November 30, 2020

Leverage the Power of BIM During Initial Design Stages

Snaptrude Editorial Desk

What's in this post?

What’s in this Blog?

1. Old Habits Die Hard For Architects
2. There’s More to a BIM Tool
3. Benefits of Drafting Floor Plans in an Intelligent BIM Tool like Snaptrude
4. Ensures High Design Accuracy

  a. Site Analysis (Understanding Topography, Sun & Shadow Studies)
   b. Generates Precise & Instant Floor Plans
   c. Smart Labeling
   d. Easy Editing
   e. Auto Area Calculation
   f. Calculate Project Costing
   g. Instant Massing
   h. Better Presentation of Floor Plans with Auto Interiors

5. BIM Reduces the Time & Effort in the Design Development Cycle Drastically
6. BIM Is In Sync With Last Stages Of Design
7. Making This Transition From CAD To BIM Easier

Leverage the Power of BIM During Initial Design Stages

If we were to ask an architectural firm why do they want to use a BIM tool, 9 out of 10 would typically reply one of these:

  • For parametric components
  • To reduce repetitive designing and modelling
  • For early budgeting, Bill of Quantities and area calculation
  • To improve team productivity
  • For building energy-efficient designs
  • For location specific design on real site
  • For high level accuracy
  • For flexibility

But, does ‘To start my design from scratch in BIM and finish in the same BIM tool?’ feature in this list? Umm… maybe not. And, we don’t blame them for thinking so.

Old Habits Die Hard For Architects

Surprisingly, for a large number of architects and firms, a BIM tool comes in at much later stages of design. So, starting their floor plan layouts is still synonymous with a CAD tool, which they have been accustomed to for decades. Even if they use a BIM software, they usually end up doing it in conjunction with a CAD tool. The plan is first made in a CAD tool, then imported into a BIM tool and then probably, a BIM expert is set to work on the BIM tool to further their CAD plans.

However, in doing so, they miss seeing the value that a BIM tool offers and miss the opportunity to design in a more precise way.

“The way the industry has grown, BIM until now, has typically been perceived to be of significant importance during the later stages of the design process but NOW is the time to rethink how BIM should be considered right at the beginning of the design development stage itself.”

There’s More to a BIM Tool

While CAD created the first wave of revolution in the way architects designed in the 80s, the second wave is being created by BIM. It is transforming the way architects conceptualise, draft floor plan layouts, create 3D models from rough sketches and make key design decisions.

“When an architect draws directly in a BIM tool, it ensures that every line drawn is not just a line, but a powerhouse of data.”

It generates an accurate 2D floor plan and 3D model at the same time. In this way, your design is precise in all the views with no scope for error. You spend less time on drawing documentation and reduce remodeling time from 2D to 3D. Also, any iteration in one component instantly reflects in all the views. Unlike CAD, BIM is holistic, more detailed and not only 3D but also has parametric designing, so when you create elements in one view, it will automatically appear in all views. BIM tools like Snaptrude come with in-built ability to generate comprehensive BIM models from masses and maintain accuracy throughout the Massing and BIM stages.

Also, a BIM tool with a low learning curve makes you an expert by putting more control in your hands, so that you don’t have to spend many months on training or depend on anyone else.

“Just like how architects learnt to use CAD in the 80s and 90s to get more accurate floor plans from the previous hand-drawn ones, the need of the hour is to get used to drafting plans directly in a BIM tool for improved precision, higher productivity and powerful designing.”

Benefits of Drafting Floor Plans in an Intelligent BIM Tool like Snaptrude

Snaptrude, being an intelligent BIM tool helps architects in leveraging the power of BIM during the initial design stages, by allowing users to create accurate 2D plans and feasibility designs with rich BIM data, which can then be leveraged in the subsequent design development stages, eliminating the need to draft non-intelligent plans or design in a CAD tool. The advantages of using a smart BIM tool like Snaptrude are many:

1. Ensures High Design Accuracy

The biggest hindrance to architects not starting their floor plans in a BIM tool is their assumption that drawing in CAD is more accurate than in a BIM tool. However, new-age BIM tools for architects are known for their high-level accuracy.

Drafting your plan directly in a BIM tool like Snaptrude is a more precise way to do it because:

a. Site Analysis (Understanding Topography, Sun & Shadow Studies)

Before you begin sketching your floor plan, you need to understand the site and its physical characteristics like the direction of the sun, the topography, the approach, the adjacent buildings and other neighbourhood elements.

The benefit of sketching in Snaptrude is that the sketch can easily be set on actual location, using the Topography Map feature. You can start your design considering the characteristics of the real-world site and its characteristics. Also, working with contoured sites is really easy by using the Set Datum tool. With which, you can pick the exact vertical position on the topography where you want to place your building.

Also, before you set to plan, understanding the play of sunlight helps in deciding the building orientation, which plays the largest role in determining the energy consumption of a building and making accurate decisions for interior and exterior lighting. Snaptrude’s Sun and Shadow Studies’ feature can not only help you make accurate analysis and design more thought-through plans, but also help you create better client presentations with realistic shadows.

Also read:New Snaptrude Features to Help You Grow in Your Architecture Practice

With this information in hand, you can begin with your plan.

b. Generates Precise & Instant Floor Plans

While at the diagram and rough sketch stage, you are not looking at precision but a more free flow of ideas; the floor plan stage is definitely one of order and technical precision.

And, with an intelligent BIM tool like Snaptrude, you can do the following:

  1. Sketch directly on canvas using the Sketch Tool, which can be adjusted to accurate measurements for the final floor plan.
  2. Upload a rough hand-drawn sketch, and set the scale. All the spaces in the sketch get automatically converted into enclosed rooms, and the dimensions get rounded off to the nearest 100 mm.
  3. Draw accurate straight lines of your floor plan directly in 2D in the interface itself, using the Draw tool.
c. Smart Labeling

Labeling every space or room is simple on Snaptrude. Just select the block of space and enter the room name. The beauty of working in a BIM tool like Snaptrude is that if you change the label of a particular space, like say from a Kids’ Room to a Balcony, it will automatically change the extrusion in 2D and 3D view. Or, if you label some part of your site as a road, it automatically creates it with a 50 mm extrusion. So, Snaptrude is intelligent to make such design decisions to align with industry standards.

d. Easy Editing

With easy editing options, you will be able to create complex design shapes and forms as needed. With the move tool, you can easily move any edge or a vertex. You can also double click on an edge to move only the edge in your plan, without moving an object. It can be snapped wherever you want to. The Edit Polygon tool lets you see what the dimensions are and whether it needs any correction. Drawing with dimension thresholds, angle snap and angle thresholds helps you achieve higher precision with your lines. Auto editing features like converting your single line drawing into a double line drawing with just a click of a button (where wall thickness gets added automatically) makes designing simpler.

While drawing on an iPad (yes, Snaptrude works on iPad), you can draw and edit precisely with Snaptrude’s custom keypad that enables numerical inputs for draw and all the edit tools, so you can Enter the distance or angle value and just press Go.

Controlling angles and snaps better with Snaptrude

e. Auto Area Calculation

Your carpet area, built-up area and FARs get auto calculated and updated on Snaptrude basis your plan. You can also include and exclude external walls. Capturing these components accurately allows your plan to be submitted in compliance with guidelines set by local regulatory bodies (like RERA in India), thus getting clear approvals, at the beginning and eliminating any conflicts during the construction stage.

Site feasibility features in Snaptrude

f. Calculate Project Costing

You need to ensure that the plan you are suggesting is aligned to the client’s budget before you develop it further, right? BIM tools like Snaptrude help you with estimating hard costs during the initial stages of design itself. The moment you add doors and windows to your 2D floor plan, default materials like glass or wood get applied on them. You can choose to proceed with the default materials or change the materials. After you Create Building, the Material Schedule gets auto-calculated, including the quantity of material necessary. You can then export this Material schedule, multiply the quantities derived from the model to the current costs of each material and arrive at a fairly accurate cost of materials to estimate project costs.

Also read: How to create quick ballpark estimates for architects

Snaptrude helps architects calculate Bill of Quantities

Snaptrude helps architects calculate Bill of Quantities

g. Instant Massing

Working only in a 2D plan view is not holistic as one needs to consider the three dimensional sections too. Mass models give you a more realistic visual overview of your final structure, by understanding elements like the ceiling height, understanding how large a room is and letting you develop it further.

Once the 2D plan is made in Snaptrude, massing happens very quickly, with just one click of the 3D view tool.

Mass Editing is Easy on Snaptrude

h. Better Presentation of Floor Plans with Auto Interiors

Architectural firms are also evolving in the way they draft floor plans. With many firms opting to make elaborate floor plans by adding material and interior detailing or even 3D floor plans, a BIM tool like Snaptrude becomes indispensable. Snaptrude converts your 2D floor plan into a 3D BIM model simultaneously. Once you label your rooms in the floor plan, you can also use the Auto Interiors’ feature that auto-populates furniture in each room. This can let you understand the proportion and room spacing more accurately, while also make your floor plan easy to be understood by the end buyer, say of a residential apartment in a multi-storeyed building.

See how to use Auto Interiors’ feature in Snaptrude

2. BIM Reduces the Time & Effort in the Design Development Cycle Drastically

Architectural design is iterative, but it needn’t be unnecessarily time consuming. The intention of a BIM tool is to reduce the burden of drawing first in CAD and then doing it again in a 3D BIM tool. While CAD focuses only on making drawings, BIM generates building models from which a drawing can be generated, thus saving time. Changes made to one component in BIM appear instantly in all views unlike CAD, which saves you many hours per week. Also, CAD requires manual intervention for any iteration as all elements are static and not programmed with parameters, which makes it more prone to human errors. But, a BIM drawing is not simply lines. It is made of intelligent data-driven elements and automated properties, saving your days’ worth of manual effort and also reducing resource cost.

3. BIM is in Sync with Last Stages of Design

The delight in using BIM software like Snaptrude is that it extends beyond the initial planning and design phase of the project and continues throughout the building construction life cycle. Using a BIM tool from design to demolition ensures that your firm is focusing on accuracy throughout – planning, designing, constructing and managing.

“BIM tools like Snaptrude are 100 times more accurate than popular 3D modeling tools in the market, making the entry into construction drawing phase smoother and easier for architects.”

Making This Transition From CAD to BIM Easier

Many current BIM design tools in the industry have complicated the designing process, making it harder for architectural firms to transition from ‘CAD + BIM process’ to ‘BIM-only process’. However, by using a powerful yet simple tool like Snaptrude, architects can enjoy an easy journey towards BIM. Snaptrude creates data-driven 3D models that become easy supplements for complicated BIM tools. Try creating your floor plan in Snaptrude; we’re sure you won’t be disappointed!

Quote on BIM in Architecture
Source: United-BIMDisclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. Please write to for any dispute.