Avoid unnecessary fixes: do not chase ghosts
Can you see what’s wrong with this image?
That’s a trick question. There is nothing wrong with anything in the image. It’s all fine. You could get nit-picky and say that the brick color is wrong (but you didn’t know that). Or you could say that the windows and doors should have been modeled with the Curtain Wall Tool (they weren’t). Or you might think the trusses shouldn’t be Complex Profile Beams with a length of an inch and a half (I prefer this solution to using the trussmaker). Probably what you noticed is that the main floor is Story -1 instead of Story 1 (we’re using my template which is based on the USA template, so no story 0). But if you called out any of those things, you’d be incorrect. Because there is nothing wrong with anything in this image.
It might hurt your latent OCD tendencies to see -1 Main floor. Or to have the Elevation of the main floor not equal 0′-0″. You might be deep into converting your template to be COBie compliant, or working hard to make sure exchange with Revit users is streamlined. But for this project, none of that matters. And in fact as I built the site mesh (crudely off of a scan of a hand drawing from 1985), having the main floor set to 312′ made my life much easier than if it had been 0′-0″. Having it be the real number was better. 312′ matters infinitely more than -1. Especially for this project. It is important that you understand how to use Project Location and Reference Levels, because that offers more robust solutions, and would make working with the mesh just as easy. But you also need to understand the difference between knowing the formally correct answer and knowing what are the acceptable solutions for the given task.
The generic brick Surface might hurt your eyes, but the real brick color is an even more hideous tan—and absolutely getting replaced. The client doesn’t need to pay us to get the existing color right. They know what the building looks like now, including the mansard roof we are ripping off. So why bother modeling what they already know, and what is definitely getting removed? Plus we have the original thirty year old construction documents; if they really need to see a drawing, we can show them that. What they need to see, if anything at this point, is what’s remaining. What we need to model to start designing are the essentials of what we are working from. The starting condition for this project is not in fact the existing form, but after a pre-defined series of demolition (including all interior walls). On a bigger fee project, or a more advanced BIM project we might model what’s getting demolished to understand quantities, or to show options of different demo solutions. But we know what’s going. The bulk of what is getting demoed is a known quantity that can be easily documented with a few dashed lines and notes, if that.
This model is ready for us to design
Knowing what to ignore is as important as knowning what not to ignore. Here’s a reply to a conversation I was having recently: “I agree that ignoring index numbers seems to be the best was forward. Managing a perfectly chronological index would be a challenge.” For some users that is crazy advice. But for others it is perfectly sound and logical. I’ve talked about managing complexity before. All of these examples are about complexity and about information management. If you don’t see index number issues showing up, don’t stress about them. Forget they exist. If the story number doesn’t matter for the project you’re working on, don’t worry if it’s goofy. To spend time fixing that sort of thing is a waste of your efforts. Who will benefit? Who will care? Who will give you an award for perfect alignment? I sure won’t.
If you are jumping up and down right now screaming at your computer, I’ve probably listed something that does matter to your work. If that’s the case, then don’t ignore that piece of data. Don’t let it slide. Use this article to explain the importance of doing those things correctly. For everything I listed above that I say to ignore, I could easily give you examples of when one shouldn’t ignore those issues. And I could give you dozens more examples of other things that always have to be right. Well for my workflows they always need to be correct.
All these scenarios hinge on my favorite Donald Rumsfeld quote. If you understand the importance of your decisions and their relationship to the known and unknown, you will be fine. Maintain awareness of what is understood, what is required, and then don’t get trapped by silly things like treating unimportant decisions as errors that need to be corrected. Just because BIM and ARCHICAD are super powerful and light years ahead of the old ways, that doesn’t mean you need to harness all that power on every project at all times.
For more, read the follow up post:
Are you following GRAPHISOFT North America on Twitter? Click Here to keep track of all the latest ARCHICAD News in North America (and beyond). For another perspective on this concept of fighting the wrong battles, check out my recent article Basic Unchangeable Decisions. Remember, just because sometimes things that look wrong aren’t actually wrong—or they are wrong, but don’t need fixing—, there are also plenty of times when things definitely are broken and need fixing. Understand the difference and stop wasting your time fixing unnecessary stuff.