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BIM Basics: 2D & 3D Deliverables

As you are creating your 3D BIM model, not only should you be modeling with the end-user in mind, but also with the end deliverable. The final outputs you deliver to the client will be a decision made by the end-user and it will affect the way that you model. Keeping it simple, there are 2 types of deliverables, 2D and 3D.

Traditionally, architectural drafting has been completed in 2D. 3D BIM modeling is a relatively recent trend and has taken off as technology has advanced in the last 15 years. With 2D drawings being the industry standard literally since humans have been building structures, we still find many who are more comfortable working from them.

2D Plans

Floor Plan

When you hear 2D plans, what most likely comes to mind is a floor plan. The basic overview of the structure from above, looking down. Even though this is the most common, many other 2D plans are useful.

Reflected Ceiling Plan

A reflected ceiling plan is just as it sounds, a 2D representation of the ceiling. It is the inverse of the floor plan. This plan is great for indicating light, sprinkler, vent, and smoke detector locations and showing the type of ceilings such as acoustic tile, metal, or sheetrock.

Roof Plan

The roof plan is useful in determining the location of specific systems that ventilate, such as piping, or draw in air from outside, such as HVAC units. These types of plans are very important for commercial spaces, where it is common for these major systems to be placed on the roof.


2D elevations are another common plan that is often used in the industry. Elevations are drawings of one side of the structure that gives you the perspective of someone standing 20ft back looking in that direction. These drawings are useful in gaining a proper understanding of the space and are great for referencing doors, windows, and other openings in walls. You often find both interior and exterior elevations requested for projects.

Exterior elevations are great for understanding the size of openings in relation to the rest of the structure. This is crucial for architectural design applications. Another way exterior elevations are used is to understand how different exterior finishes would look. You often see brick, stone, or siding represented in these elevations.

Interior elevations are great for determining opening sizes on interior walls and determining the best use of space for objects that might be in the structure.

Other Plans

There are many other 2D plans that can be created. You can have an electrical plan showing the wiring, receptacles, light switches, and panel boxes. There are also Mechanical plans that map out HVAC or plumbing systems, Equipment Floor Plans that show a top-down view of how important objects fit into a space, and many more.

3D Models

When it comes to 3D BIM model deliverables there aren’t different model types per se. Where we find the variation in 3D models is in the LOD and LOA. The 3D BIM model is intended to be a digital representation of the structure. Meaning, you aren’t going to have a 3D floor plan or 3D elevations independently. What you do have in the 3D model is a digital asset from which the 2D plans can be derived.

This is one of the main applications of our 3D models. Once the client has the model, then all the other 2D plans mentioned above can be easily created digitally. By simply moving the model around with your mouse, in a matter of minutes, you can have all the elevations, floor plans, etc created.

With the advancement of technology creating a 3D deliverable is becoming faster and simpler. In our opinion, at this point, the value of having a 3D BIM model is worth the extra hours upfront.

When it comes to choosing between developing 2D plans vs 3D BIM models at the end of the day, it is up to the needs and budget of the client. If there are any questions that you might have in regards to this process just reach out. We are happy to help!

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