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Understanding Bluebeam’s Markup Tools

Bluebeam software is a feature-rich solution designed to help architecture, engineering, and construction firms improve their collaboration through PDF documents.

With Bluebeam’s extensive list of markup features, team members can express concerns, suggest changes, and highlight specific aspects of project documents. However, before we get into these tools, it’s important to understand what markups are.

What are Document Markups, and Why are They So Important?

In the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) landscape, even the smallest detail can have a massive effect on a project’s overall success. So, precision and clarity are essential. Every line, dimension, and tag on a building document has to be meticulously reviewed by a team of professionals to ensure accuracy. This process is known as “redlining.”

In the not-so-distant past, redlining a document meant physically noting discrepancies on a set of plans in red ink. However, in the digital age of architecture and engineering, reviewing and redlining is done almost exclusively on computers. This is where markups come into play.

Markups are digital annotations and graphics added to a PDF document that allow users to ask questions and clarify details about specific aspects of a project. These notes’ color, style, font, and size can be fully customized to categorize or prioritize comments. While markups are made on existing PDF documents, they sit on top of the host document and can be edited or removed at any time. Additionally, because Bluebeam Revu provides a shared platform, live review sessions can be held remotely through other collaboration programs like Bluebeam Studio.

Understanding Bluebeam’s Basic Markup Functions

Within the Bluebeam Tool Chest, users can find all the tools needed to make effective markups. To access the tool chest, select Window > Panel > Tool Chest. You can also open the markup tools tab by typing Alt + x on your keyboard. 

Text Markups

The text markup tool is one of the simplest but most powerful features within Bluebeam’s user interface. Not only do users have the ability to add text of all different colors, fonts, and sizes, but they can also draw attention to specific areas of a PDF document with callouts and text boxes. These text customization options ensure that all annotations are as clear and concise as possible when the documents are handed back to an architect or engineer. 

Lines and Shapes

Sometimes, words alone are not enough to convey a specific thought or idea. For this reason, Bluebeam developers have added an entire toolbar dedicated to different shapes and lines. With these tools, reviewers can relay information visually by drawing over the existing PDF. The following lines and shapes can be accessed from the Tools dropdown menu or by typing the corresponding keyboard shortcut. 

  • Line (L): Draws a straight line segment. It can be created at any angle or locked into vertical or horizontal positions. 
  • Arrow (A): Creates a segment similar to the line markup with a customizable arrowhead at one end.
  • Arc (Shift+C): Used to create curved markup lines. Can be configured to create both elliptical or circular arcs.
  • Polyline(Shift+N): Creates complex shapes from a series of segmented lines. 
  • Callout (Q): This tool creates a textbox with a leader pointing to a specific document aspect. 
  • Dimension (Shift+L) Creates lines that represent measurements within a PDF.
  • Rectangle (R): Creates a rectangular shape. Holding the Shift key while drawing will automatically create a square. 
  • Ellipse (E): Creates an elliptical shape. Holding the Shift key while drawing will automatically create a circle. 
  • Polygon (Shift+P) Similar to the Polyline tool, This tool creates a complex closed shape by connecting individual line segments. 
  • Cloud (C): Creates a polygon with a cloud-like appearance to call attention to larger areas.
  • Cloud+ (K) Creates a cloud with a callout box to describe the highlighted area.

Embedded Images and Videos

Bluebeam’s markups are not limited only to text and shapes. Photos, images, and videos can also be embedded into a file, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the project. For example, construction superintendents can upload videos of a site walkthrough to explain issues or concerns related to the project, and architects may include images to clarify questions regarding a design concept. 

Stamp Tool

Bluebeam offers several preset stamps, such as “Approved” and “Reviewed.” However, the software also allows users to create custom stamps with images, text, and company logos to cater to a firm’s specific needs. 

Format Painter

Format Painter is an essential tool for maintaining markup uniformity across multiple document pages. Bluebeam users can use this function to copy the style of one markup and apply it to others of the same type, helping to maintain an organized and professional appearance. 

Advanced Markup Techniques

Once a user has a grasp of the basic functionality of Bluebeam markup tools, they can begin to experiment with more advanced techniques that customize the user experience and maximize organization on larger and more complicated documents. 

Sequencing and Tagging

When working with many markups, keeping them all in order can be difficult. Sequencing and tagging markups can organize them into groups and numerical order, making it easier to find annotations on larger PDF documents.


Layering markups is another way to enhance document clarity. By placing related notes and graphics onto a specific layer, they can be separated from others, helping others to focus on relevant information. Many design firms create layers for architectural, structural, and electrical markups. These layers can be toggled on and off during group review sessions, helping to minimize distractions from other markup groups.

Custom Tool Sets

Bluebeam Revu allows its users to create custom tool sets that fit their workflow for a given project. These custom tool sets can later be shared with others to promote efficiency and consistency. 

Want to Know More About Markup Tools?

By mastering Bluebeam’s markup tools, AEC professionals can increase productivity, enhance collaboration, and reduce mistakes and miscommunications among team members. To learn more about markup tools and how to use them, check out our Bluebeam training services.


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ISO Construction Types Explained

Understanding the six ISO construction types is crucial when working on construction projects of any size. This classification system, established by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), helps standardize the evaluation of building construction for insurance purposes.

In this article, we will break down the different ISO construction types to help you understand their differences and practical applications.

ISO 1 – Frame (Combustible Walls and/or Roof)

ISO 1 construction features combustible materials in the walls and/or roof. Typical materials include timber framing, insulation, and shake shingles. These buildings have exterior walls, roofs, or decks that can burn, requiring additional fire protection measures. This type of construction is common in residential homes and apartment buildings.

ISO 2 – Joisted Masonry (JM) (Non-Combustible Masonry Walls with Wood Frame Roof)

ISO 2, or Joisted Masonry, combines non-combustible masonry walls with a combustible wood frame roof. Exterior walls are typically made of brick veneer, concrete block, or similar masonry materials. However, the roof is usually supported by wood joists. This construction type provides better fire resistance than ISO 1, but the combustible roof elements still pose a fire risk.

ISO 3 – Non-Combustible (NC)

ISO 3 buildings are constructed with non-combustible materials throughout. Both the walls and roof must be made of metal, gypsum, or concrete block. This type of construction significantly minimizes fire risks. Common in commercial and industrial buildings, ISO 3 structures often feature metal roofing and a steel frame for increased fire-resistive properties.

ISO 4 – Masonry Non-Combustible (MNC)

ISO 4, or masonry Non-Combustible construction, includes buildings with exterior walls of masonry materials and non-combustible roofs. ISO 4 construction further enhances fire resistance compared to ISO 3 by incorporating more robust exterior wall materials. Materials like brick, concrete block, and heavy steel ensure a higher fire-resistance rating.

ISO 5 – Modified or Semi-Fire Resistive (MFR or SFR)

ISO 5 buildings, known as modified or Semi-Fire-Resistant, are typically mid-rise office buildings that incorporate additional fire-resistive elements beyond standard masonry or non-combustible materials. These structures are often framed with heavy steel and utilize various fire-resistant construction materials like precast concrete panels and BUR roofs (-BUR (built up roof with gravel or modified bitumen).

ISO 6 – Fire Resistive (FR)

ISO 6, or Fire Resistive construction, represents the highest level of fire resistance in the ISO classification system and is typically used in high-rise commercial buildings, condos, and parking garages. These structures are designed and constructed using materials and techniques that can withstand fire for extended periods. All floors must be cast in place concrete with a minimum thickness of 4″, and all exposed steel must be fireproofed to meet the required minimum 2-hour fire rating.

Leveraging Autodesk Tools for ISO Construction Standards

Autodesk tools like Revit and AutoCAD can significantly enhance the productivity and accuracy of designing buildings that meet ISO construction standards. These tools allow architects and engineers to create detailed models with precise specifications for non-combustible materials, fire-resistive construction, and load-bearing components.


Revit is a powerful building information modeling (BIM) software that enables the creation of comprehensive 3D models. It supports the integration of all elements required for ISO construction types, allowing you to specify materials like concrete block, steel frame, and brick veneer with precision. Some of Revit’s practical applications include:

  • Material Specification: You can detail every component, from non-combustible exterior walls to fire-resistive roofing materials, ensuring compliance with ISO standards.
  • Fire-Resistive Construction: Revit’s advanced modeling capabilities enable you to simulate fire-resistive properties of materials, helping you design buildings that meet fire protection requirements.
  • Load-Bearing Analysis: The software supports structural analysis, allowing you to model and test load-bearing components, ensuring they meet the necessary safety and ISO compliance standards.
  • Collaboration: Revit’s cloud collaboration features enable multiple stakeholders to work on the same model simultaneously, ensuring that all design aspects adhere to ISO construction standards from the outset of the project.


AutoCAD is the gold standard for precision drafting tools. Its ease of use and ability to integrate into other Autodesk programs make it ideal for creating detailed construction plans that specify fire-resistive materials and non-combustible construction techniques. AutoCAD facilitates:

  • Precision Drafting: AutoCAD allows for the meticulous drafting of building components, ensuring every detail is accurate and adheres to ISO standards. This includes the specification of non-combustible materials such as metal roofing and gypsum.
  • Detailed Documentation: The software’s robust documentation capabilities help create comprehensive construction documents detailing fire-retardant materials and techniques. These documents are essential for building code compliance and insurance purposes.
  • Customization and Automation: AutoCAD supports customization through programming interfaces like AutoLISP, allowing for the automation of repetitive tasks and creating custom tools tailored to ISO construction standards.
  • Integration with Revit: AutoCAD can seamlessly integrate with Revit, allowing for the import and export of data between the two platforms. This ensures that detailed 2D plans align perfectly with the 3D models, providing a cohesive design process.

Take Your ISO Compliance to The Next Level

Understanding ISO construction types is essential for designing safe, standard-compliant buildings. By leveraging advanced tools like Autodesk Revit and AutoCAD, construction professionals can ensure their designs adhere to the highest fire protection and structural integrity standards. Whether you’re working on a residential project with a wood frame design or a high-rise with heavy steel and precast concrete, recognizing these ISO classifications will enhance your ability to create resilient, fire-resistant structures. If you’re interested in implementing AutoCAD or Revit into your daily workflow, we encourage you to check Autodesk AEC Collection, where you can find these and other leading tools in one comprehensive package.



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What is Post and Beam Construction?

Post and beam construction is a building method that utilizes heavy timbers to frame homes. As its name implies, this technique involves creating a system of vertical posts and connecting them with a series of horizontal beams to form the framework of a house. While the origins of post and beam construction date back thousands of years, the construction technique has seen a recent resurgence with the popularity of rustic log homes. 

Components of Post and Beam Construction

There are four primary components in post-and-beam construction: posts, beams, trusses, and connectors. The posts, often made from Ceder or Douglas fir, play an essential role in structural integrity as they transfer the weight of a timber frame structure to the foundation. Horizontal beams serve a double purpose. First, they connect the posts together, and second, they provide support for the roof and floors in multi-level homes. Next are the trusses, triangular elements used to evenly distribute loads and give a roof its shape. Lastly, we have the connectors, which have the crucial job of holding everything together. 

Types of Post and Beam Construction

Post and beam construction is an ancient form of craftsmanship, and in many ways, the techniques used today remain unchanged. However, over the years, modern fasteners and structural components have expanded the applications for the post and beam technique. Generally, timber construction falls into one of three categories: traditional, modern, or hybrid.

Traditional Timber Frame

Traditional Timber framing takes a historical approach to post and beam construction. This method uses classic joinery techniques like mortise and tenon joints. A technique that involves creating a sort of peg, or “tenon,” on one end of a timber and interesting it into a hole, or “mortise,” of another, which is then secured in place by driving a series of even smaller pegs into the timbers. To many, traditional joinery methods are the most visually appealing. However, they tend to be more expensive than their modern counterparts due to the higher levels of time and craftsmanship needed to complete each joint.

Modern Post & Beam

Modern post-and-beam construction methods combine the aesthetic appeal of traditional timber framing with contemporary structural needs. By incorporating metal fasteners, cables, steel-reinforced lumber, and other modern materials, beams can span larger distances, giving homeowners more flexibility and creativity when creating floorplans for their dream homes. 

In addition to increasing structural integrity, securing posts and beams with screws and bolts requires far less time than mortise and tenon joinery, helping to keep costs down while creating an industrial home style that Architectural Digest likens to “the grunge baby between modern and farmhouse aesthetics.”

Hybrid Timber Frame

Hybrid timber framing is a combination of modern construction technology with traditional craftsmanship. A common technique within this style of post and beam construction involves the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) along with timber framing. SIPs sandwich a rigid core layer between two outer layers of structural board. These high-performance building panels provide superior insulation and energy efficiency, making them ideal for floors, walls, and ceilings.

In terms of aesthetics, hybrid homes often feature exposed beams and trusses combined with conventional wall framing. This method helps maintain a rustic feel while reaping the benefits of an energy-efficient modern home. 

Design Considerations for Post and Beam Construction

Post and beam is a specialized building style that requires careful consideration of various architectural, environmental, and structural elements. When designing a timber home, the following factors should be carefully analyzed. 

Energy Efficiency 

While timber is a strong and beautiful building material, it offers little thermal insulation. To increase a home’s heating and cooling efficiency, high-performance insulation solutions like SIPs should be factored into construction. 

Structural Integrity

When designing a timber home, structural engineers need to calculate the load-bearing capabilities of posts, beams, and trusses. Other factors, like wind and snow, will significantly affect the choice of wood species and joint types. 

Aesthetic Considerations

Aesthetic feel is often the principal factor for homeowners building this style of home. Some prefer the look of exclusively exposed rafters and beams, while others may opt for an entire log cabin feel.

Wood Species 

The appropriate wood species is a critical decision in post and beam construction. Oak is a robust species with a distinctive grain pattern, adding a unique visual aspect to its load-bearing capabilities. Cedar is a common choice for humid climates due to its natural resistance to decay and insects. 

Local Building Codes 

Building codes vary from region to region. These regulations may dictate the available joinery methods and the number of modern structural components needed for a building. 

Applications of Post and Beam Construction

The versatility of post and beam construction makes it common for residential applications. However, this building technique can be used in nearly any scenario that calls for a natural touch and airy feel. Apart from homes, some of the most common types of post and beam structures include:

  • Commercial buildings: Office lobbies and restaurants often use post and beam building techniques to create open, inviting spaces that feel rustic and modern at the same time. 
  • Agricultural structures: Post and beam construction is a logical choice for agricultural structures since this method allows for large areas free of support columns that could inhibit the movement of equipment and machinery. Additionally, since agricultural buildings are rarely climate-controlled, building with a hardy wood species will allow these structures to endure the elements and stand the test of time. 
  • Recreational facilities: With the rising popularity of events like barn weddings, the demand for rustic event centers has never been higher. When fitted with vintage-style incandescent lighting, exposed posts and beams can create a warm environment for attending guests.  

Cost Comparison of Post and Beam Construction with Other Construction Methods

Since the level of craftsmanship of post and beam construction is significantly higher than that of other construction methods, this framing technique tends to be more expensive initially. However, due to the durability and low maintenance costs of post and beam structures, the investment can be more cost-effective in the long run. 


Construction Method Initial Investment Cost Long-Term Savings Key Cost Factors
Stick Framing Low Moderate Standard materials, common labor skills
Post and Beam High High High-quality timber, Specialized craftsmanship skills
Log Homes Moderate Low Custom-made materials, frequent maintenance 


Concluding Insights

Though post and beam construction is an ancient form of craftsmanship, it remains a popular method for homeowners who value durability and aesthetic appeal. When designed with capable BIM software like Revit, post and beam structures can withstand the test of time and display natural beauty for years to come 


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