Sketchup, BIM and return on investment


I know that SU isn’t technically “BIM” but one can certainly embed a LOT of information about a project in a Sketchup model. Not to mention use that model to discover clashes, errors and omissions in the plan set and guide construction specifications and scheduling. Couple all this with Sketchup’s relative shallow learning curve and ease of use and, I think, we have a pretty compelling package for constructablity analysis. I know John Brock, for one, is deep into this.

There are studies out there that purport to document the return on investment for the cost to produce a BIM model at 200% - 500% or even higher. None of these studies, to my knowledge, are referencing the use of SU as a BIM platform. Nor, are they done in my specific field - construction of high end custom and estate homes.

Given this opening, here’s what I’m trying to do and looking for anyone here on these forums with any experience and / or ideas in this regard:

In my custom residential field, it seems most the players - contractors and a lot of architects - are as fearful of change as small children are of things that go bump in the night. I show these firms the level of detailing and information I’m providing in my construction models with the goals to 1) have them engage my services (of course) and 2) bring this archaic business, kicking and screaming if need be, into the 21st century. In my years in this field, I’ve seen far far too much waste caused by incomplete or misunderstood plans to be comfortable with my role in this waste.

To me, I look at any model I’ve created and the advantage of it to the building of a home is strikingly obvious and needs no explanation. But, I’ve always been a geek, so I am at a loss to know why others do not have this same reaction.

Therefor, I am trying to quantify the savings that my “BIM” model brought to my most recent project. For marketing purposes. And, here is where I’m looking for any thoughts / discussion - how to quantify this? Its hard to put a dollar cost on work that didn’t have to be torn out and redone because the model prevented the error from occurring in the first place. Its equally difficult to quantify the increased productivity / accelerated schedule that can be attributed to having a detailed model to refer to. Yet, in a conservative industry such as home design and construction, this seems precisely the information needed to make the case for modeling.

Has anyone had any experience in this regard? I’m all ears.

Thanks to all who make the effort to read through all this. Any thoughts or info are greatly appreciated.




Firstly, just to confirm do you use SU Pro, and if so, do you use any BIM extensions such as Mindsight Quantifier Pro or Plus Spec?

Ideally you would build 2 identical houses - one with BIM and one without to evaluate.

Practically, I would consider talking to professionals who do efficiency evaluations for construction or similar -they may be able to help or point you in the right direction.

1 Like


SU is the new BIM platform.

My thoughts on the subject are best summarized in this video:

I agree there is far too much waste and guessing and disconnect between the various trades. Given today’s technology and computing power none of these issues should even exist. Compared to other industries which I have worked in (Aerospace, Manufacturing) the construction industry is still in the stone ages, its time to change all that.

A simple, affordable, easy to use, flexible BIM platform is required for residential construction (not Revit). SketchUp fits the bill perfectly. Now we just need to develop the plugins that can make it happen.

What I have done so far with my suite of plugins is only a very small ripple in a very large pond. Whether or not I can fully develop these plugins to the level that they become full on BIM packages is yet to be determined. However, I do think that if nothing else I have gotten the ball rolling just a little further and faster and it is now unmistakable, the shear potential that SketchUp has as a BIM platform.



In order to make the embedded information more usable it needs to be available to the native SU Pro and LO features leveraging the auto labeling / tagging features. To do this developers must know/understand/be able to link this information to the SU Pro “Entity Info” field, however it seems therein lies the problem. This seems to be a bit of a problem as it’s currently either not able to do so, or it isn’t clear how it’s done.

BIM is more than just adding information to the model, it needs to be done in a way that is useful/interchangeable to/with other platforms/software, preferably in a bi-directional manner.





@GSTUDIOS - yes, I’m using 2018 Pro but I have not tried the extensions you name. Perhaps I should. “efficiency evaluations for construction”… hmmm, I’ll have to look into that.

@medeek - I agree, although I’m still waiting for the gable wall capability in your wall plugin.

@Julian_Smith - I have found that you can actually put quite a lot of text into the instance text box of either a group or component. Just can’t format it (line breaks) so too long a description extends beyond the confines of the SU window. I’ve read a note by @Anssi on the bi-directional interchangeability between BIM platforms, and he says the various platforms don’t play well together. He seems pretty knowledgeable.

Thanks for the input folks!



In the end, a quote is always two times the half of it. In my experience, when you focus on cost only, there is always someone cheaper. You don’t want to go that way. Off course, you will have to recalculate, but generally it comes down to volumes. No need for endless calculating and estimating in the high end sector for that matter.

BIM isn’t just cost and a (SketchUp) model, it is about sharing information and being on the same level with sub-contractors and the client, regardless their Software.

With Trimble Connect, you will have a perfect platform for your Building Information:

SketchUp, Revit, PDF, etc. etc. all working together!


SketchUp Campus: General Feedback

SketchUp Pro is very good to apply with the BIM working method. Not only thanks to the powerful 3D functionalities, import and export functions, but also the possibilities that Ruby scripting offers to let SketchUp talk with other systems.

In the Netherlands, many companies (contractors, architects, suppliers) use OpenBIM where information is shared during a construction project in an IFC file format with all those involved. As a result, both geometric information and data / object information can be uniformly shared and reused.
These files (3D models) can then be checked and analyzed in software such as Trimble Connect as @MikeWayzovski says.

Personally, I would show the benefits of your SketchUp Pro BIM workflow through the information you reuse from the 3D model and the mistakes that you prevent.

Ultimately everyone wants to work more efficiently.



Here in southern California, BIM adoption in custom home design / build has made very little progress. Most builders are generally opposed to it, or opposed to spending the time to learn and incorporate it. For them, the BIM workflow is just too foreign from the “way we’ve done it forever” to be worth the effort. Most architects that are using any part of the BIM process are using Revit and take the view that anything done in Sketchup can’t possibly be useful. Its almost a hostile environment.

1 Like