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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Revit is a 'Business Decision' - 5% vs 95% and 8% vs 115% and 10% vs 85%

It just seems of late, I've been having the same conversations over and over. I think it started when planning for the AIA Florida Convention. Doing minor research before the convention, I found out that there were going to be 7 software resellers there. Of course that annoyed me, because not only was everyone going to say the exact same thing about their products, but the way things are in Florida, I knew that we wouldn't have one sale as a result. As always, the most leads I got were from other vendors there.

One lead is from an insurance company. We had a discussion about how offering errors and omission insurance would result in fewer claims from firms using Revit and they should differentiate their rates based on the technology the architects are using. If you're an IPD firm, well, then your rates would be even lower. As you can see, that's a business decision resulting in lower insurance expenses from the technology you use. Although that's nothing to do with why I'm writing this post, it is a valid point.

Let me jump quickly into my main topic. 5% vs 95% and 8% vs 115% and 10% vs 85%.

Of every construction project on the planet, the owner directs 5% of his funds to design and engineering. The other 95% is for construction, labor, materials, fabrication, erection, management, scheduling, phasing, management, subcontractors, suppliers and manufacturers. That percentage varies, so let's just consider it an average for now.

So, what ACTUALLY happens on a job where the architects, engineers, consultants and shop drawing creators use CAD? Well, the numbers change a little bit.

It's 8% vs 115%.
I know, doesn't add up to 100% does it? 8%? That's what it ends up costing the architect after dealing with all of the paperwork, errors, omissions, clash detections, QC and QA, jobsite visits and field problems.

115%? Well, that's what the contractors make after change orders. In the Autodesk webcast last week, there was a statement made that contractors spend 30% of their time documenting problems on construction projects. The more documentation, the more RFIs and Change Orders are generated, bogging down the construction process. If you don't respond immediately to the RFIs and Change Orders, well that can lead to even more delays.

So, now you know the secret sauce to why owners are demanding BIM. It's not about the software. A building's owner couldn't give a crap what software you use. When I asked an owner of a 1.2 million SF, $450,000,000 project if he knew was software his architect was using, his answer was "Um, yeah. The CAD system."

It was at that moment that I knew I had to do something. When we showed him his future building in Revit, he asked two questions. Could we finish his CDs and who owned the drawings. I advised to him to talk to his attorney. Instead, the next morning, he went into his architects office and said they needed to either move to Revit or he was finding a new architect.

Well, we all know how those stories end. Yup, the architect called me up, I met with his team, and 4 pizzas later, they bought 12 seats of Revit. One of the happiest days of my life. The owner of the architecture firm was actually quite pissed at me at first, but within a week, was literally advertising Revit on a story board about coordination, clash detection, scheduling and visualizations. Fastest turnaround I ever saw. It was brilliant that the architect actually immediately started marketing BIM, even before we even fished the training.

As more and more owners and contractors see Revit, they're seeing the benefits on the construction side from better coordination and more accurate recreations of the building. It really is inevitable. The bottom line is.....the bottom line. What are you doing to save the owner money on the time and cost of construction and how are you doing that? What is your responsibility as the designer. Where do you draw the line on the investment in the blueprints.

So what's the answer to the problem. Well, I see a few options. Contractors are creating their own architectural divisions and becoming "Design-to-Build" firms. I've also seen contractors reach out to Revit firm to create those partnerships. What's the benefit to this arrangement? Teamwork, teamwork and teamwork. It benefits the owner tremendously as a way to reduce costs, delays and change orders. Someone on Twitter yesterday raised the point that if contractors make design decisions, we'll have soulless buildings,. No one's saying that the contractors design the building, they'll just help to take their construction and costing experience and help steer the design into the owner's budget.

Here's a solution that I think will help everyone. It's the 10%/85% rule. Owners, pay the architects a 10% fee if and only if they use Revit Architecture with Revit MEP, Revit Structure and Civil3D firms (of course all using my favorite Andekan.com Revit content). Since everything will be coordinated, quantities easily calculated, content available for bidding, placing, rendering, energy analysis and facility management, then the contractor will have tighter bids, reduced construction time, and voila, the owner will end up paying less to build the building. Architects will increase their fees, contractors will have less paperwork to defend their defensive contracting and everyone will live happily ever after. It's what Integrated Project Delivery is all about. Plus, the owner can use the extra 5% towards LEED certification.

Can CAD live in that world of IPD and LEED? You already know how I feel about that.
It's your choice as to whether you want to make more money by embracing technologies that automate the process or continue on with the status quo. Many of us already know how this ends.

So, stop being such a cad and become a bimwit. Funny thing, do you know the origin of the word Cad? Read on below. Funny how the word "cad" takes on a whole new meaning in the construction industry with that definition. Are you a "CAD" user?

cad definition

cad (kad)


a man or boy whose behavior is not gentlemanly
a man whose behavior is unprincipled or dishonorable.

Etymology: < caddie & cadet: orig. applied to servants, then to town boys, by students at British universities and public schools

CAD definition

CAD (kad)


computer-aided design


Anonymous,  August 25, 2009 at 8:49 AM  

Thanks Revit3D. Nice commentary very well put.

The Revit Kid August 25, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

I like your solution. It is amazing because in school it is consistently preached that the Architectural fee's are 10% of the total building cost. For example, a 1 million dollar home should have an Architectural fee of $100,000... yeah right. I remember now one of the topics Phil and I discussed and it had to do with the amount of schooling, experience, etc... of Arhitects and the average pay of that Architect. When comparing it to a doctor with the same amount of schooling and experience, well, there is no comparison in compensation.

I think your solution would greatly help the world of architects while obviously solving the problem of change orders, defensive contracting, and tensions between all the teams.

Maybe this graph,
will forever be changed thanks to Gregory Arkin of Revit3D.com!

The Revit Kid August 25, 2009 at 9:05 AM  

Oops, this is the link i meant to post:


antman August 25, 2009 at 12:40 PM  

"CAD definition
CAD (kad)
computer-aided design"

Ah, so Revit *is* CAD. .-)

BTW, I know I haven't called, and I probably won't even though you dared me (almost). Don't take it personally. I actually am thankful for the majority of your blog posts and I do appreciate your recent change of tone. I am just trying to absorb as much as I can for how to recommend my firm's BIM evolution. Keep at it Greg.

Maneck August 25, 2009 at 11:53 PM  

Great article Gregory, I am sure I can use a few of these points to convince our clients to transition to Revit.

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