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Drawing standards in an architectural office are critical. Just as you might infer, drawing standards are a set of guidelines that allow us to produce consistent drawings. This includes how sheets are arranged, details shown, and general flow within our software that allows the work to be reliable in content and appearance. This can often be challenging for a small office since we don’t have a dedicated CAD manager, which is someone that only works on creating and enforcing drawing standards.

reviewing the drawing standards
Our recent review of the drawing standards.

When we used AutoCAD maintaining standards was easier. Because Revit is more complex and third dimensional, we can’t just apply the same standards and expect the same results. With a 3D file, you’re not only trying to be consistent with graphics and sheet layout, but you want every person to build models the same way. Can you see where this might be challenging?

Our solution is to meet once a month to discuss our Revit standards--both on graphic issues as well as workflow/automation. The more we can use the automation functions of Revit the more consistency there is in our drawings, which leads to fewer errors and ultimately fewer change orders during construction. For example, we have been implementing “smart tags.” Smart tags will automatically update all the instances of the tag if you edit one. You can imagine how handy and efficient this is instead of combing through each page of a set of drawings looking for individual tags. We also recently reviewed the colors we use for presentation floor plans. We now have 10 colors, along with an order of use, to be more consistent with the look and feel of all floor plans by MSB Architects. 

collage of photos looking at presentation drawings
We take our color selection seriously.

There is never a good time to review drawing standards since we are always drawing, but having a monthly meeting keeps the dialogue open. This makes the standards at MSB Architects a living document, with an eye on how to use new features or otherwise improve the quality of our drawings. This is a different approach, as most firms look at drawing standards as relatively static. Now for our own sanity, we just need to stop making major changes to our standards in the middle of project deadlines. 😉 Stay tuned for my next blog, where I’ll dig deeper into some graphic changes we have made to improve clarity.

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