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Get Your IFC Model Approved!

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One of the most important tasks during the design and construction of a building is to document the decision making. Who decided when about what. Besides providing a common access to documents this is the main functionality of all the different CDEs out there.

Now guess what: can IFC do this? Can you document your approvals following the schema?

Sure you can. However it’s again one of the interesting but highly unsupported parts of IFC.

There is a specific class for doing this called IfcApproval. It has some attributes about when the approval was granted, by who and who asked for it (along with some name, identifier and description).

The cool part about approvals again in the relationships it can have:

  • You can relate an approval to other approvals (like nesting).
  • You can assign external references to the approval. This might be for example supporting documents (signed PDF).
  • You can link objects to be approved. If you followed my posts you already have an idea what objects are in IFC: not only elements like doors, walls or slabs but also types, tasks, cost items or work calendars. Even property definitions and property set definitions could be approved. Think about this again: in CDEs you ask to approve a plan or document. In IFC you ask to approve a door. Isn’t that way more sofisticated?
  • You can approve resources. If you think approving objects is cool have a closer look at this: you can even approve parts of elements. The list is quite long, but some examples are individual properties (!), material definitions, quantities, external references (yes, you can just approve documents too) or shapes.

Right now approvals in a BIM process are difficult. Often designers hand in a whole model and ask for a general approval to continue. Clients are overwhelmed by the amount of data and only approve plans derived from the model which makes many parts of the BIM process useless.

But what if you could get partial approvals along the way? Materials, door sizes, estimations, construction phases – what would be possible then?

This would open a total new way of collaboration, reduce risk and improve the confidence in the model and its contained data.

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