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Wall composite/construction layers . Different methods, different benefits and problems.

Vincent G_
Enthusiast
Hi everyone

This is not a brand new topic, a lot has been told about it already, but I've not found yet a satisfying solution.
I'm going to give a specific example that I think illustrate perfectly the issue and struggle I'm having (I reckon many have).

So we got our scope from ID team today, and we got to add tiles to some walls in the project's lobby. We're working on a SDA residential project (high disability) so clearances are absolutely vital. Hence, we can't just add a surface to the wall and tag it, we need to take into account the tile thickness, skirting thickness, and probably even the glue to fix the tiles on the wall.

We're trying to work as BIM as possible on this project since I'm tired of this half BIM half autocad mentality that make us re-do everything 10 time (tagging, schedule, annotation ..... long list).

My problem is the following: I've defined wall types based on all requirements we had to comply with (fire, acoustic, impact resistant, Rvalue...) and set composite from them. A lot of the workflow is based on this principle: for instance wall type labels are reading and display the composite name so if the wall change we just swap the composite and all's auto-updated. It works very well until you need to add a finish that has a non negligible thickness (other than paint finish pretty much).

We got the same wall type on different location, on one location (entry lobby), we need to add tiles on it while the rest is just a paint finish.

Here are the different option I can think of with everything I've read on the topic, and none is really satisfying.


01. I create instances of my base composite, the only difference being the surface finish (tile, timber, any finish with thickness vs paint). So if my typical wall is a 144mm thick party wall IDed as W35, I'll need one variation of the composite per finish type (I need instances only when thickness is added to it), meaning I end up with a bunch of very similar variation of the same type like:
PW_(144)_2x13SPB/92ST/2x13SPB_W35 = The base composite with paint finish
PW_(154)_2x13SPB/92ST/2x13SPB/10TL_W35.1 = The same wall but with tiles on one side
PW_(174)_2x13SPB/92ST/2x13SPB/30BT_W35.2 = The same wall with timber cladding
...
This become dangerous and hard to maintain, and in certain case we'd end up with a lot of variations. Also keep in mind that this corridor wall is a party wall, hence got structural columns inside so the wall is not one element from start to end, but a series of composites. Imagine if each piece need instances: nightmare.
Not to mention how confusing and long schedules might become.. And if we need to change something in the original wall (i.e insulation type or thickness) it means you need to update every instance. Open door for errors as I'm sure we'll always miss a couple of instance + the time it take to report one single change to every instance.


02. Adding a 10mm wall as the tile layer. That solution is a good one for specific locations such as a layer of tiles in the kitchen above the counter or in bathrooms.

But on the case of my lobby wall, it means adding wall empty openings to match with all my doors / service doors or have a lot of pieces to cover the part of the wall that will in fact hold tiles. Both are disaster to maintain.


03. Similar to above, I often heard people advising not to work with composites but with basic walls layers meaning that instead of having a composite wall for instance blockwork + plasterboard, you got one simple blockwork wall and one basic plasterboard wall (usually they separate lining from "structure"). This kind of make sense in some cases such as facade walls where each layer might not have the same extend (plasterboard goes to ceiling but insulation to under the slab and external cladding above slab), but same issues as above.. if you got openings, how you deal with? a series of empty opening for each layer? and try your best to have the right extend/offset of the frame that you need to manually adjust every time your wall change? And if you need to change the wall position / extend you got to do it for each layer and end up with non perfectly aligned pieces? No, thank you. Maybe in late CD but still not ideal.

04. Using complex profile. I've not explored this idea yet, my workmate suggested it to me this evening but I can already see a few major problems with that. You need 1 profile per height, so if you got several heights, you need several profiles. Again, that creates more problems and maintenance than it helps. Also all the systems based on the fact that the wall is a composite wall are broken (all wall ID tags reading composite name).

05. Change the wall type system, and have one type per finish. Well, so if you got the exact same wall but change only the paint finish color you need one type for each? Like family in revit? But without family system. And if each side of the wall got a different finish, more types? And what if the wall got two different paint finish on a certain extend (from 0 to +500mm blue, and +500 to ceiling green)? Not ideal either.

I'm sure you guys came across the same problem, and I'd be glad to ear what's the best/less annoying method to deal with it.

I really do hope there are some tricks I've not think of! Please surprise me!
10 REPLIES 10

Barry Kelly
Moderator
Complex profile wall can have modifiers applied.
So you can modify heights and thicknesses of the skins.
You can even stretch the height or thickness to zero to eliminate it.

So you can have one wall with timber cladding, tiles, insulation, etc., all controlled via modifiers.

This image is not a particularly good example, but it is just one complex profile wall.
Heights can be changed (per wall instance once placed).
The top wall plate stretched to zero, same for the eave lining.
Cavity width can be stretched.
Footings can be stretch even turned off by setting to zero.

Barry.

One of the forum moderators.
Versions 6.5 to 25
Dell XPS- i7-6700 @ 3.4Ghz, 16GB ram, GeForce GTX 960 (2GB), Windows 10
Dell Precision 3510 - i7 6820HQ @ 2.70GHz, 16GB RAM, AMD FirePro W5130M, Windows 10

AlexM
Contributor
This is an interesting issue that we struggle with too. Our current method is part 'construction' simplification and part 'workflow' solution. I don't think it's ideal, but I don't see any other solutions!

So - we have tried to simplify the wall types at a 'core' level. We've been seeing builders getting confused and frustrated at trying to sort through 100 marginally different wall types which are a result of the issues you've outlined. Secondly we also see that the sub-contractors doing wall lining are pretty savvy when it comes to rationalising plasterboard types to minimise cost and waste. And thirdly that it's really hard putting services through anything smaller than a 92mm stud.

So we make all walls 92mm stud with the same plasterboard lining to minimise the number of real 'types'. Then similar for masonry - a really small palette of basic walls based on their material and thickness. On a recent large commercial project we are down to 3 - a double sided PB wall, a single sided PB wall, and a PB wall with a steel sheet layer for security.

We use the wall properties to define if it requires to be fire-rated, wet-area, acoustic, etc, and then have a set of Graphic Overrides that colour code the extent of different 'wall performance' criteria. This shows up on a wall setout plan. So the wall tag describes the wall 'core' and thickness, while the colour and hatching describes the wall performance. This becomes very visual, so it's really easy to check if we've got an acoustic wall missing, or where the fire-containment boundary is. For the builder, this means changing a 13mm plasterboard layer to a 13mm FyreCheck layer, or adding insulation. Easy to understand.

We then model all wall coverings - timber, tiles, skirtings. These are tagged using their ID. They appear on wall elevations and finishes plans (associative tagging). We either use multiple empty door openings to deal with cutting through these - as you point out this can be a pain sometimes, but we get used to it quickly. The other thing we've been trialing is using the AC24 'Opening' tool, which cuts through multiple layers in one go. Both are clumsy.

The biggest issue is paint. We don't model paint! We do use a property in the walls to define the 'colour' or finish. Usually this works ok, but it's not uncommon to have a wall painted 1 colour on one side, and a different colour on the other side. You can't get Archicad to tag this automatically. So for paint colour on walls it's still a manual process unless everything is the same colour.

Using complex profiles/etc will possibly speed up the main modelling work, but it doesn't help with tagging and managing the elements in a project to make sure the design is right and the design complies with code. Modelling multiple wall coverings is slower, but not much, and it makes the 'QA' process better.

Central Innovation have a 'Coverings' tool that I've been meaning to check out. It may help solve some of this. We haven't found any other tool or workflow that's reliable at the moment.

We'd love to hear how others resolve this too! Having a native 'wall finish' tool would be ideal. There looks like there used to be a tool in the goodies, but we haven't been able to get it to work in recent versions.
24 / 25 Win10 & Win11 & OSX

Vincent G_
Enthusiast
Hello,

Thank you both for your comment.
I just wrote a detailed response for a while and mis clicked on quote which erased it all without the possibility to go back. Amazing feature.

@Barry seems like complex profile worth a shot after all, I'll look into it! I might need to do new tags reading complex profile name rather composite but that should not be to much struggle.

@AlexM
I agree, going as standard as possible helps everyone. In our case with all these performances to meet and super tight clearances we had to respect that was not possible.. We got around 20 wall types in total including shaft liners, column linings and external walls which is not too bad.
We also use overrided views to control our performances reading walls property (fire, acoustic, MR). That's indeed great to control the model. I've also set different material for the different plasterboard we need to use with different coloration : EC08, EC08 MR and EC08 Complete. We can "follow" the plasterboard and make sure all's right when working without override.
Regarding the paint finish, we either associate a dedicated surface to a dedicated material or just override the wall's surface and use surface label. Works well so far.

Once my GDL skills get better i'll try to develop an object that can be associated to a wall and read its opening to avoid covering these area. Not sure if that's archivable but that'd be great for claddings and skirtings!

If anyone got a neat solution let us know!

Barry Kelly
Moderator
Vincent wrote:
Once my GDL skills get better i'll try to develop an object that can be associated to a wall and read its opening to avoid covering these area. Not sure if that's archivable but that'd be great for claddings and skirtings!
I am not sure if you are aware of the wall accessories object that is available now.
You need to download and install the 'Goodies' and then load the 'Accessories' library that it installs in your Archicad program folder.

https://graphisoft.com/downloads/goodies

This accessory is not perfect but it does work.
It could also be used as a base for developing your own accessory object if you go down that path.

Barry.

One of the forum moderators.
Versions 6.5 to 25
Dell XPS- i7-6700 @ 3.4Ghz, 16GB ram, GeForce GTX 960 (2GB), Windows 10
Dell Precision 3510 - i7 6820HQ @ 2.70GHz, 16GB RAM, AMD FirePro W5130M, Windows 10

Vincent G_
Enthusiast
Barry wrote:
Vincent wrote:
Once my GDL skills get better i'll try to develop an object that can be associated to a wall and read its opening to avoid covering these area. Not sure if that's archivable but that'd be great for claddings and skirtings!
I am not sure if you are aware of the wall accessories object that is available now.
You need to download and install the 'Goodies' and then load the 'Accessories' library that it installs in your Archicad program folder.

https://graphisoft.com/downloads/goodies

This accessory is not perfect but it does work.
It could also be used as a base for developing your own accessory object if you go down that path.

Barry.
Oh wow no I had no idea, that seems like a very interesting toolbox indeed! Barry I'll have to pay you some drinks for all the solution you keep providing me/us!

kmitotk
Booster
We also model all wall coverings as independent wall elements. We even model paint and wallpaper. The reason is that this way we can manage and organize all project materials using the Building Material properties, (all except for the materials in any Objects which are composed of Surfaces not Building Materials).

Modeling of wall coverings is actually not as hard as it may sound. Just turn off all layers except for the zone layer and then activate the wall tool and start inputting the covering by pressing down the space bar (cursor turns to magic wand) and click on the zone edges. We actually use this method to place floor finish and ceiling as well using the slab tool instead of the wall tool. Also, the placed wall covering can be duplicated in place and be edited and turned into a base, or a crown molding if you'd like.

The benefit of this method is that since all of these finish elements can be independent elements within the zone (or touching the zone boundary), they can be "related" to the zone which means that you can basically automate the interior finish schedule. Also, labeling the wall covering in the interior elevation will become much easier this way. You can also schedule the Building Material properties and create a project material specifications as well as automatic material index. The beauty of it is that if you set up everything right, all the material information in the drawing set can be in sync all the time; you change one material and everything regarding that material will update automatically, just like the way BIM is supposed be.

I've tried to use the Interior Wizard add-on mentioned but had to give it up because in addition to its limitations on the geometrical capabilities, the covering materials of the objects it creates can only be defined by the Surfaces, not BMats .

I wouldn't, however, recommend this method for a large scale project with hundreds of rooms though. I'm still hoping that Graphisoft will come up with better, scalable, practical and true to BIM material management solutions.
Kei Mito
Architect
ArchiCAD 17-24
Dell Precision 5810

Vincent G_
Enthusiast
kmitotk wrote:
We also model all wall coverings as independent wall elements. We even model paint and wallpaper. The reason is that this way we can manage and organize all project materials using the Building Material properties, (all except for the materials in any Objects which are composed of Surfaces not Building Materials).

Modeling of wall coverings is actually not as hard as it may sound. Just turn off all layers except for the zone layer and then activate the wall tool and start inputting the covering by pressing down the space bar (cursor turns to magic wand) and click on the zone edges. We actually use this method to place floor finish and ceiling as well using the slab tool instead of the wall tool. Also, the placed wall covering can be duplicated in place and be edited and turned into a base, or a crown molding if you'd like.

The benefit of this method is that since all of these finish elements can be independent elements within the zone (or touching the zone boundary), they can be "related" to the zone which means that you can basically automate the interior finish schedule. Also, labeling the wall covering in the interior elevation will become much easier this way. You can also schedule the Building Material properties and create a project material specifications as well as automatic material index. The beauty of it is that if you set up everything right, all the material information in the drawing set can be in sync all the time; you change one material and everything regarding that material will update automatically, just like the way BIM is supposed be.

I've tried to use the Interior Wizard add-on mentioned but had to give it up because in addition to its limitations on the geometrical capabilities, the covering materials of the objects it creates can only be defined by the Surfaces, not BMats .

I wouldn't, however, recommend this method for a large scale project with hundreds of rooms though. I'm still hoping that Graphisoft will come up with better, scalable, practical and true to BIM material management solutions.
Hi kmitotk, thanks for your feedback.

I reckon you're right, in term of scheduling it makes a lot of sense to work this way. That can be quite handy for pricing and in term of BIM management that's indeed what I'm aiming to implement. Everything set the right way with proper materials + surfaces this way if you need to change all your bathroom floors for instance all you need to do is edit the "Bathroom - Floor finish" material, switch to the proper surface and all's doco updated.

I haven't thought of the method you guys are using to draw ceilings / finishes, that's quite handy! Problem is that the extend of zones depend from one place to another depending of the methods of calculation, and here in Melb they usually extend to external face of the walls or mid-wall for party walls.

I think in term of schedule having an independent element reading the zone is the way to go, I wont contest that.
I've been playing a bit with the wall accessory and it seems quite handy for skirtings or punctual "simple" wall finishes (like the counter tiles in kitchen), I wouldn't use it for every finishes of the project anyway.

For elevation/plan finishes tagging I use a surface label reading the wall faces, and if we got several layers or different extend of material I complete the label with a prefix (ie PF01 - Skirting) but of course if it's 1 material /1 surface per element it's much quicker.

Ideally AC would implement the possibility to have add-on directly from the wall tool (skirting, corniche, cladding) that we can schedule/tag directly as well as the possibility to tag a setting rather than a property (surface label not working for railing, object, doors...).
In meanwhile I guess we'll have to find work-arounds! Appreciated your feedback on the matter!

Edit: Just came across the first issue with wall accessory, seems that there is no way to align its texture. I've just read a post where you replied on the topic Barry. So unless we can add some GDL in there to allow that, well it's quite useless indeed because any element with defined vectorial hatching wont be manageable (tile, cladding, bricks) and you don't want to use different systems for a single task.
So yea unless we can code the wall accessory, kmitotk might be the best option we got for now..

If we were to model this as part of composite/complex profile we run in to problems with classification and it starts becoming a pain in the behind to properly dimension things before finishes are applied (which the contractor would like to know).

For these two reasons we would model it seperately, if needed. I can recommend putting the finishes on seperate layers with their own unique intersection number. This way you avoid unwanted wall connections.

We typically do not model plaster finishes, since the thickness will vary. For quantity take off for price estimates we need m² anyways, so to model the thickness is of little importance to us.

It gets a bit fiddly with doors, as pointed out, but for tile or wood finishes it can be worth it. For some renovation projects we do sometimes model the plaster, when it is covering old brickwork, for example.

For quantity take off, zones offer a lot of options too, but this might be tied to the local version of our zone stamps that are part of the Dutch subscription library.

Properties are very powerful as well for scheduling purposes.
Erwin Edel, Project Lead, Leloup Architecten
www.leloup.nl

ArchiCAD 9-24 NED FULL
Windows 10 Pro
Adobe Design Premium CS5

kmitotk
Booster
Great.
Problem is that the extend of zones depend from one place to another depending of the methods of calculation, and here in Melb they usually extend to external face of the walls or mid-wall for party walls.
Zones normally extend to the mid-wall here in Japan as well, but rarely to the outer face though. When you place a zone, don't draw it manually but always use the reference line based method. The magic wand should pick up the wall outlines instead of the wall reference lines and the zone area calc will be based on the wall reference lines. And in case some of the surrounding walls can't intersect with one another and the zone won't detect the enclosed area, use a polyline to connect the wall ends to close the gap. Make a separate layer for the polyline so you can hide them on the floor plan. Hope it helps.
Kei Mito
Architect
ArchiCAD 17-24
Dell Precision 5810

Vincent G_
Enthusiast
Erwin wrote:
If we were to model this as part of composite/complex profile we run in to problems with classification and it starts becoming a pain in the behind to properly dimension things before finishes are applied (which the contractor would like to know).

For these two reasons we would model it seperately, if needed. I can recommend putting the finishes on seperate layers with their own unique intersection number. This way you avoid unwanted wall connections.

We typically do not model plaster finishes, since the thickness will vary. For quantity take off for price estimates we need m² anyways, so to model the thickness is of little importance to us.

It gets a bit fiddly with doors, as pointed out, but for tile or wood finishes it can be worth it. For some renovation projects we do sometimes model the plaster, when it is covering old brickwork, for example.

For quantity take off, zones offer a lot of options too, but this might be tied to the local version of our zone stamps that are part of the Dutch subscription library.

Properties are very powerful as well for scheduling purposes.
That's what I did end up doing for these tile finish. I agree the method is the best we have now to make sure all's BIM and quantified. The goodie is great for skirting and corniche tho as it is associated to the wall (move with the wall) and read all openings so you don't need to maintain these. Once I got my GDL skills upgraded i'll try to code an object based on that goodie in term of functionality (associated to the wall, reading openings) but that also allow the texture alignment and the use of material/surface. This way we could schedule it exactly as you do for the finishes with a wall! I'll be happy to share that when I find the time to get it done!

kmitotk wrote:
Great.
Problem is that the extend of zones depend from one place to another depending of the methods of calculation, and here in Melb they usually extend to external face of the walls or mid-wall for party walls.
Zones normally extend to the mid-wall here in Japan as well, but rarely to the outer face though. When you place a zone, don't draw it manually but always use the reference line based method. The magic wand should pick up the wall outlines instead of the wall reference lines and the zone area calc will be based on the wall reference lines. And in case some of the surrounding walls can't intersect with one another and the zone won't detect the enclosed area, use a polyline to connect the wall ends to close the gap. Make a separate layer for the polyline so you can hide them on the floor plan. Hope it helps.
Good to know that trick indeed. It seems that in Australia they have different ways of calculating GFAs NSA/NLA, sometime internal face, sometime external face of the walls, and mid wall for party walls.. But with a bit of workaround I'm sure we can get the same workflow! Thanks for sharing the trick mate.

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