Looking for Alternative CAD for IFC export or a Plugin

Hi All,

I am looking for some advice with regards to an alternative CAD software to allow correct geometric properties export to IFC models.

I have been a user of SketchUp for over 10 years and have not really used anything else. I run a small estimating services business for Builders, and I am finding that part of my workflow is now modelling the structural side of the jobs to enable accurate take offs as the quality of documentation is decreasing and the architects and building designers do not share their 3D models to the Builders. I use a number of plugins (Profile Builder 3, Quantifier Pro, & Framer) as part of my workflow.

The issue that I am having is TIME or the lack of it. I use Cubit Pro estimating software for our core business. Our current workflow involves exporting reports to csv from Quantifier Pro and importing into Cubit Pro., which works well however when a change in design or budget change resulting in revision works occur, it is almost a start again process, hence the time factor comes in.

Cubit Pro BIM has resolved this by allowing IFC models to be used directly to generate quantities, track changes automatically and saving manual entry or importing of quantities. Hence the reason for this post! Over the years I have been waiting for SketchUp to have the ability to exporting IFC model correctly and have all the geometric properties included (length, height, width, weight etc.) and its getting to the point that I don’t believe this is going to happen. I cant seem to find a plugin that helps with this issue either.

I don’t really want to change from SketchUp, however its getting to the stage that I may need to look around, either if someone has overcome the issues that I am having or an alternative software! I have looked at Revit, BricsCAD, TurboCAD and found that the user interface is so foreign from SketchUp that I couldn’t drive it and felt the learning curve would take too long.

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated.

I would be curious to hear your opinion about the PlusSpec plugin. I am using it for architectural design… But found that it had too limited functionality for custom designs. To many workarounds. It actually hinders my modeling now. It was written by a builder that needed to estimate quickly and more so work out revisions quickly. I suppose that it would be perfect for you. It’s a paid app, close to 1000 forward annually.

I have reached out a couple of times to PlusSpec with regards to their latest release and have asked if when exporting to IFC whether the geometric properties are contained, however I have not had a response yet, hopefully soon.

Frankly I am surprised that this issue has never be addressed by SketchUp or a developer has never created a plugin that resolves the issue. There has always been discussion (myself included) but for some reason never addressed.

I am determined to find a solution to my problem and if I have to move to another CAD software, so be it, however I would rather stay with SketchUp as I know it so well.

Still looking for advice?

Check this post:

Thanks Mike, really good article in the forum. Interesting that item 3 is where we are having problems with regarding the export of the IFC format not complying (as well as no geometric properties) I am aware that it is possible to add all of this information to dynamitic components on an individual level, but this is so time consuming and could lead to data entry mistakes or missing a dynamic component altogether during this workflow. The question I ask is why can plugins read the geometric properties and SketchUp cant? Surely there must be a simple way that this can be incorporated into an IFC export rather than individually coding objects? or am I just missing a step here?

1 Like

I don’t know the why. You have not missed anything.
Maybe, Trimble doesn’t want the ‘little guy’ to grow up and play with the big boys.
Or, someone responsible looks at the file menu entries and sees Export to IFC and thinks its ok.
In the mean time, building smart has shifted towards ifc4.
Trimble connect extension, import and export needs attention.

For a minute there I thought it was me :joy:. SketchUp has so much potential in the industry, but it just seems to dragging it’s feet at the moment. I am most definitely going to adapt the BIM workflow from the previous article. At this stage will have to look at dynamic components again. Maybe SketchUp could help us out and include some of these things in the next update . :thinking:

1 Like

Trimble Connect can handle IFC’s from other software packages very well, but has some errors handling .skp files and the native .ifc export. The names of the components are all ‘Invalid’, which demotivates. There are no other attributes then the Advanced Attributes, but they add no real value, because it is just text. (Size should be automatically display the bounding box, URL should be a working hyperlink, Owner could be automatically be set to the signed in Trimble ID etc. etc.)
If you export to IFC, you get more info to get started with:

Mind you, you can get Trimble Connect Business Premium ( € 250/y) and add your custom P_sets with the Property set manager, one of the included ‘Workflow-extensions’ of Trimble Connect.

Again the issue is the IFC model is contained within the Trimble environment. The IFC should be able to be exported with the correct data contained to allow it to be either exchanged with other parties or used in other software packages. This is when the question is asked, is this just a way of keeping everything inside of the Trimble environment or are they serious about moving SketchUp into a true market leader against Revit, ArciCAD etc ?

Anyway I still have the same issue with the export of IFC from SketchUp. Either I have an insanely long workflow to custom write properties to dynamic components or SketchUp steps up a allows geometric properties to be exported with IFC.