Category Archives: model

My family cannot be found

A lot of my time is spent hunting for Revit families for things that the engineer specs. Sometimes the search is successful – many times it is not. Let’s get this truth out there on the table.

In a perfect world, I could just go and pick ANY item the engineer specs and find it within  few clicks. Let’s get that thought immediately out of our heads. Unless your firm has already used that family type AND saved it out to a common shared drive, you are pretty much out of luck. IF you have a Revit family guru on staff that can quickly make the family with all its intricate connection and constraints (we are lucky to have several in our firm – I am but a humble wannabe), then your job is made a bit easier.

But what if you just wanted to SHOW some representation of a unit? It doesn’t have to so super detailed that it includes the nameplate of the manufacturer on it. You shouldn’t EVER need that level of detail, but I’ll let that one go and get to the gist of what I’m blogging about. Revit MEP has a wonderful tool for us family builder wannabe’s. It is called “Model in Place”. And it is pretty straightforward for a long-time AutoCAD user like myself. Many of the commands work very similar to AutoCAD! 🙂

So let’s get it. The engineer has provided me with this cut sheet and wants to use this unit.

We can model this! First, let get some views set up so we can see how our model is progressing.

The Model in-place tool can be found in the Systems Tab (I’m using MEP 2013 for this example) and model panel.

Clicking on the Tool brings up the Family Category and Parameters dialog box. This is just asking you what TYPE of family you want to create. And when you are finished, it will do the housekeeping and add it in the appropriate place. In this example, we are modeling (in place) a piece of Mechanical Equipment.

Now it asks you to name the family. In this case, we are going to call it York MAU 7T.

On the Create Tab and Forms Panel, select the Extrusion tool. In my haste, I forgot to copy the ‘A’ dimension that sets the height of the unit. In our example here, we will use 64.375″ The easiest way I have found to use the extrusion tool is in conjunction with the Properties Palette. In our simplified example, we want to start the extrusion at zero and end it at 64.375″. We can now start drawing the width and depth of the unit based off the cut sheet. We start by picking a start point and  typing in 31.758″ (don’t forget the ” symbol, or you will have drawn a line at 31.758 FEET). The Depth of the unit 58.5″. continue drawing the unit and snap back to the beginning line drawn. This will ensure that it is closed.


Click the green check mark tool in the Mode Panel. This ends the Extrusion tool. Take a moment and admire your work thus far. Yeah, it’s a cube, but we MODELED it! 😉

Let’s embellish it a bit before calling this simple exercise done. We’ll add the rants on the top to give it a bit more visual appeal. Back to the Create Tab and Forms Panel, select the Extrusion Tool again. This time from the Draw Panel, select the circle tool. Our Circle extrusion will sit on the top of the box, so the extrusion start will be the 64.375″ . We just want to show a hint of what the fans are at the top, so the extrusion end will be 2″ above that (66.375″). Draw one circle and end the extrusion. Pick the extruded circle just drawn and from the Modify Panel, select the Copy Tool. You can further embellish your model by adding some plain circles to indicate the fan grille. And you can also show lines to indicate the front opening. To show the front  opening, I used the Void Forms > Void Extrusion. It’s all up to you how much you want to make this thing look.

Finally, from the Create Tab and In-Place Editor Panel, select the Finish Model Tool. Your model is complete! The Model-in-pace tool can be invaluable if you absolutely need to show that equipment but don’t have the time to go into an in-depth model. Remember, that if you are connecting other things to this model (pipes, ducts, etc.) there are NO connection points! This is one downfall of this tool. But I can live with that. Hope this helps. And if you have other suggestions for improvements on this subject, please let me know.