Case Study of Adapting AutoCAD, BIM and VR Software Used in AEC Industry



Jae-Ho Pyeon1, Fatemeh Saffari1, and Joonhee Maeng2


1 San Jose State University

1 Washington Square

San Jose, CA 95192, USA


2 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu

Daejeon, 34141, S. Korea




The evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) has had a significant influence on our life in all aspects. For the successful implementation of ICT in the Architectural, Engineering, and Contractor (AEC) industry, the innovation of the AEC industry participants using ICT tools and systems is the key. So, it is necessary to motivate AEC industry participants by changing their cultural behaviors instinctively programmed resistance to any form of changes. Therefore, this paper presents a framework of measuring the productivity of using a new Building Information Modeling technology and comparing with the productivity of using a traditional AutoCAD tool. Using a case study of a conceptual residential housing project, both BIM Revit Architecture and AutoCAD software training performance was measured and summary results was reported in this paper. In addition, using Modelo Revit Add-in software, it is introduced to convert the 3D Revit BIM model into a VR-ready model for Google Cardboard.


Keywords-component; 3D Modeling; AEC; Revit Architecture; BIM; VR


1. Introduction


The evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) has had a significant influence on our life in all aspects. Although the technology itself is an important matter, Weippert and Kajewski [1] emphasized the importance of the human factor especially for the successful implementation of ICT in the Architectural, Engineering, and Contractor (AEC) industry. Eventually, Weippert and Kajewski [1] insisted that the innovation of the AEC industry participants using ICT tools and systems will determine the success of the technological developments in the future. In this perspective, they found that it is necessary to motivate AEC industry participants by changing their cultural behaviors instinctively programmed resistance to any form of changes.


There have been numerous technological improvements available for the AEC industry. However, the AEC industry is enormously slow to adopt those available technologies [2]. For the successful technology implementation in the AEC industry, Davis and Songer [2] recommended a people focused change model instead of a technology focused model because AEC industry participants are the drivers of technology adoption and change.


Davis and Songer [2] insisted that the importance of cultural issues for technological implementation within the building and construction industry has been neither studied enough nor documented well. Therefore, they studied individuals and their change processes for successful implementation of technology change and proposed a social architecture factor model to promote use of new technologies based on a people focused technology implementation model. 


2. Virtualization Technologies in the AEC Industry


2.1. Building Information Modeling


It is well known that visualization is an effective tool to improve the understanding of complex relationships and systems [3, 4, 5]. Having an embodiment of construction projects prior to its implementation was an incentive to move from computer aided design (CAD) towards advanced evolution of CAD or 3D modeling. This technique is used by Architects, Engineers and Constructors to build a digital virtual model of the building prior to the actual construction. Technique known as Building Information Modeling (BIM) can be used for planning, design, construction and operation of the facility in order to identify the issues. Although its definition for the majority of the users as stated, is finding issues prior to the performance of the actual construction, every participant have their own perspective on how it can facilitate projects process. Aranda Mena [6] mentioned that BIM is a 3D graphic software application as well as a process for designing and documenting information on buildings.


2.2. Virtual Reality


There are many software that you can convert your 3D models into Virtual Reality. Iris VR, Blender, VR Sketch, Yulio, and Modelo are most well-known software converting the 3D model into VR. Among them, Modelo is a web-based multipurpose platform supporting Virtual Reality platforms such as a handset-based headset, Google Cardboard. It also supports desktop, mobile, and tablet-based interfaces. First, it is required to upload your model into Modelo to change your model into VR. Then, using Modelo, three different files such as Revit, SketchUp, and Rhino files are easily converted into VR. Once 3D models are uploaded to Modelo, the users can easily have a VR experience using a simple VR device. Figure 1 shows the screenshots uploading and converting a Revit 3D BIM model house into a VR-ready house for the Google Cardboard.


(a) Uploaded Revit File

(b) VR Ready File for Google Cardboard


Fig. 1 Screenshots for Converting a Revit BIM Model to VR Using Modelo



2.3. New Technology Implementation Issues


Professionals in the AEC industry have been looking for many techniques to minimize costs and time due to human errors, mistakes and uncertainties in construction projects. It is well-known that the BIM technology has been very effective to achieve these goals and at the same time has enhanced projects quality. However, it is also true that there are many professionals in the AEC industry who are still hesitating to become BIM users. Challenges with regard to implementing BIM are mostly divided into technical, social or legal, process related problems and implementation costs. Initial implementation costs and required training time for BIM might be a common barriers to the AEC industry.


One of the most common barriers for the implementation of BIM is the issue of a productivity loss. Obviously, it is inevitable to suffer productivity during the training period. However, based on several case studies, Rundell [7] found that a significant productivity increase after relatively short training periods. Table 1 shows the results of time spent comparison between new BIM Revit Architecture and traditional CAD technologies performed by Lott + Barber Architects. It indicates that the implementation of new BIM technology increase productivity by saving overall time spent approximately 37 %.


Table 1. Productivity Comparison between BIM Revit Architecture and traditional CAD Tools Performed by Lott + Barber Architects [1]










Savings (%)

Schematic Design





Design Development





Construction Documents





Checking and Coordination











In summary, correct understanding of the relationship between productivity and new technology implementation in the AEC industry will remove a potential barriers for the successful implementation of the technology. Therefore, the researchers studied graphic design, BIM, and Virtual Reality tools useful for the AEC industry as a framework measuring the impact of productivity. 


3. Research Methodology


One of the main problems for investing in BIM is training the staff and enhancing their knowledge in the AEC industry. The intent of this research is to evaluate the outcomes of using a BIM 3D modeling software and a traditional CAD software. The method used for quantifying BIM software time efficiency in this case study is simple working hour comparison for each task. The amount of time spent for students to learn and understand the basic drawing tools in Autodesk Revit Architecture and AutoCAD (traditional CAD software) to perform a housing project modeling was compared.


4. Research Outcomes


The researchers measured the time required for training and using Revit and AutoCAD to complete a 2 level residential housing project, and compared the project elements completed. AutoCAD, as a non-BIM (2D) software was simpler in learning and needed less instruction on different features. However, while working a residential housing project, AutoCAD took more time in overall and required substantial attention to draw the exact details compared to the Revit BIM software. Table 2 below shows the amount of time applied to complete each section of the project.


Using AutoCAD, Project tasks were completed within assigned time including a 2-level plan with exact columns and doorways. However, the AutoCAD model was missing many components such as windows and doors, dimensions, and grids. In addition, it has only one section and one elevation without any details which was required for the project such as 3D within the assigned time.


Initially, Autodesk Revit took a little more learning hours to learn various functions in the main commands and various aspects of many drawing tools. However, the total time used to draw the project was much less than AutoCAD. It showed that there was a significant difference in terms of the progress and amount of work completed in a couple of hours. One of the main features in the outcomes was the 3D model of the project completed with Revit Architecture software as shown in Figure 2.

Fig. 2 BIM 3D Model Used for Productivity Study


By comparing the project completed tasks, it indicated that Revit had a significant impact on project details and amount of time allocated to complete each part of the project. Table 2 shows the number of hours required to train and complete each project task using AutoCAD and Revit. Average of total hours in AutoCAD was 19.1 hours and for Revit was 8.2 hours which indicates a considerable difference.


Table 2. Working Hours Comparison between BIM Revit Architecture and Traditional CAD Tools







Revit BIM






Revit BIM


Level 1





Level 2



























5. Conclusions


The outcomes of a simple case study using a BIM Revit and traditional AutoCAD software shows a significant differences in working hours to complete assigned tasks for modeling a residential house project. An average working hours saved was 57% to perform the assigned tasks using Revit Architecture BIM software among the trainee group. The outcomes of the Revit project were more comprehensive and detailed. In conclusion, adopting an advance information technology tool will require initial time and efforts for students to learn functions and get familiar with a new user interface. However, it was significantly improve the productivity by saving time and producing a better product during the study period.

In addition, residential housing projects using Autodesk Revit software can be easily uploaded on the Modelo website and using Modelo Add-in software, the 3D Revit models can instantly converted into VR-ready models for Google Cardboard. This will benefit the users to review their designs and improve communications.


6. Research Limitation and Recommendations


This study was performed as a framework using a case study including a small sample size. Because of this limitation, the above conclusions cannot be generalized. However, it is recommended to study the same research with a large sample for more meaningful conclusions.




[1] A. Weippert and S. Kajewski, “AEC Industry Culture: a Need for Change,” CIB World Building Congress 2004: Building for the Future, Toronto, Canada, 2004.

[2] K. A. Davis and A. D. Songer, “Technological Change in the AEC Industry: A Social Architecture Factor Model of Individual’s Resistance,” Engineering Management Conference, IEMC 2002, IEEE International, Cambridge, Vol. 1, pp. 286‐91, 2002.

[3] S. K. Card, J. D. Mackinlay, and B. Shneiderman, “Information Visualization,” Morgan Kaufman Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, CA, 1999.

[4] K. McKinney and M. Fischer, “Generating, Evaluating and Visualizing Construction Schedules with CAD Tools,” Automation in Construction, 7(6):433-447, 1998.

[5] V. R.Kamat and J. C. Martinez, “Visualizing simulated construction operations in 3D,” Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, 15(4), 329-327, 2001

[6] G. Aranda-Mena, J. Crawford, A. Chevez, and T. Froese, “Building information modelling demystified: Does it make business sense to adopt BIM?” International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 2(3), 419-434, 2009

[7] R. Rundell, “The Five Fallacies of BIM, Part 1: 1-2-3 Revit Tutorial,” Autodesk, November, 2007.