Deltec Homes upgrades its innovative panel work
This US creator of hurricane-resistant circular timber homes greatly enhanced its panel design processes with the help of AGACAD wood framing tools for Revit® and related training and support, speeding its fuller transition to BIM.
Deltec Homes is a design and prefabrication company based in Asheville, North Carolina, known for uniquely durable and energy-efficient timber houses. Founded in 1968 and certified as environmentally friendly, it has customers in all 50 US states and around the world, from the Caribbean to Australia, especially in places where heavy wind and storms are common.
Deltec Homes promotes ingenuity in building design, seeking maximally simple ways to address life’s complex challenges. The company is famous for its distinctive hurricane-resistant round homes, which combine panoramic views of nature with protection from its harsher moments. It also boasts two “Housing Innovation Awards” from the US Department of Energy for zero energy houses.
In IT terms, too, Deltec wanted to get more innovative by introducing 3D design and building information modelling with Autodesk’s Revit® platform for BIM.
“We’d been using AutoCAD Architecture to do all our drafting and models but wanted to update our processes with software that was more modern and more capable,” says Philip Graf, who’s responsible for panel design at Deltec. “We chose to move to a Revit workflow and, as part of that, I needed software to generate the panel design sheets for the shop.”
The company usually delivers homes as kits of prefab elements shipped from its factory in North Carolina for assembly and finishing by a local builder. Its BIM framing solution needed to be able to handle some non-standard aspects that give Deltec’s homes unique value, in particular: (1) its round designs that make for highly resilient aerodynamic structures and minimize the need for load-bearing walls, allowing sweeping interiors and window views; and (2) its Energy Wall system for extremely airtight, energy-efficient houses.
Graf also hoped the tool would link documentation to information in the existing model and permit customization of sheet content and presentation.
Research on the web led Deltec Homes to AGACAD.
“Searching for Revit panelization software, we saw that AGACAD is highly regarded and an official Autodesk Industry Partner,” Graf recalls.
AGACAD tools for Revit also didn’t seem locked into standard approaches, such as 90-degree angles for walls, like other products he’d looked it.
“Our houses are pretty unique, with the round shape and engineering, so it was important to confirm that flexibility.” A demo call with one of the engineers at AGACAD ended all doubts: “For everything we asked him, all our non-standard requests, it maybe took a moment, but he was always able to make the software do what it needed to do. I was very impressed.”
Thus, Deltec went with the AGACAD Wood Framing Wall package for automating BIM work with even highly complex multi-layer timber-frame walls. The software makes framing walls fast and easy with real-time full project updates in Revit. Plus, it generates views with automatic dimensions for wall panels or segments as well as accurate bills of materials and shop drawings.
The company also found a lot of help to get full value from the toolset. Graf notes he was still new to Revit, too, as he learned to create panels with the framing add-in. He tapped AGACAD’s abundant online materials for users as well as close personal attention from the helpful and friendly engineers on its support team. “That all really helped me get up the learning curve,” he says.
A year and a half later, Philip Graf says his great expectations have been met.
“My colleagues and I are very happy with the much-improved quality of the shop drawings I’m able to produce with Wood Framing Wall. I’m now working directly from the same model we generate all our plans from, so the potential for error is much reduced. I also now have control over my deliverables for the shop: I can include a lot more information than before and I can exclude unnecessary information that used to clutter up panel sheets. One example of major improvements is that sheathing used to be just listed in a table, now it’s all drawn out graphically and easy to understand, which reduces the chance the shop could make a mistake.”
Meanwhile, Deltec Homes is continuing its transition of legacy systems to modern digital construction processes. And, with its eyes on the possibilities that BIM and tools like AGACAD’s offer, it is formulating big new ambitions – like expanding in-house “turnkey” finishing of houses, currently available only within a modest radius of its factory in North Carolina, to all the USA.
“We’d like to use BIM software to more thoroughly design MEP systems and so on. We’re looking to expand what we offer the customers in-house, to make the process simpler for them. I know AGACAD has Revit add-ons for many such processes, and for things like packing prefabricated building panels, which we will look at closely when the time comes,” the panel designer says.
Written by Bryan Bradley of Textus Aptus.
This client story exemplifies AGACAD’s focus on using technology intelligently to enable major process improvements that help our clients serve the wellbeing of their customers and advance towards a more sustainable world.
AGACAD is part of ARKANCE, Europe’s leader in the digital transformation of construction and manufacturing, and for 31 years now has been creating tomorrow’s AEC. Our solutions for BIM professionals – with 13,000+ users in 130 countries – share top practitioners’ insights and automate best practices to eliminate unnecessary tasks and let clients focus on work that creates value.
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