How to Use Design Options in Revit

You or someone you know is currently creating a separate Revit file to show a possible option for a building design.  They may even have multiple separate files for varying options.  That’s fine if the options change the entire form and function of the building.  But what is the correct way to demonstrate smaller choices like an entrance configuration, an added porch, the size and shape of an addition, or a different roof?  For this, you will need to learn how to use Design Options in Revit. 

Getting Started with Design Options 

Begin by opening the Design Options manager which is located on the Design Options panel of the Manage tab on the Ribbon.  Inside, you will see that you are now editing what the Main Model.  The Main Model is anything in your project that is not going to be optional.   

For example, if you are considering adding a porch to a home, the home will be the Main Model and the porch will be part of the options.  The home stays regardless of the porch. 

Select “New” under Option Set to create a new Option Set.  An Option Set is a container that holds every iteration of a possible design feature. 

For example, An Option Set entitled “Front Entrance System” could show an option with a revolving door and an option without. 

It is wise to name your Option Set(s) and associated Option(s) something descriptive by clicking each and selecting “Rename.” 

For example, if we are exploring the addition of a front porch, you could name your Option Set “Front Porch” and the Options “Front porch included,” “Front stoop,” and “No front porch” 

Modeling an Option 

Once your options are established, it is time to begin creating the designs.  You do this by selecting the option you would like to work on, clicking “Edit Selected,” and closing the Design Options window.  Now you may begin modeling this Design Option in place.   

It is important to note that elements within a Design Option cannot be hosted by elements in the Main Model.  This means that if you are modeling an addition, you cannot place a doorway to the addition from the existing home because the existing wall is part of the Main Model.  To fix this, change the current Design Option to Main Model on the bottom toolbar.  Once inside the Main Model, use the Split Element tool to split the wall on either side of where you need to place the door.  Return to the Edit mode for your Design Option and uncheck “Active Only” on the bottom toolbar.  Unchecking “Active Only” allows you to select model elements that are in different Design Options, including the Main Model.  Select the piece of wall you split and use the “Add to Set” button to add that piece of the wall to your Design Option.  You may now place a door on this wall. 

Once you are finished modeling all elements necessary for this Design Option, return to the Design Options Manager and click Finish Editing.  Continue to build out each of your options in this manner. 

Tip: You may toggle between Options to Copy and Paste common elements between each Option. 

Controlling Option Visibility 

By default, Revit will show the primary Design Option in each view.  It’s likely, however, that you will want to create a set of plans showcasing each Design Option.  To do this, duplicate your plan and elevation views as many times as necessary to produce one view of each type for each option.  Then, open the Visibility/Graphic Overrides for each view.  Navigate to the Design Options tab and toggle the Option from <Automatic> to the Design Option you wish to display in that view.   

Note: You can change the settings for multiple views of a kind by establishing a View Template for each Design Option.  Otherwise, each view must be managed individually. 

Accepting an Option 

Once you have selected a Design Option to move forward with in your project, Revit gives you the ability to make that Option part of your main model and delete the alternate choices.  To do this, navigate to the Design Options manager (Manage Tab > Design Options), and find the Option Set you’ve worked through.  If the design you would like to keep is not the primary option, select it, and choose “Make Primary” on the right-hand side.  Then, select the Option Set and click “Accept Primary.”   

It is important to note that once a Design Option is accepted, all the other options are deleted and cannot be retrieved later if you reconsider.  Therefore, only Accept Primary when you are certain that no other option will be revisited later.  Additionally, once an Option is accepted, all views where the Visibility/Graphic Overrides are set to display alternate options will be deleted.  It is good practice to carefully review your model and copy any information over that you will need before accepting an option into the Main Model.   

Models that already have Design Options 

On occasion, you may receive a model from a client or consultant that already has Design Options established.  When this happens, you may find that you cannot click to select some of the model elements you need to work with.  If this is the case, be sure to check the Design Options manager to see which Option or Option Set you are trying to edit and choose Edit Selected to work with those elements.   

Free Revit Training 

Using this simple workflow will enable you to iterate multiple choices within a single Revit model.  If this was helpful to you, you will love learning Revit with Cadnetics U!  We offer flexible packages where you can receive: 

  • Live, instructor-led training on your templates and projects 
  • Online at-your-pace courses 
  • Assessments for you, your team, or for pre-hire skills testing 
  • A help desk to personally answer your software questions 

Find out more at  

Posted in

Keep reading


Convert Masses into Buildings in Revit


The FREE add-in every Revit user must have


Lighting in Revit®: MEP vs. Architectural