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…



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 reading, I have grouped the naming conventions under their corresponding standards.

BS EN ISO 4157-1

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.


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.


BS EN ISO 4157-2

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.


 BS 1192

The naming of almost everything represented digitally can be found within BS 1192, which defines how to name: Directories and Folders, Files, and Containers within Files.

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 it’s 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…

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 as BS 1192 specifies file types meaning that my native files use ‘M3’ and my IFC files use ‘MR’.


The naming of Containers within Files 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.  However, I haven’t yet finished renaming my symbols or configured my layer export setting to comply.

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

BS 8541-1

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 ISO 4157-1.


BS 8541-4

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.

BS EN ISO 3098-0

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:  “LetteringISO3098” – <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.


BS EN ISO 128-20

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.


BS EN ISO 5457

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

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:  Component naming has been changed from IfcSubtype abbreviations to full text. Using abbreviations became impossible to apply globally because some types share the same first initial.

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.

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 on my doors isn’t exactly how it should be used, so I wanted to share with you why, and the 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 is a method of classifying or categorizing objects to differentiate between them.  Classification impacts everything, from the Tree of Life, and 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 forming 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 to be created aligned to this standard.  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 so that if exports into IFC, an object’s classification code and description need 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.  It also made using objects from a 3rd difficult as I would have to change its properties to exchange any classification information.

This information is then exported into the 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 managed 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 maintanence schedule?…

PLQ 3.2 – Classical Conditioning

Hello BIMfans,
When I made my information model I didn’t want it to be just for show, it wanted it to be a (useful) tool to manage my home. That is why I was very pedantic fussy particular about what information I needed by forming several Plain Language Questions, my Model Purposes, and my Data Requirements. Since this blog’s outset, one clear output I had in mind was to use the information model to manage any repair or replacement work needed within my home. To do so, I will need to form a preventative maintenance schedule; time for some Classical Conditioning!

I’m no Pavlov but I am known to drool over good information.

When I first wrote my Data Requirements, I was keen to incorporate a way to capture the condition of each of my components. The problem was, I needed a way to record this consistently; luckily for me, there is a way to do this.  BS 1192-4, the British Standard for COBie, includes some additional attributes under table 14, which are also included as part of IFC4 Schema, under the Pset_Condition property set.

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.

So, a plan was formed.  When I produced my components, each of these attributes were added to the one I intended to manage. As a result, this information appears in each of my graphical models, IFC exports, and COBie files (the joy of a single source of truth).  As the majority of these components were assessed when Chris John undertook a (very thorough) property condition survey before we bought the home, there isn’t much additional information to be collected.  The only exception being new items such as my Nest thermostat and Philips Hue bulbs that have been installed since.

As you can see, this window was surveyed August 2015, as part of the property condition survey, and it’s in a pretty good condition.

Using these assessment attributes, I can manage each of these components and develop my preventative maintenance schedule. For example, using the AssessmentCondition attribute, I can filter and identify any Very Poor or Poor components. Of the 100+ manageable components I have in my home, I can use Revit‘s scheduling function to filter this information down to just those components and form a manageable schedule.

NOTE: I could have done this using my COBie file, but I won’t.  COBie isn’t a data management tool. Until I acquire an asset management system, using the information embedded in my graphical models, as I have done, is the best solution.

By federating my models, I can create a single schedule showing all of the Very Poor and Poor components in my home.

And there we have it.  By using the information that I have already populated within my information model I was able to create a preventative maintenance schedule highlighting what components need to be repaired or replaced. This means that PLQ3.2 is complete; Woohoo!

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 what needs doing around my home, I wonder how much it’ll cost to fix…

Trigger’s Gutter

Hello BIMfans,
After the best part of a year using sites like Rated People (which found me a dodgy builder), and (which found me a good one), I have finally had some work done to Ty Crempog!!

Due to the terrible join between my square gutters and the neighbours OG gutters, the getter leaks whenever it rains (which as you can imagine, is quite a lot of the time in South Wales!).  This leak soaks our party garden wall, causing damp in both of our dining rooms.  In addition, there was a similar poor join out the front and insufficient ventilation to the attic space.  So to resolve these issues, I formed a plan to replace the fascias and guttering, introduce a ventilated fascias, and resolve these details.  With the work now complete, I have to complete a Trigger-related event to update my asset information.

According to the BRE BIM Terminology tool, a Trigger-related event is:

Response to a trigger and the reflection of the altered state of the asset in the AIM

In a previous post on GUIDs, I discussed Trigger-related events, detailed in PAS 1192-3, and what to do about them in my information model, creating what I called the ‘Sticker Rule‘.  This sticker rule dealt with my own version of the Trigger’s Broom paradox, where I wondered if when I replaced a part of Ty Crempog, should it get a new globally unique identifier or GUID.  I decided that new components need new GUIDs.

If the reference is lost (especially if you aren’t British), watch this YouTube clip.

So then, by following the sticker rule and my Employer’s Information Requirements, I needed to update my graphical model by deleting the existing fascias and gutters and create new instances for their replacements.  But what were they replaced with?

This led to a practical BIM problem:

How do I get my builder (who has never even heard of BIM) to give me good quality information to input into my information model?

Simple, I just asked them.

Now it would have been much easier if South West Fascias had provided me with a Product Data Sheet for the products being used.  A product data sheet, such as those from goBIM by Cobuilder, would have provided me with all the information I needed in either an Excel or COBie format.  A key advantage of product data sheets is that instead of me searching for this information (and being liable for its accuracy), the information could have been provided by the supplier, saving time and reducing my risk.

Look at all those lovely fields of information I could have had access to

Anyway, as this was not something that could be provided, I asked South West Fascias for the product details for what was installed.  They then provided me with details of the merchants and products that were used (AAC Weston for the eaves protection system, fascias, gutters and downpipes, and Travis Perkins for the dry verge system). This information was enough for me to find the products, and extract from these websites the relevant product information I needed.

Principally four sets of products were used along with their associated fixing and accessories:

  • Eaves Protection System
  • Fascia Board
  • Dry Verge
  • Guttering & down pipes

Eaves Protection System

To resolve the lack of clear ventilation in my attic, I opted for an Eaves Protection System (EPS).  The EPS coupled with some boarding will allow me to preserve the attics ventilation strategy when I increase the insulation (to be seen in a future post!). Now the EPS is fairly cheap (£2.45 per unit) and small enough that I wouldn’t bother modelling it.  Partly because of its value, as well as the fact that it wouldn’t really be seen at 1:50.  So, to include information about the EPS without modelling it, I have added some simple product information to my roof’s ‘features’ property.

Through a variation of the BS 8541-1 naming convention, I have included the supplier, type, product, and supplier’s reference in a single field.


Fascia Board

While I was having the work done I opted to have my timber fascia boards removed and replaced with new plastic fascias.  At roof level, these were 150mm Fascia Boards, and around my bay 175mm Fascia Boards.  I updated my fascia profiles in the graphical model to suit, and have included some basic information such as acquisition date, URL, and cost.

Note:  I would have liked to include more information, but due to the way that system families work in Revit, many of the properties that are applied to the families wouldn’t appear.  Luckily for me, these objects aren’t maintainable, so they don’t appear in COBie.

Dry Verge System

Part of the work was also to resolve an issue I was having with my verge, to resolve the poor detailing.  The solution we agreed was to install a dry verge system.  The system chosen was the Easyverge system, a series of interlocks pieces to create a watertight dry verge system as shown.

Dry Verge.jpg
My roof is so happy, you can see it has shed a tear.

Now you would expect a system like this to be difficult to model (and it would have been). However, as my Responsibility Matrix within my BIM Execution Plan only requires a Level of Detail of 3, I am able to represent the system with a fairly modest profile.

See, so much easier when I cheat use appropriate levels of detail.

Guttering & Down pipes

Finally, I needed up remove my existing guttering and down pipes from the graphical model and create new instances for their replacements.  They were replaced with 68mm black round system to match other nearby houses.  As my down pipes are not system families I was able to include much more information including South West Fascias guarantee information, and contact details.

Much better, and more importantly, full of information

And there we have it.  By having work done to my home, I have caused a trigger-related event to occur which has led me to update the asset information model that I maintain.  This means that as my home is modified to suit my needs, I continue to have accurate information at my disposal to be able to make the right decisions about what to do next; Excellent.

Note:  If you have any comments regarding how I represented these new products, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.

PLQ 3.1 – Outstanding Openings

Hello BIMfans,
After completing my BIM Level 2 deliverables and publishing my Project Information Model it’s about time I put my model to work.  I have now entered the operational stage, which means I have some new Plain Language Questions to answer:

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?

So without further ado, let’s tackle Plain Language Question 3.1 “What are the sizes and condition of the windows & doors?”

This is what happens when you accidentally flip your door vertically instead of horizontally in the model…

Now lucky for me, I have (technically) already answered this question as my Architectural COBie file has all of this information I need already included.  However, I don’t feel that COBie is the best way to communicating this information as I haven’t imported it into a suitable asset management tool (yet) and the information needed is on several different sheets.

Sizes are on the type worksheet, while assessment information the attribute worksheet.

So I have instead decided to answer this question with a schedule.  As I have all the information within my model, it is just a matter of deciding how I want to structure my schedule and what information would be useful to include within it.

To answer my Plain Language Question, I will need Size (Height and Width) as well as Assessment Condition as a minimum.  However, to relate these back I will also need a reference for each component (IfcName), and a type reference (TypeName).

In addition, to make the schedule useful it is worth providing the type description (IfcDescription) as well as indicating which space each component is in, as well as the other assessment details (AssessmentDate and AssessmentDescription) to provide sufficient content.  This leaves me with a schedule that looks like this:

DoorSchedule Header

This scheduling format provides me with enough information to assess each of my doors and windows, find their location within my home, and includes enough information to arrange for a replacement if required.  Luckily for me, I could put all of this information onto a single A3 sheet, which can be accessed here.

*Dan’s perfectionism sense is tingling* Why couldn’t I have only 4 door types??


Note:  You’ll notice that I have named this deliverable: 7001-BBH-ZZ-ZZ-DR-A-6001. While full of schedule information, it is a drawing.  If I had exported this information as a spreadsheet then it would have been a schedule, using the SH file type. However, as the schedule’s information cannot be referenced (can’t import this into Excel) and it is placed on a title block, it’s a drawing.

From this schedule, it is plain to see what my back door (DoorType04, Door05) and my bathroom window (WindowType08, Window09) require work.  There is visible rot on my back door and something that I had never noticed before about my bathroom window is that instead of a sill the installer used is actually a skirting board!

What kind of monster would do this??

And there we have it.  By using the information that I have already populated within my information model I was able to create a Door & Window Schedule with all of the information to answer this Plain Language Question and picked up which of these components need work. This means that PLQ3.1 is complete; Woohoo!

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 used by schedule to assess my doors and windows, it’s about time I look at what else needs doing around my home…

Update: Removed ‘OK’ for ‘Adequate’ under Assessment Condition to suit BS1192-4 permitted values as opposed to the IFC4 documentation example.  Thanks Nick!

Update: Turns out I had mislabelled by window openings showing them bottom hung as opposed to top hung (Ooops!); a quick check of BS8541-2 and it is all fixed.  Thanks Chris!

Update:  Changed ‘Mark’ to ‘IfcName to improve information consistency in all of my deliverables.  Tags, Schedules, and COBie now use IfcName consistently.