Revit Families: Nesting a Window Frame

From TOI-Pedia


After creating an opening in a wall, we can add detail by nesting other families into the wall opening Family. In this tutorial you'll create a simple Revit Window Frame Family and nest this into a Revit Wall Opening Family. The tutorial has some main parts:

  • Preparing the Wall Opening Family within Revit
  • Creating the basic Window Frame within Revit
  • Creating the Window Frame Profile within Revit
  • Nesting the Families within Revit

Preparing the Wall Opening Family

In an earlier assignment you made a simple window family. Select such a window instance and hit the Edit Family button in the top bar. Or double click on the window instance in order to open the editor.

Before creating a window frame, we're first setting up a Reference Plane that will determine the depth at which the frame sits in the opening (dag or negge in Dutch), measured from the outside of the wall to the outside of the frame.

Example of the Reference Plane in place
  • Go to the Plan view (Ref. Level)
  • On the Create tab, Datum panel, click Revit Reference Plane.png (Reference Plane)
  • Draw a horizontal line between the exterior side and the wall's center to indicate the position of the Reference Plane. Position it about 60mm from the exterior side of the wall. Click Modify twice when finished.
  • Select the Reference Plane you drew and make sure to give it a name in the Properties Panel, eg 'Outside Frame' or 'Negge' (Dutch).
  • Create an Aligned Dimension by clicking Revit 2011 Aligned Dimension.png in the Annotate Tab. In the Option Bar, select 'Wall Faces' for Place Dimensions. First select the exterior face, then click the Reference Plane and position the Dimension. Don't forget to lock it.
  • The result should look something like the example at the right.

Because we've used the Metric Window template, there are already a few parameters in our family that can change the window when using it in a project, without having to load a different version of the family. These are:

  • Width
  • Height
  • Default Sill Height (vertical position)

These Parameters are Type Parameters that can be specified when you've loaded the family in your project and click Edit Type.

So that's nice: you don't have to modify your Family file, save it in another name just to change the width or height of the window. However, the distance between the outside of the wall and the window frame ('negge' in Dutch) was created with a reference plane with a locked dimension. It would be nice if we could change that directly as well (make it a Parameter). Let's do that:

  • On the Create or Modify Tab, click Revit Family Types.png (Family Types)
    Revit Creating Window Family Type Properties1.png
  • At the bottom click the New Parameter icon New Parameter icon.png
  • Enter a name: 'Frame Depth', or 'Negge' (dutch). As this is a distance, the type 'Length' is fine.

Revit Creating Window Family Add Frame Depth Parameter.png

  • Click OK
  • It's recommended to give it a sensible default value (60 in this case)
  • Click OK to close the Family Types window.

But we're not there yet. we have to let Revit know that this Parameter should control the dimension we created that positions the Outside Frame (or however you named it) reference Plane from the outside of the wall. We do this by Labeling the dimension.

  • Go to your Plan view Ref. Level.
  • You should find the dimension there. Click to select it.
  • In the Contextual menu you should find Label Dimension pull down menu. Hit the little down arrow and you should find the 'Frame Depth' or 'Negge'parameter there.
  • Select it.
  • The result should look something like this:
    Revit Wall Opening Frame Depth.jpg

Now, the distance of the Reference Plane to the outside of the wall is controlled by the 'Frame Depth' Parameter and you can change this in the Type Properties of your Window when you apply it in your project. This will make the Family even more flexible.

Naming the window family

Before we continue save the family with another name. We will follow the naming according to the NLRS (Dutch Revit Standard). This standard is used to avoid misunderstandings between partners in a building project. It is broader than naming a custom family. For more information and downloads: In the NLRS version 2.5.2 the name of a custom family has several positions separated by an underscore sign (_). From the documentation:

NLRS naming.png

Pos1: in the case of this window frame tutorial the Land Code is NL and the standard is RS.

Pos2: Classification code is NL-sfb element. Latest version can be found at under the tab Standaarden. For a ‘Buitenwandopeningen; gevuld met ramen’ (façade opening; filled with windows) we find the code 31.2.

Pos3: Abbreviation of the Family Category in Revit. In this case windows: WIN

Pos4: Code for placing the Family: in this case way of hosting: WB (wall based).

Pos5: Description of the Family. It is recommended to use an open standard like CB-NL. In this case: Vast raam. Eventually followed by a – (hyphen) and an attribute code like AV (always vertical). More codes can be found in ‘160209_NLRS2.5.2_Naamgeving componenten.xlsx’ of the NLRS download in the folder ‘Support Files’.

Pos6: Generic or name of manufactory. In this case: gen.

Pos7: Maker of the content in this case is you. E.g your initials: FF (First name Family name).

So in total in this example we get: NLRS_31.2_WIN_WB_Vast raam-AV_gen_FF.

Creating the window frame

The window frame is a new Family. In this case a Generic Model Family. Later on we will nest this Family into the Wall Opening Family. We need to pay attention to the placement of the window frame to make sure the Parameters are forwarded correctly so the size of the window frame changes with the size of the wall opening.

  • Click File menu, New, Family
  • The 'New Family - Select Template File' Windows opens
  • Find and select the Metric Generic Model file (In C:\Program Data\Autodesk\RVT 2018\Family Templates\English)
  • Click Open.

The Floor Plan of the Generic Model Family shows two Reference Planes that mark the center of the model. The Back and Front Elevation also show a Reference Level. These will help as guides for the placement of the frame in the Wall Opening Family. To control the size of the frame, we add few more Reference Planes.

  • Go to the Front Elevation. If no Reference Lines are visible in Front Elevation View, press ZE (Zoom Extents) on your keyboard.
  • On the Create tab, Datum panel, click Revit Reference Plane.png (Reference Plane)
  • Create a vertical Reference Plane on both sides of the center plane.
  • Create an Aligned Dimension (Annotate Tab). First click on the left plane, then on the center plane and finally on the right plane. Position the Dimension.
  • Look for the Revit 2011 Dimension EQ.png (Equality (EQ)) icon shown next to the dimension and click it. This will constrain the outer Reference Planes to be placed at equal distance from the center.
  • Create another Aligned Dimension by first clicking on the left Reference Plane and then the right Reference Plane. Place the dimension. Create a new Parameter for this dimension and name it width and set it as Instance. The actual width doesn't really matter, but to be able to judge the Frame visually, it's good practice to give the Parameters a sensible value.
  • Create two horizontal Reference Planes above the Reference Level as well. One for the bottom of the frame and one for the top of the frame.
  • Create an Aligned Dimension from the Reference Level to the lower Reference Plane. Give it a Parameter named sill height and set it as Instance.
  • Create another Aligned Dimension from the lower Reference Plane to the higher Reference Plane. Give it a Parameter named height and set it as Instance.

Now we are ready to start creating our window frame. This is done using Sweeps. We start with the left, right and top Window frame parts.

End result when the path is selected after the steps in this section
  • Go to 'Elevation: Front'.
  • In the Create tab, Forms Panel, click Revit Sweep.png (Sweep)
  • In the Sweep Panel, click Revit-Sketch Path.png (Sketch Path)
  • Draw the path along which the sweep will be created. Start at the lower left end. Click Modify twice or press Esc twice to end drawing lines.
    SimpleWindowFamily Frame Sweep2 Path.png
  • In the Modify panel click Revit 2011 Align Tool.png (Align). First select the Reference Plane, then the line segment and finally lock the line segments to the corresponding reference plane.
  • The end result, when you select the path, should look something like the example at the right.
  • Click Revit 2011 Finish.png (Finish Edit Mode)

Creating the Window Frame Profile

Now it's time to define a Profile (cross-section) for the Window Frame. We could do this by simply drawing a profile, but to keep our Family flexible, we can also create a Profile Family.

  • Click the Application Button, New, Family
  • The 'New Family - Select Template File' Windows opens
  • Find and select the Metric Profile file (In C:\Program Data\Autodesk\RVT 2018\Family Templates\English)
  • Click Open.
  • Draw the outline of the profile. Make sure it's a single closed loop. Make use of sensible parameters like frame width and frame depth
  • Be aware that the centre of the reference planes will be the centre of the path in the sweep. It depends of the direction of the path (did you draw it clock wise or counter clock wise) how it will be positioned. Just try it and adapt accordingly. Also notice when you have loaded this family that in the properties there is the possibility to flip the profile.
  • Save the Profile Family.

  • In the Window Frame Family go to the Insert tab and click Revit Load Family Button.png (Load Family).
  • Choose your Profile Family.
  • Select the Sweep and choose the Profile Family under Select Profile.
  • Check whether the Profile is positioned correctly. If not, move and/or rotate it accordingly.
  • Finish the Sweep.
  • In the Ribbon, in the Datum Panel, click Revit Family Category and Parameters.png (Family Category and Parameters). Under Family Parameters, check Shared.
  • Save the Window Frame Family.

Nesting the Families

We will now nest the Window Frame Family into the Wall Opening Family.

  • Go to the Window Frame Family and click Load into Project. Choose the Wall opening Family.
  • Place it at a random position. (If the Window Frame doesn't appear. Choose the Floor Plan View. Go to the Create tab and click Component to place the window frame.)
  • Use Revit 2011 Align Tool.png (Align) to align the front of the frame with the outside frame Reference Plane and lock it.
  • Choose the exterior elevation view to align the center and the bottom of the Window Frame with the Reference Planes of the center and the bottom of the Wall Opening and Lock them.
  • Select the Window Frame, go to the Properties Window and look for the Parameters we've created in the Window Frame Family. Click on the tiny button behind the Parameters and select the according Parameters from the Wall Opening Family.

In the same manor we make a sill and nest it in the family too. We are now done for this window in the sketch phase. We can load and place it in the project to evaluate where the windows should be in relation to the outside of the walls.

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