SketchUp in Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Does anyone use Sketchup for major scale modelling at a commercial scale with LOD models above 300/400. Possibly a facilities management model?.

Currently working on a big airport terminal upgrade where sketchup has been my primary viz tool after Revit for filtering out complexities that have really weighed down performance in Revit MEP (Im a BIM Manager)
We have ordered worksets , had federation model meetings, filtered views and purged constantly but the workflow in Revit is still slow compared to transporting a dwg format to Sketchup for ease of use. Which is why we enjoy it as a visual tool alongside Layout. Pic below from sketchup

I hope with Trimble now involved with Sketchups development that we are exposed to some tools that perhaps can be made separate from the main sketchup program (Possibly an extension paid package?) that will enable construction modelers to embed parametric data into a database such as Navisworks or Synchro. Making Sketchup a key contributor to federated models alongside the other major programs we use.

I understand there are already parametric modelling tools made by individual developers on sketchup. However I am more interested in where Sketchup is moving in terms of BIM tools.


The current version of SketchUp has built-in classification tools to tag objects with, for instance, IFC parameters. There is also IFC import and export. Perhaps not much to write home about, but it might be a start.



A list of BIM stuff here. And check the Extension Warehouse. It seems to be getting more stuff.

1 Like

have you looked into Trimble’s collaboration extension for SU?

it may have something useful…


@john_drivenupthewall - Yes I have had a look at the trimble connect, it is an excellent cloud collaboration tool. It has been a sharing platform for many Large Revit/CAD files we have.

@Anssi - The IFC format by classification tag in sketchup I think is a great start, but is still in the young days of development. Revits family editor/library is viewable in Navisworks Sim & Freedom with all the properties that are associated with any element that is drawn within Revit.

Parametric tools are great, but better modelling tools are what I am after and proof of sketchup having the live ‘bim’ aspect to it is something I hope is on the radar for the development of the software. I have just downloaded Trimbles MEP designer which is also another sign some integration tools are on the way.

In Australia a company called Rubysketch released a plugin for sketchup this year called Plusspec we use to do create models and do takeoffs (BOQ) in the residential market. It features parametric and BIM capabilities and allows us to specify real manufacturers products throughout our drawings which is really handy for client meetings. It’s is easy to use and the models have a low poly count. I have seen models of much larger projects but have not created any myself. I would be interested to see how powerful plusspec is.

I have been using SketchUp for MEP modelling, coordination and construction drawing production for over ten years. Even though my company also makes use of the full Autodesk Building Design Suite I have remained confident that SU can out perform all of them. Don’t get me wrong, I have been forced to use the likes of Revit on BIM projects simply because the BEP demands it but I have always tried to get SU working in the same way. The IFC issue has finally been sorted (with only a few tweaks still needed) but I have one final issue regarding the classification class. I can see that components can be classified as architectural items but how do I classify MEP items? Any ideas?


This SU model was done in 2010 and made use of Space Design by RP Tools. This allowed me to add attributes to each component so I could export full materials lists for procurement, weights for lifting etc.


Here’s a rendered view


Really nice work !

how did you manage to have proper IFC export with SU ?


Thank you. After much frustration and testing of different methods I managed to get the hang of the classification system within SU2015. The Space Design plugin worked great five years or so back but it’s now all about collaboration, hence the need to export IFC while retaining all the required information. Once the attributes were agreed it was quite simple to add the necessary information. So far, all has been retained on import to a federated model however there are still a few minor issues that we are ironing out.
Another worthwhile process is to make sure you have different services grouped and on their respective layer (which is coloured accordingly). If you have the model on ‘colour by layer’ when you export your IFC it also keeps everything nice and coloured, and easily selected.

Hi Guys, I thought I should chine in. The start of the question was large scale models. It can be a bit of a conundrum as the more information and geometry you add, the slower the model will react. It does not matter if you are using Revit, Archicad or Sketchup the truth is that large models will always be slower. The only way to have a large model is to have it optimised via a Sketchup ninja user or via a plugin like PlusSpec. Many talk about LOD yet I do believe it is counter productive as it leaves more room for error… I can not remember, Did I swap out all of my my LOD 200 for 350? Once I added the larger files I now need to segregate my model as it is too cumbersome to work with. This is an insane amount of work just to get a job done, really it is just a work around for slow bloated models in Revit, it is not for me.
No doubt you guys are aware of PlusSpec? I built it, as I run a design and construction company in Australia, large models really started to slow us down. I needed all of the geometry and all of the information to make BIM and VDC feasible to create. I also needed auto IFC attribution which now happens according to what you are drawing. I spent most of my time organising models when the real requirement was to communicate design intent via a 3D model that could be used to build with. 8+ years ago I employed developers in my office to come up with a comprehensive plugin that allowed me to organise my models in a way that allowed me to add in more geometry and information, modify at any time and specify real products.
The comprehensive models you all show here are great and these are examples of what industry needs to build from but at what cost to the designer? I can imagine how long it takes to edit them and I know how long it would take to draw them in the traditional Sketchup manor.

This is why I developed PlusSpec, it is for professionals, if you only draw one or 2 things a year PlusSpec is too expensive, yet if you grind away everyday doing detailed drawings then Plusspec is the answer. It will blow your mind!

Here is a live link to the website

As for the MEP drawings that @Cad110 Cad110 is doing ( great work BTW) I would recommend the MEP Plugin for Sketchup or Skeng (brilliant).

I know it sounds unbelievable but PlusSpec will actually do structure at the same time as drawing walls, all of the steel and structure is parametric so you can send it to the engineer and he or she can simply select the right size to suit their calculations and also comment or tag issues that may clash with the design intent. It has a scene creator tool which in 1 click will create all of your plans and elevations for Layout (huge time saver!) We needed a solution so I built it. PlusSpec does exactly what you guys need, if time is as important to you as it is to me.

I am happy to organise a private or public webinar if you want to learn more. It does have tutorials built in to every tool so you do not have waste more time searching for how to videos. I now no longer build homes, all I do is continue to work on further development in PlusSpec. As a matter of fact I just put on another developer to help with PlusSpec 2016.

We needed an intuitive & powerful BIM VDC program and no one else could show me one. I built PlusSpec out of necessity for residential and commercial construction. Not to compete with Revit and Archicad, I am sure they are great, I just could not use them. I may be a little less tech savvy than their users or patient I am not sure…


I have worked on many large-scale residential projects (including many for Fletcher Living) - typically down to (but not including) construction detail. Sketchup is amazing for conflict detection. I wouldn’t call it BIM, precisely, but we do use some parametric intelligence and basic classification systems (I would like to use more of these, but the limitations of Sketchup/Layout for documentation get in the way so the trend is currently to switch to Revit or Archicad for the Building Consent detail).

The largest BIM project I worked on is an entire hospital - impressive detail, eg every piece of equipment modeled including handsoap dispensers. My job was modelling landscape and interior decor (including IES lighting, etc). The main model was RVT but it actually crashed close to completion so I took over the final stages of visualization in Sketchup.

If you’re still at Fletcher, come by the Harrison Grierson offices some time if you want to catch up for a sketchup chat :slight_smile:


Hey Sam,

Posted this question a long time ago and it seems there is still no development around the topic of Sketchups role within the BIM environment to becoming a key authoring tool. Was in the Revit 2018 webinar last night and the advancement of how to model in Revit is always growing. I have since moved into a coordinated Revit environment which i dont mind as Ive learned to become a power user over the years, still use Sketchup for site stuff though. It is still to me a better detailing tool and wish the developers would at least produce some out-of-the-box plugins that produce automated walls, windows and doors. Layout is underdeveloped compared to other cad layout software but I guess Sketchup is sticking to simplicity. I appreciate the work the indie developers have put into their plugins but that will always be an extra step when the software upgrades every year. Not something I want to constantly do.

I have been developing a pretty good workflow for large scale developments here lately. The key is knowing how to break apart your component workflows and what layers to save everything under. That way, you can open a component separately and then work on it by itself. I have had a great deal of luck with this and a team of 5 designers in my group was able to have a 100 acre site model for a developer that we were all able to work on at the same time.

Each component should be broken down into a series of naming conventions, similar to how the CONDOC naming conventions work.

ARCH (this contains the component for the architectural detailing layers)



The DETAIL file for example would be all of the DETAIL_ files grouped inside. Then the file is saved as a component with the same origin axes point as the combined model within a shared folder. Then it can be remotely worked on by itself and certain team members can work on the files and save them. Then they can be brought into the master file for presentation purposes and what not. The trick is just figuring out how to break down a large model and what should be kept on each grouping.

It could be done by parts of the building as well. For example…


MEP_West Wing
MEP_East Wing

SketchUp works great for collaborative design as long as the model manager can figure out an effective grouping system, which isn’t too bad after you figure out a method once or twice.

And also, make sure you are regularly purging the model and optimizing it with extensions like cleanup and edge tools. This removes any unnecessary information contained within the model.

Its also been pretty awesome as of SU 2018 that .dwg files can be brought into SketchUp as components as well. These can also be live updated when you right click on the component and clikc “Reload Component”. Works like a charm and has become a great way to collaborate with AutoCAD users. Unfortunately you can’t directly import a Revit file into SketchUp yet, but there is a very easy workaround. The Revit user can export to DWG each time they save. This DWG file can be brought into SketchUp as a component and reloaded each time the Revit model is saved. This might have to be the trick until we can convince the rest of the engineering disciplines to switch over to SketchUp finally.


Interesting, I have never met anyone who does collaboration/modelling through Sketchup. I know its possible, its just at least over here in NZ everyone seems to direct that we have to do Collaboration in Revit & Navisworks. I have moved into the civil infrastructure business and the BIM Managers have been all over using Revit to model roads yet half the organizations civil designers use Sketchup & AutoCAD Civil 3D. Do you by any chance use Trimble Connect for online sharing/collaboration?.

I also work collaborativelly with sketchup and layout. My team is smaller though and I don’t dare dig up anything mildly related to BIM. Running from it while I can.

(You can run but you can’t hide… Or so they say)


JV_FletcherBuilding, I have messed around with Trimble connect a little bit but I find that a shared system like Box Sync or Dropbox, or better yet a server works much better.

I would like to learn more about how other groups are choosing there workflow. Any chance I could get more info on some of your guys projects and system workflow. I would love to hear more about this. It would be awesome if Basecamp could brush up on this issue a bit more and bring some collaborative design into their gameplan.

1 Like

I work mostly in major commercial projects on the construction team, so our file sharing between designers and contractor for models/drawings is Aconex and one other project uses Procore, some of the smaller projects use OneDrive and Sharefile. As a replacement for BIM 360, we use A360 for upload to the cloud for models specific to Revit. One thing to note about A360 is you can share a link which allows you to view the 3D model on an Ipad free of charge. This is a useful thing for some of the project engineers who may use the model now and then to plan in the field. We also dabbled in Trimble Connect a while back but have not gone back to it since.

I have seen some super cool stuff around analytics of a project with Aconex Field App, but haven’t used it enough to know more about it.

Auckland ?