Revit or Bust


I have been involved in architectural practice for twenty years and have

I have been involved in architectural practice for twenty years and
have solid qualifications...but skipped participating in Revit adoption
to work on other aspects of my career development. I have learned to use a BIM-Light program and still use cad. Although productive with
BIM-Light, every minute of using it makes me want to quit the
profession. I cannot imagine spending my work day clicking check boxes  and otherwise spending extra time and focus to accomplish very simple tasks only to end up with documents whose appearance is inversely proportional to the effort it took to produce them. It infuriates me and is not how I want to spend my time. That said, my enthusiasm for other aspects of the job is high. I really like the work. I also need to work. And getting work without a few years of Revit experience is difficult. The expense and complexity of the program seem to have created a catch-22 where may firms are using Revit and  do not train for it but require proficiency in its use as a condition of employment. Ditto for a dozen low-cost  boutique programs used by small firms. Due to my experience with BIM-Light I have reservations about trying to learn to use Revit but am not otherwise opposed to it. Other options include searching for one of the few positions that does not require it or opening my own shop and doing it "my way", which is nice in theory but not very practical.

Can anyone share thoughts on how to overcome this catch-22?

Aug 10, 17 8:19 pm
You can learn Revit in a few weeks using the tutorials and the 30 trial. It's massively more efficient if you're coming from CAD. Even if you don't know it, slap it on your resume, read enough to talk through an interview (though you should really do the tutorials) and figure it out your first two weeks when no one expects you to be all that productive anyway.

In my experience I haven't found that Revit focused firms are totally unwilling to hire non experienced users - but I came in not knowing it as a junior so perhaps they were more lenient because of this.
Aug 10, 17 8:24 pm

What's BIM-Light?

Aug 10, 17 9:26 pm

Yeah- whats BIM-Light?

Second- At 20 years in, you need to identify if the value of Revit flavor BIM in your workflow is worth the pain in learning it. I think CAD has at least another 30 or so years to go in the limelight, and I still receive hand drawn stuff from some consultants- Locally, It will always be about what is the best tool for the job, and an Architects job is still putting information on paper, regardless of the latest technological craze to facilitate that. 

Revit is crazy powerful, but you have to adopt its way of modeling and then documenting a project- and it is a different way of working. I have run work in Revit, and it is always a mixed feeling about enjoying the benefits while regretting the differences and worrying that one day the model just won't open.

Aug 11, 17 12:34 am

Revit is a dog just like any BIM software its a nightmare to have to use but then again so is AutoCAD. But you can get away with using AutoCAD with a few simple commands so many non computer literate architects can manage - but you cant do that with Revit you need to know it well.

And yes that is a problem that our generation is faced with. Not only did we have to leave drawing boards behind and learn CAD, which was a nightmare, now we have to relearn again.

But like it or lump it thats the way the profession is going. You either get on board and get the money, or work with a small outfit that doesnt use Revit and take less money, or leave the profession and do something else. I am trying to do the third myself because I dont like Revit and I dont want to relearn yet again.

Aug 11, 17 4:50 am

There are other options though, Revit is not the only BIM software just as AutoCAD isn't the only CAD software. There are more user friendly alternatives.


True but Revit is the market leader - certainly in the UK anyway. If you are an expert in Revit you can command very high salaries at the moment £40-50k I've seen in Leeds is normal. But of course you will be little more than a cad monkey just 3d instead of 2d. Its just exactly what the profession went through in 90s with CAD.


I'm on 50k with 3 years out of school. A senior architect is about 45k in London.....


Yes its sad that computer use comes above project experience in terms of pay which is why I think many older architects are leaving salaried employment or the profession as a whole in exactly the same way they did when cad use became required. I got offered a £45k position recently supervising kids who no doubt were all Revit proficient. But why would I want to do that?Its one of the main reasons I am busy getting out of architecture and into archvis instead - a nice creative job that one.


It depends on the size of the firm I guess, I know quite some offices in the Netherlands that e.g. use ArchiCAD. Nothing too corporate, staff of around 25 and very design/architecture oriented.


Ive really battled with getting into archivis, the skill level and the amount of extremely good people is so high right now. Imo it's a extremely creative job compared to an architect, a lot of the time it's about whose the cheapest and it's usually outsourced to India which is a shame cause they're shit.

I'm trying to get into construction robotics if at all possible but I'm completely lost really about what I'm doing, I don't see myself as a BIM manager as I'd probably blow my brains out of boredom.

Aug 11, 17 7:06 am

This was meant to be a reply to Mars




I retired right as Revit was just starting to come in so I thankfully avoided it.  I got to be pretty damned proefficient with AutoCad, though.  I learned it using the self-teach method, but that requires that you own (or steal) the program to use at home.

One of the biggest problems I found was that people in the office had varying degrees of proficiency, and that many times when they hit an obstacle they did some really screwy workaround that fucked up everything (rather than taking their ear buds out and asking someone how to solve their problem).  We only discovered the problems after the person had moved on.  Then, an enormous amount of time was spent in cleaning up the mess.  One guy did an entire set of working drawings without turning on ortho, because he didn't know about it.  You can imagine what that did to dimensions.  Another contract drafter handed back a set, but when we tried to change something we couldn't fillet the lines despite Z coordinate being on zero.  No amount of troubleshooting could correct the problem.  Don't get me started!!  Cry out loud.

AutoDesk has made it so that, when one user upgrades or uses some feature or other, EVERYBODY in the chain has to follow suit if they are sharing files (one of the reasons cad is supposedly so efficient).  It would be like the car companies owning the oil industry and changing the gasoline formula every few years to force you to buy new cars.  Brilliantly cynical strategy.  You have to give them credit.

As noted before, you'll have to work on small projects in small firm if you don't want to learn it, but even then you are fighting a loosing battle.  It's a bad idea whose time has come.

Aug 11, 17 7:50 am

I'm still working with Pencil v1.0. Apparently there aren't any updates available.


Apple still didn't release an update?


Is your pencil a licensed copy, I hope?


Even if you decide it is not worth the trouble to learn Revit, if you are managing people that use it or negotiating fees, it is worth it to have someone teach you some basics about how the program organizes information, and what it does/doesn't do easily. Production times are often different than in cad.

Aug 11, 17 7:53 am

I'm not totally sure why this is such an issue.  I recently switched to a firm that is about half cad half Revit. 

I don't really know revit well at all.  I have mostly used it to separate actual architect job postings from software architects.  I present myself as a generally intelligent person who can pickup whatever software is being used in short order.  Since I was applying to Project Architect or PM type positions, and not CAD/BIM monkey work, it was never an issue.

Aug 11, 17 8:48 am

Sometimes the monkey isn't available, and you have to just do the damn thing yourself if you're ever going to get it out the door even if that's not exactly your job description.

Gets to be a real problem toward the end of the building cycle, when the folks you have recruited are fat and happy and don't give a shit because there are so many jobs available.  We sometimes got people in that office that I wouldn't hire to work at Midas Muffler.  But that's a topic for another posting.

null pointer

I would not hire you. If you can't understand the workflow of the office (Revit), then you're going to be a source of friction. There's PMs and Project Architects out there that are extremely proficient in Revit and can also do great PM work.


The supply of PAs and PMs who are very exp. in Revit of not unlimited. My point is that Revit is a tool which can be learned. The qualities that make a good project architect are more inate. I've been working on Revit, but I'm far from an expert at this point.


There are some people who refuse to learn anything new, I agree that
at it may be wise to avoid those when possible


every software, tool, pencil, paper is just a vehicle to an end varying wildly in quality.  Pick the quickest, simplest and cleanest tool to execute the task at hand.  Revit produces a well coordinated set of drawings, but it also forces inexperienced designers to BS their way through problems they don't know how to solve, on the flip side, experienced architects usually don't have the digital skill set to learn an use the software in a productive there you go.  

Aug 11, 17 9:26 am

Exactly right.


you shouldn't be spending any time clicking revit check boxes.  that's what view templates and filters are for.  a proper bim manager will shelter his production staff from revit's bullshit as much as possible. it sounds like your firm suffers from bad bim practices.

but at 20 years, why are you opening revit at all?  isn't your time and expertise better spent in SD/DD, meeting with clients, doing CA...

i'd find a position that limits your exposure from lower level production tasks

Aug 11, 17 9:28 am

Except that most firms are too small to afford a BIM manager. The IT guy ends up being the person in the office who is (or seems to be) the most computer literate. And they end up having to be billable time architects as well as computer baby sitters, which they understandably resent.


Which is a fucking tragedy, the IT should do his job without baby sitting the office CAD + BIM work. I've been to several offices like that and the IT guy is overworked cause some idiots refuse to learn basic folder management, settings and other sorts.

I could tell you what I do but I would have to kill you

Aug 11, 17 9:45 am

^ I hope it doesn't involve a chain saw.

(axe, chainsaw is too flashy)


or the trunk of a Pontiac Grand Prix?

It's probably useful for OP to gain a moderate understanding of Revit even if s/he isn't doing monkey work, which we'd hope not with 20+ years experience. But OP may need to open up a file and navigate the model, even gasp, print something from the model. At the very least as a PM one should be able to direct the Revit monkeys.

OP statement sounds like he wants to be at a bigger better firm and he feels like Revit is holding him back from that position. One would then assume such a firm has both IT and BIM managers in house. So squabbles about who is responsible for folder and template management, in this scenario, are moot. Also it has become common practice for those roles to overlap and intertwine in smaller offices - to the point where both umbrellas of responsibility are posted in the job ad. A 20 person firm probably doesn't need 2 people handling IT and BIM, for example, one person is plenty.
Aug 11, 17 1:18 pm

I'll agree with that analysis.


Revit is the worst software out there until you compare it with the rest.

We design buildings, not drawings.

Get the design intent and scope in there, make a profit. If the resulting building is good, you win. If not, figure out where you fucked up. Most of the time the culprit won't be "The Revit".

Aug 11, 17 2:17 pm
Non Sequitur

I design drawings as well as buildings. Can't separate them.


What's your point? Have you ever willingly sacrificed fee so your drawings "look better" without adding a single bit of clarity with regards to how the project will be built?

And you can totally separate them. Buildings have been built from napkin sketches. It's all about clarity, scope, and intent. The rest is masturbation and pedantry.

Non Sequitur

Actually, yes, quite a few times actually. No regrets and no your saltiness is rather unfortunate.

A friend did a McHouse recently, it was fine in the massing stage but the Revit elevations suck so hard I can't even look at it. She unfriended me on Facebook because the Revit elevations were sucking so hard.

Aug 11, 17 7:15 pm
Non Sequitur

It's pretty easy to make convincing and sexy revit drawings and without resorting to additional software (ie. illustrator). It's like the ugly burn marks on laser-cut models. Students convince themselves that it looks cool because they are too lazy to paint or sand.

To be fair to Revit I am pretty sure it was the user who sucked.

Aug 11, 17 7:19 pm

No, don't be "fair to Revit." Revit elevations suck. Flat out. To make them LOOK good you need to manually go in and do a bunch of worthless bullshit. Find a different way to illustrate your intent so you can get the job done without abusing interns or wasting time using the line work tool. Or just use their hacked workaround greyscale bullshit.

I agree, Revit elevations suck. I don't do my elevations in Revit. I also don't have interns.

I do plans and models. Everyone lives.

Non Sequitur

my revit elevations are pretty and not that difficult if you know what your doing.

Revit did a template for residential that looks ok. But a pencil elevation is still hard to beat, and fast.

the pencil elevations don't even have to be all that precise...for example


@NS I'm glad to hear it. I don't appreciate the insinuations, however. You have no idea what my drawings look like, nor do you have a clue what my skill level is. 'Your' making a lot of assumptions when you start throwing shade.

If they make me I will do a pencil elevation. And it will be smoking.

Aug 11, 17 8:16 pm

I got a license because of my pencil elevations.

Aug 11, 17 8:17 pm

You seem to be spamming every single thread with complete nonsense. Are you all right? We all deserve a shot at having good mental health, and your behavior is alarming.

You seem to be an asshole, but they let you post.


I'm OK with you being an asshole. Just don't be an annoying asshole.

You can add lineweights to elevations by family. So yes it's totally possible to make them 'not suck' if you 'know what you're doing'. Most complaints about Revit are rooted in user error. Even touching every line in a Revit elevation still takes less time than drawing say a 5 story building from sd to cd in cad. If there is legitimately little to no repetition of components Revit won't save you much more time. The more repeated elements are present the more time is saved by opting for Revit. This is generally the central argument for using it in anything over a few thousand square feet. Repetitive mass manufactured components is what it was built for, and the vast majority of projects out there also use mass produced parts, hence a common situation where Revit is fastest. But sure there are rare instances where one may need to hyper accurately convey depth via an elevation despite having multiple plans, details and sections which do the same thing. Unless you plan to frame your elevations museum style, it's quite unlikely the line weights are all that terribly imperative to convey design intent and serve their legal purpose as instructions to your contractor.
Aug 12, 17 2:09 am

"Unless you plan to frame your elevations museum style, it's quite unlikely the line weights are all that terribly imperative to convey design intent and serve their legal purpose as instructions to your contractor."


But I still won't let my teammates use linework on elevations since it drops off way too often and unpredictably.

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