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Updated: Apr 13, 2023

By Michael Snow, BIM Coordinator & Senior Architectural Technologist at Hager Design International Inc.

Perhaps another title could be “Working Smarter Not Harder with Complex Revit Families at Hager Design International Inc.”

A philosophy at Hager Design International Inc. (HDI) is to "Work smarter, not harder” hence HDI started investigating the capabilities of Revit. In 2019, HDI decided it was time to make the jump to Revit allowing them to utilize the intelligence and scheduling capabilities of Revit 2020.

Revit is Autodesk’s entry into the world of BIM (Building Information Management) via a digital design software package. This software makes the transition from unintelligent 2D to intelligent 3D without mistakes as it models in 3D versus converting from 2D into 3D and any changes in the 3D model is reflected in the 2D drawings. The main reason for us switching from AutoCAD to Revit was to save time and resources and to collaborate more effectively with our other consultants on our projects.

One of those ways to work smarter is to create families for a project and these families could be used on similar projects or for a client with repeatable attributes such as a franchisor with a cohesive store concept and brand that is rolled out across all of their franchised or corporately owned locations across the country. I would like to explain how we created a particular family for one of our clients.

HDI created a host of families in this case for one of our Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) clients. We created low overhead, parametric, nested families that allowed the quick design, documentation, and presentation for this client. The QSR in question has many signature items in their decor. One of them is what they call a "communal table". The current communal table is typically 8 feet long, sits 8 people, and sports two USB charging ports and was designed for new build franchise locations across Canada and eventually North America. Recently this franchise underwent a branding exercise, and this feature table is to be installed in all existing restaurants moving forward.

Two issues arose with this:

  1. An 8-foot table does not always fit in an existing store so a 4’, 6', and 7’ chaired table, needed to be created.

  2. Since power to the USB units is supplied to the table from under the floor tile in new construction this is not possible for most renovations. Therefore, resulting that most tables will not be able to be powered. Hence the need to design powerless tables.

Instead of creating 8 individual files – i.e. one for each type of table, and having 4 to 8 single chairs in the floor plan, we took the time to create one table and one chair, then created and applied adjustable family parameters (hence the term “parametric) to control what is automatically displayed and scheduled on the drawing just by changing the table type.

Common Parameters

To explain further, each table has a set of common variables called “parameters”. I have highlighted parameters in different colors in the table and the symbol to show what each parameter controls. Parameters that do not have a color are “constants” or “anchors” that never change. By varying the lengths and widths, and turning on and off check marks, we can make all 8 tables that our QSR requires.

The 4 Top Powered Table

More importantly, it allows us to create an accurate inventory or required chairs, tables, and outlets for our QSR. Instead of 8 different tables and 44 chairs, we create only one chair and one table and use them accordingly.

The 8 Top Powered Table

The Revit File

As you can see above, the actual Revit Family file is quite complex. Any time you change to a different table, different settings in the parameters create different visualizations for the drawing and the schedules. Once inputted into the drawing, there will be one 6'-0” powered communal table and 6 individual chairs showing up on the drawing.

Chair Distance

Finally, when navigating any of the building codes, clearance between tables for egress out of the building can be critical. To help meet these clearances, all one might have to do is "push in a chair" an inch or two but with a one piece symbol you cannot do that - unless you are "working smarter" at HDI.

Just by changing the "Chair Distance" Parameter we can move the chairs in or out as we please.

In closing, I hope this small informative tutorial was helpful and demonstrated the power of this software if used correctly. By using leading edge technology in the correct way has made HDI one of the leading Interior Design firms in North America.

If anyone has any questions, comments, or tips for improvements, feel free to share them with us.


Michael Snow is the BIM coordinator and Architectural Technologist at Hager Design International Inc. He is a seasoned and passionate Revit technician helping clients visualize their spaces with his 3D capabilities as well as bringing the rest of the HDI team into the Revit world. Michael can be reached at



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