BIM for plumbing design


Revit design tips for plumbing design

Vertical plumbing in a tight space is shown in this installation model. Courtesy: GHT LimitedPlumbing design can be more complicated in Revit than HVAC or electrical design because it deals with sloped piping, a sanitary drain vent, storm drain lines, and so on. The latest versions of Revit have improved the ability to design sloped piping, though it can be time consuming if you need to connect multiple sloped pipes together and retain the slope with the correct fittings. The plumbing design also requires lots of piping in small spaces. In addition, plumbing design in AutoCAD is typically schematic in nature, so it requires a shift in mind-set for designers to start thinking of their components as real-life objects and how they will be installed during construction.

Here is some advice on common situations plumbing designers face in Revit. 

Time savers: Designers transitioning to Revit often comment that it takes more time to accomplish a task in Revit than it does in AutoCAD. Consider the following to shave time from your workflow: 

  • Revit is a graphical database. Plumbing involves repetitive design components, so if you save common designs in groups you can reuse them on future projects—similar to blocks in AutoCAD. In Revit, it can be faster to reconfigure the design than to start from scratch. GHT Limited’s team designed a standard pump room with all the components and piping in Revit, and created a group. Copying this standard into new projects and reconfiguring it has saved us many billable hours when the building types are similar. As we all know, no two buildings are exactly alike when it comes to the layout and utility connections, though in many cases you should be able to use similar types of pumps, fittings, and accessories.
  • If you’re under deadline pressure and have to delegate plumbing work to colleagues who are not proficient in Revit, they can draw in CAD and the files can be linked to a drafting view, and later incorporated into Revit. Any changes required on the CAD file can be made in the CAD file, and you can manage the link to Revit for automatic updates. This is most helpful if you are new to using Revit and are under pressure to get your portion completed on time. Once you become more efficient in Revit, we would recommend avoiding this practice, as it can decrease the operational speed of the overall Revit model and reduce productivity. In addition, we have found difficulties with plotting sheets linked in from CAD with respect to fonts and other items that are not necessarily compatible with Revit.
  • Drafting views create a view showing details that are not directly associated with the building model, like riser diagrams and detail sheets. This approach works well for supporting information, like riser diagrams, cover sheets, and details.
  • Revit lets you design pipe placeholders. This is especially helpful for large buildings; you can simply touch a button and they update throughout the model. However, many users have found it more useful to complete the work within standard Revit piping systems and change pipe sizes as required by selecting individual sections or whole systems in place of this element. In addition, we recommend using placeholders only during the schematic design phase.
  • If you have a pipe that runs above and below the floor, the program has tools that make it easy to tap into pipes at the same and different elevations. It also has a visibility that shows when piping is below the view range; this is discussed in more detail in the section on visibility
  • Typically you won’t know all pipe sizes until the layout is finished, but that doesn’t mean you should wait to get started until the end of the design process. Tag each pipe with an estimated size before you exit your drawing; when you go back, you can quickly update the information if necessary
  • Practice every day whether you’re working on a Revit job or not. Even spending 10 minutes a day using Revit can help you maintain your skills, and reduce retraining time in the future.

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