building construction projects over a certain value threshold, Revit may well be the best option. For other building design and engineering projects, AutoCAD is hard to beat.

Having said all the above, other software packages are of course available to accomplish specialist tasks! Stay tuned to our blog, where we will be posting more articles about software packages relevant to your architectural, engineering and construction projects!

That’s our opinion. But what do you think? Do you prefer AutoCAD or Revit? Leave us a comment below!

At GlobalCAD we specialise in delivering projects to the highest standards, using the tools that are ‘best fit’ for your needs. Whether that’s using Revit, AutoCAD or other industry-leading tools, don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can help!




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