How to Make a Record Model, Part 1

This blog post was originally written for the Cn3D Construction blog. Cn3D Construction is now a U.S. CAD company, so please check back here at for more written articles from Jennifer Lanzetti and our new U.S. CAD Utah team.

One of the most powerful demonstrations of Building Information Modeling is a Record Model. So much that it deserves a two-part blog. If you have any questions after this first one, I can include the answers in the second part. I have shortened certain steps to keep the blog interesting. If you want the full procedure, contact U.S. CAD and we can give you the exact steps towards an incredible deliverable that has been tried and tested. Happy modeling!

Here are the sections covered:

Part One:

  1. What is a Record Model?
  2. Record Model Parts
  3. How do you create a Record Model?

Part Two:

  1. How do you create a Record Model? (continued)
  2. Who uses a Record Model?
  3. Interoperability
  4. Record Model Capabilities
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Record Model?

There has been confusion on the difference between a 3D As-Built Model and a Record Model. Of course, without an agreed upon set of standards, this is expected. For the purpose of this blog, a 3D As-Built Model is a combination of 3D models from various project disciplines that, when merged together, represent an accurate picture of the constructed facility and its assets. A Record Model takes this concept a step further as a 3D As-Built Model that has information embedded into the model geometry such as warranty, Ownership & Maintenance manuals, training videos, etc. It is the pinnacle of Building Information Model.

The most common phrase associated with BIM or VDC is ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. This is most true if the owner wants a Record Model at the completion of the project. BIM to FIM (Facility Information Management) is really information management. What information does the Facility and Maintenance department of a property need? An important part of providing information within 3D technology is in the delivery. We have to keep in mind what the current workflow is for facility managers and try to mimic this, or the Record Model will not be used for another generation.

When writing your BIM Execution Plan, keep in mind how the different discipline 3D models are created and maintained throughout construction dictates the quality of the final deliverable. There are specific steps that will ensure a high quality final model to the owner that I cover below.

Record Model Parts


  1. Gather all your final models from your design team and subcontractors.
  2. This is a sample of what 3D models a project would have. Keep in mind when you deliver the close-out documents to the owner you will give them all the 3D models in their native 3D format and 2D dwg. format along with the Record Model.
  3. Another consideration to make: the Record Model likely cannot begin until the project is coming to an end. You need the latest and greatest models and the team likely updates their documents/3D models after the final red-lines have been delivered and no more changes are being made. Schedule in the appropriate time for this activity.
  4. Updated Architectural, Structural and Engineers MEP Models
    1. Includes changes (RFIs, ASIs, CCDs, etc.) and redline comments from General Contractor
    2. Provided by Architect, Structural Engineer, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers.
  5. Structural Steel Model, Concrete Model, Mechanical (dry) Model, Mechanical (wet) Model, Plumbing Model, Electrical Model, Fire Protection Model, other specialty models.
    1. Updated native 3D Model File and 2D dwg. Files.
    2. Provided by subcontractors
    3. A note on modeled elements: if the correct manufacturer element is not modeled it is because the Revit Family does not yet exist or the Revit Family is too large and would add to many MB to the overall model. An accurately sized placeholder is substituted in these situations.
  6. The list includes both the design team models and subcontractor models. This is a discussion to have as a team on which models you will use in the Record Model. There are arguments for using either or, and both in some cases.
  7. All the above models combined should be clash-free.
  8. There are a few manipulation programs that you can use to create a Record Model, for the sake of this example we will be using Autodesk Navisworks Manage.
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  1. Gather all of your close-out documents
  2. The typical digital deliverable to the owner is a folder systems that looks like this:
    1. Warranties
      1. By Masterformat Division
    2. O & M Manuals
      1. By Masterformat Division
    3. Contact Information
    4. Contract Documents
    5. Specifications
    6. Etc…
  3. You will need to divide the documents a little different. Instead of by division, it will need to be by asset/equipment. Such as:
    1. Mechanical
      1. 237325 Air Handler Units
        1. O & M Manual
        2. Warranty
        3. Spec Sheet
        4. Training Video
        5. Manufacturer Website
        6. Etc.
      2. 233300 Fire Smoke Dampe
      3. 237500 Steam Generator
    2. Plumbing
      1. 220548 Circulation Pump
    3. Electrical
      1. 260160 Panelboard
      2. 260182 Switchboards
      3. Etc.
  4. There are a number of different file types that you can add to a model. If you are using Navisworks, keep in mind while the model is an NWF the model size will stay relatively small because of the linking feature. When you turn the model into an NWD for delivery to the owner, all the document and models sizes merge possible creating a 75 MB or more file size.
    1. O&M Manuals, Tutorial Videos (avi files), Website, Hyperlinks to Building Automation System, Floor Plans, Space Functions, Classified Areas, Area & Volume Calculations, Engineering Calculations, Specifications, Contract Documents, Legal Description, Change Orders, Litigation Documentation, Shop Drawings, Procurement Documents, Progress Photographs, Alarm Diagrams, Warranty Data, Invoices, Purchase Requests, Cost Estimates, Organizational Occupants, Personnel Lists, Seating Plans, Network Diagrams, Hazardous Materials, Operating Manuals, Maintenance Records, Inspection Records, Continuation of Operations Plans, Disaster Recovery Plans, Contingency Plans, Furniture Inventory, etc.
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How do you create a Record Model?

  1. First and foremost make the project team aware that a Record Model will be turned over to the owner at the end of the project and the role they play.
  2. Determine the Level of Development the models need to be:
    1. LOD 400: Coordination Model (resulting from 3D Clash Coordination effort)
      1. This model can be 90%-95% accurate
    2. LOD 500: All changes and redlines have been incorporated into the final models
  3. Collect all close-out documents from the inception of the project through final turn-over.
    1. It is best to have your close-out file tree created from the beginning of the project.
  4. Collect updated models from team participants during the last 1-2 months of the project.
  5. Purchase an external hard drive for all the close-out documents and Record Model.
    1. Owner may prefer you host to a web-platform.
  6. Make sure your folder structure is correct and your documents/3D model files are complete before you begin.

Folder Structure:

record model folder structure blog
  1. Append all the models in Navisworks, each discipline as a separate model (so the user can turn certain discipline models on and off).
    1. Contact U.S. CAD for assistance with:
      1. Models are not lining up
      2. How to integrate 3D grid lines
      3. How to add room names
      4. Setting up Sets
      5. Setting up Appearance Profiler
  2. Color the systems using the Override Color feature or Appearance Profiler
    1. Mechanical duct = blue
    2. Mechanical pipe = light blue
    3. Plumbing = green
    4. Electrical = yellow
    5. Fire Protection = red
    6. Steel = Maroon
    7. Concrete = gray
    8. Architectural = leave existing textures from native file

To be continued in “How to Create A Record Model, Part 2”; read on to learn more!

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