Construction Simulation Design Program


If we began the design process with a construction simulation, then that could help us avoid certain types of problems. For example, if you don’t have the time to lay each individual tile in a simulation program, then you probably don’t have the time to lay each individual tile in real life. Another problem, sometimes designers call for a certain dimension, but the materials don’t fit into that length. So they have to change the dimensions to allow the materials to fit. Starting with virtual materials of accurate dimensions could allow people to just start using materials without having to do as much math. I think it’d be helpful to focus on the construction process during the design process. There could be all these virtual tools (wood shop, metal shop, 3D print, etc.) and materials (materials from real stores with accurate prices, virtual mixable cement that dries, etc), so people could simulate building stuff with a computer program. Anyways, a construction simulation design program idea has been on my mind for a while now & I think it could be really cool.

Mathematically accurate curved surfaces

A program like Navisworks Simulate will simulate construction steps to help with onsite programing, but to set up the model and system to achieve this level of detail can be more trouble then its worth.

In the past I have done work flow “simulations” with sketchup to show the step by step process of the entire project or tricky details to help the contractor understand what we are trying to achieve

Simulating construction is a good idea to a certain degree, but there is always a cost benefit analysis to what level of detail is required, not to mention the differing methods of construction possible, what if the contractor doesn’t have access to the tool that you have simulated?. Is a simulation required when all the parties know what they are doing? At what point are you doing work for no benefit?

An architect / designer worth their salt should have a deep understanding of construction materials and methodologies and focus on the possible construction process during the design stage. They should know when dimensioning to material properties is important, and when it is not.

And then there is a question of liability, if a simulated construction method is utilised but subsequently fails who is liable for the failure? Contractor? Architect? Software engineer? This is an important question in our industry, increasingly so now that people expect BIM to be a substitute for talent and experience.

At a certain point the limited complexity of a pre-designed software becomes a hindrance not a benefit.
Refer Revit for details.


Here is a comstruction company which seems to know what it is doing:

Unable to Select objects with my mouse (Mac OS)

What that would mean is that every building is built twice. Once in a virtual world and then again in the real world. And if you are building in things like concrete drying time, it would take just as long too. In fact, much longer because some things that in the real world can just be bought off the shelf would have to be modelled first for CAD.

Contract documentation is intended to give sufficient information to allow something to be built and to see how it should look but it would be inefficient for it to do more.

I can’t quit see the point of all this. Being able to “lay a tile” in a virtual world is not at all the same as doing it for real. Here’s a challenge for you, assuming you are not a proficient tiler: tile a wall with handmade tiles in a virtual context then try doing the same thing for real. I bet they won’t bear much resemblance to one another!


If SketchUp thought designing a 3D modeling program was more trouble than it was worth, then we would never have had this amazing program.


That’s impressive. I’ve been involved in small prefab projects. I was the one who had to sequence the process before it was built and organise things onsite. Was quite a challenge but nothing like what they achieved. Amazing stuff from a technical point of view.


No you misunderstand me. As a proficient BIM modeler I know what it takes to get the outputs you are suggesting.

To stimulate things to the level you outline every element you model must represent something physical, it must be accurate in terms of dimension, material, and information. Trying to coordinate this level of information across multiple disciplines in different offices with different standards is a nightmare. It is so much work that it is only worth the effort on very large projects with very tight constraints.

Why spend weeks working out the simulation when a day with the main contractor and project manager will achieve the same output? Sometimes experience and common sense is far more valuable than a computer.

Sketchup is great precisely because it is free from all this ■■■■. You can do what you want, how you want, that’s what makes it so powerful. Once you start adding a heavy layer of parameters and information things get very restrictive very fast and the freedom to design suffers. Then you end up with revit and that’s just no fun for anyone.


True. Vincent van Gogh famously said, “Exaggerate the essential, leave the obvious vague.” In construction documents that means not having to tell workers how to do the usual, everyday stuff they already know how to do, but you do need to point out the unusual, unexpected or problematic spots.

I do like that SketchUp gives you the choice to make your model as vague or as detailed as you want, though making it too detailed tends to kill performance.


Are you proposing not being able to set a 2nd tile in SU until the time has passed since setting the first one to equal that of IRL tile setting? Or just tabulating the time sequence?


That’s a nice quote.
I will add it to my essential advice for young architects I’ve found valuable,

“The three most important words in architecture; restraint, restraint, restraint.”
“Worry sequentially.”
And now: “Exaggerate the essential”

I like sketchup for the same reasons, you an quickly identify the difficult areas, detail them to any level you want and then simply output that information in 3D and 2D with construction sequencing as required, all without having to use anything but basic tools. Pretty amazing really.

Complexity from simplicity.
Sketchup will take over small to medium practice if they can bring the sketchup/layout workflow up to the standard it could be.

Fingers crossed!


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