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6 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Efficiency as a CAD/BIM Modeller

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and BIM (Building Information Modelling) users work on tasks that require superior accuracy and keen attention to detail. Also, CAD and BIM software have a complex user interface with a lot of icons, menus, ribbons and palettes. Mastering these is part of the CAD/BIM technician’s work. If their productivity can be improved, it may create a ripple effect in improving the productivity of the whole design office team.

CAD technician’s and BIM modellers’ work involves a lot of modelling, editing, drafting, documenting, calculations, computations and quantity extraction tasks. Routine and repetitive tasks can be automated to increase the efficiency and accuracy of complex calculations.

Where physical prototypes are needed, computer simulations like creating a virtual model of a proposed construction facility can come in handy in reducing the costs and physical time required to produce and test those prototypes.

In this article, we explore six ways to improve the productivity of a CAD/BIM software user. This discussion is in the context of the architecture, engineering, construction and operations industry. Therefore, most of the products suggested here work well in the said industry for architectural, interior design, plumbing and electrical projects.

Let’s begin.

1. Mastering and Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The entire process of creating, modifying, and verifying designs with computer-aided tools makes intensive use of a computer mouse and keyboard as the primary input devices. The workflow involving the movement of arms from the mouse to the keyboard and back takes some productive time.

Also, most of the input through the mouse goes through a series of selection steps when a menu is activated. This can be shortened by focusing solely on using the keyboard with shortcut commands.

Keyboard shortcuts are a combination of keys which invoke a specific command to the software system you are using. For example, a combination of “ctrl + S” commands the software to see the progress of work achieved so far.

Software like ArchiCAD, Revit or SketchUp have premade shortcuts and key combinations. Also, these software are flexible enough to allow you to create your own custom key combinations to use as keyboard shortcuts for commonly executed CAD tasks.

If you use ArchiCAD, you can check out our collection of “Useful ArchiCAD Keyboard Shortcuts”.

2. Automation with Code

CAD/BIM software users may find that sometimes they are required to perform calculations and computations that may take a lot of time and need to maintain a degree of accuracy. Tasks like building quantity data extraction from a BIM model and spatial and volumetric data calculations from a CAD model require extreme accuracy, which can be compromised by constant human intervention (which introduces errors due to human judgement).

This is where coding and programming knowledge can be very useful. Software proficiency can be supplemented with knowledge of programming languages such as Python and C# to help a CAD/BIM designer automate these processes and obtain a greater degree of control over the modelled parameters.

3. Making use of Software and Project Templates

Software and project templates for the common design programs we use can also be very useful in helping reduce project set-up times and improving the CAD/BIM designers’ productivity in their tasks.

When creating a new project (whether ArchiCAD or Revit project), you must associate it with a project template and a work environment profile. A work environment profile customises the arrangement of your visual workspace; icons, menus, palettes, etc.

ArchiCAD New Project: Template Prompt

A template contains predefined settings and elements such as title blocks, elevation preview settings, layers and layer combinations, dimensioning systems, annotating styles, and naming conventions. Templates help create consistent and professional drawing sets, saving time and effort, avoiding errors and mistakes and ensuring quality and accuracy.

With a properly set-up template, all you need to do is to focus on creating an excellent virtual building model. The annotations, documentation and other aspects are automated for the larger part. Your title blocks are ready, the elevation presentation views are preset, and colours, line types, weights and pen sets are already preset. This contributes massively to the productivity of the BIM modeller.

Our marketplace has ArchiCAD templates and Revit templates listed by our community of talented designers and creators, for you to explore. Other creators, such asMesolightBIM, have the popular MSBIM ArchiCAD template that is also excellent in helping ArchiCAD users set up their projects quickly and benefit from its built-in quantity data and cost extraction automation.

4. Customizing your work environment

The work environment is like a digital version of your physical workspace. Your physical workspace needs to be organised efficiently to improve your workflow. Practices like keeping the tools you use daily closer to your work desk, and removing anything else that may cause distractions.

Likewise, the digital workspace can be customized by arranging the user interface, menus, toolbars, and palettes, in a way that your favourite tools and commands are easily accessible and can help you work more efficiently and comfortably.

5. Virtual Libraries of Custom CAD Blocks or BIM Objects

Both computer-aided design and building information modelling workflows rely on a repetitive process of drafting, re-drafting, drawing, modelling, and documenting. There are commonly used components such as beds, windows, doors, machines, printers, plumbing and sanitary appliances or lighting fixtures that can be drawn once then those drawings are re-used.

CAD software such as AutoCAD allows you to create and customise blocks for these items. In BIM software, they are called objects, such as ArchiCAD objects, SketchUp models or Revit families.

It is highly advisable to keep a virtual library stocked with commonly used CAD blocks or BIM objects: models of sample rooms, door and window collections, electrical and lighting fixtures, and appliances.

This lets you insert your ready-made blocks/objects/models without the need to draw/model them out over and over again. The time that would have been used reproducing them is said. A modeller’s productivity will therefore increase.

You can take time and model those custom CAD blocks and BIM objects for your office use. If you don’t have that time, our collection of BIM objects is a very good place for you to get started.

6. More Practice

After equipping yourself with a robust library of BIM objects, software and project templates, customising both your physical and digital workspace, mastering keyboard shortcuts and automating repetitive tasks with code, nothing beats everyday practice.

It is through daily practice that you can master keyboard shortcuts, write better code, or even learn how to work faster generally. As it is said, practice makes perfect.

Also, you can consider joining a local user community that will help review your work as you practice together.


We have seen the need for the CAD/BIM modeller to have a well-streamlined workflow to help them solely focus on the tasks they are working on to improve their overall productivity.

Mastering the keyboard shortcut commands is also important, especially when using modelling software. This reduces the back-and-forth movement of the arm from the keyboard to the mouse. A lot of time can be saved in the long run.

Also, coding and programming knowledge can be very useful. Most software can be extended with code, and Python or C# code can be used to automate most repetitive tasks such as quantity extraction and mass documentation.

Templates, virtual libraries of CAD blocks, and BIM objects are also very useful. For items that keep appearing project after project, these can be saved as blocks or BIM objects and re-used in the next project without having to be remodelled every time.

These and many other practices that may not have been mentioned here are essential in boosting the productivity of a CAD/BIM modeller.

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