House/garden re-modelling: flipping between different ideas




I’m a total newbie so this is not so much a question “How do I do X” as “Can I do X” or “Is X something SketchUp is designed for”…

I want to create an accurate model of my house and garden so that I can visualise how it looks now, plan changes, and visualise what the changes will look like. e.g. take a walk-through my house to see if my decorations will look good, see how removing/reducing trees will affect the sunlight in my yard in the evening, etc.

I get the impression SketchUp can do all these things well(?) but one particular thing is being able to roll these changes forwards/backwards to directly compare. Of course I can save copies of my work with each change made but I’m hoping for something a bit more user-friendly… even creating a little animation showing the changes being applied in turn (if you’ve seen the TV show Grand Designs you probably know what I mean). Ideally I’m looking for the ability to virtually explore my property, and create a slide-show or video of it.

I was looking at another product specifically designed for house -planning but it is quite pricey, well on a par with SketchUp Pro, so I thought I’d investigate the free option first :slight_smile:

Any insight on this sort of thing would be appreciated. Ideally without going super-technical, but if there are specific search-terms or extensions you can point me to to investigate on my own that would be great, or tutorials/examples which cover similar use-cases.

Many thanks.


Without getting into too much detail, you can do what you want with SketchUp. Basically you would draw the various elements using groups or components to keep the various elements separate. Then you can use layers to control the visibility of those elements.

So you might draw the house and make it a group. Draw the existing garden and group it. Put the existing garden group on a layer called “existing garden.” Turn off that layer’s visibility and draw your new garden, group it and put it on a layer called “new garden.”

Now set up a view showing the house with the existing garden and create a scene. Turn off the existing garden layer and turn on the new garden layer and make a new scene. After that you can switch back and forth to show the difference just by clicking on the scene tabs.

It can be a whole lot more complex than that but that’s the basics. Read the help articles about groups, components, layers and scenes.


You can do all you want in Sketchup, but maybe you should take a look at Floor Plan 3D:
or Sweet Home 3D:
evntual try this searc in Google:


As far as modelling goes, you can achieve the same results with the free hobby “Make” version of SketchUp as opposed to “Pro”. Some tasks can be a little more tricky sometimes, but I feel it’s only a tiny drawback.

There is of course, a learning curve. The results with a little patience are very rewarding.

This may give an idea of the concept that @DaveR mentions above for the idea you have. I’m sure he’ll tell me if not😉


@Thorleyian thanks for that, it looks quite straightforward though I can imagine it getting complex with multiple things going on. And if you for instance wanted to consider removing a wall, you’d have to fundamentally model your house differently, correct? I.e. not just extrude a floor plan but build each wall separately?

Actually… I can think of at least two ways to model a house. Building rooms as separate objects inside an independent or shell object, building each floor by extruding a floorplan, etc… Rather than start a new thread is there a generally accepted ‘right way’?

@brassovitski indeed, SketchUp is a far more general tool which suggests I can potentially do more, but it’ll take more time than a dedicated tool. However I’m at least as interested in the garden aspect and my googling kept turning up SketchUp as the/a top​ result for a tool that can do both. Importing terrain is especially handy.


Actually I found this tutorial: (there’s a 2nd part) where he creates a 2-storey house model from a simple estate agent (realtor) floorplan.

I’m watching it and thinking ‘holy ■■■■ that’s amazing’… I’m sure if I try to do this it will take me hours but still!


You could make the walls separate groups to switch between say, one with an arch removed for your case.
You should look at some basic tutorials and find out about groups/components and the basic tools. Then look at scenes/layers. Once you’ve got the basics you’ll be able to work out how to approach things. You seem to have some good ideas already.

I couldn’t answer that I’m not an architect!


Depends on how many details you want to work with. This is very important because it will affect the performance and time of every action what you will later do. You can either start building your house without furniture or furniture models separately. You should save every model to separate file. The simplest thing you can start with it to build some room of your house without furniture. Create every room and when you will have all your rooms, create your house, where you will import the rooms you have already saved as models. Then you can start to do the furniture.

The furniture has many details, which again is good to save separately. Do you need a handle to your cabinet? Either find in in Sketchup 3D warehouse and import it or make your own… Do you need a coat stand? Either finc it in 3D warehouse or create your own. It take really much of time to do and to learn…

Yet to save your time you will need to get some plugins. A lot of free tools for Sketchup are downloadable and they do lot of work insteads of you (saves you hours and days of work).

To speed up my work I create my own list of hotkeys (Window->Preferences). Hotkeys make the work easier and faster.

Tips for plugins (these plugins I use a lot):

  • Selection Toys, Selection Manger (right now starting to use it)
  • QuadFace Tools (here I use the Shrink Selection and Grow Selection)
  • Round Corner (this can create rounded corners so your models do not have sharp edges, but more soft)
  • TGI 3D (when I need to modify cylinders)
  • Pen Tool+ (I use this rarely)
    I also have installed Edge tools, and Fredo Tools and other toolbar which I do not use often. Fredo’s tools are great help.

Here is diagram. Every frame means every model (file where I would import the data from).


@barracuda are you suggesting each room is created as a separate model, or
only each piece of furniture? Are there any plugins you would recommend
personally, that a beginner should consider as essential?


I would create every room as a separate model without furniture. It includes walls, carpets (if you have any), and ceiling - sorry my English is not that good as I needed here - you have another important things like electrical installation… But I do not know if you want to include this in your models. When you will want to place a furniture later, you will thing about the power supply where it is located…

And then every piece of furniture to be separated model.

I say that every model takes a lot of work, it has many details. So when you finish all the models, then you can add them to your main model. Furniture to room. Room to house.

Newbie needs to learn how Sketchup works. And then you will need the plugins. It takes some time to learn the basics about SU. And then time to find out how to use the tools or how to install them.

Also many shortcuts and usefull views of the model will help you in the work. I often switch views between Monochrome, Shaded with Textures, Wireframe or I can display the Back-edges - these things help me a lot to see some problems in the model which I need to correct.

Learn how to use Sketchup and then learn the plugins. Will help you a lot.

Yet you need a good structure of folders where you save your models. Good organisation to find every model.


Creating every room as a separate model is inefficient and increases the chances of induced errors. Create the model of the building as a cohesive unit. If the building has multiple floors, you might group the walls for each floor separately. Then create a layer for each floor group so you can control the visibility of each as desired. Furniture and entourage can be created as separate models and inserted into the rooms. You might find useful components in the 3D Warehouse although it’s always wise to open them in a separate SketchUp session first to check that they are suitable for your use.

As for plugins/extensions, my suggestion is to hold off on installing any. Get familiar with the native tools first. With them you can do a great deal. After you are familiar with all they can do, look for extensions that do things the native tools can’t. Being familiar with how the native tools work also makes it easier to understand how the extension work and how to either fix things when they go pear-shaped or how to avoid them going pear-shaped.


[quote=“DaveR, post:11, topic:47719, full:true”]
Create the model of the building as a cohesive unit.[/quote]

This is what I have said. I see the house as the walls of the house, floors as very basic unit. I might explained it better - the building of the house to be like a container for the rest of the model (rooms). This is how I would do it. But more approaches possible.

I will update the post to make it more clear. See diagram, there


The first sentence in your post said to create each room as a separate model. That’s different than I described.


No, you did not follow all my posts. Please check the first post of mine again. There is more ways. One can start from details or from the simple unit which wraps all models.


As I understand it @barracuda is saying to create the shell/frame of the
house as one large model, then the interior of each room as a separate


this is not good practice as you end up with twice as many floors, walls and ceilings when you recombine the whole house…

creating a ‘Space’ [a set of edges defining room size ] then adding your furnishing to the Space for saving as a separate model would be better…

you can then use the Space components as proxies…



That’s the way I read it, too. It’s not a good practice, though. As I wrote earlier, it’s inefficient and prone to errors.

He also said there are multiple ways to work. Some prefer to work efficiently and cleanly.


This is one approach. The second approach is that you start with interior of each room as saperate model. The second is what I would do. This depends what priority is for OP. My priority would be to start with a simple room where I live and build it up. Then next room and when finished, I would create the house. Yet my problem is that I cannot find out the exact measure of housing unit I am living at, so I could start with measuring of the rooms, walls and then I would estimate the dimensions of the house unit. But if OP lives in house, then he can take tape measure and get the sizes. It depends on him what details he wants to dig in. And if he has patience to learn so long to finish his house in all these details.

MisterBoy said he wants “accurate model”. This could take really long. I prefer to start with small pieces, details, small projects or smaller models than to plan big plans which are empty for years.

What does @MisterBoy prefer?


I suppose I could see it in a very large building like a hotel with 100
rooms, though I’ve no idea how optimised SU is for such things. And in that
case you’d presumably be using some high-end software costing several
thousand anyway


With my suggestion I can imagine I can work on several projects at once. Let’s suppose I am the guy who is impatient to finish one room or complete house. With my house unit I would have these files: Living Room, Bed Room, Children Room, Kitchen, Corridor, Toilet and Bath Room. I can work on any furniture I want not been limited for one big project. I mean, that I may do any of the rooms in low details first, and than add more furniture and more details. This does not slow me at all. But If I would do this in one big file, it would slow me because when the House with lots of details is read in memory, SU will react very slowly (at least on my computer), I understand the OP’s desire to walk through the virtual house, but he can do it still when he will build small project with a house without any details. And when any room is finished, he can add it there.