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 validation, 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 validation 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-validated 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.

Is It Smart? – Smart Meters

Hello BIMfans,
Welcome to ‘Is It Smart?’, the blog series where I have a look at the smart technology installed within Tŷ Crempog to explore the power of BIM Level 2, PropTech, and the Internet of Things (IOT).  This week, I take a look at Smart Meters.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I have been trying to get Smart Meters for a long time.  In fact, I was put on Ecotricity‘s ‘priority list’ (Priority, Ha!) back in May 2016.  It has taken almost 18 months to arrange and complete the installation, but now I finally have Smart Meters installed!

What is it?

Because of policy managed by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), around 26 million existing homes might will have Smart Meters installed by the year 2020.  These installations are being completed through the national energy providers.  In my case, Ecotricity (eventually) arranged the installation through a licensed third-party, SMS Plc.

So, what is a Smart Meter?  Well, a lot of excellent information is provided on the Smart Energy GB website on What Is A Smart Meter, as well as the Ecotricity website on What is Smart.  In short, they are gas and electricity meters which communicate with a national energy supplier; removing the need to provide meter readings.  They also provide real-time information about energy use, allowing the occupant (me) to better manage my energy.  This is normally done through an additional appliance, the in-house display (IHD).  Mine is currently sat in 002: Living Room next to my Google Home.

It’s a little scary seeing how much gas is needed to heat this uninsulated mid terrace home!

How does it work?

To be honest they are pretty straightforward.  Smart Meters function in the exact same way as regular meters do but also have a sim card included.  Mine are about the same size as my existing meters, so all SMS Plc had to do was do a straight swap.

Smart Meters.PNG

Once installed, they effectively ‘text’ the energy use to my in-house display and to Ecotricity every 30 minutes or so.  Note:  After publishing this post, I was told about a few people who could not have smart meters installed because of poor mobile reception around their homes.  It is a shame that they cannot connect to the internet.

How Did I Model It?

To fully capture this installation I needed to model two new objects.  Under the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) Schema, electricity and gas meters are included under IfcFlowMeter.  I had already modelled my existing meters, so using these I formed two objects based on the Smart Meters‘ overall geometry.

Due to the low level of graphical detail used, the object files are only around 300KB each. The files were named following the BS 8541-1 naming convention to:

Using the requirements set out in my Data Requirements, I populated these objects with the information needed to manage my Smart Meters.  Within these objects, I have captured information such as: Installation information, barcode, and serial number.

When used in collaboration with my IFC Export mapping text file, my Smart Meters are populating all of the relevant COBie fields I require; fantastic.

Is It Smart?

Smart Meters barely tick any of the right boxes to be considered smart.

  • Data In:  With a direct connection to the flow of energy, they are able to consistently collect information.  In addition, the in-house display can receive messages from the energy provider for the occupants, so it is able to receive data over the network too.  However, there is no option to customize or inform it using any other information, so the input of data is quite limited.
  • Data Out:  With a mobile network connection, they are able to consistently communicate information.  This information is also sent to the in-house display where it is stored for up to thirty days, allowing occupants to review historic energy use.  However, there is no option to export this information, so the output of data is quite limited.  Note:  Researching online, the export of this information may become available in a future firmware update.
  • Connectivity:  Unfortunately, this is where it really falls short.  There are no options to connect these devices.  The connectivity is so poor, the readings don’t even appear in the official Ecotricity App.
Does this mean I have free energy!?

The Potential

Much like my other smart products, there is no method to import information from my information model into my Smart Meters.  For example, I’m sure that information regarding where they are in my home, as well as house type, room areas and the volume of my home would provide additional value to an energy provider.

However, the real potential is in getting access to the energy use data outside of the in-house display.  If energy use data could be exported, I could then enrich it with local weather data and occupancy times; producing a rich dataset to form information about energy use patterns.

The Verdict


Is It Smart? The answer is No, with a shocking IQ of 50!

Since the smart meter roll-out was first announced, I knew I wanted to have Smart Meters for Tŷ CrempogHowever, energy meters that simply project readings onto another display can hardly be considered smart.  To be perfectly honest, the installation of these meters has had no impact whatsoever on how my home is managed.  It has also resulted in the Ecotricity App being uninstalled, as it no longer provides any valuable information.

And there you have it.  This week my Smart Meters proved to be quite dumb.  Tune in next time where we take a look at my Philips Hue installation and ask one simple question; Is It Smart?

PLQ 3.3 – Configuring Costs

Hello BIMfans,
After ensuring that my I have as much information possible about my managed assets, I think it is time to cost up my preventative maintenance schedule.  To do so, I have enlisted the help of Jonathan from Hewitt Consult Ltd. who has kindly offered to undertake the cost estimating on my behalf.

This cost exercise as bean a long time coming….

So, the first question I asked was:

“What do you need from me?”

To assist with the cost estimation, I wanted to ensure that the information I was providing was as suitable as possible.  I initially offered my IFC files, but I was told by Jonathan that while CostX could import IFC, they advise that the most optimal file format is DWF or DXFx.  As a further (subtle) hint, I was also given a copy of the CostX Drawing File Optimization Guide.  This document outlines how my information should be structured to ensure the information can be imported into CostX correctly covering the following areas:

Export Settings

The preferred export format into CostX is a multi-sheet DWFx.  This is done by setting up a 3D view which includes all of the required objects ensuring that there is a sufficient level of detail applied to the view.    In addition, they recommend that the view’s graphics are set to hidden line.


Optimization required?  New view created A-Zz_70_05-M-CostX

Project Units

Because CostX calculates quantities using the exported base values, all project units need to be sufficiently accurate (at least millimeter accurate).  If these values are rounded off then they will affect the exported quantities they support.  For example, my dining room at 3.46 x 3.56m would export an area of 12m² (3x4m) instead of 12.89m².  Luckily for me, I am already using a sufficient degree of accuracy.

Optimization required? None

Family Naming

As CostX sorts objects according to their family names, it advises that descriptive family naming is used.  Thankfully, as you’ve seen from Naming Omnibus I have adopted the BS 8541-1 and ISO 4157-1 naming conventions I have quite descriptive names already.

Heisenberg “Say my IfcName”

Optimization required? None.

System Assemblies

When assemblies, such as floor, walls, and roofs are exported into DWFx, they appear as a single homogenous object.  To resolve this, CostX suggests that further detail is provided within the objects’ description, additional information is provided through detail sections, or Revit’s parts function is used.  However, as we are producing a maintenance schedule, this level of granularity shouldn’t be required.

Optimization required? None.


To ensure that room information is exported, CostX advises that rooms are represented within the native model and that the setting “Rooms and Areas in a separate boundary layer” is checked to export this information.  As my native model already has rooms, I just need to ensure that this setting is correctly selected.

Optimization required? Export setting “Rooms and Areas in a separate boundary layer” to be checked.

Shared Parameters

To further optimize the sorting of information, CostX advises that the additional parameters QSID and ELEMENT CODE may be included.  However, as I have not been asked by Jonathan to include and populate these parameters, I haven’t.  In addition, CostX advises that parameters should generally be added as instance level but as this would affect how my IFC files are produced, I will not be changing this.

Optimization required? None (due to awkwardness).

Once I exported the DWFx, I checked it within Design Review.  The file appears to contain all the information I expected.  So, the next step is finding out what Jonathan thinks of it, as well as whether or not he is able to use the information within to cost my preventative maintenance schedule.


You can access the DWFx from here


And there we have it.  By using the guidance I was given on how to optimize my information, I now have a container ready to be exchanged for costing.  By listening to Jonathan’s needs, I have (hopefully) managed to produce suitably configured information in the best possible container.

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 updated my components, it’s time to bring all my information together and complete my preventative maintenance schedule…

Note:  If you have any comments regarding my DWFx exporting, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

PLQ 3-3 – Kitchen Konundrum

Hello BIMfans,
Recently, I came to the realization that as I never received any product information about my kitchen when I bought the house, my information model is missing some details.  So, I decided to see what information I could find using my whits and a little ingenuity.

First things first, I needed to work out who produced my kitchen.  After failing to find the range comparing materials on Google Images or checking Pinterest, I decided to use my detective skills and carefully inspect my kitchen units for hints.  While inspecting, my keen detective senses alerted me to a clue.

Detective Level:  Maximum

Ok…now that I know it is a Howden’s Kitchen, I thought that the hard part was over; oh no.  After struggling to find contact details for Howden’s Kitchens, I rang my local branch who informed me that as I was not the account holder (the previous owner the house is) they could not provide ANY information (Harumph!)  So, I did what any person would do in this situation, moan on social media I tried Google to see what I could find.  NOTE:  Typing “inurl:pdf” into Google makes this kind of search A LOT easier.

While looking through the myriad of links Google provided, I found a Howden’s trade catalog.  Within, it included everything I needed.  While it appears that some of my components have been discontinued, I could find equivalents to be included within my information model.

NOTE:  As the purpose of the information is to deal with replacement, or maintenance and repair, using information about an equivalent product seemed much more practical than sourcing information about discontinued products.

Some might say this blog has sinked to new lows…

So, all I that was left was updating my information model…

Work Surfaces

In my home, I have two 38mm bullnose matt walnut block laminate work surfaces. Luckily, my graphical model already included work surfaces with the correct thickness and profile but had mislabelled the laminate as Iroko as opposed to Walnut (Idiot!).  I have now updated my material information to suit.



In my home, I have 1.5 bowl sink.  Looking into the Howden’s trade catalog, I found the closest equivalent, the Lamona standard 1.5 bowl sink (Model reference: SNK5131).  In addition, I also found an equivalent mixer tap (Model reference:  AP4805).   In this situation I have teated my tap like I would ironmongery and instead of giving it it’s own component have referenced it within it’s ‘parent’.  Here you can see I used the Type.constituents COBie property associated to my sink component to capture the tap model reference.



In my home, I have a Lamona single fan assisted oven (Model reference: LAM3301), Lamona gas hob (Model reference: LAM1001), black enamel supports (Model reference: LAM1003), and the Lamona standard chimney extractor (Model reference: LMS2400). While updating this information I thought it also prudent up give their graphical representations a spring clean while keeping the detail low in line with my BIM Execution Plan.


If only my kitchen always looked this clean


Finally, I have a series of kitchen units I have originally named BBH_Furniture_KitchenUnit.  However, now that I know they were produced by Howden’s Kitchens, I can update their file, type, and component names to suit.  In addition, as the catalog has done I have split their names into base units and wall units to give me:

  • Howdens_Furniture_BaseUnit
    • BaseUnitType
      • BaseUnit
  • Howdens_Furniture_WallUnit
    • WallUnitType
      • WallUnit

Synthesizing all of this information together has vastly improved the quality of information I maintain about my kitchen.  So much so that I was able to produce a kitchen assembly drawing using this information.

Full-size drawing can be accessed here.

And there we have it.  By using my keen (cough) detective skills, I have now properly identified all of the components in my kitchen.  This means I should now have all of the information I need to apply costs to my preventative maintenance schedule; fantastic!

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 updated my components, it’s time to bring all my information together and complete my preventative maintenance schedule…

Note:  If you have any comments regarding my kitchen schedule, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

PLQ 3.3 – Summer Sort Out

Hello BIMfans,
For those of you who know me outside of this blog, you’ll know that I have been quite busy over the last few months getting married, presenting to key stakeholders, and doing some pretty exciting standards work (#HumbleBrag).  As such, I haven’t given my information model the attention it deserves.  So before I get my cost my preventative maintenance schedule I decided to roll up digital sleeves and have a summer sort out.


No, I don’t want no scrub! My model only needed a little TLC

So, what do I want to sort out?  Well as you know, there are three parts to an information model.  The graphical model and its associated renditions (i.e. exports like my IFC files), non-graphical information, and the PDF immutable documentation.


So, let’s see if these previous posts will help me improve any of these parts.

Graphical Models

Electrical Model

Following a previous post where I created a Google Home object, the electrical model has been updated to include it.  In addition, I have also been tweaking each of my graphical models to remove several z-fighting issues (trust me, this is nowhere near as cool as it sounds) to improve how my models export into a VR environment.

Architectural Model

Also, around my kitchen, I have updated the materials, altered the component names (see below) to remove a duplicate type name.  I have also worked out how to get my sink to cut through the work surface and cabinet correctly (this drove me mad, I ended up having to cut a hole in my worktop to sort it).  This brings my kitchen much closer to what has physically been built.  Note:  In a future post, I will contact Howdens and find out exactly what components were used.


Model Naming

In addition to revising my graphical models, I have also changed how I name my models.  Previously, you may have seen on this blog IFC files with the file type ‘M3’ for 3D models. After John Ford asked the question, I agreed that ‘M3’ wasn’t the most suitable and felt that it should be ‘MR’, for model rendition.  So, as always, when in doubt I turn to Twitter.

As you can see ‘MR’ was voted the most popular (phew).  This makes sense because I use my IFC files to create COBie, not instead of COBie.  If I was delivering these files back to a client I’d have used ‘IE’ (information exchange).  However, as they are effectively filtered renditions of my native model, ‘MR’ is most appropriate.


Non-graphical Information

Thanks to my previous blog posts I’ve managed to update several areas within my non-graphical information.


Following a post where I collected Naming Conventions, I have now updated the component names to suit.  The convention I have chosen to follow is:

  • Type.Name:  <IfcType>Typenn e.g. WindowType01
  • Component.Name: <<IfcTypeEnum>>nn* e.g. Thermostat01

The exception to this rule is when the IfcTypeEnum does not suggest what the component is my itself.  For example, only a few people (except losers like me!) would know that ‘Water01’ is a boiler or that a ‘UnitaryControlElement’ is a Thermostat.  When these instances occur, I use <IfcType>nn instead giving me ‘Boiler01’ and ‘Thermostat01’ respectively.  Note: This also allows me to be pedantic and refer to my radiators as convectors, so win-win!


Following a previous post where I calculated the Return on Investment of producing my information model, I have now incorporated each component’s expected life.  The service life of these components will be very useful when calculating my maintenance budget.


Also in preparation for this maintenance budget, I have added (for objects I could google…) relevant replacement costs.  This was effectively done by comparing my existing components with their B&Q or Wickes equivalents, leaving those I couldn’t find as ‘n/a’.  Despite a few omissions, these costs will help calculate my maintenance budget and have helped fill my COBie files with even more information.



View References

Finally, following the changes to Component.Name, I have updated my drawings as any name changes impact on my door and window tags.  While doing so, I took the opportunity to update the logo on my title blocks, as well as include a view schedule on each of my drawing sheets.  Placed in the bottom left of my drawing sheets, I now know what views are included on each of my drawings.


Referenced, for my pleasure.


And there we have it.  These improvements to my information model not only help me achieve my Model Purposes but also help ensure the relationship between each part of my information model.  As a result of this Summer Sort out, I have consistent component names across my graphical models, non-graphical information, and documentation; reinforcing the fact that I manage my home through a single source of truth.

Note:  If you have any comments regarding my summer sort out, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

Update:  Included changed to IFC file naming following a query by John Ford.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Hello BIMfans,
As you know, I am currently using the Asset Information Model I produced during this blog to manage my home.  So far my information model has been used to support day-to-day operation, minor works such as getting my gutters and fascia replaced, as well as product registration and replacement, in line with my  Model Purposes and Data Requirements.  But has it been worth it?  Well, let’s try and work it out (don’t worry, I’ll do the sums).


Well, first thing’s first, how much did my information model cost? Well, because I did it myself, there isn’t really a figure I can apply.  However, as it has taken a while to produce, instead, I decided to use a different form of currency; minutes instead of pounds (after all, time is money!).

Quite often when talking about the blog I am asked “How long did it take to model all that!?”, and while it has taken over a year to produce, it was done in my spare time, with a lot of trial and error.  If I lost all of this information (please, please, NEVER let this happen!) I believe I could reproduce everything within four working days (1800 minutes).  This aligns with a New Zealand case study that took three days to model and write-up social houses.  So the real question is:

How long will it take for my information model to save me 1800 minutes?

My plan has always been for my information model to be useful, so I am confident that there is a return on investment; I just need to work out how long it is.  When I wrote my Model Purposes and Data Requirements, I decided that I would use my information model for the registration, operation, maintenance, repair, and replacements.  So let’s see how it has helped in those areas.


While trying to write this post, I discovered that I have registered a surprising number of components.  Excluding loose furniture, I have registered 104 (yes, 104) manageable components and assessed their condition.

Traditionally to keep track of the condition of these components, frequent property condition surveys would have been needed.  While I can find examples from several housing associations who undertake annual condition surveys, I have decided to instead follow Cardiff Council‘s own Asset Management Plan; using their conservative 2-3 year programme.  Having done surveying in a past life, I’m confident that to survey and capture all the relevant COBie information for these 104 components would take a day and a half (average of 6 minutes per component), whereas updating my information model would only take me half a day.

Having this information as the basis really speeds up the surveying of my home.

This results in a saving of 450 minutes every 2.5 years, or an annual saving of 180 minutes. (This alone would provide a return on investment within 10 years)

Operation, Maintenance, and Repair

Working for BRE, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I want to reduce my home’s carbon footprint.  A goal of mine is to improve my home’s EPC score from a D (65) to a B (86).  To do so, I am going to need some tradesmen every now again (but never again from Rated People, grrrrr).

My information model has been great for solving operational problems.  For example, when I had my gutters and fascia replaced, the quoting tradesmen raised an issue.  I live in a thin terrace house, with no external access to the garden.  After quoting for the work, they each wanted to re-visit and check whether their six metre scaffold pipes could get through the house.  I didn’t want to book another half-day off work, so I instead used my information model to demonstrate that it was possible.


Once I proved this, I was happy to accept accountability that the scaffold would fit, and saved myself from having to book a half-day off work.

If I assume I’d get tradesmen in every two years, this results in a saving of 225 minutes every two years or an annual saving of 112 minutes. (This alone would provide a return on investment within 17 years)


As I’ve mentioned, I have 104 manageable components, each of which will ultimately fail and need to be replaced (What Asset Managers would call a ‘trigger-related event’).  So I have done some research and calculated my components’ service lives.  For example, my two extract fans, have a pitiful service life of 10 years, while my internal doors have an impressive 100+ years.  Whenever I need to replace any of these components, I will be saving time.

Picture this scenario, while I am out shopping I suddenly receive a call.  My wife has rung to say that on her way out she noticed a bulb had blown in the living room, and asked if I could buy a new one on my way home.  There is just one problem, I cannot remember whether my living room pendant takes an Edison (E27) or a screw fix (E14) bulb.  So I have two options:

  • Option 1:  I drive home (30 minutes), grab a chair and check the bulb (2 minutes, working from height), drive to B&Q (30 minutes, other hardware stores are available), buy the new bulb (5 minutes), drive home (30 minutes), and then install the new bulb (2 minutes, working from height) for a total of 99 minutes.
  • Option 2: I check my information model on my phone and confirm the bulb type (2 minutes), buy the new bulb (5 minutes), drive home via B&Q (30 minutes, other hardware stores are available), and then install the new bulb (2 minutes, working from height) for a total of 39 minutes.
The Value of Asset Capture
Oh look, my pendant has an E14 to E27 adapter on it, that means I could have bought either!

So by referring to my information model each time I replace a component and purchasing replacement on my way home, I am saving myself 60 minutes and halving the amount of time I am working from height.  While an hour might seem excessive, this is quite conservative compared to the case study on the BIM Task Group Website from Manchester City Council, where the Bulb Replacement Case Study reports a saving of 8 hours (480 minutes) per replacement.


Based on available service life figures I found online, I produced this table which groups components by their IFC type, and shows an annual saving of 205 minutes. (This alone would provide a return on investment in under 9 years).


Having looked at my various Model Purposes, I have come up with the following annual return on investment thanks to the efficiencies I have gained through using my information model.

Registration = 180 minutes
Operation = 112 minutes
Replacement = 205 minutes
Total = 497 minutes

Which, when compared to a production time of 1800 minutes, gives a return on investment in 3.62 years.

And there we have it, by using conservative figures a reasonable return on investment could be calculated.  When you consider that this excludes all loose furniture, and does not factor in any accidental damage, my information model will have saved more time than that it took to produce in little over three and a half years; Fantastic!

Note:  If you have any comments regarding other efficiencies I could factor in, or the figures I have used to calculate my ROI, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

Naming Omnibus

Hello BIMfans,
While developing my information model ‘naming’ has easily been given the most pause for thought.  While I have already discussed some naming conventions in previous posts, I have decided to put everything here.  The rule is simple, I will only use a naming convention if it can be found in a British, European (#Remain), or International Standard.

NOTE:  If I have missed out any naming conventions, feel free to leave a comment and I will add it to the post and credit you as thanks!

NOTE:  To save repeating myself, any fields with an asterisk* are optional fields.

Fun fact:  BIM is worth eight points in Scrabble.

So, let’s see what naming conventions I have found.  For ease of navigation, I have included a contents table.

  1. Directory naming
  2. File naming
  3. View and symbol naming
  4. Layer naming
  5. Object naming
  6. Type and component naming
  7. Level naming
  8. Space naming
  9. Property and attribute naming
  10. Title block naming
  11. Text naming
  12. Line naming

Directory Naming

The naming of directories and folders can be found within BS 1192, which is as follows:

Directory and Folders:  <Project>-<Status*>-<Revision*> e.g 7001-CR-C01

This naming convention has already been applied to my directory within Autodesk’s A360 which I use to host the graphical models I share on this blog.  However, as I am not operating a full project its implementation here is limited.  Note:  It does allow sub-directories with names based on the file naming convention discussed below.  However, I consider this a waste of time.  Why have a folder called ‘Models’ or ‘Architect’ when it is written in the file name?

Hint:  Optional really* means don’t bother using it…


File Naming

The naming of Files (Probably the second most contentious naming convention behind Boaty McBoatface) can also be found within BS 1192, which is as follows:

Files:  <Project>-<Origin>-<Volume>-<Level>-<FileType>-<Role>-<Class*>-<Number>

This naming convention has already been applied to several files that I have been sharing over this blog via Autodesk’s A360.   You’ll notice that my native files use ‘M3’ and my IFC files use ‘MR’ as they are renditions out of their respective native models.



View and Symbol Naming

The naming of containers within files, such as views and symbols can also be found within BS 1192, which is as follows:

Containers within Files:  <Role>-<Class>-<Presentation>_<Description*>

This naming convention has already been applied to most of my views and some symbols within my graphical models.

Yes, that is exactly what my North Point needed; Uniclass2015!


Layer Naming

The naming of views and symbols above is based on ISO 13567, which covers the naming convention for layers.

Layers:  <Agent(Role)><Element><Presentation><Status*><Sector*><Phase*><Projection*><Description*>

A key difference is that there is no hyphen to separate fields as it is used to express when no further subdivision is needed.  Due to issues with Uniclass 2015 that I have expressed a concern over, I haven’t implemented this yet.  However, an example layer would look something like this:



Object Naming

The naming of objects can be found within BS 8541-1, which is as follows:

Objects:  <Source>_<Type>_<Subtype>

This naming convention has already been applied to my objects when I first considered Object Naming and has been applied to objects such as my Nest Thermostat, and Google Home.  Now there are several opinions on how this naming needs to be implemented, I have taken the stance that it is for the naming of the object file (i.e. what you find when you search your computer), because type and component naming is covered in in another standard.



Type and Component Naming

The naming of almost everything represented physically can be found within ISO 4157-1, which defines how to name:  General designation codes, buildings, storeys, parts of storeys, floors, and load-bearing structural elements.


…using ISO 4157-1


The naming (referred to as designation in this standard) of types and components can be found within ISO 4157-1, it requires a primary and additional designator which I have used as follows:

  • Type:  <IfcType><Numerals in running order> e.g. DoorType01
  • Component: <IfcSubtype><numerals in running order> e.g Door01

This naming convention has already been applied to parts of my information model like my Door and Window Schedule Drawing which I produced when I discussed my Outstanding Openings.  However, further development work is needed to reflect this information correctly within COBie. This is because the USA’s National BIM Standard states that Component.Name should be consistent with the name that appears my schedules.  Meaning that each door in COBie should be named Door01, Door02… to suit what appears in my Door Schedule.


Level Naming

The naming (referred to as designation in this standard) of Floors can also be found within ISO 4157-1, which is simply a running number.

This (surprisingly) aligns well with the BS 1192 naming convention with specifies a two-digit sequential number for floor levels.  Therefore, I have changed the floor names in each of my models from Level 0, Level 1, and Level 2 to 00, 01, and 02 respectively.


Space Naming

The naming (referred to as designation in this standard) of Rooms can be found within ISO 4157-2, which is as follows:

Rooms:  <Floor Number><Numerals in running order> e.g. 101

This has already been applied to my information model and can be seen in both my graphical model and in my COBie files.  Easy.


Property and Attribute Naming

The naming of properties can be found within BS 8541-4, which requires the use of CamelCase (just like Hashtag writing #CamelCaseMakesItEasierToRead) and an indication of the data type expected.  For example, if you take a look at the properties I have used from my previous post on Classical Conditioning three properties were being focused on:

AssessmentDate, when the assessment was completed YYYY-MM-DD;
AssessmentDescription, qualiative description of the assessment; and
AssessmentCondition, the condition:  Very Poor, Poor, Adequate, Good, or AsNew.

By suffixing Assessment with ‘Date’, ‘Description’, or ‘Condition’, it suggests the data type that should be expected to populate each property.  Luckily for me, all the properties I have used are available in the IFC Schema.  However, if I ever found I was lacking, this convention is how I would create those additional properties.


Title block Naming

Finally, the naming (referred to as designation in this standard) of title blocks can be found ISO 5457, which is as follows:

Title blocks:  <Descr.>-<Standard>-<Size><Trimmed>-<Material>-<Side>-<Pattern*>

This has already been applied to my title blocks when I formed my original templates

Title Block.JPG


Text Naming

The naming (referred to as designation in this standard) of text styles can be found within ISO 3098-0, which is as follows:

Text Styles:  “Lettering ISO 3098-1” – <Type> <Spacing><Incline><Alphabet> – <Size>

This text style naming convention has now been applied to my graphical models. However, due to Revit’s vile terrible horrible improving text formatting capability, I have to include an additional field to indicate whether the text is bold, italic, or underlined as a suffix.



Line Naming

The naming (referred to as designation in this standard) of line styles can be found within ISO 128-20, which is as follows:

Line styles:  “LineISO128-20” – <Type> x <Width> / <Colour*>

However, Revit annoyingly unfortunately doesn’t allow you to rename system line styles. While I could recreate all my lines styles following this convention, I do not consider this worthwhile.  If/when I need to create specific line styles, those user-defined line styles will follow this naming convention.



And there we have it.  By using a myriad of British, European, and International Standards, I have now laid out all of the naming conventions I am aware of and how they have been applied to the production of my information model.  This will help me align my information not only between models but also to the national and international communities; fantastic!

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 worked out all of my naming, I need to apply this so that I am ready to share my model to do some external cost exercises…

Update:  Following a Twitter Poll I have changed how my name my IFC files from M3 to MR.  Thank you, John Ford, for raising this question.

Update:  Text naming image updated following a clarification comment around how ISO 3098-1 naming can be applied within Revit.  Thank you Nathan Beevers.

Is It Smart? – Google Home

Hello BIMfans,
Welcome to ‘Is It Smart?’, the blog series where I have a look at the smart technology installed within Ty Crempog to explore the power of BIM Level 2, PropTech, and the Internet of Things (IOT).  This week, I take a look at my Google Home.

What is it?

Pro Tip:  Do not watch any ‘How to’ videos while you have it plugged in, otherwise your video will set it off!

The Google Home is a hands-free smart (Wi-Fi) enabled speaker powered by the Google Assistant.  I currently have it installed in 002: Living Room as it is the most frequently occupied room in my home.  It has a built-in speaker and microphone which will listen out for the trigger phrase “OK Google” and then attempt to execute any command it hears.

 How does it work?

Once you have registered any service or device from Google‘s range of Compatible Partners, all you have to do is speak; It’s as easy as that!

So have I have gotten my Google Home to:

  • Provide me with a weather update;
  • Challenge guests to a trivia quiz;
  • Traffic updates;
  • Instant fight debate arbitrator;
  • Play music through my Spotify account;
  • Control my Nest Thermostat; and
  • Control my Philips Hue bulbs.

For example, have a look at this short video on how I can use my Google Home to control the Philips Hue in my living room.



 How Did I Model it?

My Google Home family can be downloaded from here.

Under the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) Schema, a smart speaker isn’t included (who’d have guessed?), so I did what I always do in a situation like this; asked Twitter.

As you can see, at the time I produced this object, the preferred type was CommunicationAppliance.  This makes sense as while it does include a speaker (Making it AudioVisual) it’s main role is to communicate with other devices on my behalf.  So, using an electrical equipment family, I created two revolve solids and a void extrusion to create its unique shape.  Due to the low level of graphical detail used the object file is only around 400KB.  The file was named following the BS8541-1 naming convention to:


Using the requirements set out within my Data Requirements, I populated this Communication Appliance object with the information needed to manage my Google Home.  Within this object, I have captured information such as: Installation information, bar code, serial number, replacement cost and warranty information.  Note:  Much like my Nest Thermostat, my Google Home is one of the few items I manage within its warranty period.

When used in collaboration with my IFC Export mapping text file, my Google Home is populating all of the relevant COBie fields I require; fantastic.

Is it Smart?

Google Home ticks many of the right boxes to be considered smart.

  • Data In:  With a Wi-Fi connection and a passive listening system, Google Home has a consistent method it can collect data.  In addition, through the mobile app it can control other devices and apply nicknames; which apply to the voice commands.
  • Data Out:  Using the power of the internet, Google Home can provide me almost any information.  It also remembers each command it is given to help it improve its functionality, so I have a record of what has been asked.
  • Connectivity:  The real power of Google Home is in its ability to connect with other devices.  So far I have it connected to my BBC, IFTT, and Spotify services as well as my Nest Thermostat, and Philips Hue bulbs.  Meaning that I can create customizable commands, set alarms, and even add events to my calendar using just two magic words; “Ok Google“.

The Potential

Much like my other smart products, there is no method to automate taking information from my information model into my Google Home.  For example, I have had to manually add the component names of my products as Nicknames (without special characters) so that each product can be controlled by its unique reference.

If only this process could be automated, then my smart products could use a lot of the good information I have collected to make them even smarter.

GoogleHome UI
While these names might not roll off the tongue, but at least the information is consistent between my Google Home, graphical model, and Non-graphical information.

The Verdict


Is It Smart? The answer is Yes, with an Impressive IQ of 120!

Since it was first announced, I knew I wanted to have a Google Home, and I am glad to say that it has not disappointed.  While fairly simple in function, it has had a positive impact on my home.

And there you have it.  This week my Google Home proved to be quite smart.  Tune in next time where we take a look at my Philips Hue installation and ask one simple question; Is It Smart?

2017 – The Year of the Conferences

Hello BIMfans,
This is a special update to inform you how There’s No BIM Like Home has faired making its conference debut at both Ecobuild and BIM Prospects this year.

You never know, There’s No BIM Like Home could be at a conference near you…

Ecobuild 2017

At Ecobuild, I spoke on the BRE Academy‘s stage about There’s No BIM Like Home and my adventure through applying the BIM Level 2 process.  In this presentation, my main focus was the challenges in producing an information model of my home, and the benefits it now gives me.  I’m pleased to say that the presentation was very popular (as you can see from the tweet below), with a myriad of questions afterward, and kind requests from both PBC Today and CIBSE Journal to feature the blog.  In fact, the PBC Today article based on the presentation, Using BIM on Smaller-Scale Projects is Possible, is already available!



The core part of this presentation was how I compared traditional repair and replacement activities in my home to a ‘BIM-enabled’ approach.  Explaining how I could save time and effort in completing the same tasks, like changing a lightbulb.  Afterward, several people contacted me with their own anecdotes where they have seen the exact inefficiencies I described in action at offices as well as at hotels, hospitals, and schools.




NOTE: A copy of my presentation from Ecobuild can be found here.

BIM Prospects 2017

Following the success of Ecobuild, BRE asked me to present, but this time at BIM Prospects on manufacturer’s information.  Initially, I was concerned that the topic might not be a good fit (after all I’m an Architectural Technologist, not a product manufacturer) but after some reflection realized that I have a good story to tell around creating my non-graphical information, which is full of manufacturer’s information being used to manage my home.


My main focus was on my blog post Object Library Wars, where I compared manufacturers objects on three portals: National BIM Library, BIM Store, and BIM Objects against the BS 8541 national standards as well as my own defined methods within my BIM Execution Plan.  The presentation proved popular with several people taking notice of my tiny file sizes, plain language, and practical implementation of the BIM Level 2 standards.





NOTE: A copy of my presentation from BIM Prospects can be found here.

And there we have it.  The debut of this blog at two major conferences has been a great success, showing that even a two-up, two-down in South Wales has the potential to be just as smart as any central government asset.  The popularity of these presentations just goes to show; when it comes to information management There’s No BIM Like Home.

NOTE:  If you want to see There’s No BIM Like Home and a conference or event near you, just let me now by contacting me or on Twitter.

PLQ 3.3 – Understanding Uniclass 2015

Hello BIMfans,
Before I calculate the costs associated with my preventative maintenance schedule, I need to ensure each object is correctly classified.  So, let’s take a good look at Uniclass 2015.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sarah Delaney, head of classification at NBS, to talk about Uniclass 2015.  It turns out that the way I have used classification isn’t exactly how it should be used, so I wanted to share with you why and what changes I needed to make.

NOTE:  Sarah has written an article on Uniclass 2015 which was a big help in getting me to understand.


Ok, a quick bit of context, what is a classification system?  Basically, it’s a method of classifying or categorizing ‘things’ to differentiate between them.  Classification impacts on everything, from the Tree of Life,  the age-old debate around Whether Jaffa Cakes are in fact Biscuits? (A debate based on avoiding VAT), to how we decide what parts of a design are the responsibility of which professionals.

Note:  I have no idea where Jaffa cakes sit on this diagram

In construction, there is an International standard for producing classification systems, ISO 12006-2 (you’d think I was on commission with ISO by the number of these standards I reference).  It suggests how classification tables should be broken up as well as their relationships to each other. Uniclass 2015 is the UK’s latest in a series of classification systems (CI/SfB, CAWS, Uniclass, Uniclass 1.4, Uniclass 2,…) to be created aligned to this standard.

Note:  Now before any QS/Estimators kick-off comment, I will point out that the RICSNew Rules of Measurement (NRM) is NOT a classification system; more on that in a future blog post.

Uniclass 2015:

As explained by Sarah in her article, Uniclass 2015 consists of several tables which are based on the following number series:

Group Title
10 Preparatory*
15 Earthworks
20 Structural
25 Wall and barrier
30 Roof, floor, and paving
32 Damp-proofing, waterproofing and plaster finishing
35 Stair and ramp
37 Tunnel, shaft, vessel and tower
40 Signage, FF&E, and general finishings
45 Flora and fauna
50 Waste disposal
55 Piped supply
60 Heating, cooling, and refrigeration
65 Ventilation and air conditioning
70 Electrical
75 Communications, security, safety and protection
80 Transport
85 Process engineering
90 Circulation and storage

Note:  While under Products(Pr) preparatory work is covered under Pr_15; in Activities(Ac) however, it is under Ac_10. So, as 15 has been taken by Earthwork in Systems(Ss), I have opted to use 10.

So, where did I go wrong?  Put simply, I hadn’t fully understood the relationship between the tables.  Which is as follows:

  • Pr, Products:  Things you buy (Bricks, wall ties, and Mortar)
  • Ss, Systems: An element (or part of an element) made of products (Brickwork)
  • EF, Elements/functions:  Main building components (Walls and Doors)
  • SL, Spaces/locations:  Place where activities happen (Living Room and Kitchen)
  • Ac, Activities: Exercising, Sleeping, Eating, Working etc. (Cleaning and Cooking)
  • En, Entities:  Individual assets (Just the house)
  • Co, Complexes:  Group of Assets (House and Garden as ‘Ty Crempog’)

What I had done was incorrectly use the Systems(Ss) table when I should have used the Elements/function(EF) table for my doors.  Each of my doors were classified as Ss_25_30_20_25: Doorset systems, but this isn’t correct as they are not doorsets.  As such, I have now re-classified them as EF_25_30: Doors and windows.

To remind myself, I drew this diagram.

This feels like one of those Mensa questions.  If all Systems include products, and some elements include systems, are all Elements Systems?  Answers on a postcard!

Using classification:

For classification to work within Revit when exporting an IFC, each object’s classification code and description needs to be placed onto the defined property specified in the classification settings window; written as ‘Code: Description’ to comply with BS 1192-4 & COBie.  As you can see from the image below I have opted for the property ‘ClassificationForObjects’.  I chose this as it is the most appropriate field I could find within the IFC Schema as it is listed within IfcClassification.

The default value is ‘ClassificationCode’, I was just being awkward changing it…

This information is then exported into an IFC file and passed through to COBie so that it is ready to be exchanged and used to manage my home.


And there we have it.  By using Uniclass 2015 in the way that it was intended to be used, I have now improved the quality of the information I have produced and are using to manage my home; fantastic!

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 classified my objects correctly, I wonder how classification will relate to costing up my preventative maintenance schedule?…