It’s typically referred to as “3D/BIM.” Three-Dimensional Building Information Modeling. Rand Soellner, Senior Staff Architect at the HOME ARCHITECTS ® is learning it.
This is not something to be taken lightly. The AutoDesk Official Instruction book is 1,000+ pages long, and this still isn’t enough instruction to cover everything that the program can accomplish. The program is Revit Architecture, and this is the same software used by large Architectural & Engineering companies that are designing airports, highrises, hotels, convention centers, schools and other complex facilities.
Some people have said that using Revit to design houses is overkill. This statement is incorrect. The reason: the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and ArCH (Architects Designing Homes), the two leading professional organizations in the world regarding architects and residential architecture, have both indicated that the design of houses is one of the most complex activities that an Architect can accomplish. The design of houses is deemed: “More Than Average” and “Considerably More Than Average” regarding complexity. Therefore, using three-dimensional modeling software to create a house in an Architect’s computer makes perfect sense.
The advantage from a Client’s viewpoint is that both 3D photo realistic renderings can be generated by the software, as well as 3D video animation movies of the design, like a person walking around and through the project. Also, there are fewer errors in the design, because it is all in one integrated 3D model, rather than in separate files. HOME ARCHITECTS intends to offer these features on future designs, once this software is fully incorporated into the company’s workflow. This will be a boon to future Clients.
The firm conducted a 3 year long trial of and comparison of various other 3D/BIM software in the marketplace. Most of these cost less and ALL of the others did less, in terms of functionality. Several of the lesser BIMs had wonderfully convenient automated features, however, ALL of the lesser softwares had barriers to being able to accomplish certain architectural features with the design. If all anyone wanted was an “ordinary” builder’s tract home, then the lesser software programs may be adequate. However, the Clients of Soellner’s company always want something custom. Determined to give this to his Clients, his firm decided to go with the best software available with apparently no restrictions on what the design firm can accomplish.
Sometimes Clients get the idea that they can buy house design software and do it themselves. This doesn’t work, and here’s why: 3D/BIM and even CAD (Computer Aided Design, typically 2D (two dimensional lines)) software is very complex and difficult to learn when you have 40+ hours a week to learn it over the course of several months to over a year, much less when you have another job and have no architectural education. Designing a house is a difficult task, fraught with complicated and thorny problems. 99% of the people who waltz into a Lowes or Barnes & Noble and buy a $79 watered-down Cad program end up failing, not knowing what to do, after drawing perhaps a part of a floor plan. And designing a house is a lot more than just a floor plan. There are elevations, roof plans, building sections, wall sections, details, electrical layouts, cabinetry, specifications, door schedules, finish schedules, possibly window schedules, framing, coordination with building departments, health departments, understanding the geology so your house doesn’t slide down a hill, reinforcing connections so that your roof doesn’t blow off and your walls don’t fall over in storms and seismic events, and much more. It is far less expensive to hire an architect to accomplish this for you. You do what you normally do to earn the money to not only pay your Architect, but to also pay your Contractor to build the house. That’s the best way for you to spend your valuable time.
Let’s put this in perspective. Revit Architecture and its related programs in the AutoDesk Building Design Suite, retails for around $6,825, which becomes $7,800+ tax, when you add the AutoDesk Subscription service for one year, entitling you to updates of the program. So: do you really think that for $79 (approximately 1% of the price of “Big Boy” architectural software) that you are going to have anywhere near the functionality? No way. But don’t kid yourself. Learning even a small house creation software package is no small undertaking. You will probably fail, because it simply takes too much time to learn.
And the software is big and powerful. You better have a computer with ECC chips in it. That means Error-Correcting Code memory. Cosmic rays from space are what destroys human DNA strands, resulting in “fuzzier” corrupted “copies” of humans about every 7 years, which is one of the reasons people look older as time goes on (all of our cells are replaced about every 7 years, in a gradual internal maintenance process). With computers, data storage experiences similar corruption from background radiation of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays primarily come from supernovae of massive stars (per Fermi space telescope, February 2013). They are not electromagnetic radiation, but rather mainly atomic protons (such as hydrogen nuclei), 9% alpha particles, and 1%+/- the nuclei of heavier elements, of which a very small fraction are positrons and antipositrons (antimatter). Having such things zipping through your computer and body, at the rate of about 10,000 per square meter per second, will take its toll, and the heavier and more energetic particles will do more damage to Man and machine.
The hardware industry’s solution for this is to have ECC chips that check the results of calculations automatically. Not all computers have this. Only mid-range to higher-end computers, like Dell’s Precision Workstations, using Intel Xeon processors. If you have a lesser computer, your machine and software is likely to crash more frequently, because the errors can result in catastrophic failure for the program to continue. The larger and more complex the software, the bigger an issue this can become. And Revit and its 3D models can be huge. Bottom line: getting a mid to upper end Dell with the correct hardware to properly run Revit without as many errors can total upwards of $8,000. You should have lots of RAM and a very large monitor, like around 30″ of high-end super HD graphics and perhaps a couple of high-end nVidia graphics cards to push it, because in Revit, you will be using “tiled views,” which means you will have multiple views of your 3D model, plus your Site Plan, Floor Plan and perhaps a Building Section all open simultaneously, to see the results of your current work in progress.
So, adding the software and hardware together, to do this properly, your investment can exceed $15,000 to $16,000. Now that’s not your average personal computer arrangement, is it?
And can you learn a 3D/BIM program like Revit only by reading a book?
But you do have to read the 1,000 page instruction book. Every word. That will probably take you a couple of months, assuming that you intend to have anything like a normal life, and that still requires focused study.
Online video tutorials: about 500 that are online, which will take about 3 months or more to view.
Purchased DVD video tutorials. Soellner is viewing these right now and there are, just from one provider, 210 lessons in about 19 hours of videos. And this is just for one series. There are many more.
You actually do have to download and start using the software at some point. Ready to shell out over $8,000 to do that? Many people that try to learn this software, fail. It is just too complex.
However, one of the prices you have to pay is the steep learning curve in order to obtain all that functionality. And that is precisely what this architectural firm is doing.
The reason: to provide a better way of creating their residential architecture, resulting in a more integrated project with more accurate data for their clients and Contractors, with breathtaking graphics to entertain and better explain the design and how things go together.
Revit is the leading 3D/BIM program in the World: large, difficult to learn and very functional: the choice of the largest and best Architectural and Engineering firms in the World. And this firm only wants the best for their Clients.
Contact Rand Soellner, Architect at this firm here: 828-269-9046
Company website: www.HomeArchitects.com