At the end of my rope!


Though I’m confident that this will do no good, I’m going to vent here anyway. I abandoned AutoCAD because I thought I could make SU and LO my go to tool for turning out architectural drawings. Here are just a couple of problems out of numerous, that I have been having and I see no end/ solution in site:

  1. I am an architect and need to change the roof joists on a project that I am doing from 11 7/8" TJIs to 14" TJIs. I have been trying for about 14 hours so far to make that one change. I truly feeling like I am smashing my head against a brick wall with this program! I cannot make it do anything that I need it to do. I need the software to create faces - it hardly ever does. If I need to make any kind of change to a face that I fight for hours (literally) to create - forget it. It will not happen!

I still import 2D drawings from AutoCAD in my workflow. I know that SketchUp has an issue with any SketchUp file that has had an AutoCAD file inserted into it at any time - ever. SU blames these many problems on AutoCAD. That is a bunch of bull! SU, fix this issue now!!! One of those issues is that SU makes double, triple or quadruple faces when it will make a face. Another issue is that files “degrade”. I have a friend who is also an architect and uses SU. He totally agrees with me. For instance; I battled for over 8 hours yesterday to try and make this roof. The portions that I was finally able to make were crisscrossed with hidden lines when I opened the file today (not there yesterday). If I try to erase these lines it erases parts of the face! Also measurements change from exact to approximate!

I have accomplished absolutely nothing today on this project - nothing - all day. Meanwhile I have a client who needs there plans a.s.a.p.

So I thought I’ll see if there is an extension that can help me make a faces. I find one. It’s S4U Make Face. I install it and guess what - no license. I delete it and remove the existing files and download again from The SketchUp Warehouse. I restart SU. No license! This extension is by one of the main extension writers. There is no way for me to bypass this issue, so I am out of luck and back to bashing my head against the wall.

When SU 2019 came out - late. I was okay with that. When the only real improvement they came up with all year + was dashed lines, I’m okay with that - not thrilled, but I’m like, “okay, well maybe they fixed some of these under the hood issues” which I would frankly be far more excited about than anything you could do to the interface or tools. Nothing! I really do not want to go back to AutoCAD ( I despise AutoDesk as a company and their over priced software).

SketchUp, please step up and fix the problems with the software before you add any more bells and whistle! Please!!!


Define correctly Dave. And before you slam my skills, perhaps you should simply ask. Everything is modeled on layer 0 utilizing groups and components which are then placed on layers such as “Roof”. Forget changing the existing roof, I would not even attempt that because of how difficult it is to make changes. I have to start over. That goes for much of this model, whether its walls or whatever. As soon as I start to change it SU starts making multiple faces, if it will even make a face which it often won’t.

Kendall Springer | Architect

u ** cornerstone** design group

5266 Blue Spruce Circle

Holladay, Utah 84117

Phone: 801.330.0679

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Sorry. I wasn’t slamming your skills. I’m sorry you took it that way. Forget I said it. I will retract my previous comment.

#5 try this for creating faces. I’m happy to help with CAD to SU workflow as I have experience there and am a few days away from launching lessons on our SU Campus site that deals directly with this.

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You’ve got a bit of a problem here, buddy. You hate Sketchup but you hate Autodesk too. Seems like you haven’t found your CAD home yet.

Lots of the points you make suggest operator error. As @DaveR says, changing a rafter size should be a doddle. Standard method would have been to make your rafter a component so that each instance was a copy. Changing one of them would change all of them. If the rafter component was correctly modelled, changing its size would be a simple Push/Pull operation.

Not if you are doing it right it doesn’t.

Really? I have been using SU for about 15 years and I’ve not noticed that.

My suggestion if you want to carry on is to go back to the basics and get familiar with them. And here’s a little dare: upload a misbehaving file so we can see what you’ve been up to. My guess is that if you do, the gurus on here will be able to pick out your mistakes quite quickly. You might learn a lot.


We see this a lot with cad imports, the inaccuracies (or should we say different format/working style) of the original cad cause problems in SU. The multiple faces and hidden lines appearing are caused by the model being ever so slightly out of alignment. SU tries to join the dots and if those dots are off things break.
So if you start from a cad import that is not planar the errors will be carried through the model. I have yet to see a model where this sort of behavior couldn’t be explained by checking the alignment of vertices.


I understand and sympathize with your experience. I’ve been through similar frustrations like this:

Everything was fine when modeled the first time round, but with design revision after revision, something goes wrong.

All I can say is, while I still use a 2D drafting program in conjunction with SU, and import stuff into SU like this:

I only use those drawings as a snapping reference to trace over and make clean, original SU geometry from scratch, and never incorporate any of those actual line entities into the model. It seems to be helping as I’m not seeing that kind of broken glass geometry problems anymore.


Do you not find that the “snapping” (which you can’t disable) still will make the new lines snap to the imported line work, so while they are handy as guides I find they still can throw things off as the new lines then still follow the imported ( if they are off axes)?


I’ve had the licensing issue with S4U so I’ve given up on it, but this Smustard plugin does a good job.

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The imported 2D drawings are at least planar when brought in, and I always prefer to draw with the rectangle tool while tracing, not the pencil tool. You always get a surface with the rectangle tool.


I have to think from what you said that most of your problems are operator error.
I feel your pain I went through the same thing. Learning how to keep planes flat is a struggle.
Importing ACAD is a big problem -better to learn to work from Sketchup from start to finish.

SketchUp & LayOut for Architecture by Nick Sonder and Matt Donley
Will probably give you a better process

Do not know about the licensing issue but the community seems pretty helpful and this can probably be solved -it is just very frustrating to have to relearn processes.

Personally I think that ChiefArchitect, Archicad and Softplan are currently the fastest ways
to produce residential and small commercial design. But SpecPlus is doing about the same thing to sketchup and there are several other developers making it more efficient for building design.

Unfortunately as far as cost and speed goes Sketchup+SpecPlus does not have advantage over ChiefArchitect

But if you like the extra precision and flexibility that Sketchup offers it wins hands down in that area.
I personally use Softplan and only use Sketchup when I need to create unusual details. But as far as I can tell ChiefArchitect is currently superior by a fairly wide margin. (although with precision comes complication) so Softplan probably remains the simplest. They all require a pretty steep learning curve to master and all have their little bugaboos.


Thank you for the lead on an extension that might help!


Let me be clear on how I utilize CAD files. I do not do any architectural drawing in anything other than SU. The only thing that I utilize CAD files for is to flesh out floor plans with 2D furniture blocks and plumbing fixtures. That’s it. I never draw on CAD files that I bring in - ever. As soon as these things are placed as a group on the furnishings layer, its locked and turned off until needed for printing. So there is no snapping to cad files that occurs.


Let me be clear, whether it be cad imports or something else, the symptoms you describe are generally caused by inaccuracies in the model. Determining how those inaccuracies were introduced will help you lengthen your rope.
Letting us examine one of your files would help us to help you.

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I never build directly from imported CAD… just lock it and build cleanly on top… and for curves… identify the centre of them in CAD. and rebuild curves using those centres in SU.

re the rafter problem…I can imagine the potential problem if you have a complex roof with lots of jack rafters etc… but that is the natural consequence of working in 3d and showing everything rather than 2d simplification…( imagine trying to document every rafter in 2D cad) .nevertheless I am sure there are some plugins that can assist… Fredos SCALE might be worth investigating


Sorry you are feeling such frustration.
I understand most of what you are describing. I have been on AutoCAD for many years of my career (no longer) and Revit for a few. And Bentley and DataCAD…etc. I ahve been a Sketchup "power use"r every day for ten to fifteen years.
AutoCAD is a fine tool. There’s a great deal of precision and use of paper space/model space makes outputting scaled drawings easy.

Sketchup is obviously very different…and going into the Layout world to get scaled drawings frequently results in various problems. That alone would keep me from using Sketchup as a tool for producing construction. Losing the link to the models(s), odd behavior of dimensions, etc.

And SU doesn’t "understand " curves. It approximates curves using segments.
It is much better used as a visualizing and concept modeling tool…and the more you try to push it into a tool for real CD’s, the more issues and frustrations you are going to encounter. That being said, there are architects and designers whe DO what you are trying to do…but they are power users and understand how to deal with the limitations.

Another software you may want to look at is Rhino. Although it really is geared more to Industrial Design, as it processes compound curved surfaces very well, it bears a lot of similarity to AutoCAD…the commands are very similar…but allows some of the 3D working style of SketchUp.

All that being said. here are some suggestions and comments for where you seem to have found yourself:

The longer you work, the more you will encounter the weird problems and get to understand them and how to correct, and avoid them. For example, when I started do site plans with SU…parking lots, drives, grass areas (and we are talking just 2D now!)…I would lose my mind. NOTHING would close correctly and I would spin my wheels for hours.; What happens is invariably you have elements of the model that are on different z-heights. So they cannot “skin over” as a simple plane. As you said, they are faceted planes divided by hidden lines. So two things for this:

  1. You know how holding SHIFT makes the red or green axis “lock” so you can ONLY then draw on the red or green axis? USE THAT to your advantage. Don’t just draw a line to the left…MAKE SURE you are working truly orthogonally by locking that green or red axis. It’s VERY easy to think you are drawing a line exactly left…or red axis…but you are in fact not…and are connecting two elements with a non orthogonal line.If you have to do a diagonal…go some distance on “locked” red, then go some distance on “locked”’ green…then connect those.
  2. Use the extension “FLATTEN TO 2D” !!!~
    Did you notice how many exclamation points I added?USE IT!
    It takes all of your geometry that you have selected and pushes it back to the models zero Z-axis. ALL of those lines will now be dead flat. If any of your planes were skinned over, you will lose that…but rest assured, you are now on the road to happiness. Then…use the extension “MAKE FACES”. Select everything, hit Make Faces, and you will get most of the skins to form.
    You can also use the extension “2D TOOLS” to make SURE you are drawing lines ON THE PLANE you intend to be.

GROUP! Are you doing this? Group EVERYTHING. Draw everything on layer zero, do not TOUCH that default layer button. ALWAYS Layer 0…then as soon as you have made a box…or a plane…or the simplest elements…GROUP them. If you don’t do this , you will rapidly lose control.

Use components to your advantage. You change ones…they all change. Or swap out one component for another (your TJI issue)

You are also going to have to decide what is in 3D world inthe model, and what is dumb 2D drafting. It may be simpler for you to do framing plans in dumb 2D off on the side rather than trying to get a million 3D elements in your model to behave themselves for a framing plan performance.

there are a million more suggestions but I will end with 2.

1 Read the Sketchup for Dummies book if you have not already.
2 Hire a power user locally to sit with you as you bang your head and tell you what a faster, better, and more efficient approach might be. Advertise on Craigslist for a tutor. I don’t’ care how much money you spend on that…it will be well worth it in terms to ending your suffering and getting to where you are making money faster.

good luck.

PS- one gripe many users have is that Sketchup (Trimble ) does NOT add bells and whistles- they don’t add ANYTHING version after version. but…again…research all the extensions that are out there because some are EXTREMELY helpful with tasks that Sketchup inherently won’t do.


I don’t think this would be described as SU best practice.

Inferencing is best practice - you can inference other edges, or an axis - when you are drawing on axis, you will get an indication of the axis color to confirm you are on axis.

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yup- that too. “bet practice” is relative…there are multiple methods for removing the dermis from a feline mammal.
Sometimes you want to lock on red/green/blue most definitely. If some elements of your model that you THINK are orthogonal…and you are inferencing off them…this can result in a real mass of confusion. I speak from experience.


You are clear about this though yes?


I don’t know if this has been mentioned. Go to The learning Center There is a lot of good info in the tutorials.

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