The WWA BIM Manual home page describes Why, What and When we model design elements in BIM in a somewhat vague and conceptual way. Understanding this concept is incredibly critical though, since designs change throughout the various phases of the process.
We can not get away with not showing elements simply because we don’t know exactly what they are. A BIM process is centered around exploring what elements are and developing them in a circular process. We can take a basic idea or concept and explore massing to detailed iterations in a very fluid way; and if done correctly, we can either start over or go to final documentation with little or no time loss.
The perfect example of this work flow and level of detail is cabinetry. Cabinet and built-in elements are not only dependent on the phase, but also the design for the best way to model them and when to add the details.
A flush panel euro style cabinet may be best modeled using morphs from the onset. A more shaker style cabinet with overlay panels may be best suited for cabinet objects with preset doors or custom door components. An inset frameless cabinet with recessed panels may be best modeled with walls and doors.
The important thing to note is that the IDEA portion (LOD 100: Basic shape/size), should always be modeled as basically as possible. This ensures that we do not need to know what style or type the element is at first to at least represent that the idea exists. The process to final documentation should be as gradual as possible, even if we need to show higher level of detail than the current phase warrants.
In the style/process example illustrated above, a cabinet type and door style could easily be transitioned to any other design, with little extra time spent on redoing model elements.
This is also one reason that objects (GDL based elements) offer more flexibility than massing or modeling with individual elements, such as morphs, slabs, walls, beams, columns. With GDL doors or cabinets for example, the door style can be changed globally by simply overwriting or replacing the door panel on all cabinets.
To change a door panel or cabinet type on a single morph element or collection of slabs, beams and columns, significant time needs to be invested into revisiting each cabinet elevation and making individual changes to each.