Creating floorplans - Can this not be done more organically in sketchup

I’ve been using sketchup for house design and find it very good for flexibility and detail, especially compared to something like Chief Architect. I’m now trying to create floorplans from my design and it seems like all the tutorials I’ve seen start with importing some random floorplan obtained from the internet and then using that as a template once it has been “scrubbed”. I feel like if this is the best way to do floorplans in sketchup this is a big limitation.

My ultimate goal is to create complete construction documents for application for permit from the county. I’ve been researching other options and it seems like Chief architect can get to that point a bit more seamlessly. This isn’t a sketchup vs … post, I’m really just trying to understand if I’m missing something, or is sketchup just limited in this specific area, obviously it is a more general modeling software than for just architectural design. I know about layout and it’s claim of creating documents, but have not yet gone down that path and would like to save myself the time if it is not the best option.

Bottom line question for anyone with experience: is sketchup going to be a cumbersome, ackward, pain in trying to go from a house design to construction documents vs other options?


Hi @jackreese108, I encourage you to use SketchUp for your design and continue with SketchUp and LayOut for your construction drawings. In regard to importing floor plans into SU this is an option. One may just as equally create floor plans of one’s own design in SU.

What I find fabulous about SU is the ability to create architectural “volumes” in lieu of creating “floor plans” for the interior and exterior spaces I am designing. Upon completing the preliminary site plan and building design, I then “work backwards” and create a more detailed SU building model that includes floor, wall and roof thicknesses, followed by windows, doors & etc. I next move to LO to create floor plans, sections and elevations to study and communicate my volumetric design.

Here are some representative construction drawings from a recent project all ready for permit and construction; using SketchUp Pro, Skalp and LayOut as the option of choice for me.

Title Sheet:

Floor Plan:




Thanks, this is encouraging.

Could you perhaps point me to any tutorials on sketchup for construction documents?

I would say the complete answer is you can work with SketchUp either way depending on what suits you. Personally, I still most often draw 2D floor plans in PowerCADD, but I’ve been doing that for 29 years and I’m not abandoning such a great tool easily.

The main double edge sword about SketchUp vs. a dedicated BIM program like ArchiCAD is that a BIM program has a prescribed process with defined object types and it’s hard go outside of what the developer allows you to do, while SketchUp is a general modeler that lets you make anything you like. With that freedom comes the responsibility to figure out you’re own system/approach. There are authors who have developed their own system and offer them up in books and other resources. It’s not a bad idea to check them out and learn, then decide just how much to follow their ways.


In follow-up to @rtcool 's reply, I completely agree that success with SU and LO in the preparation of construction drawings is a result of a solid knowledge and a solid method. The drawings above our a result of a hybrid system/approach I have developed (with a fair amount of trial and error); based upon M Brightman, M Donley and N Sonder’s efforts, tutorials and books; adapted to my education and experiences from school and professionally.

Thanks. Nick Sonder’s name came to mind, but I was blanking on others.

Thanks for your detailed reply Lindsey.

Can you tell me what you mean by volumes? You say “in lieu of…” but you actually do have a floor plan.

The house in your document obviously has a lot of detail, did you model that detail by hand, or are you using some kind of library in sketchup that has a roof material like that, or stone wall and concrete stairs like you have premade? Do you have a detailed layer of the framing of the house with every stud etc.?

My design is a little bit unconventional in that it is a post and beam with a pier foundation of steel tube. I feel I’ve become proficient in sketchup enough that I’ve created a model (up to the framing) with detail of every peir, post, beam, stud, osb sheathing, etc. It does not take me long to do this, but is this overkill, and completely unnecessary and unusable for the final construction documents?

Hi Jack,
Personally, if I am doing construction drawings, I would put in as much detail as possible in the areas that you need to show it, if its not in the model, its not on a Layout drawing. I tend to use a single model master file with all the detail in it, I then have the option to show it or not. I will then add additional detail where I need to draw attention, much like Lindsey’s details sheet - these may or may not be part of the model master , depending on whether they are standard details or not.
Its different for everyone but I need to build it in SU so I know its buildable in reality, so I tend to do all my timber carcassing (floors, walls, roofs etc) in detail so I know I’ve allowed for everything.
It sounds daunting but it doesn’t have to be, much like Lindsey, SU, Skalp and Layout are the main tools, I also use Profile Builder 2 - which is amazing for setting up wall type assemblies with carcassing studs, sole/binder plates, insulation, sheathing etc and makes adding the detail quick once you’ve set up your assemblies - its like the follow-me tool on steroids. On the example below - this is not construction drawing but just for planning permission and design purposes but you can see that the detail is built in and there would not be much work to produce construction drawings.
Hope this helps.


You are very welcome.

When I mentioned volumes, I was referring to my technique of designing, during schematic (preliminary) design, which is just one of many approaches that different people use. When i move into the latter part of schematic design, i incorporate floor, wall and roof thicknesses & etc.

For the drawings above, the rendering, floor plan and elevations are based upon one SU building model. The rendering was then created by placing the building model into the site model. For the details, in general each detail is a separate SU model (except when i am just increasing the scale).

The boulder retaining wall was created by designing a profile, using the Follow Me tool and applying an imported Texture. The standing seam roof was created by designing a profile, using the Push Pull tool, adding a solid Texture, and adding the standing seams and gutters as components.

The amount of detail in the building model v. the creation of separate details is a judgement decision of each designer/draftsperson. As @bifterx points out, and I agree, in addition to consideration of communicating the schematic design to the different stakeholders and later Contract Documents to building officials and contractors, one also wants to understand how the different design elements work together and reconcile competing systems (for space) like HVAC and structure. In this realm I also find more detail is better.

In other areas, where production time is always an additional consideration, less detail is better, as long as you are communicating your ideas and requirements. Therefore, for example, I do not model every stud, plate and header in a wood frame design. I do have a Layer in my model called Wall Framing that i use, from time to time, where I might place a column as an example, to study its alignment and any clashes from footing to roof structure. Also, very helpful in communicating with the structural and mechanical engineers.

Lastly, it sounds like you have your building structure designed, and are now working through your interior and exterior wall modeling. I suggest you consider starting with simple shapes of thickness placed in a component or components on a separate layer and see how this meets your needs.


Nice work Lindsey. B)

I have a question - how flexible is your model? I am in the midst of a project where the contractor keeps changing her mind. I am the framer but the amount of changes is staggering. Looking at your plan, it strikes me it is pretty much set in stone. How do you deal with a homeowner who keeps making changes when it seems you have put in many hours of design time? Do you spend a lot of time with the client on rough preliminary sketches, before you get so involved as the above drawings show?


1 Like

Oh, yeah! Sore subject for a lot of architects. I had a recent project where we started with Scheme A, and by Scheme F they finally settled on one. Better to make changes on paper than in the field, or as I call it “designing in wood.”


Dealing with changes after creating a construction set is tough but a reality. We always try to minimize late changes through early client involvement, but they still occur. We do, do our preliminary design in SU before creating the construction drawings.

We explain to our clients at the outset, that as the project progresses through design-bidding-construction, changes become progressively more expensive. But at all times that we will respond forthrightly regarding time and cost impacts of any contemplated changes.

With VR we have now taken a huge step forward in communicating our ideas and concepts in a manner that not only wow`s our clients, but clearly increases comprehension and decreases misunderstandings. SketchUp is a great base component of the VR experience.

1 Like

it’s pretty flexible (by extension, I’m pretty flexible) but if I haven’t confirmed the footprint and design, I resist moving to the next stage unless I’ve agreed fees and got my client to understand the effects down the line, a lot of what I do is in Conservation areas and/ or Listed buildings where the design has to be very prescriptive (including materials, methods etc)in order to get the necessary permissions. But yes I do a lot of initial black line sketches (in SU) to get a agreed design, then work it up. Ultimately, there are not a lot of clients where costs are not an issue so that helps as long as that is communicated correctly. I work pretty closely with the builders too agreeing details on site and rolling them back into the model.

1 Like

Have to say I find both sets of plans very impressive and the conversation interesting and pertinent. I am astounded at the presentation quality of the model in layout. They both show how Sketchup with the right knowledge & forward planning a model can become the plan & yet remain as a computer model which is so useful for being able to show a client in 3D what is proposed as well as being a very useful and accurate way to check everything fits as it should do. Is the bitterx drawing in the UK?

The bifterx is indeed drawing in the UK! thanks for your comments

1 Like

Thanks @AndrewRubySketch and @Rightangler for your comments.
Greatly appreciated.

This topic was automatically closed 91 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.