Is Free suitable for this project?

I am constructing a model of my Georgian cottage, for use in substantial repairs and improvements work including new drainage works. I have been using Make 2017 hitherto to construct some partial improvement design concept models. I now need to create a detailed specification model(s). I suppose I could split this into many partial Sketchup models, though it would be neat to do it in one or two. I would anticipate using something like Michael Brightman’s architectural workflow, or possibly Nick Sonderby’s.

In order to do this, subject to your advice, I believe I will need to:

  1. Import existing A0 architects drawings and trace round them (c17Mb) using OpenGL max texture size mode
  2. Model the site including landsurface topography
  3. Model the architecture
  4. Organise the model(s) well using reasonably deep grouping and compents for repeated elements.
  5. Apply layers to control visiblity
  6. Create sections and scenes to print from
  7. Print scale drawings to hard copy and a file of some form that contractors will be willing to accept (hopefully without buying Pro). The print to file could maybe be done in two stages using an image format translation site.

I have tried Free on item 1. above and hit some problems, which may be avoidable, I am not sure. The file takes ages to import and I have to tell my browser to ignore the delay around 10 times. I get a very slow response when trying to position the image file. I have tried it in Chrome (standard and a variant), FF Quantum, and Kmeleon ultralight browser (latter crashes).

So I just thought I would ask whether it is in your view better to do this project in Free 2018 or Make 2017, and why. I’d prefer not to pay for Pro - only £500 I know, but in a building project there are so many ‘only £500s!’. But maybe I will have to.

Kind regards


at this stage, Free is unlikely to achieve anything close to your specification…

Make v2017 with extensions can achieve most of your goals…

Pro [with LayOut] would certainly make it even easier and possibly save you more than £500 even on a single project…


As an experience Design/Build General Contractor, I’m compelled to ask the following with all due deference to your (unstated) knowledge of architectural design, structural engineering and construction experience.

• How much would hiring an experienced Designer/Builder/Architect/Engineer cost?
• How many mistakes might result from a cadre of suppliers and trades, all building from your plans.
• How many mistakes avoided will it take to break even on the cost of hiring professional design services?


Dear John

Thanks very much for your feedback.

OK 2017 it is then, what extensions would you suggest?.

I have ‘Section Cut Face’ as one possible extension so far.

(I guess I can decide whether I need Pro later, when I come to print drawings?)

Kind regards


Thank for your concern Geo.

We have had two bad experiences with taking widely scoped professional advice, so we are taking the approach of using point advice from selected professionals, and where we feel this is not needed, researching and drawing solutions ourselves and subjecting them to the backstop of a council building control check of the full plans.

The structural repairs have been specified by a structural engineer and drawn in detail by an architect.

The replacement drainage system was initially specified by an architect, but needs modifications to meet structural concerns (trenches too close to a wall with poor foundations) and one change in bathroom location.

The remaining repairs, though extensive, are not in general structural, though we do intend taking some advice on an, apparently mostly cosmetic, outer lintel replacement. (The outer lintel supplements a huge, still sound, inner concrete lintel). We also intend taking some advice on a roof structure repair, though this is simply a bracing of an existing seemingly stable structure on which ancient wood and ferrous nails have failed, not a huge change. Possibly a local design/build firm will have sufficient experience in these areas as many local firms are familiar with old king/queen post truss roofs. We may draw the results ourselves.

The improvements involve incorporation of an already converted outbuilding by removing a non-structural wall, and repartitioning incorporated space to create a bathroom and utility. Also increasing head height, which could have structural effects as floor beams will be affected. We are aware of some of the standard design solutions for such changes, and the issues to consider. Most of the required solutions were employed in a previous set of architect’s drawings which had the bathroom in a somewhat different location.

In the UK most of these changes require building control approval, and possibly planning permission and we will be using the approach that requires full approval of plans, drawn by us, by council building control surveyors. We’'l also be listening intently to feedback from potential contractors. If anything worries us in this process we will take advice.

I hope this makes a degree of sense. Any thoughts on any of the above or on appropriate SU extensions will be gratefully received. Thanks very much for your comments so far.

Kind regards


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