Geometric-checking superpower for the architect’s BIM model

With built in rules for checking door, window and vertical clearances, Solibri Inside is helping architects and other designers deliver error-free BIM models to the global construction industry.

It’s estimated that up to 20% of construction work is actually rework. This represents tasks that need to be done more than once due to an error or an accumulation of errors over the construction cycle.

With so many different disciplines involved – often with interdependencies between them – the later an error is discovered, the more it increases costs. The industry wastes billions of dollars each year on rework and associated project delays.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the antidote to rework. Accurate 3D models enable early-stage planning and decision making, helping to optimize the final facility's outcomes while minimizing costly design changes along the way.

So how do you make sure the BIM model is accurate?

This task typically falls to BIM coordinators, whose responsibility it is to identify clashes and validate information in a project’s various BIM models. It’s an important role that can be performed more effectively when the quality of a BIM model is excellent to begin with.

We’ve seen that our industry can benefit even more from BIM-checking technology when it’s also used in the design and architecture phase by the creators of the 3D models themselves.

For this we have created Solibri Inside – an offering that brings our BIM quality-control tools further up the construction chain directly into the BIM models being created by designers and architects. The solution is now available as a plug-in to Archicad, Allplan and Vectorworks.

Protecting the single source of truth

Unlike in the past – where architects often worked independently – today's design practice has become much more interdisciplinary.

The complexity of modern building projects, advancements in technology, and the focus on sustainability mean that architects often collaborate closely with engineers, MEP specialists and other project participants. Working together helps to ensure that designs are feasible, comply with regulations, and meet energy-efficiency goals.

The architect or designer creating the initial BIM model for a project thus has a great deal of responsibility. Many other parties are counting on the model being correct, so checking for errors in the design phase is critical. All the other project participants can rely on their work being done right when the model is accurate from the start. This ultimately determines the successful outcome of a project.

But coordinating the geometric constraints of different disciplines is not easy. Misalignments and inconsistencies can easily occur, so we’ve built several rules and checks into Solibri Inside that help architects and designers to verify the geometry of different building components.

We’ve created these geometry-checking tools into the software both as rule types and as predefined checks.

Rule types are templates that define a logical geometric relationship between objects. It’s up to the user to input the objects and to define the relationships between them using parameters. Predefined checks are essentially rule types in which we have already included commonly used parameters.

The rule types we’ve created to check door clearances and window clearances allow the architect to ensure that these objects are unobstructed and functional. We’ve also created a rule type for checking vertical clearance. As the name suggests, this rule allows the user to measure the clearance between two or more vertical objects at any point in the BIM model.

The vertical clearance rule type can be used to create a rule for checking vertical height. This automatically checks the height of each space in the model against the requirements of the building design.

A roadmap to error-free architecture

There’s a lot more to come for geometric checking within Solibri Inside. For example, we’re now also working on a rule type to check the distance between objects.

This is useful for optimizing the space between columns, for example. When columns are placed too close together they consume valuable floor space and can potentially disrupt an open-plan effect. This can reduce the capacity of the building, create visual obstructions, and hinder movement through the space. Measuring the distance between columns is also necessary for checking load-bearing requirements.

The distance between a suspended ceiling and a structural ceiling also needs to be carefully controlled in the BIM model. If this distance is too small, it might not provide enough space to install and maintain the MEP systems. If the distance is too large it could unnecessarily reduce the floor-to-ceiling height and make the space below feel too cramped. Our object-distance rule type can help to prevent this.

The same rule type can be used to check the distance between windows. Placing windows too far apart or too close together can negatively impact the aesthetics of a wall. Too many windows can also weaken the wall’s structure.

All these geometric checks are easy to perform through Solibri Inside thanks to the solution being installed as a plugin to the architect’s familiar desktop software. Without needing to learn any new tools, the architect can identify and correct the majority of errors before the model is handed over to the BIM coordinator for the interdisciplinary check.

Architects that produce high-quality models quickly gain a reputation for doing so. This can lead to more business. There’s also the benefit of time saved in the architecture office. In the traditional way of working, when a BIM coordinator detects issues with a model then the architect needs to do rework. Having an accurate model reduces this risk.