The introduction of the custom properties for the Building Materials in AC23 has opened up great opportunities for how we manage the materials. We now can store all the material info in the Building Materials themselves and create a material schedule out of it.
There are, however, finish materials, such as paint, coating & wallpaper, which we don't normally give thickness and therefore, not included in the building materials. Thus, a component based material schedule will end up being missing these materials.
Currently, there isn't a proper place to put specs of these thin finish materials. I saw someone in this forum suggested putting the material specs in the element properties and use the expressions to create the material schedule but that doesn't seem to really work. Here is why (please correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm still hoping there is a way to do it with currently available tools):
Each building element has multiple faces that you can assign different surface materials. So you need a different set of properties (description, product info, supplier info..) for each surface material in an element and that would make a very long list of material properties in each element. Even if that's done, you'd still have a problem when you try to create a material schedule out of it.
By using the sequence, the expressions can extract different kind of properties from different element types and place them into a single field in the schedule, but the problem is that it only returns one property per element. The expressions cannot, as far as I know, return multiple properties from an element (i.e. properties for the outer, inner & edge surfaces of a wall, left, right, top, bottom & end surfaces of a beam) and place them all together in a single field in the schedule. If that is not possible then it's a deal breaker. You cannot create any proper material schedule with this method.
The simplest way to solve this would be to make properties available for the Surfaces the same way its done for the Building Materials and use the surface based schedule to create the material schedule. That way we can have a complete set of finish schedule.
Or, if the Building Material can somehow carry multiple sets of surface material properties and list them properly in the component schedule, I'm for it too.
Either way, we need a simple straightforward way to generate an interactive schedule that can list the properties of ALL the materials in the project.
Thanks DGSketcher for showing the link to the reference guide page.
As shown in the guide page, the Surface based schedule can only list a handful of the predetermined properties (surface name, color sample, RGB color code, exposed area, etc.) of the surface materials.
If a material is supposed to have a thickness then we can use the Building Material properties to put material description and specs, but when it comes to the materials with negligible thickness such as paint, coating and wallpaper, there is no proper place to put the material info and that's the problem.
GS should really think of this inefficiency and come up with a better way to handle the custom properties of these surface applied thin materials.
Personally, I think instead of Surface we should start calling it simply Material and make it available as a place to store all the material info, and the Building Material should be simply a building block made of a base material with an option to have a different material on the surface.