Sketchup learning curve again please (thread got closed)

Tags: learning curve, design speed, proficiency

Hi everyone, this actually is as a “reply” to a closed thread

I too ask about learning curve:
Thanks to @davidheim1 's initial contribution, and @tkhoatson 's excellent, detailed “reply”!

So please, for someone who has “played around” with SU for years (the free version), with reference to tkhoatson’s sensible conclusion:
“But I think it’s better not to overhype it and build up unrealistic expectations that would lead to frustration. Plan for some time to learn it & take the time.”

Can someone with similar insight please quantify that a little?

I am considering to buy Pro as I’d love to do this part of work myself when setting up my construction company in ~8 weeks and need to hit the ground running, so busy we will be.
Experienced Pro users to the front:

  1. to draw a complete house plan in SU (incl. material list stuff…)
  2. to draw a complete site plan
  3. to render at least part 1)
  • How many minutes will/should each step take an experienced SU Pro user?
  • And for each step of the 3 above, how long is the learning curve in weeks?

Please, if you base your reply on using some additional(!) sw, kindly list that as well, with separate minute needs (and ideally with purchase link too) ?

Thank you so much! :slight_smile:

Oh, and - not to make this an “affiliate marketing” thread (because such links are secondary here) - but if anyone has had great experience with some online course that allowed him/her to become “so fast”(!), could you please link that course also?

I recently posted a list of tutorials in a topic thread answering a query for building plan tutorials …

LayOut: What is the purpose of copying and pasting in place a floorplan scene?

… other than this browse the Tutorials category here, … and / or get one of Nick Sonder’s books.

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Thx, unfortunately that has nothing to do with my questions, lol.

For extra clarification, @anyone else, please can you reply where you see the 3 numbers and 2 bullet points?

Because no other “answer” is going to help anyone looking for the same… - which always are way more people than those who take time to register and write a post…
Thx again.

How long is a piece of string?


There is no definitive answer to any of these questions. It depends upon what information is available to start with and what exactly is needed at the end. The size of the house matters as well as the details included.

It sounds as if you are expecting to become an expert with SketchUp and LayOut within 2 months. I’ll wish you good luck on that. Especially so since you don’t appear to be interested in following up on the tutorial links @DanRathbun provided.


This is impossible to give a universal answer for so many variables but I see you really want an answer so I’ll take a wild guess assuming a beginning student.

Becoming proficient enough in ANY complex CAD software to efficiently execute a complete set of drawings might average 2 years, real pros have 5.

Site plans or 2d ConDocs are a further skill using a separate program called layout which could take another year to get good at, rendering is also a separate program that takes time to understand.

Once proficient, designing a house might take 6 months?

It’s unrealistic to go from 0 to expert in 8 weeks. This is why architecture firms pay modelers who do just that for 8 hours a day. Sketchup is a great tool and if you are dedicated you can pick it up quickly, but the reward will equal the effort.

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Thanks Dave. Where does it suggest I, or anyone else, seeks “a definite answer”?
My post ever so clearly asks for individuals’ EXPERIENCES how long it took them etc.

Unfortunately you too didn’t even hint at a number how long it took you to learn to that level, how many minutes you now take (MODE obviously, ALWAYS when someone asks), etc
Pl see my precise post.

“It depends” lol, anyone knows that (see above: What’s the MODE you need now, and it took you? Most often, it takes you how long, etc?

3 numbers, 2 bullet points, sorry it’s impossible IMHO to be more precise with one’s questions…

So then: those who DON’T have the experience to draw on for their reply, could you please refrain from bulking up this thread with “posts” that help NO ONE?
Thanks again.

Here’s how I answer such precise questions:
eg: "As for

  1. most plans take me now just x minutes, and my learning curve to that point was just a month.
  2. that’s more complex with terrain and such… I rarely do that, sorry can’t answer the minutes nor the time to learn.
  3. If you also buy bla bla software like I did, which is super easy IMHO, rendering a house plan only takes me now mostly less than y minutes, and to get there it took me maybe 1 week.

As for your PS, no, I didn’t buy into any course, I learned all from playing around with SU. Others may be much faster than I am?"

Something like that I’d reply IF I have the requested experience that my reply is worth anything. Else I just keep quiet, obviously.

Makes sense?
I hope so.

Thanks again

Here’s how I answer such precise questions:
eg: "As for

  1. most plans take me now just 6 months, and my learning curve to that point was just 2 years.
  2. that’s more complex with terrain and such… I do that, can answer the minutes and the time to learn. Weeks and years.
  3. If you also buy twinmotion software like I did, which is not easy IMHO, rendering a house plan only takes me now mostly less than one week, and to get there it took me maybe 6 months.

It sounds like you want to hear that getting really good is simple and quick.


New, one post, and already frustrated. Anyone actually reading my post will share the frustration. My post here has been turned into useless mess, no one coming from search engines gonna bother to wade through to see if MAYBE somewhere someone actually answered.
Hey, no search engine gonna link to this anyway: the algorithms can’t determine if it got answered at all!

I won’t waste my time any longer to reply to everyone here individually who, for unknown reasons, all make their own (wrong) assumptions(…!) what they “think I’d want to hear”, instead of simply answering what I actually asked - IF they can answer. And only then.

But for the record, what may have turned this post so sour:
I even LINKED the URL of the post that (because it’s closed) made me start my own here.
I even referenced davidheim1 and tkhoatson, and thanked them for what both told us here.
Extract only now:
" tkhoatson
I mostly agree with davidheim1. I don’t have experience working with AutoCad, so I won’t comment on that.
[WISE, FAIR, EDUCATED - sorry but I have to point that out now and hope everyone in THIS thread takes note of what he says there? Back to tkhoatson:]
… I will simply respond to 2 statements:

you can learn SketchUp and become fairly proficient in a matter of days. [this was davidheim1’s]

In my experience, and from reading lots of posts by newbies in these forums, you can learn the basics of SketchUp in a matter of days, but it will take considerably longer to get your head wrapped around the new way of thinking that is required to become proficient."
[End for now]

Now anyone UNbiased to the front: Isn’t it just and fair for someone else (me) to ask:
Can anyone with similar experience level please quantify that a little? To draw your house plans, how many minutes do YOU need to draw one now that you ARE proficient?

(ANY plan obviously. The MODE guys! If you don’t often draw a house plan, hey obviously don’t answer because you can’t have a feeling for how long you TYPICALLY need)

… And now that you ARE proficient, what was the time to get you to THIS level?
(he just answered the minutes he needs, did you notice? Can you please connect the dots to see how thoughtful the sequence of the questions is?)

My questions were SO logical and consistent and clear, it’s beyond me how anyone (anyone, yeah) would want to bother taking the time to “reply” with his own assumptions(!) of what I might “have wanted to think or say”, lol. No idea where you guys learned that. I learned to consider it rude to make assumptions about someone’s words. Just READ those words instead, huh?

Whatever. I give up for the time being. Fruitless, this mess. I know there will be many who quietly see it the same, but they won’t waste their time to chime in.

PS: Is there some trophy to earn here when you inflate the threads? Brownies for “the most posts” or something?
Then I take back my “it’s beyond me why someone would reply that way”, then I understand.

PPS: Oh take this for free: I was asked (many times over the decades, obviously): “Hey, how long did it take you in Uni?”
I never replied like: “I think what you want to hear is that someone can finish Uni in 2 years… but someone cannot”… LOL

I replied like: “For degree x? 6 years. I worked half-time during that.”
'Cause the person clearly wanted MY experience, nothing else. That YOURS is different, gosh, who wouldn’t know?


I modeled my first working plan in about three weeks in 2009. It was only a room but fairly complex (I thought) for my first model.

Then to build it I dumped it back into AutoCAD to dimension it because I already had ten years of experience with that program.

I watched some videos and jumped right in, probably 6 to 8 hours a day. What I didn’t do was waste time asking people how long it took to model and then writing a novel about how I didn’t get the answers I needed. That would have counter productive.

I hope this helps.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I think the first tell that there is a serious disconnect between your initial expectations and the reality of the SU learning curve is that you’re asking how many ‘minutes’ it will take to draw house plans (assuming SU competence).

The answers you received that “it depends” was actually the most honest answer given the lack of specificity of your question(s). I think that you perceive that you asked a very precise question, but that those with the actual experience you seek perceive your questions to be very generalized, and therefore impossible to respond with the kind of precision that you are asking.

‘House Plans’ could mean many different things, depending on the overall size, design complexity, required detail, stage etc. For example: there is a massive difference in invested time between: 1. Preliminary Design / 2. Permit Plans / 3. Construction Docs. They all represent ‘House Plans’, but the expertise and effort required vary significantly with each successive phase and it’s concomitant requirements.

Assuming that you are talking about producing a full set of Construction Documents there is an almost zero possibility that you will acquire sufficient SU knowledge in a couple of months to efficiently produce such a drawing set (and of course, the underlying model).

If you’re smart, diligent and committed I would use 6-9 months as the minimum starting baseline for all the things you’ll need to learn. But after this time you still won’t be an efficient and skilled modeller and LO draftsman, and therefore it could take 3-4 times as long to produce the same output as someone who has say, 5 years — or more — of full-time experience.

I understand your frustration, because at some point or another we’ve all felt it. I think that it often happens that the ease-of-use of SU is over-sold: any 3D CAD app is complex, and SU is no exception. But SU users love it and become evangelists because it’s so much more flexible and fun to use than the alternatives.

But it’s maybe better to think of SU as the most intuitive 3D modeller, rather that a super-simple one.

One last point: if you were looking to use SU for modelling woodworking projects, then your current learning-curve expectations might be more in-line with reality.

But producing a full set of Con Docs puts you up against learning almost the full array of SU and LO skills, and typically you (or me!) only realize the skills you’re missing when another need pops up in the middle of the process — and you realize that you have no clue how to approach it!

When this happens — which it will, repeatedly — you’ll have to step back from productive (i.e. paid) work to invest time in learning yet another SU skill set.

I’m sorry if you find this response equally as frustrating as previous ones, but I’ve tried to be honest about the lessons from my experience.

Hopefully, at least, it will help re-calibrate your learning-curve expectations — which will allow you to make a better decision about whether the investment of time and money will be worthwhile for you.


If you think SU can be picked up in a short time, You have been mis-led. It is a complex program that even experienced users are still learning its ins and outs. My guess is that two semesters in a university environment should get you to the point where you want to be.


SketchUp is similar to playing the guitar. The guitar is one of the easiest instruments to learn to play “something”, but one of the most difficult to master. Ask the masters how long it took for them to become who they are: Andre Segovia, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, etc., etc.) The answer I can tell you is years and years, with hours and hours of practice to become proficient. SketchUp is like that. I can teach a child to make a Cape Cod salt box house is no time at all. (Square, push up to cube, divide the top face, pull up the mid-line holding the “up key” to ensure it goes perpendicular to the grout, and BAM! you have a house). But to do the design and renderings of my son’s 6,000 sq. Ft (600 sq meters) took a long time. And I had the architect’s floor plans to go by. If I had to design the floor plan too, it would have taken longer.

Literally, every time I touch SU I’m learning something new. I’ve been messing around with it since version 1.0 in the early 90s, but didn’t really start making things that have some heft until about 10 years ago. Drawing right angled shapes doesn’t take much, but when you get into organic curves, compound curves, interesting planes and the learning curve goes vertical.

I’m not trying to scare you away. I’m letting you know that it will produce what you want as long as you’re willing to put the effort in to learn it.

In the meantime I did (of course) get good answers elsewhere. So now I was able to assess that someone who IS proficient with SU models an average home in a day, and getting to that proficiency cost him/her (many indeed are female) up to a year. They model every day, for business.

What you guys (seemingly no ladies here, maybe that’s part of what causes such rudeness here?), so what you GUYS here seem not to understand is (but I assumed it’s obvious for someone “proficient” as was asked for!):
When they (or indeed I) model every day, or plan to do so for business reasons, we OBVIOUSLY arrange our workflow for efficiency. Incl. extensions and plugins that make long workflows short, incl. our own galleries of elements that we always use, and right WHERE we use them, incl. learning the knacks that make anything that’s repetitive QUICK (or outright automatic), incl…

Hence why answers above like “5 years” showed “who” was answering: Not who was clearly asked for. Hence why nothing on this particular page is helpful. Not even the half-way serious answer from [c_j_ryan]. Thanks, your room indeed is rather complex.
But “3 weeks to get you there”?
Uupps! Instead of needlessly(!) taking a dig at me (tsss, rude again) you could instead have saved your (life)time and watched a couple of videos maybe? Those that show - without hitting the pause button - how to draw a room like that in minutes. Now don’t bother to reply aka “in 2009 no videos existed”, because excuses don’t match your dishing out.

Ah well, I’ll happily leave those who replied on THIS page to themselves: Dig, dig, dig away. I don’t mind. Proficiency!
That’s WHY you guys here all had time to “reply” what wasn’t asked.

It sounds like this is the answer you wanted to hear. It is inaccurate and wildly unrealistic. I am truly not trying to upset you or be sarcastic, I’m only trying in my calmest voice possible to help you have realistic expectations of the process of using Sketchup for design/construction. If you pursue using Sketchup as a CAD platform, which I truly hope you do it’s a great tool, you will discover this truth for yourself. Which may be the best way for you to learn. In any case I encourage you to go for it, dive in to Sketchup and make a start at becoming proficient. I sincerely do wish you good luck.

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I’m fairly proficient, and my architectural practice is only custom residential. I couldn’t answer your question as there are far too many variables. Most of my projects are developed over a 4-6 month period from initial design to completed project, but that time is also shared with 2-3 other projects. I can model a house in a day or two, but there is design time, client interaction, focus on orientation, topography and program and most importantly level of detail of the model. Maybe if I worked for Sears in the 50’s I could answer.

As for the learning curve that always varies on the user. My structural engineers team were up and running in less than 2 weeks. I’ve been using SketchUp for 19 years and I still learn new things every week.

So rather than getting pissed off, please understand your question is much like the response above…”how long is a piece of string”?


You have been treated with the greatest amount of sincerity, honesty, and respect by some of the most learned people in the SU world, who have answered your wholly nonspecific questions that you demand minute accuracy in return, with entirely appropriate responses. Incidentally, there will most certainly be women, and other equally talented men reading your disparaging responses. So please, now you have found the answers answers that you wanted to hear, move on! If in the future you need assistance, most likely you will again receive perhaps not the answers you want but certainly the answers you need.


If your work is 3D modeler, and you do this work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, then sure, within a year you can learn to model an “average” house to an “average” level of detail within a day, assuming you are provided with the CAD files.

But you didn’t say you wanted to be a modeler, you said you would be running a construction company. Is somebody else going to be running the construction company and your only job would be modeling in Sketchup?