SketchUp Layout or AutoCAD?

Which program in your option would be the easiest to create a layout drawing, elevations and site plan?

Have not used either before (did briefly use AutoCAD 12 years ago but have forgotten most, I was using Bentley Microstation primarily at that time when worked at BMW)

Its for a Newbuild house (own) so will be going to council


I’d say “will be going to council” is a moot point.

You can use AutoCAD or Layout to produce plans and elevations that are suitable for Planning Applications.

In 2007 I was working in a practice using AutoCAD 2007, now I use Layout to do the same.

1 Like

I create simple models that I insert into Layout and add extra details and annotation as required in Layout.

I don’t bloat my SketchUp models – many download high poly count models (furnishings, entourage, etc.) from the 3D Warehouse that can bring Layout to it’s knees.


If you’re going to model your house in SketchUp it makes sense to then use LayOut to create the documentation required for the Council or whomever needs them.

1 Like

Thanks Paul

When I said “going to council” it was to emphasise that they where for as purpose!

I was, as you suggested, going to keep them simple as it seems users have said that Sketchup programs can be slow when content / layers are high

It seems Sketchup for the capabilities it can achieve is very low priced compared to AutoCAD, Is Layout a simple system to use with prior dated knowledge of a CAD system?

Thanks Dave

I would kind of forget your old CAD knowledge and concentrate on learning to use SketchUp and LayOut correctly. Don’t try to inflict your previous CAD experience on it. You’ll just get frustrated.

Think of LayOut as the tool for creating documentation from your SketchUp model. Whether that’s permitting documents or something to share with the kitchen fitters, SketchUp is where you’ll create the 3D models and the scenes to show them. LayOut is where you’ll use those scenes to create dimensioned and annotated documents.


It’s a long time since I used classic CAD.

Layout is great – what you see is what you get, none of that arcane line colour representing line weight nonsense on a black background ! ( has it changed since 2007 :thinking: )

As Dave says – forget what you ever knew of CAD.

Check out some of Mike Brightman’s videos:

SketchUp Essentials:


Just some of the many resources out there…

1 Like

Really appreciate your views, knowledge and experience…
So as I see it I should use Layout to start with as I am starting from scratch and draw the building, then I presume I would then generate the elevations and site plans and then use Sketchup to generate 3D rendering of the building if I wanted to show representation of the build?
Please tell me if I’m wrong as your advice is appreciated
Also thanks for the links
Cheers simon

Another question, just watched the tutorials…very useful

Can I use a lesser third party 3rd party software to create a basic room layout (I need to show to the wife and most probably change 2-10 times) and import this as a stating point to generate the plan or do I have to start from scratch in Sketchup?

Again thanks

No, not really. Sketchup is used to create the model which is then ‘sent’ to Layout to produce the Elevations, floorplans, construction documents etc.
The best way to start would be to work through the Fundamentals at the Campus to give yourself an understanding of how the software works.
Then start building your model in 3d. Once you are happy with it in 3d you can move to making it 2d in Layout if you need it.
Sketchup has the ability to look at everything in plan and elevation too, these are just camera settings.
The main thing to get your head around is you aren’t drawing 2d things for someone (you) to make 3d, you are working in 3d itself.

1 Like

I wouldn’t bother trying to learn some other software that may or may not work with sketchup. Just learn the basics of sketchup and you’ll be knocking out room plans in no time.

Thanks will look at link tonight

Agree and disagree.

I often have to sketch (paper) before going to model, especially when client gives me a clean slate. I then import as an image or if I did it on the iPad I can bring in vector work, then scale and model.

With my owner builder clients I often suggest they start with graph paper or those ‘home designer kits’ just to get a rough layout - I can then import an image or PDF.

Owner builders with software experience might do well to go right to SketchUp, but it’s important not to let the software get in the way of the creative process.


Thanks for your advice… all is appreciated!!

When you import an image or pdf do you then use this as a guide in the background or can you convert over? sorry for my naivety, I have not started to us this software yet, with all the information i’m getting from everyone I will be starting soon once i’ve watched a few more tutorials

Its very good to get ideas on how people start there projects, if I can do this simply and efferently I will be using it for small projects in my construction company, I think it will be very beneficial as some customers find it hard to visualise aspects of the build/finish

You can import PDFs as images (Mac, not sure PC). Or, if the PDF was created by vector software you can convert it to linework and import is as a cad like entity, which lets you use it as a starting point.

But perhaps the best and easiest thing is to use graph paper, import as image, then scale and start modeling.

I use an iMac so that sounds like a plus point…
I take it the drawing would have to be very accurate to use or do you just use this as a rough reference in the back ground?

It can be a rough reference or fairly accurate. It depends on the quality of the original and the quality of the scan / photo / etc.

Really though - don’t worry about it. Just get ideas down and go through the basics of learning SketchUp first.


Yeah started today and really easy to use… already designed the downstairs and will be creating more once I get my new computer (Mac mini 2023 with 16gb RAM and 32" screen, I can now justify it to the wife) and buying Sketchup Pro
I found another tutorial as well which was perfect for me as it showed how to start in 2D, designing a house plan
Link is SketchUp Interior Design Tutorial — How to Create a Floor Plan (in 7 EASY Steps) - YouTube just in case you get another newbie asking you questions…
Really appreciate all of your help on this, impressed with the program but also this forum! Thought it might be full of people who would be up there own backsides but far from it, CHEERS and have a good weekend

I’ll make my response simple. I started with AutoCAD back in 89. Back then, AutoCAD gave me everything I needed to create professional building plans. Back then AutoCAD had the fully developed necessary tools to work with, such as OSNAP, mirroring, and dimensioning. So I find the latest SU upgrade a pathetic disappointment. To start with, I fail to understand why everything in Layout is not simply incorporated in SU Pro. But what really irks me is the primitive SU OSNAP, and dimensioning. I waste more time searching for midpoints, and constructing lines the way I want. Dimensioning in SU is beyond frustrating, compared to AutoCAD. However, the price is right, and, in spite of what’s lacking, SU is an amazing tool. I just wish they could get up to speed with the basics.

1 Like