Hi my name is Alex Gore and I am one of the design principals of F9 Productions, a custom residential and BIM design firm headquartered in Colorado. Below I wanted to share with you some of the benefits of using Revit and pass some knowledge onto those of  you starting the program. I remember when I was learning AutoCAD, Rhino, 3DS Max, Sketchup, and the Adobe Creative Suite, and without the help of others, the task would have been much more tedious than it already was. Now that I have learned Revit outside of school, my business partner Lance Cayko, and I have decided to download you with some knowledge that we think will make your transition into Revit more smooth.  

I believe Lance's extensive construction knowledge and my continual quest for improvement has led us to create Revit models that are not only beneficial to the client, but also to contractor who will be building the project.

What is BIM?

Revit is a powerful computer program used by Architects, Engineers, and Designers to produce construction drawings. The program is considered a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software platform. In layman's terms this means the "parts" being modeled in the software are "smart" - they have information and parameters attached to them that allow you to access and assess information.

Try thinking of it this way; lets say you are drawing a building elevation either by hand or in AutoCAD and you wanted to schedule your windows. To do this you would have to create the schedule separately and fill in the information that is needed in that schedule manually. Let say the next day you wanted to change a few window sizes. The windows would have to be erased and new ones would have to be redrawn and the schedule would have to be manually updated again. 

How does Revit would work in this situation? Everything you draw in Revit is essentially a component.  Meaning that windows, walls, doors, furniture, ect. all have information embedded into themselves and can be parametric (meaning it can flex in dimensional space).  Click here for Revit Families Content Examples. Your window model is now a 3D "smart" component.  It will show up in any view where it can be seen, it will populate schedules automatically, it will flex, and you will be able to change the materials and properties all in the same model. The information attached to the window can be useful in scheduling, energy modeling, or for ordering information from a manufacturer. The window can easily be changed in a plan, elevation, or section view, and all-the-while with the schedule updating automatically. This is just one example of Revit's usefulness. In a simplified overview Revit is a Modeling software that:

1) Creates 2D and 3D drawings for professional use..
2) Organizes information easily into schedules and tables.
3) Performs 3D Renderings, visual walk throughs, and even animations.

Intro to Revit

Revit is a powerful tool that at first can be intimidating, complex, and nuanced. This design program might be hard to understand especially if you are used to using other program. But trust me, stick with it and you will wish you could create everything in Revit. Where other programs might be simpler or easier to make function, Revit gives you an array of tools, that once mastered, provides you with the power to add value to your clients. 

Whether learning a new software, planning life goals, moving ahead in business, or finding the significant other in your life there are systems that you should follow that will help you achieve your goals faster. Here is a small framework.

1) Find a mentor. Search for someone slightly ahead of where you are and learn from them. This might be one of your classmates, a online blog, or a forum or videos you find on the web. Whoever it is, use them. Do not learn the hard way and make mistakes on your own that you could avoid.

2) Be authentic. Create your models as you would build them (more on this later). When designing search for patterns or examples from nature. Remember false rationale or constraints can easily be detected. 

3) Always be improving and learning. The more you learn in life, the more engaged you will be. The more engaged in life you are the more intricate it becomes. The more intricate your life becomes for you, the more fulfilled you are. The more fulfilled you are, the happier you are. The happier you are the better your projects will be, and the better your projects will be, the better  the world will be. Passion is contagious.

4) Go above and beyond. Most people in your class, company, or business can do what you do. Most people won't tell you that but it is true. But, most of them cannot create a passionate logical presentation, emotionally link to the audience, predict the questions that will be asked and follow up with concrete answers. A few extra steps will take you those extra miles.
What I have leaned in my limited years is to start out on the right footing. Have the tools and resources ready when the project is started.. That is what we hope to give you here, a sturdy foundation to anchor your thoughts and processes on.

Below you will find:

A) A brief description of important modeling concepts. 
B) An example PDF file of a complete Construction Documentation set that has made it though permitting.
C) The Revit file of the above mentioned PDF. 
D) A residential Revit starter template
E) Links to tutorials for further help.

Step 1) Model in the way the building would get constructed

Below you will find some tips that we at F9 Productions feel are the best ways to model. Some of what you see here might not make sense right away, but hopefuly over time all of this information will come together. Our first suggestion is to model your building in the same manner that it would be constructed. For example, the exterior sheathing of the home is placed on after and separately from the stud wall. 

When creating your model, the first step is to create the correct levels. If we are modeling the way a building is built the levels and distance between the levels are as follows. 

  • Your main top of subfloor should be set at a base elevation of 100' - 0".
  • Below that is the top of foundation, which will vary.
  • The lower top of slab is dependent on whether there is a slab on grade, basement, or a crawl space 
  • The first floor height is called the main top of plate at 9' - 1 1/8" above the top of subfloor for 9' walls, and 8' - 1 1/8" above the top of subfloor for 8' walls.
  • Next, set the upper top of subfloor to allow for the depth of the floor box.
  • Lastly, create an upper top of plate to start the roof level.


When drawing walls, you should start with your basic stud wall. This wall would consist of a stud layer, and an interior gypsum layer. After you are happy with your building layout and spacial plan, you can add the exterior facade containing: 1/2" CDX, Tyvek housewrap, and the siding system of your choice.

The framing  walls should sit on top of the floorbox, like they would in construction, and go up to the T.O. Plate. The exterior facade are placed on the outside of the stud walls and extend over the floor boxes - exactly as exterior siding would in construction.

The same principle applies for floors. First create the floor box consisting of the main structural elements, i.e. 14" I-Joists and the 3/4 inch plywood sheathing. Add the finished floor material (wood, carpet, tile) and ceiling material as a separate floor system.   

2) Set up a template and keep improving it.

One of Revit's most powerful features is its ability to easily produce material takeoffs and schedules. When a project is started from a proper template, schedules and takeoffs populate themselves. Always double check and tweak them where needed. We have seen a few firms and individuals start a project from scratch every time. This is highly inadvisable, and (you know what I am going to say here).

Another benefit of Revit is that the template can have all of your views, sheets, legends, tables, schedules and takeoffs ready and in place. After the design is complete, you can start to lay out all of the "pieces" of the "pie" onto your sheets.  

Below are two different files to help wrap your head around Revit.

1) The PDF file is a quick overview of a "complete" set (some things were left out for legal purposes). This set went though a permitting department and could be built by a contractor with the necessary engineering drawings and stamp that were left out.

3) Render in Revit, finalize in Photoshop.

Rendering in Revit has greatly improved. There is no longer any need to take your model into 3DS Max or any other rendering program. Use Photoshop at the end to enhance your image.

The basic keys to rendering are:

1) Camera location – You will notice that in professional design magazines most interior shots are taken at an angle from one corner of the room to the other corner.  This makes the space look grand and shows as much of the room as possible. 

2) Lighting – Photographers call the first and last four hours of the sunlight the golden hours. This is because light is softer (more diffuse), warmer in hue, and casts longer shadows. Be sure to adjust your sunlight to the appropriate time in order to make your images shine.

3) Entourage, Entourage, Entourage, - Renderings with boring, unrealistic or minimal furniture/entourage can come across as unprofessional, plain, and uninspiring. Use entourage to tell a story and liven up your image. High quality furniture and entourage can instantly add value to your space, and make the rendering look more realistic, attractive, and inspiring. This is what will set your rendering apart.

4) Photoshop – After exporting your image, bring the file into Photoshop for some final adjustments.  Play with individual adjustment to find the best setting. Sometimes the default setting is the best.  The adjustments you need to tweak are: Brightness/Contrast, Auto Contrast, Auto Levels, and Curves. Play with each one of these located under Image > Adjustments to fit to your liking and aesthetic.  Another hint – ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS Photoshop in people, skies, ground textures, plants and shrubs into your renderings! Always!

Example Revit Renderings from F9 Productions:

To Do List

Ok, now here is the nitty gritty steps to start learning revit.

1) Watch and follow the instructions in the video series below:

2) Create your own project using our template, and complete it to the standard set in the example Construction Document set . Depending on your level of skill this could be modeling your own home, or creating a small house design of your own.

3) Email and tell us about your experience. What tips would you give to beginners? What helped you the most? Who knows your email could be a post that helps others learn faster and create better models. Email: akg@f9productions.com

School and firm life can be hectic. Honestly, initially searching the internet for appropriate models can be a time consuming crapshoot   Save yourself some time (meaning more sleep), and help yourself by starting on solid footing. Download the master set at the bottom of the first page as a start to your library and get a jump start onto our rule number 4: "Go above and beyond"! 

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Resources Guide: Click here.

Different ways of learning.

People learn in different ways, some people are verbal, visual, tactile, or kinesthetic learners.

Tactile learners are better able to dive right in and learn as they go. They can quickly use the "Intro to Revit", "Revit Family Creation", or Youtube, and go off on their own. Start with the 2012 Revit Residential template and launch off.

Kinesthetic learners need a teacher, but need to do things on their own. You can find a local revit trainer, but we haven't screened anyone, so we do not feel comfortable providing any recommendations. If you purchased Revit, your distributor should have some suggestions. If you need help finding a distributor email us at akg@f9productions.com, and we would be happy to help you locate one. 

One really important point is if you are starting your first Revit project in a firm, call a professional in Revit and get them on board RIGHT AWAY! The initial set up will save you time, money and huge headaches later. Architecture is stressful enough - do not make it harder on yourself. If you are in the Colorado frontrange area, F9 Productions Inc. can help. Trust me you will save time and money.  Don't wait to the end to realize that help is needed.

Verbal and visual learners should be able to take advantage of the tutorial links provided, but I do know that some people need a book in hand in order to learn most efficiently.  This has never been me, but I did look though many reviews on Amazon and believe the book to the right might help you out. Please note that the link to the right is an affiliate link, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase  Please do not spend any money on this product unless you feel it they will help you achieve your goal. If you feel like we were of help to you, click on that link to purchase your book. We would be happy to hear of any other book or tutorial recommendations. Email us at: akg@f9productions.com


If you enjoy a good book by your side when you are learning Revit I suggest the two books to the right. Both are introductory books that provide you with a good reference to be by your side.  Steven Stafford of Revitoped and soon to be interviewed on our blog wrote four chapter of "Introducing Autodesk Revit Architecture. 

Chapter 5 - Visibility Controls
Chapter 6 - Introduction to Families
Chapter 8 - Groups
Chapter 17 - Creating Families

Click on the buy from amazon, read the reviews and buy when you are ready.

Want More!!!

We are now conducting interviews with some of the top bloggers in the world. I have made it my mission to ask Revit pro's what their passion in Revit is and then question them with the most interesting queries I can come up with.  The first interview is posted at the blog now, and keep coming back for what should be some interesting discussions, 

  I know we have only scratched the surface of what Revit has to offer, but  I hope you enjoyed our explanation and good luck to you on your new adventure!

Alex Gore 

If you liked what we have here please share it! We would appreciated it :)

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