January 2, 2018

The Big Transition—AutoCAD to Revit

In the world of business, there’s an old saying that if you’re not evolving, you’re dying. As a company, success hinges on your ability to meet and exceed customer needs, and if you aren’t keeping up with the latest technology and best practices, your competition is going to leave you in the dust.

At C1S, that has meant transitioning to software called Revit. It isn’t exactly new in the world of engineering and construction, but in my opinion, is underutilized.

What is Revit?

Revit is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) program that has been around in some form since 2002. Without getting too in depth, in 3D, it allows all members of a project team from the mechanical designers, to architects, to engineers, to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure at the same time. If I am working on designing plumbing lines or an HVAC system, the second I hit save/sync, it’s available for everyone else to see.

I was first exposed to Revit back in 2009 after spending eight years learning and working with a program that is the grandfather of mechanical design-AutoCAD.

AutoCAD was the original computer aided drafting and design program. It’s a program almost every architectural and engineering professional has experience with and can still be found in the majority of offices to this day. However, ask virtually anyone in the industry and they will tell you it’s becoming outdated. Furthermore, the program is poorly suited for collaborating things like structural locations and clearances with your entire team.

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If Revit is such a superior program, why hasn’t everyone made the switch?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Many people in the industry have been using AutoCAD their entire careers and simply don’t have the time to drop what they’re doing and learn a new program, especially when the software they are familiar with can still get the job done.

Seeing the potential value Revit offers, C1S has become the first company I’ve ever worked for that is prioritizing training on Revit by bringing in outside help. Every Wednesday for three hours after the office closes, instructors come in and work with our team of designers and engineers. We have training material, workbooks, and experts that are available to answer the questions we have as we make this important, but at times, complicated switch.

This training is valuable for several reasons. First, by taking this class together, it has allowed our design team to all be on the same page and have approximately the same level of skill, which has made collaboration easier. Most importantly, however, is that this training is allowing us to learn to truly utilize Revit, instead of just using Revit to produce drawings that look like what we can create in AutoCAD. Below, you’ll find some examples of what I mean.

Locating an air device (diffuser, register, grille)

  • Using Revit: Using text to note air device type and CFM – if you need to edit a specific diffuser designation or type you have to hunt through the project to find each instance.

  • Utilizing Revit: Entering the type and CFM in the air device properties – this allows you to generate an air device schedule in Revit. Then if you need to change anything about a series or individual air device, you can do it through the schedule OR the specific air device on the floor plan and both instances will be updated. When you have the correct properties entered for all your air devices, this is also a step that allows you to use Revit to run static pressure calculations instead of doing them by pencil and estimations.

Static Pressure Calculations

  • Using Revit: You can measure distances and offsets and calculate your static pressure for systems or branches of a system manually.

  • Utilizing Revit: If you fully connect your system from equipment, duct, air device with CFM and use end caps, you can “tab” your way through a section or the system. Revit will calculate your air volume and static pressure for you.

Sanitary and Drain lines

  • Using Revit: Insert your pipes with a zero slope, but other trades can see your intended layout.

  • Utilizing Revit: Locate horizontal sanitary & drain lines with the specified slope and see where there will be disruptions and/or conflicts with other trades – before the contractors install at the job site.


  • Using Revit: Locate equipment & use AutoCAD for developing equipment schedules.

  • Utilizing Revit: Edit equipment properties in Revit – this allows you to generate equipment schedules. If another discipline needs to add a connection to that piece of equipment, they don’t have to open AutoCAD to review your schedule. Instead, they can click on the equipment item and see connection locations and requirements, based off the property values you have added.

Why is Revit an important piece that will allow us to better serve clients?

I believe that in time, the whole industry, including subcontractors and property owners will gain at least basic knowledge of how to utilize the program. Its collaborative features and the ability to model in 3D instead of having to break out the paper floor plans will tighten up schedules, bids, and allow projects to be delivered faster than ever. Furthermore, with 3D modeling available, Revit makes it a lot easier to identify problems during the design phase that could end up costing tons of time and money if caught during construction.

Learning Revit has been an investment. C1S has had to purchase the software, pay for the outside instruction, and employees have had to invest time outside of office hours to participate in the training sessions.

But as I mentioned, in this industry, if you’re not evolving and trying to get better and more efficient as a company, you’re going to fall behind. That won’t be a problem for C1S.