SketchUp Talk: Residential Construction


Hi Atmelaragno,

I think BRICSYS-CAD, BRICSYS-SHAPE & BRICSYS-BIM are trying to achieve exactly what you mention. Also from what I understand, BRICSYS-CAD comes with the BIM version as well, so one can also design in 2D as well & it also has a degree of 3D as well if needed, but the BIM 3D makes it fly. They’ve recently been bought out buy a larger concern with very deep pockets. See links below for your assistance:-

Over & out,



Thanks @CJT1963. I will check that out.



BricsCAD seems to be an AutoCAD knockoff and its API is LISP based. Have you ever tried programming in AutoLisp? That’s all I’m going to say about that right now.



I wasted more time programming in AutoLISP than I ever did working on the design. But the resulting utilities were invaluable. And, I understood LISP. I don’t get the syntax of Ruby. But that may just be because I’ve spent more time with the design than developing utilities. :smiley:



I have got to take a look at that.

I am in the same boat.



I think we are getting a bit off topic comparing and contrasting programming languages but I’ve used AutoLisp and Ruby extensively and I would choose a readable high level language like Perl or Ruby over a Lisp variant any day of the week.

I’m not saying you can’t do some amazing stuff with AutoLisp. I’ve created some nice little utilities that have literally save myself and my coworkers thousands of hours of manual editing of 2D geometry across multiple documents. I guess I just find the syntax of AutoLisp very ugly and clunky, compared with the more modern languages.

All those parantheses can drive anyone bananas:

(defun c:pointlabel ( / pnt )
    (if (setq pnt (getpoint "\nSpecify point: "))
                   '(0 . "POINT")
                    (cons 10 (trans pnt 1 0))
                   '(0 . "TEXT")
                    (cons 10 (trans (cons (+ (car pnt) 0.6) (cdr pnt)) 1 0))
                    (cons 40 (getvar 'textsize))
                    (cons  1 (strcat "X:" (rtos (car pnt)) " Y:" (rtos (cadr pnt))))


Really it is not a matter of builders not wanting to adapt to new technology -if it gives them a clear advantage they will adopt it very quickly.

Chief Architect and Softplan can import sketchup models so the folks that use those programs and need more flexibility often use Sketchup also. Sketchup excels in details but falls short in automation.

My primary crit about plug ins is that they do not provide a cohesive, consistent and simple environment. They are a patchwork of solutions that need to be pieced together. In the end that and having to export to layout and a few other annoyances like having to use the paint tool and file sizes keeps me from using Sketchup as my primary design tool.

Could be a matter of ignorance though. I bought the pro version and spent several months trying to evaluate whether I would benefit from moving to Sketchup but in the end fell short. But this could also be somewhat due to knowing how to drive my current software versus having to relearn so much for Sketchup. I can’t say I used Layout much just because it seems rather primitive.



I was kind of hoping that when Tremle took over there would be more focus on building design. I think that unless they can get a clearly defined process and tools in place to make SketchUp more taylored and efficient they are going to have a real problem competing for paid subscriptions against the dedicated programs.

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(It’s spelled “Trimble”.) Personally I don’t use SketchUp for building design, and thus have little interest in seeing SketchUp becoming more customized for that industry. The fact that all of our “mileages vary” regarding SketchUp usage is likely one of the most significant challenges that Trimble must consider.

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And perhaps one of SketchUp’s strongest attributes. With the extensibility one can literally turn SketchUp into any software one chooses. All that Trimble and SketchUp need to do is provide a solid base with a full feature API and the extensions with their developers can do the rest.

SketchUp can be used for building design, landscaping, surveying, woodworking, the list goes on. I think with a few more years of development SketchUp can easily become the leading building design platform in the world. The extensibility provided by the Ruby API coupled with an unbeatable 3D drawing environment gives it a significant edge.



I think that time will tell if that is an advantage but so far I do not see it. There are lots of hobby or limited users (like me) because of free and low cost and the ability to control fine detail but how many people are fully adopting Sketchup to do the entire design in residential?

As a residential designer using a different program currently trying to make the switch is a fairly daunting task because of the lack of a well defined process and the tools needed.

I think that the plugins that you and other developers are creating are certainly headed in the right direction. I think you have really come a long way in the past 3 years and are creating a nice group of useful tools.

Really it is not having a general program and then having industry specific extensions that is the problem. The problem is that creating all of the specific tools needed just for residential design is a huge job. While it is nice that someone has finally developed a pretty good Electrical extension (for example) it is still incomplete. At least now it looks like I won’t have to add electric in the model for show and then add it again in layout for an electric plan.

How many more years will it actually take to get a full suite of tools that is needed and how many separate licensing agreements? How many slightly different processes from the various developers have to be worked through?

I think that this is really holding back wide spread use in residential construction. Just building a library of things needed for residential construction currently is a huge task that would discourage most people considering moving from other industry specific software.

Then also other issues like having to break the model into disjointed chunks to make it manageable (Sonders method) and having to export to Layout, etc…

I can see that with your and others work it becomes a bit more feasible every year.



I think that there are things that would be useful for many branches of modelling and documentation needs and that would work best if integrated into the core application. For instance scheduling ought to be integrated into LayOut.



You’re correct that a lot has happened in the last three years and I am not just talking about my plugins I’m also including the work of Andrew Dwight and John Brock, whose work on similar plugins has paralleled my own.

As far as my own tools are concerned I honestly think I am about at about the 55% to 60% mark. To get to the final (polished) product that you describe will take at least another year and a half of solid programming on my part, based on my current rate of progress. My hope is that the adoption of my extension suite will continue among designers, contractors and other trades which will allow my efforts to snowball and maybe I can then bring on some additional help to further accelerate the development.

It’s really a Catch-22: The plugins are not in a mature enough state to cause a mad rush of adoptions and without that overwhelming volume of users it is really hard to move the development to the next level.

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I tried a bit to learn Ruby but determined it would take two years to get any good at it. Not nearly as easy as dbase used to be. I was able to do some interesting things with dynamic components but their development has stagnated the last few years and they are currently a little too limited to do much.

I did a dynamic stair component and just in that specific item there are a tremendous number of options and variables that all have to be contained within the DC so it was beginning to get real big and clunky. Otherwise I would have kept adding to it.

To be fair SpecPlus does provide a comprehensive suite geared toward residential construction although total cost gets to be a bit higher than major competitors CA and SP and in the end that and other concerns have kept me from trying it.



From someone who has used Sketchup AND Layout exclusively for 100’s of residential projects from Schematic design all the way through to Construction drawings…

I keeping hearing the same story from many people: “I use SU for residential design through Design Development, then we export to ACAD for Construction Drawings”

This is because LAYOUT SUCKS!

I’ve been discussing this on these forums and with many people.

SU with all the plugins is great, but documentation in LO SUCKS!

SU/LO is far from BIM because leveraging the data in the 3D model is painfully difficult/nonexistent for documentation purposes. For example. an automatic window schedule.
or parametric objects like windows/doors/cabinets. (aside from some efforts by PlusSpec)

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This is precisely the workflow I have advocated for in the past!! I totally agree! In fact, a couple years back when Medeek tools where getting started, I believe I asked Nathaniel about this workflow.

an added bit of complexity to the request…everything needs to remain parametric in case of revisions.



My Cabinet plugin CabMaker stores parametric settings for cabinets. There are over 500 parameters - most of which you need not change very often.

You can also produce a number of simple CSV files that contain information about the cabinets. So you essentially have a cabinet schedule that you can use with Layout or with any other program that understands csv.

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It is kind of ironic to see builders criticized for not adapting to new technology on one hand and then saying but we like our program just the way it is and do not understand why anyone would want us to make it work differently.

I just can not fathom what the programmer’s where thinking when they created layout and even more why it has not been thrown out yet.

My guess is that it is the only thing that separates the free version from the pro version and they felt there was no other choice than to hobble SketchUp. Either that or someone really likes the 90’s.






I do agree that Layout could use a bit more polish. In my opinion it is the only thing really holding SketchUp back from really taking over the construction market.

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