Using Note Blocks for Project Specifications

Quite a while ago I was looking for a solution for specification drawings, they crop up from time to time on small jobs when a separate specification document isn’t required.

The problem with these specification drawings though is that the content of the text usually started life in AutoCAD, then it’s imported and roughly tidied up in Revit, it’s usually copied and pasted from one job to the next and you end up with text that is cumbersome to modify and information irrelevant to the current project.

The answer to the problem is note blocks, in my opinion a brilliantly clean solution. The annotations can be placed neatly on a drafting view, the content of the annotations is then scheduled and you end up with a series of schedules that are easily arranged on your specification sheets. Modifying can be as simple as the modeler editing the text within the annotations or  the content can be exported using BIMLink, Dynamo, custom C# macros or addins ready to be modified by the engineer and re-imported to Revit.

I was working at another company when I put together a demonstration project, did a short presentation on how it works and was flat out told “No. This solution is too difficult for the average user.” And that was the end of that. We continued trundling on with cumbersome, incorrect and generally backward methods of creating and maintaining specification drawings.

I briefly mentioned this method for specification sheets in a Reddit post and I was asked how this works, so with that glimmer of hope that someone might find it useful, this is how you go about it.

First, start with a generic annotation. This is simply for display on your drafting view and of course to hold the data in for your schedules. Mine simply looks like this

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Each of these labels are a simple instance family parameter.

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The parameters I used were

  • Number – Used to order the notes
  • Note – The note itself
  • Category – This is used for each heading in the specification sheet. For example in hydraulics this could be Stormwater, Hot & Cold Water, Drainage etc. or for electrical it could be Lighting, Power, Lightning Protection etc.
  • Blank Spacer Left and Right – These are to give a cleaner look to the note blocks on the sheet, they’re personal preference only.
  • Region – I had to deal with region specific notes both within Australia and also internationally.

Once you have the family loaded into a project, create a drafting view to arrange your annotation symbols. Mine looked like so

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I manually typed in the headers that you can see just for my own reference, the headers aren’t required though as all the required information for scheduling is contained within the families themselves.

The next step is to create the schedule itself. If you’re not aware, the note blocks can be found under the schedule drop down on the ribbon.

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You will then be prompted to select the annotation that you want to schedule.

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From there, select all the parameters associated with the annotation that you need for your schedule.

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Filter out the annotations you need for this particular block of notes, in this instance I am working with hydraulics acoustic notes for Queensland.

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Sort by the number, formatting and appearance is obviously up to you and your documentation standards.

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Rinse and repeat for your remaining categories. My project ended up looking like so

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It takes a little bit of time to setup, but once you’re done future modification is simple and if you don’t need to modify the notes, even better! If you’re worried about template clutter, the schedules don’t need to live in your base template either, they can be located in a separate *.RVT file where all the standard notes and schedules are kept and can then be imported to the project as required.

The result is a clean, easy to organise specification sheet. If you don’t want a particular section, it’s quick to remove and re-align the remaining parts. If you don’t want a certain note to show up, you can filter it out by changing the number to xx or delete it from your drafting view. Engineers can confidently take responsibility for what is on their drawings without worrying about typos, misreading of hand markups or information hanging over from previous projects.

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And finally, you can see here how the blank left and right parameters affect the schedule. As mentioned previously these are entirely optional, I just liked the resulting layout of the notes.

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To get you started, you can download my example annotation family here

3 thoughts on “Using Note Blocks for Project Specifications

  1. avatar Elias says:

    Good Day Master BIM Jedi! Man your site is full of treasures. I love your site.

    From Your Humble Apprentice

  2. avatar kbel4 says:

    Now just need a dynamo plugin to copy from word to the note block.

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