Using SketchUp for framing plans/layout on site

Hey first post on here!

The company I work for uses SketchUp for some extremely detailed plans for luxury custom homes in Florida.

The system they have worked out is impressive but a little lost on me. I am part of the carpentry crew that frames the houses. We have a laptop onsite, and to frame the walls/roof etc we refer the sketch up plans. All the wall heights, dropped ceilings, stud locations, blocking, and even plywood dimensions are built into the 3d model. The idea is that everything is accounted for in the plan so that pipes, electrical fixtures/lights etc will be exactly where they should be. This creates an incredible end product but getting there means there often isn’t simple 16” oc spacing, same with roof trusses. We basically have to go in and piece together each wall, go through all the different pressure block sizes for the roof, precut the plywood etc etc. I could see where this could be a great system with extremely precise results.

However, navigating it and being efficient as a carpenter seems overly complicated. I’m hoping I could get some tips or resources to know how to efficiently get cut lists and what not within the plan.

For example, if I’m framing on floor one, how to isolate my view of that floor and maybe select a wall and have a page with a list of the dimensions of the components. At this point, I’ve seen one guy who is trying to learn it and be a lead carpenter, basically click and measure each component. (Unless it’s a common dimension like a wall stud.

Any direction or tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,


What version of SketchUp are you really using? Your profile says the “Free Plan” which is a web based version for hobbyist users. It is not for commercial use such as you describe your usage.

It sounds like you should spend some time going through the tutorials at

I dont think that the carpenters should be wasting time going over the sketchup model to pick dimensions. That should all be on the Layout drawing set. The drafter can set a wall start and finish if the stud layout needs to be specific for the best sheathing or to accommodate plumbing or ??? The person creating the model would know why they want something specific and should include details on the drawing set to convey that information. It seem very inefficient to me to have the carpenters pulling dimensions off the model and trying to figure out the intent. Thats why we create drawings isnt it? I strive to produce drawings where the carpenters dont need to use a calculator to figure out dimensions. However if this is the tactic they want to use they could setup scenes to make clear the details you are supposed to be looking at.


All of this is possible and easy to do. I would encourage any contractor to view a 3d model instead of referring to 2d plans.
You need to learn how to use tags, scenes and components- this is the fundamental operation of Sketchup.

Dimensions can be inserted to all objects so you wouldnt need to measure anything manually. Alternatively you can produce a schedule of lengths etc.

1 Like

Are you allowed to upload an example skp file?

Why not? It’s simple and you have all the information in the 3D model. Better than 2D plans

I’m not sure what exact version the company uses. I’m guessing the most advanced one.

Yes, maybe it’s just a conversation that needs to happen to create section or plan view pages that show that information more clearly. It does feel very inefficient. But their vision is to create award winning and near perfect houses as possible. Hence the 3d models and tons of control lines

Yes if there was something created for each wall/floor framing plan etc it would definitely be much easier to just run through those than to pan around and work through it that way

I don’t believe that would be okay with them. I was hoping there was a specific tool(s) that I could use that would break down all the information within the 3d models that’s already there. Sounds like there needs to be something worked out earlier on when the models are already created?

Is it though? When there is thousands of sq footage of detailed model, it has so far been very time consuming and inefficient to pan around, get details for one specific wall, get it cut, assembled etc I know it has its advantages but from a framing perspective it seems to be very inefficient. Hence why I’m here looking for pointers to create a system that has qualities of production framing that can be applied to luxury custom homes. I’m hoping for best of both worlds :slightly_smiling_face:

I dont think you understand the relationship between Sketchup and Layout.

I don’t know anything about SketchUp. I’ve only seen models and looked through the models we’re working on a bit. But there’s room for growth in the company so I’m looking to find some solutions for my own growth and to benefit the people around me potentially. I’m on here just on my own to try and understand.

Start watching youtube videos. Get the basics. Walk before you run.


Yeah. Most of what I’ve found is designing a project or something that doesn’t seem to apply to what I’m looking for. But I agree. I’m not trying to run just get some direction of which way to walk through this. :+1:t2:

Sorry…! Thats my (or autocorrect’s) mistake…
Meant to say WOULD


Yes, this is my basic reaction. It’s not enough for someone to put all the information in there and then not point you to what’s important. As an example, see this post. Most of the floor framing is straightforward stuff, but the detail to squeeze a steel column, and weirdly sized rim joists onto a little patch of concrete column had to be worked out to a fraction of an inch. It’s up to the guy who figures it all out to communicate what’s needed clearly enough not to slow down the carpentry crew.

There are ways to use Tags and Scenes so that certain stuff is isolated and you can get to it with one click.

1 Like

EDIT - Started replying… left for awhile… and then saw your new message!

As an experienced architect I’d like to hear more about your perspective on this. I’ve been arguing, “Start in 3D and stay in 3D”, for some time (and not winning!). My perspective is more from a landscaping point of view where most landscape designers create a plan in 2D only (using software like Dynascape). In contrast, a typical SketchUp workflow is SketchUp (3D) → LayOut (2D). Do you mean that the LayOut docs do give a ‘3D’ image so that info is actually in the plan? For many landscape designers, 3D models aren’t worth it. They sell jobs without making them, so making them is just more work to them. Hence, there’s no reason to ‘start in 3D and stay in 3D’. But from my point of view the 3D model can be used in the client ↔ design iteration phase and those results (models) have the added benefit of being the 3D model/plan for the installation crews. The reason I want installers to have 3D models is that they save the crew from exactly what 2D (especially in landscaping) fails at, which is showing how elevations come together.

As a real-word example: someone I know is working a sheetrock/paint job. The homeowners mention that their window well is collapsing/do you know anyone. The person sends me a few images and asks if it’s the kind of job I do along with contact info. I take the pics, estimate based on visible block size and model 2 options (top of wall with a ‘step’ and a flat version that stops just under the siding, which I could see in the image was going to be a main issue). My introductory email to the homeowner includes screen captures of mock-ups of replacement options. I’m miles ahead because I already know material amounts and have a constructible model showing the correct elevation and accounts for 3/4" batter/row (which needs to be known and is never depicted in typical 2D, top-down views because it displays so poorly). This is the crux for me. Most 2D (top-down landscaping) plans would show this as a ‘U’ from above (is that the ‘footprint’ or the ‘top’?). This kind of 2D plan is so lacking in information as to not be worth making! After a site meeting with the homeowners, an(other) option was settled on, the model was adjusted to help visualize it, and model views sent to LayOut. I made practically no markup except text labels. The exported PDF basically just organized about 9 images and added additional visual info on drain tile and drain rock back fill. So, I basically have a 2D paper plan that has 3D images. That can be marked up for a crew (and will be… but that could be SketchUp screen captures too). But I’m going to share folder with the model.

From your point of view is the reason not to share the model that the 2D plan has the 3D images that you want your people to have? I’m trying to understand because when I see a post like the OP’s I think it sounds like a great idea.

I sent you a private message. Ive been where you are.

I might be able to give you some pointers. Let’s talk.

Your SU design team needs to tag the parts with you, the framer, in mind. They should get with you and learn how you assemble structures so they can create the model to be viewed in chunks as needed.

I do 2D laminated cut sheets for all kinds of things.

The model must be perfect, using REAL-WORLD sizes, and it should be broken down into assembly stages.