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28 November 2019
Hitesh Panchal

The Secret to Functional Families – Revit MEP

People often console one another by saying every family is dysfunctional, but in the world of MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) engineering, a family is certainly a functional entity. As BIM (Building Information Modelling) technologies were introduced to the construction industry and proceeded to encompass increasing aspects of the different construction disciplines, Revit MEP was created as a specific BIM software for MEP engineers. Revit families are some of the basic building blocks of MEP design, and Revit family creation for MEP elements, also known as Revit MEP family creation, is an integral part of Revit 3D modelling.

Using Revit MEP, all the MEP systems can be represented in a single model and stored in a single file. Any change or modification to an individual part of the model is updated parametrically throughout the model.

Advantages of Revit MEP
  • Increase in productivity
  • Streamlining of design and documentation
  • Faster project completion from the design stage to the construction stage
  • Automatic update of changes across the model for every single change anywhere in the model
  • Reduces risks and helps create high-quality designs
  • Efficient communication of design intent, so project stakeholders can make informed decisions
  • A range of tools and features, such as Building Performance Analysis, Autodesk 360 Integration, Construction Documentation, Pressure and Flow Calculations, Pressure Loss Reports, Parametric Components, etc.

A clear understanding of how to create families and types can ease the creation of models using Revit MEP. Families consist of categories and sub-categories. Each category consists of individual families. For instance, consider the Sprinkler Category.

The Sprinkler Category can create several kinds of sprinklers. Families within this Sprinkler Category can perform different functions and use different materials, which makes each of them a family ‘type’. Each family type has a graphical representation. When a specific family and individual family type are used to create a design component, it is known as an ‘instance’. Each instance has its own properties.

An element’s properties can be changed without changing the parameters of the family type. Only the instance or element or component is affected by the change. When the parameters of the family type are changed, every instance of elements in the family type are changed.

There are three main kinds of families: system, loadable and in-place families.

System families are preinstalled and can create basic MEP elements, such as ducts and pipes. System family settings include types for levels, grids and drawing sheets.

Loadable families are created elsewhere and then uploaded into the project. They are used to create MEP fixtures or elements that need to be purchased, moved or fixed in the project. Revit MEP helps create and modify loadable families. External RFA files are used to create them and load them into the project. Family types can also be identified and loaded into the project. Specific kinds of loadable families are nested and shared families.

The in-place family is used to create customised elements for a specific project. The geometry of in-place families will then reference other project geometry and change itself based on the changes of the referenced geometry.

Revit MEP family creation includes the creation of elements from most building trades, such as:

  • HVAC components
  • Air terminals
  • Duct hangers
  • Pipes – valve, strainer and pipe hanger
  • Pumps
  • Fittings
  • Valves
  • Devices – measuring devices, gauges
  • Fixtures – urinals, wash basins, water closets
  • Transformers
  • Switches and sockets
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Distribution boards
  • Fire alarm devices
  • Fan coil units
  • Fire dampers
  • Diffusers, grilles and registers
  • Air handling units
  • Fittings and valves
  • Sprinklers
  • Fittings
  • Cabinets
  • Valves
  • Fire extinguishers

Revit family creation is an effective tool for MEP engineers, and increasingly, offshore Revit modelling services are found to be affordable, precise and delivered on time, making it the popular option for Revit family creation.