BIM has become the industry standard for planning, design and construction documentation on commercial projects. We believe it should be the standard on all projects, including residential.

Architects produce drawings. Historically all of these drawings were created by hand. With the advent of computer aided drafting (CAD), this process was made much faster and easier, but the basic idea of making a drawing did not change. AutoCAD replaced pens and pencils, but the buildings architects designed still had to be described one 2D drawing at a time – plans, sections, and elevations. It is normal to digitally overlay one drawing over another, but fundamentally each drawing is an independent entity.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) changes the way that drawings are produced in a way that CAD doesn’t. We are still using a computer to create a set of 2D drawings, but the idea of a BIM project is that you model the building as it would actually be built in three dimensions, and, as much as possible, the program takes care of the drawings for you. Whereas a CAD project requires a lot of time thinking: “how should this be drawn?” an ideal BIM project only requires asking: “how should this be built?”

In reality of course, we still take time trying to get our drawings to read correctly (and look good!). However, the move from a CAD design process to one using BIM greatly reduces the amount of time spent thinking about drawings, and greatly increases the amount of time working though how your building will actually come together in real life.

We use a program, Revit, which is one of many pieces of BIM software available. BIM is an emerging field that goes beyond building design into facility and energy management and even into construction scheduling on large projects. But using BIM provides great benefits to the design of single family residences and even partial remodels. Below are a few of the ways that Revit and BIM add value to our process:

Visualization

Because we model every project in three dimensions, it is easy to produce perspective views which help us and the client to understand how proposed spaces will feel. Many architects will us a 3D program or physical models in very early design to get a feel for a projects massing, and then start over as the project is translated to 2D CAD drawings for design development. However, since a BIM workflow is in 3D the entire time, we can add detail directly on to our massing studies, and continue to easily provide 3D visualizations through all stages of design.

Preliminary massing studies for single family residence. When we settled on a direction with the client, we were able to use the masses to place our walls, roofs, and windows, rather than starting over and re-creating the project as a series of 2D CAD drawings.

Study of flat vs vaulted ceiling for single family residence remodel. Revit contains “design option” functionality that allows us to develop multiple solutions in parallel without holding up the rest of the design, which can continue to progress around them.

A  promotional rendering for a small housing development

Interior renderings for single family residence remodel. Having a 3D model lets us quickly test different materials and finishes, and gives the client a much better idea of what the finished spaces will be like.

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3D “flyby” of a proposed 9-home gated community in Kent, WA.  Videos such as this one generated in Revit can be powerful visualization tools, and helpful with site analysis espec