Revit Tips Part 3 – The difference between Revit Type and Instance Parameters

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This blog post is focused on helping facilities team members understanding the differences between type and instance parameters in Revit and how they can be used effectively to help you track the most important data associated with your building assets.  We’ll focus on the types of assets that facility managers work with every single day such as moveable equipment like furniture and computers and fixed equipment such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical equipment that needs to have either corrective or preventive maintained performed on it.  When I first started using Revit type and instance parameters were a little bit of a mystery so let me see if I can explain how and when to use them from a facilities management standpoint.

I think the best way to approach this topic is to think of building assets both fixed and movable within a facility and how you would describe them.  Facility mangers think of building assets in terms of their location, use, type and individual characteristics that help you to understand exactly where they are and what they are used for and then apply these principals to how you would expect to track an asset in a model and not vice versa.  To help show you how we can make this correlation easy to understand I think it’s best to think of instance and type parameters in Revit like this:

  • Type = A catalog item where the properties for that item are the same for all occurrences of that asset
  • Instance = An item from a catalog that is installed in your facility where the properties for that asset are unique to its installation

For example, a building might use the same model of a pump in ten locations.  The model number and basic specifications for the pump would be identical and should therefore be tracked as part of the “Type.”

Other properties will be unique to each occurrence.  For example, each pump would serve a different zone of the building, so the zone would be an “Instance” property and each pump would have its own unique identifier such as a serial or barcode number.

Think of Types and Instances in terms of their one to many relationship where you will have only one specific type of an item but it might be installed in a number of your facilities any number of times and each installation will have its own unique identifying attributes.  Image 1 below portrays this one to many relationship.


In Revit itself we apply these same principals. Image 2 shows an example Revit model in floor plan view where you can see that we have one type of pump in this mechanical space but there are two instances of that specific pump


In a future blog post I’ll cover tip number 4 which will apply directly to the Type vs. Instance topic where we’ll discuss attribution and when and where to track specific types of data on the furniture and equipment in your facilities.

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