Revit for Surveillance Examined

By Brian Rhodes, Published Feb 05, 2013, 07:00pm EST

Large construction projects require constant communication among all trades, including security installers. Most are totally reliant on others to keep them informed on project changes, and even simple errors in construction design can bring a host of costly changeorders. Taking CAD a step deeper, Autodesk's claims its Revit platform can prevent communication errors, make finding them easy, and help trades like Security Installers do their job right the first time, with no surprises. In this note, we examine Revit to see if these claims bear out.

What is Revit?

Autodesk is a market leader in Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, with the Revit platform serving as the company's entry-level offering into BIM, or "Building Information Management/Modeling". In general, this class of design tools expand CAD function to include construction, testing, and maintenance activities into a conceptual design.

Instead of subsystems overlaying each other in a 2D layout, building features are shown in a single 3D model. Because a handful of specialized building subsystems all must work in conjunction with each other, Revit allows a chance for designers to see firsthand how their work impacts others, potentially avoiding conflicts (called 'clashes') and costly omissions before construction actually begins.

Revit vs. AutoCAD

Architects and engineers view AutoCAD as a universal, manual drafting platform, whereas Revit is a streamlined design and revision management tool specific for the construction industry. Revit alone does not replace AutoCAD, but adds collaboration and additional 3D modeling tools not available with AutoCAD. This comparasion chart shows the differences between Autodesk's Revit BIM and AutoCAD Drafting platforms.

Revit allows conceptual collaboration between trades in construction projects. Using 3D models, each building subsystem is first 'virtually' designed and installed. A Revit user explained the advantages of this additional function in a LinkedIn discussion:

"We had a Laboratory project with a construction cost of over $10M in an existing Building. The Architect Design was in REVIT. (During pre-construction meetings) over 600 Clashes were discovered. The 3D model was displayed for all stakeholders at each progress meeting. Over 90% of these clashes were resolved at regular construction progress meetings with the Architect and MEP at the meeting, and with no change orders.

The remaining were resolved prior to the next construction progress meeting. The entire team of stakeholders worked in partnership including Contractors, A/E firm and the owner, and at the end of project the Contingency Funds for possible change orders was not touched."

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Total Cost Examined

Because of Revit's substantial design scope, it is costly, with MSRP pricing starting at $5,775 USD. Higher priced versions are offered that bundle together CAD tools and BIM functions into a single platform.

Compared to basic AutoCAD offerings that range in price between ~$1100 and $4500 USD, Revit is more costly but many will find the interface less complex and easier to navigate (due to refined tool functions) than AutoCAD. For more details on using AutoCAD, see our 'AutoCAD for Surveillance' report.

As typical with Autodesk products, perpetual maintenance licensing and user training is often required. When costs are combined, they represent a much higher cost than a 'casual user' would be willing to pay. Because of this, Revit is a design tool catering to those regularly involved in complex designs.

Big Project Use

Because the greatest value of Revit centers around design communication it is typically employed on large, expansive, or complex building projects. Unless security installers specialize in big projects or are often engaged during building designs, they will not find many jobs that require Revit knowledge.

However, those primarily working as designers will find Revit (and other BIM platforms) are the 'common language' used to reconcile design and construction problems.

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