Sketchup Pole Barn


Hi ~ Nooby the Noob here. I have done some studying and practicing with Sketchup and found limited success (designed a cabin exterior view). I am now wanting to model a pole style barn but I want to show all of the pieces (post, beams, joists, etc.) to create a building plan. This is very difficult. I started by defining a rectangle on the “ground” to represent to footprint of the barn. MY brain then wants to add posts, install beams, then add joists. That is apparently not the way to go.

Without getting into step-by-step detail, what is the general process so I need to use to make this happen?

Thank you!


generally I build a model in the same way as a joiner/builder would build, but there are many ways to do the same thing - no one way is “correct”


Hi ~ thanks for the input. It helps to know that I’m not tilting at windmills. I am still missing something though. I am using Sketchup Basic. I tried to create 8’x6" post components, 6’x6" posts components, 6"x6"x10’ beams components. The Create Component window came up, but nothing seemed to save (I can not find the components to use again). Am I failing to understand components in general or must I upgrade to Sketchup Pro to get this function?


Open the components window and select the little “house” icon for “in model”. You should see the components you have created there, and you can drag them out and place them on the model. You can also use the move tool with the copy option (ctrl on Windows, option on Mac) to create another instance of a component that is already visible in the model.

It sounds to me like you are going about it the same way as I would: as if building the real thing, but making components for any parts that will all be the same. You can nest components inside another component to, for example, create two walls that will be the same.

SketchUp Pro allows you to create dynamic components, but it isn’t clear you need them for your project. Make allows you to create regular components and groups.


If your geometry is connected to other entities while the creation of the component, make sure that the checkbox “replace selection with component” is active to replace your selection with the new component.


Once I have the components “made”, I put a copy of them off to one side, then I can [ctrl] and drag a copy of them somewhere. I would also create a layer called “Framing” (or something like that) and put the component on that - any duplicates will remember that they are on the same layer.

Note that once it’s a component, you can’t “cut” it down to length - it will cut every component. But what you can do is use the “scale” tool and stretch it shorter (rather than making it unique or exploding it). - use another line or piece of geometry to snap to.


while using the scale tool, you may be aware that you can enter the length instead of a scale, or snapping to another object by placing the units after the length. if you wanted 12’ poles then type 12’ after starting or finishing the scale or if no other operation has occurred and you change your mind type 15’


It’s best to begin the process the moment you start creating geometry.
The principle is to build one logical part of the building at a time and then immediately isolate / protect that geometry by making it a Group or Component.

When you’re finished, a properly built model is an assembly of Groups and Components with no raw geometry left lying about in the model space.

Draw a rectangle on the “ground” to represent the footprint of the barn > Make it a Component
Model a post > Make it a Component > Populate the model with instances (copies) of the Component.
Model a girt > Make it a Component > Populate the model with instances (copies) of the Component.
Model a truss > Make it a Component > Populate the model with instances (copies) of the Component.
Model a purlin > Make it a Component > Populate the model with instances (copies) of the Component.
And so on until the building is complete.

Groups & Components


Thank you all for you input ~ I’ve been busy, not ignoring you. I will start putting your suggestions to use and come back if I get stumped again.


All the previous posts have offered solid advice. Approaching the model development while giving significant consideration to components may work well for a relatively simple structure such as a barn, but I suggest that it may be more appropriate to address general building concept issues first when developing a building model and then work out specific (component) ramifications secondary to the more definitive plan and vertical building features. This can be valid whether using SketchUp or any other assistive design software. You should give some serious thought to placement of partitions, including any desired openings (doors, windows, pass throughs, etc.) Decisions will be required relative to floor to floor heights, ceiling height above floor, roof configuration and pitch, plenum dimension (depth from floor to ceiling below the floor including space for ductwork possibly); merely to illustrate a few items for reflection during the process. Repetitive structural elements like beams, girts, trusses, etc. can be developed as components and inserted where space is provided. The same is true for doors and windows, of course.

Starting with drawing a rectangle on the ground seems to be a good logical point of initiation. I find it convenient to approach design in a somewhat systemic manner because it usually results in a more efficient use of time for me.


Personally I wouldn’t make everything a component - I normally group things, then if I need the same object (or a stretched version of it) then I r-click on the group and make it a component
(…doing it this way also skips the dialogue box and means I don’t forget to click the “replace with copy” tic box).
I can then name the component and the component list doesn’t get cluttered with objects that only have a single use.