The Best BIM Workflow for Getting the Right Content

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As Building Information Modeling (BIM) continues to become the standard methodology for the design and construction of buildings, consulting engineers and contractors are experiencing the key benefits of participating in BIM workflows. Efficiency and collaboration throughout the building lifecycle are more easily achieved by project teams that utilize BIM workflows.

One of the driving factors that determines how a model should be developed is the Level of Detail (LOD) of the components that make up the model. LOD is important to proper coordination of the various systems within a building. In the past, you could represent an object with some lines and dimensions, but in a modeling environment components are not only 3-dimensional, they are also placed in their respective models which are brought together in a federated model that shows the adjacencies of all the building elements.

So, whether you are a consulting engineer or a contractor it is crucial that the elements in your model accurately represent the specified components. When model coordination is a part of a project’s BIM execution there is often a defined standard set for the LOD of building elements. This means that not only will building components have to be modeled to specified dimensions, but also must contain features unique to the item such as required equipment working and safety clearances.

This exposes a need that has been common since the early adopters of BIM began their implementations: the need for content that is modeled to its real-world configuration and dimensions. This is widely recognized in the industry and many manufacturers have made their products available for use in BIM authoring platforms. While many users are concerned with getting the right components they are faced with typical workflows that are less efficient than what would be expected of a methodology such as BIM.

One workflow is to create the components for yourself. This was a common practice in the early days of BIM when manufacturer content was not readily available. It is still in use today for various reasons, such as wanting to make the content “the way I want it”, or for it to easily conform to company standards. This can be an inefficient workflow without the proper resources to generate the content in a timely manner. It also can be inaccurate, as component attributes or availability may be changed by the manufacturer without the user’s knowing.

Another workflow is to browse a manufacturer’s website, or a content hosting site to locate the desired item for your model. These sites can be difficult to navigate and you can’t always be sure that you will find exactly what you are looking for. Once an item is located and downloaded, it is a static representation of the component. Meaning that if a change is required, the user must go through the same selection process and find a new item that meets the new requirements, and then replace the existing one. This workflow can ensure accurate models, but is not the most efficient.

A workflow that combines the efficiency of not having to browse and the accuracy of manufacturer-grade content is ideal. The LayoutFAST Revit plug-in does just that. It allows you to stay in the model authoring environment, while configuring the equipment to the specifications required. The inserted content can be edited or updated directly through the app, so there is no need to re-do the selection process to update or replace items. The app allows you to configure your selection based on how much you know about what it is. This is done by choosing a design phase. The earlier the design phase, the less information you need to provide.

All of the content from the LayoutFAST app has a high LOD, yet is lightweight in terms of file size.

The LayoutFAST plug-in is available for Revit versions 2015 – 2018. There is also a stand-alone app that can be run outside of Revit. Using this app allows you to configure equipment selections and share them with other LayoutFAST users. This is an ideal workflow for having an engineer make the selections and a modeler putting them into a project.

For more information on LayoutFAST, please visit

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  • Hi Don,

    Great article on LOD, it is an important part of the BIM process and needs to be understood correctly by all the the stakeholders of the project. Team members can get the best clarity and reliability from LOD specifications.



  • Building Information Modeling

    4 years ago

    Great articles and I like your content and LOD BIM which is very important for most BIM Engineering. And also very Informative so thanks for sharing with us.

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