Blueprints for Building Department permits

I mostly do remodels with existing framing already in place. Going to start branching out, doing more additions, carports, garages etc. and my area is short qualified architects.

I do not need an architect to build. I need an architect to take my designs and convert them to “to scale” drawings for blueprints so that I can get permits.

I want to learn how to create blueprints in sketchup that will be accepted by the building department to grant permits.

Can anybody point me in the right direction? Do you know somebody getting permits on sketch up made blue prints? Is there a class I could take?

You can make drawings using SketchUp and LayOut to do what you want. You should take a look at the work of architect Nick Sonder. Get his book, too.

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I can do the drawings pretty easily. The main issue im having is being able to print them to a specific scale.

Even though proportionately sketch up is perfectly to scale with itself, I would need to make 1/4" equal a foor for example.

Checking out Nick Sonder now

That’s where LayOut comes in. You need LayOut.

Do they make a Layout basecamp? I’d imagine a lot of the skills from 3d basecamp would come into play and it would not be a bad idea to attend but I would hate to attend 3d base camp and have it not cover what I am trying to accomplish.

Also willing to purchase the book by Nick sonder although it looks a little advanced and I’m afraid of being so overwhelmed out the gate that I wont be able to get anything off the ground.

I am not opposed to paying for the program, paying for the training, buying what I need to buy but my time is somewhat limited so I will need to try to expedite the learning curve.

3D Basecamp typically comes around every other year. Since we had one this year, you’ll likely have a bit of a wait.

You do need to learn how to use SketchUp and LayOut unless you’re going to hire someone to do the work for you.

Since you are using SketchUp for your business, you’ll need the Pro version so you’ll have LayOut anyway.

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Thanks. I just ordered the Book, paperback as well as an ebook. Have one of his basecamp videos going in the background. Heading to upgrade to sketch up pro right now and start getting acclimated to layout .

I’m glad to see: 1) Nick’s Book mentioned; and 2) to see Nick’s Book sold.

But, putting his ideas into place for a small room addition, and the simple set of drawings that you’ll need for a city permit is a bit far reaching.

But go with it, and enjoy it for all you can. . . just know that you’re not going to need all of the production level which Nick covers for what you want to do.

Using his book as a good reference, is of course a grand idea… And any number of ideas and new concepts which he covers can be well worth knowing. Even if not necessary for the permit dept.

Supplement and match your work to the standards for which your city is used to. There is, and can be too much of a good thing as these things go. The building Dept. doesn’t need high end design concepts and full fledged presentation drawings… but your customers might…

So, it’s good to have, and to know.


Appreciate your comment. Overall , I am a builder without an architect. This may just be a small room this time around but I also have a 1500 sq ft addition with a bath I’m bidding as well. I am still fairly young and highly motivated to build supreme quality projects. It would be nice to get a mini version of Nicks book even to speed up the learning curve a little but the knowledge will not be wasted as long as I don’t get overwhelmed.

And if I do get overwhelmed now I have this cool community to help get me back on track or back in line. Thanks.


Don’t overlook this 3D Basecamp presentation with Nick and David Zachary - a structural engineer who works with Nick. David and Nick brought a copy of their blueprints to basecamp. They were a very popular attraction.

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Thank you. I will watch it for sure.

I am pretty good with sketch up but I decided to refresh my skill and build a shed using Matt Donnely u-tube tutorials before diving into the book. I also may be able to accomplish what I need to do just familiarizing myself with layout.

Couple useful shortcuts I have learned in just the first 3 videos that I wish I would have known these last couple years.

'I do not need an Architect to Build’…that’s your first misconception. I guess you don’t need a real neurologist to do brain surgery…or an oncologist to treat cancer…maybe a lawyer to get you out of a mess because you didn’t hire a Registered Architect or Engineer. Don’t be foolish. Hire a Registered Professional to review your work…you might learn something. And any ‘Architect’ who ‘stamps’ drawings (‘just for scale’) can lose their professional license. Go to AIA website (American Institute of Architects) and review the professional conduct code.


Probably should have been more clear. I do not need an architect to build the project I am currently working on. It is very straightforward construction. To follow along with your medical analogy, You don’t go to a doctor for every little scrape on your arm do ya?

I also think you must have misunderstood my comment regarding a stamp as I have never had anybody stamp anything “just for scale” I was simply saying that the only reason my current sketch up work is not good enough to get approval from the building department is because I cannot print them to scale.

Because I cannot find a good reliable architect in my area I will start designing my own projects and then get them approved by an engineer.

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Skalp4sketchup could be very helpful in creating blueprints from 3d model.

SoCal- SketchUp Pro and Layout are great tools for the needs you are describing. However, you should expect a significant learning curve and time investment to get up and running. The submittal requirements for a building permit application for even simple projects can be significant and very time consuming to produce, even with your production skills in place. (In my area, permit application are not even on paper anymore. Everything is uploaded .PDF’s to the building department, and the submittal requirements are quite exacting) As JPS noted above, no architects will stamp other peoples work, and engineers will only sign off on their own work on a project. I would suggest starting with Matt Donley’s book for a slightly more basic primer. This forum is a great resource. DaveR SketchUp Sage has answered many of my questions quickly and with great advice. But you will notice a lack of patience will emerge fairly quickly for those questioners who are not willing to spend the time and get their noses into the programs. Good luck. These are powerful tools for those who take the time and effort to learn them.
As an old grey haired architect, I won’t even get into the discussion of it being the architect’s task to produce scaled drawings for permits. But hey, good luck, and build well.



As I work for a design / build firm that does dozens of additions and dozens more renovations and remodels annually, I rely on Schetchup and layout for working with clients as well as some drafting (you know for those scratches), but it is important to know when to have a certified professions to do proper CD’s as well.
This will keep you out of lots of trouble down the road for liability reasons as well as developing a reputation as a good builder.
There are other benefits to networking with such professionals as well, for starters referrals from an architect that result in getting you work. Not to mention the time when you get in a jamb with an inspector for how something is being done and working with a good architect can usually write a letter certifying your methods (assuming they approve), or working with them to develop a good resolution. There are lot of pluses to working with professionals and little down side.

None of this is to deter you from learning Sketchup and Layout, but if you have limited time why would you waste it drafting, you are a builder, go build! If you want input on the design, find an architect that will confer with you. If you can’t find an architect in your area, you are not looking! Ask your local code enforcement admin. I promise they will have a list of architects that do work in the area. If your clients don’t want to pay for an architect, and you are doing it for free, your costing yourself time and time is money. If you want to be an architect, go back to school.

Just a little insight from someone that learned these lessons the hard way.


Here’s what I do on a Mac, Windows is probably similar:

First, do a Page Setup to get the size of paper you will print to (Letter, Tabloid, E Size, etc.)

Next, zoom & pan to the view you want to print. Probably a top view for plans. Make sure you are in Camera->Parallel Projection so there’s no distortion due to perspective. The view should fill the screen, more or less.

Next, use File->Document Setup to select a scale. Uncheck the Fit View To Page checkbox, then enter a Print Scale, such as 1" In Drawing = 48" In Model. The dialog will tell you how big the image will be and how many sheets of paper it will take.

You may need to fuss with all this until you get what you want, all on one sheet of paper.

Finally, go to File->Print and in the dialog box select: Print Quality High, Vector Printing checked, and whatever Line Weight you want.

The resulting drawing will only print in one line weight, but it will be to scale. You can get creative with filled rectangles, etc. for a nice border, etc.

For more advanced output, you’ll need to learn Layout and some of Brightman & Tal’s tricks, but this will get you started.

Good luck!

Something i do a lot of is scan a plan as a jpg, import it, rescale it, then set view to xray, and then draw my addition or project. Sometimes i pull it up into 3d.

I don’t generally bother with too much detail, like drawing in studs and joists.

Another thing I do is do my concept drawings in SU, get client approval, then hire a draftsman to render them in auto cad for submittal to the city. The reason is time - I can make more money building it than I save by drawing it myself. But I need to work out the bugs and sell the design before I can send it to be drawn up. Thus, sketch up is a handy sales tool.

I know - the SU universe is shocked by that, but time is money and I make more building than drawing, despite the fun of moving pixels around on the old flat screen. Poor ignored pixels. Snif.


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Sonder’s book is outstanding – and probably not too advanced for most any SU user. Best thing I’ve ever seen for just what you want to do.

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