3 Reasons to use Excel as an ally in your BIM flow

As an architect Excel is probably your best friend in the workplace. But do you use it as an ally or are you too dependent on this tool? Don’t get the wrong idea, Excel is probably one of the most convenient software programs available today not only in architectural practices. It assists in manual checks, brings your data together and makes presenting easier with comprehensive visual charts.

However, progress is unstoppable and the AEC industry is on the verge of a revolutionary change with the adopted building information modelling (BIM), which multilayered and consistent approach brings all project members together with coherent communication and information exchange. The reality of adaptation to new ways of designing a building always brings some tension and disputes. So do not start a love — hate relationship with Excel because it is rather a traditional tool, but learn how to incorporate and use it to your best advantage.

Here, we present you with 3 reasons why it’s time to let go of the unnecessary features in Excel that slow you down, and embrace the ones to help you get through the transition from manual to automatic BIM workflow.

1. Keep Excel for dessert

Starting at the preliminary design in the buildings lifecycle, it’s important to check, double-check and triple-check if the building design meets local regulations and standards. Call me old school, but to a large extent this is still being done in Excel — manually. Now you can surely use Excel, but leave for dessert. The smarter way you approach your building design process, the more efficient it will be.

Without a doubt as a certified design professional, you don’t have the time to sit behind a computer for days or maybe weeks, manually counting and calculating whether the building has the right amount of plumbing fixtures, detail items and parking components. There is more than one BIM software nowadays, which automates the updates according to the latest changes in your design. For example, if you use Autodesk Revit®, you can simply add a plugin to do that for you. Have you heard of Xinaps Spatial Requirement Assistant™? The plugin does an automatic check in your 3D design and instantly adapts any changes within Revit® .

So if you should simply set your template with rich data initially in a BIM software, which works in an automatic environment, where your data will be valid, credible and up-to-date with your design at any time. How does Excel come into the equation? Once you set up a template, you can easily export it to Excel to assist with administrative manners, presenting your pitch to the team and building owner and start building up the history of your current project in archives. So follow the KISS style by Keeping IT Short and Simple by making the choice at which stage of your building design process Excel is an ally.

2. Juggling Formats is no longer a problem — we all know Excel

We all know that working on projects in the AEC industry always involves many team members, so you end up working with architects, engineers and contractors. They all need to do different calculations for the same designs, which is a premise to potential chaos and disputes. What if all of these calculations could be done in one software? ‘’If only’’, you would probably say.

Using Excel as an assisting tool to present relevant and essential information to the whole team saves you the hassle to make sure your data is in the format that works with the software you use. No more frustrating converting the exported data and time-consuming complications.

Let’s say that as an architect you want to have a budget estimation of costs and you use Financial Simulator™ plugin within Revit®. With the press of an Import button, your Excel data can be a part of your Revit® model. It adjusts automatically to any changes in design, so your financial feasibility of your building design can be monitored at any time by all the project team members. Even more, the Financial Simulator™ allows you to visualise any data in different chart and create comparative pricing scenarios for various design changes. Later on you can easily share all the updates with a colleague or your client by simply exporting an Excel file for your convenience and easier to read data at any time.

3. Report YOUR style

As you already know by now, design changes are being made around-the-clock. Whether you are testing the visual light transmittance, window-to-floor ratio or net glazing area, it will still impact the decision-making process. This can be the tipping point to check if the building design meets requirements and local standards. You can easily now ensure consistency of reporting by creating your own style in Excel.

Let’s say you want to check daylight requirements and local standards with Daylight Ratio Evaluator™ within Revit®. You will probably have specific technical jargon, which your team understands best. Don’t expand all your brainpower wondering how to inform all project members regarding your design decisions, but simply input your data fully in a BIM software by customizing your own template within it. Once you have a coming presentation or a team meeting, you easily export to a customized and up-to-date report in Excel, where later on you can add visual charts and tables to pitch your ideas in a credible and visually supported manner.

Revit® software is one way to go BIM with its abundant App Store, which provides plugins that ease your BIM workflow. Xinaps apps fully embrace the benefits of Excel and power them within Revit® by integrating it in your building design process. Want to know more about us and our products? Take a few minutes to look at our website and our corporate video.

Share with us how you incorporate Excel into your design building process!