Thanks for the personal reference, much appreciated. PS: Might want to print this out and read on the crapper.
Now that I'm well into Revit MEP I can surely give you a much more educated response, although only with the two programs themselves, not on the programming side of either.
It will be hard to justify using Revit MEP as a contractor for a few reasons:
1. AutoCAD MEP comes with a ton
of ANSI standard catalogs of fittings for pipe. There's not much missing right out of the box. Revit MEP has jack sh*t. You can download a lot of fitting Families off the internet but their way of designing a family might not fit your own mold, and tag all their own brand names in the Families that you can't get rid of. Not too important but still. Anyways, you have a looooong road ahead of you if you're a fabrication heavy contractor because the content simply doesn't exist OOTB, and it's scarce on the web.
2. Revit MEP has it's own way of displaying things. It takes more time to create little details, and in AutoCAD MEP where you need to make a very detailed ISO-Views and quickly make edits, you can by using the ConvertTo3DSolids command and then using FLATSHOT. Bam, perfectly flattened ISO view that's ready to be edited freely using standard 2D tools. Well, you don't really have that freedom in Revit because it's not a 'drafting' program. You'll find that you simply lock a 3D view, and use Detail tools to "whip up" something that resembles a specific detail for the fab guys. This is technically a good thing because everything's parametric in Revit MEP so nothing is broken.
3. The learning curve. Basically, it'll become a vertical climb. You and whoever else will despise it on every level in the beginning as most people do. The reason I say this is because it's important to know that the AutoCAD vertical product platform (eg: ACA, AMEP, etc) was taken from the Revit platform. Think about it, Project Navigator, Views, Parametric Constraints for AEC Objects, Display/Style Manager, System and Object based entities instead of lines circles and squares on Layers, Annotative Scaling, Scheduling, etc. The list goes on. Revit is definitely built for the engineer in mind, but recently it's shown vast improvements where a mechanical contractor could easily adopt it, if they are willing
to accept Revit for what it is and give it a shot. Then you begin to see things clearly, understanding that Revit really is intuitive and you wished AutoCAD did so many things like Revit.
I'm more interested in the differences in abilities like drawing pipe sleeves, drawing hangers, and creating BOMs.
Now here are the things that Revit is more than capable of from what I can see, which means now we're getting into the area where a mechanical contractor would benefit from. Granted, I'm not meaning right OOTB, It'll take some major overhaul but once you get things in gear, the BOM possibilities are endless, since everything
can be scheduled in Revit and with ease, as long as the Families are well thought out.
Pipe sleeves, hangers, etc... I've seen things like that be done by a friend of mine who's a Revit guru, and some of the things he's created are nothing short of phenomenal and I'm dead serious. He's created sleeves for mechanical steam piping for coordinating blockouts in the CMU walls from pipe penetrations, and
scheduled them. He's created hangers for duct and pipe that constrain to the pipe, and
constrained to the Revit Structure beams, and
scheduled them. AutoCAD MEP can only dream of this level of informational connection. He's been on Revit since 1999 or whenever it came out, so his experience dates back to v1.0.
Another good selling point for a contractor use is the arrival of Revit Server. The last big job we did I was talking to the BIM Manager (Revit guru as well) for the G.C. and they just recently installed and setup Revit Server and they have it working pretty well. Basically, in short, this means instantaneous live coordination
. If you're working in a 90MB Revit file and you move a six foot long 8" diameter duct over by two feet, it doesn't resend the 90MB file, it only sends the packet of information for that single piece of duct that changed when you sync with your Central model. This is something that I definitely see more G.C.'s adopting and quickly, since it's putting the coordination part of BIM where it truly needs to be. AutoCAD MEP can't and would never be able to have capabilities like this.
In conclusion of my new book I just wrote, I will say this: You will hate Revit at first being a mechanical contractor heavy into prefab. But stick with it... in fact, do what you can and export to AutoCAD MEP native AEC objects to finish up (I've heard Revit MEP 2012 can now export as native AutoCAD MEP objects, but don't hold me accountable since I've yet to actually try it). And if that doesn't work, see what you can do with an IFC Export to get it into AutoCAD MEP. It'll take a loooong time to get Revit where you'll want it and that's simply a choice you as a company will have to make. This is simply my own personal 7 years experience with both programs as used by a mechanical contractor. 7 years of AutoCAD MEP (ABS back then) and past 2 years of Revit.
Hope this helps some.