In this article, we’ll dive into how to place and schedule FF&E alongside your Revit model
We will also outline methods for creating a FF&E schedules within Revit, in Excel, and in a flexible database tool. And, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each method.
What is an FF&E Schedule?
FF&E stands for Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment. It generally refers to all the movable pieces of a design—couches, artwork, kitchen appliances, etc.
In architecture and design, a schedule refers to the spreadsheet of specifications for a particular scope of the project. This is where you might find the manufacturer, description, dimensions, and any other details for a product. A project might have a door schedule, a window schedule, a finishes schedule, and an FF&E schedule.
Who creates FF&E Schedules?
FF&E workflows and scheduling within Revit itself are very similar to any other Revit element—doors, windows, etc.
FF&E, however, is inherently managed differently than architectural elements. The architect is likely not the decision maker on these items, even though they typically own the Revit model. Furniture is oftentimes managed by an interior designer, fixtures could be a joint effort between the architect and interior designer, and equipment will often be chiefly designed by another consultant who may or may not even have access to the model.
Because of this, managing FF&E schedules within Revit takes a lot of hands-on coordination and active management.
First, you have to place the FF&E in Revit
First things first, you have to actually have FF&E in Revit to begin. It’s a very similar process to any other Revit element:
- 1. First, open up the floor plan view that you’d like to work in.
- 2. Then, click “Place Component”. Select which family you’d like to use via the drop down menu, or change the component in the project browser. Alternatively, you can load a new family.
- 3. Place the component anywhere you’d like in your floor plan. Once placed, you can drag it around to the proper location or nudge it with your arrow keys.
For FF&E items in particular, it might be helpful to use generic families. While an office park project may have 10 different kinds of desk chairs throughout the campus, it’s probably not necessary to weigh down your model (or use your time) to model all the minutia.
Oftentimes, a generic model will suffice. To distinguish between different types, you should create a new type and give each type a distinct type mark. Within each type you can specify the dimensions, color, etc. That makes this type different than the nine other office chairs.
If you’re using a flexible database tool in tandem while placing your FF&E in the model, this process is even easier. Revit only needs to be the data source for the location, quantities, and maybe a general massing. You can store all other information in the flexible database tool itself. More on that later.
Then, you can schedule it
Now that you’ve designed and placed FF&E in the model, you have to schedule it.
There are several approaches and every company does it a little differently.
The most popular options are to (1) schedule in Revit, (2) manually data entry in a spreadsheet, or, most likely, (3) a mix of both Revit and Excel. You could also opt for a flexible database tool, which has the perks of all of these approaches.
Let’s take a look at the options:
Option 1: Scheduling in Revit
Scheduling within Revit is, again, similar to how you would schedule other model elements, like doors and windows.
- 1. Navigate to the view tab, select schedules/quantities, select “new schedule (furniture)”.
- 2. From the available fields, select which ones apply to the schedule you’re creating. You’ll probably, at a minimum, want to select “count,” “type mark,” “manufacturer,” “type,” and maybe “image”.
- 3. Reorganize those scheduled fields as you would like.
- 4. Once the schedule is spit out, you’ll notice that each instance in the model gets its own line by default. You’ll have to sort and group as you see fit to create a legible schedule. Sort by type mark, and then group those, so you can quickly check quantities.
Scheduling within Revit has its pros and cons:
PROS of scheduling in Revit:
- Singular source of truth. Any time something is updated in the model, it’s automatically reflected in the schedule.
- Easy for the architect to update. There is no need to have multiple programs open.
CONS of scheduling in Revit:
- Not everyone has access to the Revit model. This limits the ability for an outside consultant or a designer who doesn’t know Revit to make changes within their scope. This lack of access often results in an uncoordinated design or lots of unnecessary work for the architect.
- Low customizability. Revit is not very adaptable in how information is organized.
Option 2: Scheduling in Excel
Because of the problems with accessibility of a Revit schedule, many companies resort to Excel or other spreadsheet programs to schedule their FF&E.
In this situation, Revit might host either (a) generic families as noted above or (b) a CAD plan managed by the interiors team or consultant, loaded into the Revit model. The spreadsheet would store all the information the designer would need (model number, dimensions, fabric, color, required power specs, etc).
This method of scheduling gives the Interior Designer or consultant full control of the schedule, independent of Revit ability or permissions. However, any changes in the schedule that need to be reflected in Revit and coordinated across teams will need to be verbally communicated to somebody that has permission to revise the model.
Say, for example, the kitchen designer changes the spec for a microwave, now it requires a different voltage. This information needs to be updated inside the Revit model. Then, you need to relay this to the electrical engineer or contractor.
Scheduling with Excel also has its pros and cons:
PROS of scheduling in Excel:
- Easy to access by everyone. You don’t need a Revit license to view and edit the schedule.
- Very customizable. It’s easy to create whichever categories you need to communicate, as well as update the graphic representation of the schedule.
CONS of scheduling in Excel:
- Needs to be manually modified. When something is changed in Revit, it isn’t automatically reflected in Excel. The designer will have to go in and update the input manually.
- Harder to share. Old versions of a PDF or spreadsheet often get sent back and forth via email, and it’s hard to be sure you have the most recent information.
Option 3: Scheduling in a Flexible Database Tool (Recommended)
There is one comprehensive solution: a flexible database tool.
A flexible database tool will connect your Revit model, web content, cut sheets, and manufacturer info in one dashboard, organized however you find most useful.
How do I use a flexible database tool?
After placing the FF&E in the Revit model, link (or sync) the model to your database tool. The tool can harvest and extract the data that already exists in the model, and if you’ve linked your model previously, can notify you of any changes since you last synced.
To learn more about how to use a flexible database tool like Layer, scroll to the bottom of this page and schedule a demo!
Why would I use a flexible database tool?
Revit will remain the source of information for quantities and locations, and maybe a general massing. The flexible database tool can also host all other information, however nitty gritty you need to get. You can access the information from within the Revit model via a dockable window. More importantly though, the information can be accessed by anyone without ever opening Revit.
What if I don’t know Revit?
Even if you don’t know Revit or have access to the model, you can use Layer’s Revit Model Viewer to walk around the model and click on any object to see all of the data. You can even view the model with the furniture components isolated to get a holistic picture of the FF&E scope.
A flexible database tool like Layer remains a singular source of truth and eliminates a lot of the back and forth between the architect and interior designer or consultants.
Once your company has established a furniture schedule for one project, you can reuse the format throughout all of your projects, creating easily interpretable schedules with visual consistency.
With a tool like Layer, you can share and collaborate with project stakeholders from any device—from your desk or from site. Those that work in Revit can stay in Revit and make changes as necessary there. Those that are not in Revit can stay out of the model, while still making their own revision to the data they need control over.
Layer also makes it easy to connect diverse disciplines on a project, and deliver and report information in the way that makes the most sense for your team specifically.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the different methods for creating FF&E Schedules. Proper management of an FF&E project requires detailed coordination of a lot of disparate information.
The best way to keep it all straight and accessible to all is through a flexible database tool. This way, everyone has equal view into the most current information.