PLQ 3.3 – COBie Culmination

Hello BIMfans,
Those of you who have been following this Blog will know that producing good COBie has been a persistent goal of mine.  This goal may sound simple, but it wasn’t.  Due to the current state of software, the delivery of well-structured information isn’t a one-click activity (one day we’ll have that magic COBie button…one day).  When producing information to manage my home, I have been careful to ensure that the properties and attributes I’ve used have been structured to suit the available British, European and International Standards which are:

Because of my allegiance to the Standards, I’m confident in the quality of my work.  However, I can’t be sure.  Most methods of producing COBie do not incorporate verification, a method of testing that the information has been formatted correctly.  Meaning that while it might save like COBie, and look like COBie, it isn’t necessarily COBie.  My process of using an IFC rendition to produce COBie through xBIM has this problem.  Thankfully, a follower came to the rescue; John Ford.

Look at this BIM model!

John is the senior business information development manager at Carillion Plc.  If the name seems familiar, it’s because he is quite active on Twitter and is one of the most active participants in the LinkedIn COBie forum.  One of  John‘s many key roles is the validation of COBie using Carillion‘s preferred COBie quality control plugin, the COBie QC ReporterJohn contacted me and kindly offered to verify my COBie (I think I nearly bit his hand off!).

Note:  Anyone (I mean anyone) is free to take files off this blog and use them for whatever purpose they like; they are on creative comms for a reason.  Please play with these files and let me know how to improve them.

John provided a series of reports created by the COBie QC Reporter, filled with useful information that tabulated the findings from each sheet, like the one shown below.  Reading these reports I discovered that my COBie had failed!


Full disclosure, I knew they would fail.

Back when I looked at my Data Security, I opted to use ‘redacted’ as my email address.  Because of this, I was producing an error each time my email address should have appeared.  However,  John also found a few other errors that I wasn’t expecting.

  • Email address.  I was also getting a second email related error.  The other was that I incorrectly used ‘n/a’ when I didn’t know the warranty guarantors of my components.  To resolve both of these used ‘’ and ‘’ respectively.
  • Model Number.  I didn’t realise that model number had to be a value other than ‘n/a’.  Because my home has a lot of missing information, I don’t know the model number for most components.  To resolve this I used ‘unknown’ instead.
  • Warranty Start date.  No components in my architecutal model had a warranty start date (ooops!). To resolve this I added the attribute as required.
  • Duplicate Types.   After exporting, duplicate types were appearing.  On investigation it turned out to be an issue with Revit and the way it handles instances.  Types were duplicated if their default height or their orientation had changed.  I have been in contact with Autodesk who have recognised the issue and are looking into it.
  • xBIM.  Due to my use of Revit to IFC to xBIM, some of the default cells were not being completed such as Attribute.Unit, Attribute.AllowedValues and Space.Floor.  In addition, some components would appear without their type, and vise-versa.  To resolve these I modified the information in post (shown in red).  I will be raising these issues with xBIM in the new year.
  • Assemblies.  My assemblies were not exporting as expected; causing validation issues.  To resolved this, I omitted them from the report.
  • Picklist.  To date I had been lazy and hadn’t written my own picklist.  As such it was causing some validation issues.  To resolve this I just sat down and wrote the damn thing.

Once I had resolved these issues,  John kindly re-verified my COBie through the COBie QC Reporter and found zero errors; woohoo!!  As you can imagine I was pretty chuffed and had to tweet about it:

You can access my validate COBie here:

I wasn’t the only one who was impressed; John was quite impressed too.  In fact, he was so impressed that he left this kind testimonial:


Note:  Other testimonials for this blog can be found here.

And there was have it.  Throughout my professional career, I have always valued third-party validation.  It’s one thing to say it, it’s another to have someone else prove it.  Thanks to the kind help of John, we’ve managed to prove that my COBie not only walks the walk; but also talks the talk; fantastic.

As you can see, it has taken a lot of effort to ensure that the information I have produced is correct, and this has only been for a small Victorian mid-terrace. My effort would pale in comparison to the effort needed to deliver COBie for a multi-million-pound central government BIM Level 2 project using today’s software.  If we expect ‘proper’ projects to do the same, the methods we use to produce COBie needs to improve.

Operation and Maintenance
3.1 What are the sizes and condition of the windows & doors?
3.2 What assets are in a poor condition?
3.3 What costs can be attributed to my assets?
3.4 What are the most cost effective thermal improvements that could be undertaken?

Now that I have perfected my COBie, it’s time to find an asset management system to export this information into…

Note:  If you have any comments regarding my COBie and the validation process, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

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