Hit the Revit Wall- what next?


The video tutorials are no longer real helpful. Too basic. But I have no resident Revit expert to help me here. Is there an advanced online course or other learning resource to move into more advance projects?

I'm not an architect. I have a Master's in zoology and worked as a wildlife biologist for most of my career. I've been working with Revit now for about a year (not exclusively)- started with a barn design project, then did residential work mostly existing conditions documentation for reno or sprinkler design. I can do most of these projects quite efficiently and accurately at this point. I've also designed decks/towers for restaurants and hotels. 

But now I am working on existing conditions for an old church- including steeple, crawl space, sloping topography, all sorts of different floor and ceiling heights and specialized families for dormers, decorative beams/rafters in the chapel, and stained glass windows. They want it to "look" right- not just have everything where it should be. 

I'm kinda stuck. The roofs come together wrong and I don't know how to fix it. Parametric control (understanding) is lacking so if I move a wall slightly I might lose windows or doors and pull something out of place. 

I drafted in the wrong order, so when I change the walls because a dimension was checked and needs slight adjustment I have to go back and move the sinks and cabinets and stove (etc). 

My walls and elevations become inaccurate when I attach walls to roof or to floors, etc. I made a specialized family for the rafters in the chapel and now can't easily edit it because the roof slope changed slightly. 

It's a bit of a mess.

It is a tiny office of 3 and I am the only one who can use Revit. The other two work in AutoCAD. 

I will do my best to get this thing looking good and accurate to the existing conditions but I am so frustrated at the moment. As soon as I was whipping out homes in Revit and making it look great, this church thing has me looking like a fool. 

For someone like me with no in-house guru--- where can I go for the "expert/advanced" issues in Revit? 

Because I think this skill will be useful given I chose to live rurally where jobs are limited, I'll do whatever it takes on my own time, too. 

I'm sure it doesn't help that I'm no architect, but I'm a fast learner and felt like I was cruising along nicely.... until now. 

I might lose my job over this... all of my Revit is self-taught. 

Dec 13, 19 10:56 am

Become an architect.

Dec 13, 19 11:44 am
Non Sequitur

Why are you working in building design and documentation without any formal training? What sort of client would pay for this?  Why would you agree to do this knowing you don't know shit about the software?

This sounds like a clusterfuck just waiting to happen.

Dec 13, 19 12:08 pm

Good question. I fell into, really, started out doing code review and wetlands surveys and then was asked to learn Revit for building documentation, sprinklers, design, etc. Not many skilled jobs in the area- mostly service industry (tourism). The main reason, is the area. No actual architect will move here and take the pay cut (of literally 40k or more) so it more or less fell on me when I showed some skill/interest. My work is checked by certified engineers, and other certified professionals whenever needed. 

Dec 13, 19 12:12 pm

Advanced modeling in Revit is only half getting it to "look" right. If it renders great but is unusable for the next team that needs the information, it's worthless. I'd start by sitting down and getting a handle on what's actually necessary to model. Then model it correctly, using elements that are informative to anyone who opens up the file. Using in-place families for everything, for example, is a worthless endeavor because although it LOOKS right, there's likely information missing, it's probably not in the correct family type, and it can't be reused (in-place families are the worst.)

TL;DR figure out what's important, then start eating the elephant one bite at a time.

Dec 13, 19 12:23 pm

OK, yes, that makes sense. 

Agree we need to decide what is and isn't necessary to model.

I need to have a serious conversation with my boss where I explain what's going on - in terms that make sense to someone who has never worked in Revit. But I think I can do that as he is a reasonable and intelligent person. 

Really, if I need to get far more education to succeed in this role, I'll most likely bow out and teach science or move to a different location to pursue a career more aligned with my formal training as a biologist. 

But no matter how this pans out in the long run, this particular project must be delivered, I owe them that much. 

Dec 13, 19 12:51 pm

I would strongly advise you to avoid a career in revit modelling unless you are willing to put in the effort to learn how buildings are detailed and built. The value of revit is in the information contained in the model, not in the way it "looks." If the model doesn't comport with the way the building was built, it's not good.

Non Sequitur

+1 on Pete's comments. We have plenty folks here in the office who "know" how to use Revit but don't know shit about construction. Their models quickly turn to mush. I can't imagine how worse it is if the user is struggling on both fronts.


+1 SneakyPete.

Your job is not to create a picture perfect replica of the building in a computer. Your job is to communicate a set of instructions to a builder. In order to do this, you'll occasionally need to do things that "break" the accuracy of the model but more accurately communicate the design in the document set.

In an "ideal" BIM environment these goals would be one & the same, but such a thing just doesn't exist.

Dec 13, 19 1:06 pm

AutoCad would be better for what you are trying to do.  Your location sounds dreadful and you should probably plan to move away.

Dec 13, 19 1:24 pm
( o Y o )

Sounds like you should be using SketchUp.

Dec 13, 19 1:42 pm

Nobody in design worth a damn should be using sketchup. It's akin to telling Michelangelo he should be using mud and sticks.

Non Sequitur

I still use sketchup when I need to blast out a 3D site instruction. (when my project is not in revit)


SketchUp is a very useful tool for good designers, and a very dangerous tool for bad designers.


I was being, and hopefully it came across, facetious. It has its place, but it's even more readily a tool used to conceal ignorance. By the time anyone figures out that it LOOKS like a building but is ACTUALLY painted marshmallow, it's already too late. We spend too much time teaching people how to use software and not enough time teaching them building design.

Non Sequitur

^preaching to the choir Pete.


painted marshmallows lol


God the firm that made me leave the profession would go to DD in sketchup. Still have PTSD.

atelier nobody

Do you have a community college near you? Find out if they have courses you can take.

For a "crash course" in construction documentation and building technology, I always recommend Wiggins & Ching.

Dec 13, 19 2:01 pm

First of all - what are your deliverables for this?

I'm guessing that you need some sort of a set and some renders?? Since you're in a pinch..make a copy of the file. Use one for visualization and one for documentation. The visualization one - you can delete all of the shit you don't need that's causing you problems and make it just look good for renders and stuff. The documentation one - just select everything and pin it so it's not moving around. set up your plans, rcps, elevations, sections, etc and start using filled regions and detail lines to make it work. This is never how you want to work in this program but if you need to get the set out, your ass is on the line, and you won't be able to learn how to model it properly in time - then start there. It's going to be far quicker than trying to get the model to read exactly the way it should.

Dec 13, 19 4:14 pm

Gotcha. That is what I will do. 

And thanks for the other comments, I certainly have a lot to consider here moving forward. 

Dec 13, 19 4:23 pm

barndoor harhar

Dec 13, 19 7:50 pm

Run out of refills on the meds?


Get a Lynda Account.....

Dec 16, 19 12:11 pm

Just an update. I was fired on Wednesday.

I simply wasn't able to deliver- although I did my best. Without any formal advanced training, no background in construction, no mentor to go to with questions- well I honestly did my absolute best... but it wasn't good enough. 

This isn't a post designed to bash my boss because I enjoyed working at this company for 18 months and allowed me to stay in the area and not have to move for a bit longer. I do however think my boss expected me to deliver a perfect existing conditions set of drawings, with all the details included, rather magically which I believe was unfair expectations. However, I can understand that happening since he's never used Revit. 

As I mentioned, I didn't sign up for this job with any false credentials- I was upfront about my background as a biologist but stated I was willing and able to learn as much as possible. However, this particular project- which was detailed existing conditions for an old church- rafters, beams, windows, foundations, etc. just wasn't going to get to the point of being useful for an architect to use for remodel. 

I'm OK- my first passion is biology and teaching and I'll most likely have to move for a job but that is just the way life up here goes. As a plus, teachers get health, dental, and retirement. 

Here's a photo of my  renderings...

...again I really did my best. It was a very sudden firing as my last review was glowing, but I did know this was coming about 2-3 weeks out (about when I posted here...).... and maybe this will serve as a lesson or warning to people in similar scenarios. Not sure how but who knows? 

Unfortunately, all that time I spent learning Revit it probably useless as far as finding freelance work to tie me over until the coming school year. 

Live and Learn.

Thanks Revit, it was fun! 

Jan 10, 20 1:11 pm

All the best moving forward! It just seemed really unprofessional of your firm to rely so much on you given the lack of training.


don't feel bad. you did great. you knew you weren't really qualified and the person who hired you doesn't know what they're doing. good luck in your next adventure.


sorry to hear that, you seem to have a good attitude. it's very short sighted of an office to establish such an unsupportive and transactional relationship to employees. it also seems like architecture was not a particular interest for you, so no real loss. mere modeling isn't a good career. good luck to find a more beneficial job for your next step.


Thanks for the support. You are correct that architecture isn't my area of interest- so aside from the temperorary financial hit, it's not a huge loss in terms of career. I'll be getting my teaching cert finalized this spring and move forward. Always a bit of a bummer to be "let go" but in the end, I couldn't have seen a real path forward in that particular office and I agree that modeling alone wouldn't be a good career choice. 

Jan 11, 20 11:06 am

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