How to Make a Record Model, Part 2

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.

In the last blog post “How to Create a Record Model, Part 1”, I started down the road of successful Record Model (RM) creation, because as we know, Record Models are one of the most powerful demonstrations of Building INFORMATION Modeling. In part two, I wrap up this glorious feat with not one, but TWO amazing tips that cause the most grief with RM’s: 1) hard paths versus relative paths and 2) why are there so many links showing. 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.

Continued from Part 1

1. Create Folders of each level in Saved Viewpoints, then Viewpoints (saved screen locations) of each room in the appropriate folder. This makes navigation for the user very easy. Remember that the generations using a RM want easy, point and click solutions.

record model snapshot 1 blog

2. Now the fun part, linking data to the building/equipment elements. Follow the steps below for each Room’s Saved Viewpoint.

1. Right-click on object that you are attaching the data to and change to a bright color (e.g., orange) so it is obvious which piece of equipment has the information. Some Revit families have multiple parts and can be confusing.

record model snapshot 2 blog

2. Right-click again on the object to Add Link or Edit Links. Instead of picking Hyperlink (which is just a symbol) I recommend using a Label so the user can see what the link references (as in what is the name of the file you are attaching).

record model snapshot 3 blog

3. This is the most important part! The default in Navisworks is to make links follow a hard path. This means that whatever drive letter and user creates the model is what the model looks for. This works great if you only plan on using your record model on your PC. Most likely the model will be shared with other users and your model turns into a dumb 3D model. It will take a little extra work to make each link a relative path; which is why folder structure is of the utmost importance.

4. Once you transfer the model and files to another computer, and your try to open a link; you will receive an error stating ‘Failed to Resolve Link’:
C:\Users\Jennifer Lanzetti\Documents\Projects\Project Name\Record Model\Documents\Mechanical\237500 Steam Generator O & M.pdf

5. The solution is to make the hyperlink START at the folder level your model is saved in. Yes, you will have to delete the excess information in the ‘Link to file’area for each link you create. Using the above example this means deleting C:\Users\Jennifer Lanzetti\Documents\Projects\Project Name\Record Model\and just leaving Documents\Mechanical\237500 Steam Generator O & M.pdf.

record model snapshot 4 blog
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3. Important Note: Relative paths only work with an NWD file, not an NWF file (it only likes hard paths). So do all the work, then deliver to the owner in NWD format. Keep your copy in NWF in case you need to make changes to models later and update the RM.

4. The last bit of goodness I can share with you are some settings that make the links more manageable. By default Navisworks likes to show you as many links as possible, even when the geometry that the link is attached to is behind walls and over 50 feet away. This can make the screen clustered making it difficult for the user to decide on which link to choose.

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record model snapshot 6 blog

1. The solution is to change your Options: Under Interface/Links check ‘In 3D’, which will show you just the links in this room and reduce your ‘Max Icons’ from 25 to 10 or less, depending on how much you want to show.

record model snapshot 7 blog


1. Deliver to the user a hard drive (or web-based platform) housing the model and linked documents. Make sure they understand the importance of keeping the model and folder structure integrity.

2. Provide user with appropriate software (paid or free version of Navisworks).

3. Demonstrate how to use the model, add, change or delete information if necessary.

1. Extra information can be added to the model with tags and comments such as ceiling height, previous maintenance problems, tips and tricks, etc.

4. Make hardware recommendations. Your model will likely be 50 MB or more after you save as an NWD. Don’t limit the user’s ability with old technology.


Most building owners utilize a number of separate programs to operate their facility(ies). Below is a typical list. A model can be used as the visual integrator that ties all these programs together to eliminate redundant data entry, information loss and wasted time and money.

1. Computerized Maintenance Management System (work orders, maintenance tickets)
2.Electronic Document Systems (document and information housing)
3. Computer Aided Facility Management Systems (space management)
4. Building Automation System (energy management, monitoring, alarms)

As during the construction process, building ownership and maintenance is hinged on information management.


Make sure you educate your users on the difference between Navisworks and Revit models.

1. Navisworks Manage is a manipulation software program (versus a modeling program)

  1. Small file size (easy to maneuver around)
  2. Can add data to model elements
  3. Saved Viewpoints (locate rooms/areas quickly)
  4. Can leave and review comments
  5. Add maintenance schedule
  6. Cannot change the model other than minor adjustments import into Navisworks)

2. Revit Architecture is a modeling program

  1. Large file size (hard to maneuver in)
  2. Can add data to model elements (limited)
  3. Camera Shots
  4. See 2D and 3D plans
  5. Can change the model from renovations/retrofits
  6. (Some models need to be changed in original authoring program then re-linked into Revit. As in the case of a remodel or retrofit.)


There are programs that have ‘work-arounds’ due to current lack of interoperability between GIS and design authoring tools. In the case of ESRI and Autodesk software programs it is recommended to create a ‘point object in your ESRI map, and link the model to open in the appropriate viewing program when this link is selected.


Q1: If say, my mechanical model, has a few changes and I re-append in a new model, will it remember the hyperlinks (except of course to the things that changed) from the previous identical (almost) model?
A: Works if you merge the model, but not if you append.

Q2: Is it better to house the documents for hyperlinking on a disk(server) or website?
A: Either are good options, depends on the owner.

Q3: What are the limitations of the hyperlinking? What can and cannot be linked?
A: Best to link documents/file types that are native to most computers and don’t require them to download special software.

Q4: Are there iPhone or iPad applications for Navisworks that can allow it to be used in the field?
A: There are a couple, including BIM 360 Glue and Autodesk 360.

Q5: Is there a way to change the name of something in the Selection Tree (or do I have to create a selection set to change the name of a system/element)?
A: Have to create a selection set if you want an element or group of items to have a different name.


There are many more potentials of the Owner having models at the completion of the project. The options below are from the Penn State BIM Execution Plan. Be an advocate for your Owners and share the possibilities.

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1. Building System Analysis:

  1. A process that measures how a building’s performance compares to the specified design. This includes how the mechanical system operates and how much energy a building uses. Other aspects of this analysis include, but are not limited to, ventilated facade studies, lighting analysis, internal and external CFD airflow, occupant evacuation, and solar analysis.
    1. SmartMarket Report: “While BIM aids in the design process and recording the predicted energy usage of a building, BIM should help integrate ongoing measurement and verification of actual building energy use and compare it to the predicted model” This would help inform project members that their building may or may not be performing to their assumed designed energy standard.

2. Asset Management

  1. A process in which an organized management system will efficiently aid in the maintenance and operation of a facility and its assets. Asset Management utilizes the data contained in a record model to determine cost implications of changing or upgrading building assets, segregate costs of assets for financial tax purposes, and maintain a current comprehensive database that can produce the value of a company’s assets.

3. Space Management & Tracking

  1. A process in which BIM is utilized to effectively allocate, manage, and track assigned workspaces and resources. A BIM model will allow the facility management team to analyze the existing use of the space and appropriately manage changes in clientele, use of space, and future changes throughout the facility’s lifecycle. Space management and tracking is an application of the record model.

4. Disaster Planning

  1. A process in which emergency responders would have access to critical building information in the form of model and information system. The BIM model would provide critical building information to the responders, that would improve the efficiency of the response and, more importantly, minimize the safety risks. The dynamic building information would be provided by a building automation system (BAS), while the static building information, such as floor plans and equipment schematics, would reside in a BIM model. These two systems would be integrated via a wireless connection and emergency responders would be linked to an overall system. The BIM coupled with the BAS would be able to clearly display where the emergency was located within the building, possible routes to the area, and any other harmful locations within the building.

I hope this helps you create the model of all models and your Owners see you as 3D gurus. Happy modeling!

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