Sketchup for Construction & Estimating

3D Construction Details for Communication

Traditional 2D construction details are inherently difficult to understand. Why? Because they are not a natural way of viewing the world. Until now, they were simply the only way to represent complex ideas, in a way that could be deciphered.

When I first started out in construction I was overwhelmed by 2D plans, let alone 2D details – and it took me years before I acquired the skill set and became confident in my ability to read and draw them.

3D construction details are the future – and now that I can easily produce and communicate with them, I hope that I never see another 2D detail again.

With the advent of new technology, it is now possible to even create 3D details that animate the construction sequencing and step by step instructions. You will see an examples of such 3D construction details on the RubySketch library. If you download the models, you are able to simply click on the scenes at the top of the page inside of SketchUp. PlusSpec for SketchUp is the perfect balance between design and construction. It allows the user to use the PlusSpec parametric framing and structure, which dramatically reduces the time to draw, and then use the native SketchUp tools to free-form model the custom details. This is Virtual Design and Construction at its best.

3d construction detail for BIM VDC in Sketchup Plusspec

This is an example of a construction detail that I drew last week. If you would like to view the model, you can download it, and others, from the RubySketch library, by typing in Pronto in the search:

https://3dlibrary.rubysketch.com/
PlusSpec and Sketchup VDC BIM detail of pronto panel

Creating 3D details like the ones shown in this post can be a time consuming process. However, one model can contain dozens (or more) of individual construction details. And once you have created a 3D detail, they can be used on future jobs, and can be quickly and easily adjusted to suit the requirements of each project – saving countless time and money.

However, there are still builders, from all over the world, that are spending tens of thousands of dollars to create real ‘mock-ups’, with real products – simply to explain to their trades how a project is to be constructed. The thought-process behind this is to mitigate future onsite error, by gaining understanding of the potential issues, clashes, and implementation strategies. However, it is my belief that physical mock-ups are no longer necessary, if everyone has access to a 3D model and 3D details. Comprehensive 3D details would save these companies a fortune!

3D details are the catalyst for Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Building Information Modelling, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the 3D details on RubySketch, that have created with PlusSpec for SketchUp. I would also love to see any examples, if anyone would like to share any work that they have done.

Click Here to see a YouTube Video of one of our 3D construction details.

The Design and Construction Industries are changing rapidly via the use of 3D technology and new innovation. 2D plans are antiquated; they are slow, and dramatically increase the chance of error. 2016 is a year that should be all about efficiency and communication via BIM and VDC. I urge everyone in the design and construction industry to embrace 3D details (not just 3D modelling) as quickly as possible. Don’t get left behind.

 

This will be my last post for 2015. We hope you have enjoyed our blog, which will only get bigger and better in 2016.

Have a happy Christmas and a safe New Year.

See you in 2016!

10 Tips to Becoming Successful as a Design & Construction Company

successful design construction for builder architects effective
I have been designing and building for 24 years. Integrated Design & Build firms are a different animal to the traditional Client + Architect + Builder scenario. They are more profitable, but they usually have a larger staff ratio, which can be a bit of a handful and a trap for ‘inexperienced’ players. Essentially the responsibility of a project, from start to finish, resides solely with one company alone – and the blame game does not come into play for clients. This is why reputable design build firms are much sought after.

Not everyone can design, yet most of us can, and the longer you have been in the industry, the better you get at it. There is real job satisfaction to be gained when you build your own designs. I recommend it highly.

It took me some time to get used to the in-house design and in-house build workflow, and there were many things that I needed to do to flourish and become profitable. When I look back and ask myself what the key ingredient to success was, I always come to the same conclusion: Communication.

Here are 10 steps that I took to make my design & build company more successful. After implementing these simple rules and improvements, I reduced waste by over 20% I am not just talking about leftover materials, I am talking about time by becoming efficiency. The end result was clearly displayed in profit margins.

The 10 Steps to success:

  1. Employ youth straight out of School as apprentices. Once they become qualified pay them what they are worth, and reward them when they do the right thing. Young brains can be trained to do things the way you like them, so spend the time needed to train them correctly. Start small, as the biggest killer for new companies is too much work. However, most think it is not enough work.
  2. Concentrate on communication with the client. We all know that out of every 10 people you meet, you are inevitably going to clash with one. That is life. Try and ‘pick and choose’ customers. If it feels bad, gracefully decline the job. Life is too short! It is easy to keep clients onboard when you explain what you are doing, and in a way they understand. Clients do not understand 2D drawings, but they do understand 3D. We were all born seeing the world in 3D, and we only learned 2D because that was the best way to communicate before the advent of modern technology (like 3d CAD software & iphones).
  3. Get with the times! Technology can be a distraction, so take my advice and delete LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter from your phone. These are social apps that the marketing people in your business should use. I am not saying that you shouldn’t use them, just use them at the right time and place, as they can be very distracting. You need to get the technology that works for your business, not the other way around. Checkout www.plusspec.com. PlusSpec was made for what we do – nothing else!
  4. Never employ friends or relatives, and try not to do their work either. Christmas will be so much more enjoyable. Believe me.
  5. Insist on quality. Good enough is not considered good in my book! If you would not have it in your house, do not put it in one of your clients. You will find that your clients will tell their friends when they are happy. I found that for every 1 happy client, they told 5 friends. Recommendation is the best way to get more work. It cuts down on marketing expenses, and more often than not, the client will not bother seeking another quote. People trust their friends, and what they can see firsthand.
  6. Make sure your office is close to home. An hour each way in traffic is 2 hours out of each day that you could be doing something productive (or dare I say relaxing?).
  7. Buy Cheap, buy twice! We have all been guilty of going to the local hardware and buying the $40 drill. If you will use it more than twice, then you should buy quality gear that is reliable. This is the same for every facet of your business, including computers, chairs and desks. If you only need it once, then rent it.
  8. Do not rent equipment. Buy everything that you need, as soon as you can afford it. If you are buying specialised machinery, you should charge it out to your clients at the same rate that you would pay to rent it.
  9. If it looks and sounds too good to be true it is! 95% of the time unbelievable deals are unbelievable. Trust your instinct, not the sales person. Their only job is to get your hard earned cash by selling you their goods. Unfortunately, integrity is becoming a thing of the past for many salespeople, which I find disappointing. Get used to negotiating better buy prices from the people that are trying hard to sell to you.
  10. The biggest advantage I gained was by using 3D modeling and PlusSpec. It sounds difficult yet it is not. I created PlusSpec, and as I developed it, I improved it with the profits I gained from the results. At first, I never told a soul; it was my secret, my advantage, and I kept it to myself. Now PlusSpec is in over 80 countries around the world. Yep word of mouth did the trick.  These days, I really only design and build 1 or 2 homes per year, and the prerequisite for doing the job is that the project must be with 15 minutes from my home.

Take the time to work on your business, and not in it. Do this as soon as you can. Learn better things that will actually help you grow. Technology will boost your sales through communication, decrease your errors via clear plan interpretation, lower your design time, increase accuracy of your quotes for design, and quotes for build.

If you want to know more about PlusSpec, you can check it out here. I am very proud of the achievement, and the improvement it is making to businesses small and large. It is the pinnacle of design and construction technology to date. Yes, it is subscription based, yet the truth is you stay up to date with the latest technology, every minute of the day. And for less than $20 per week you will never look back! I guarantee it.

That is it from me, I look forward to hearing your stories of success.

SketchUp 2016 Review

What’s New in SketchUp 2016

SketchUp 2016 is here, but ‘What does it all mean, Basil?’

It means that there is plenty to get excited about!

SketchUp 2016

Let’s take a look at some of the best new features from the Release Notes…

 

SketchUp

SketchUp

  • The improvements to the Move, Protractor, Offset and Rotate tools are minor, but they have improved their overall user-friendliness. We particularly like the improved rotate tool, which has been combined within the move tool, so that you can now more easily locate and pick an axis. This will save novice users a lot of frustration, and provide a faster workflow for experienced users.
  • We dig the new and improved higher resolution Icons. All icons have now been rendered from vector graphics, meaning that they will look better, size better, and read better on High DPI screens. Although this will not affect most users in the slightest, the team at PlusSpec are looking forward to now being able to create high resolution icons for the PlusSpec tools. Look out for them in PlusSpec 2016!
  • The new Customizable  Utility Trays on Window machines is an addition that may take some getting used to. However, once you have played with it enough, you will probably find the added flexibility to your liking. This allows users to fully customize their workflow, by now being able to organize and group all of the various utility dialog’s, so that they either stand alone, or stack inside customizable and collapsible trays.
  • The ability to now easily inference circle and arc centrepoint’s is going to drastically reduce the amount of swearing in the office. Say goodbye to centrepoint location struggle-ville! Just ensure that you inference an edge prior to searching for the centrepoint.
  • The Textures have been revisited, and now offer a bigger and better list of textures and categories. Check out the latest grass texture, it looks pretty good.
  • The parallel and perpendicular inference display has been improved, which is particularly useful for extending edges on off axis planes.
  • SketchUp 2016 will now recognize intersection points with hidden section planes, with the ability to snap to elements of a SketchUp model in LayOut also.
  • SketchUp 2016 now allows you to Generate Reports, either from the entire model, or from a selected Component. Personally, we find this tool a bit ‘meh’. However, you may get some use from it. We have just finished testing it with PlusSpec and have found that when creating a moderately detailed model, there is an extensive delay. If you want a comprehensive report completed in seconds, we suggest using the PlusSpec Take-off tool.

SketchUp Layout

SketchUp Layout

  • The new Layer improvements are by far our favourite improvement in the 2016 release!
  1. Now when you copy and paste something, it will maintain all of the layers from the original copy. This is a Godsend!
  2. The new PDF export has been optimized, and we can now all breathe a collective sigh of relief! Finally, you will be able to produce smaller PDF exports that still have a very high output resolution. And the difference is mind-blowingly huge. For example, the new enhancements have reduced a 40mb PDF, created with Layout 2015, to a 3mb PDF created with 2016 – with no drop in quality!
  3. Assigning entities to a specific layer has become a lot easier. You can now right click and assign entities to any of your current layers. Previously, you only had the option of assigning it to the current selected layer. This is a big time saver.
  4. You can now group objects on different layers, whilst maintaining your layer management.
  • Layout references are now cloud-friendly. That means your LayOut projects can reference and update files that are stored and synced with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Trimble Connect Sync, which makes collaboration far more powerful.
  • The ability to differentiate between shared/nonshared layers is very useful. Shared layers are any layer that you assign to be automatically generated on every page. In order to help users understand when they are creating or manipulating entities on a shared layer, it will be highlighted red when you are drawing or selecting elements on a shared layer.
  • The new small dimension leaders is a nifty little improvement, and ensures that text will never interfere with arrows or extension lines.
  • Last but not least, we are very happy to report that Layout appears to run a lot faster! It is still not ‘lightning’ quick (particularly for very information-dense pages), but it is definitely a big leap in the right direction – and will make everyone happy.
  • It is also worth noting that if you do dimension inside of the SketchUp model, the dimensions (lines and numbers) are now displayed nicely (on vector/hybrid). However, due to lack of control, we still suggest that you use Layout to dimension your projects.

 

3D Warehouse

3D Warehouse
The ability to reload or swap out a component with an alternative component from the 3D warehouse is an incredibly powerful feature. If you reload or swap out a component with another component (or an updated version of that component), every instance of that component in your model will be updated, in every file that is open. This is awesome, and once we have integrated it, it will greatly benefit PlusSpec users with the RubySketch FREE online library also (www.rubysketch.com).

 

Trimble

Trimble Connect

  • Trimble Connect has been fully integrated into SketchUp 2016 – and is a tremendous addition! This will allow users to upload, update and remove your SketchUp files from Trimble Connect Project folders. As you’re modeling you can even pull in and update reference SketchUp models, as if they were locally hosted components. With this addition, SketchUp has become more connected than ever before, so that you can more easily communicate, collaborate and interact with models with collaborators and clients, from anywhere in the world.

SketchUp Layout API

Although this does not affect standard users, Layout has now been opened up for API. This is what the team at PlusSpec have been waiting for with baited breath, and we are super excited to roll back our sleeves and get stuck into it. We can’t wait to show you what we can do!

 

PlusSpec for SketchUp logo

Our two-cents

Although this release may appear to focus predominantly on the enhancement of shared collaboration, existing tools, and speed/processing power (Layout in particular), these improvements will definitely make your workflow more efficient. And for that reason alone, it is 100% worth upgrading to SketchUp 2016.

Although the SketchUp tool/function improvements are nice, we see the biggest improvements in Layout – which is exactly what the vast majority of users were wanting anyway. If the intent was to fix the key frustrations that users of Layout were having, then this release is definitely a step in the right direction. Any doubt about SketchUp Layout being a powerful tool for professionals is long gone, and with this release it has become faster, more intelligent, and easier to use.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

SketchUp keeps getting better, but how much is your time worth?

Learn how PlusSpec will enable you to draw 50 times faster than with SketchUp alone + automatically generate structure, BOQ’s, Estimates & Specifications – all at the click of a button!

 

Click here if you want to know more

 

Please note that the SketchUp 2016 Release incorporates a lot of General fixes and improvements, which we have not outlined in our review. For the Full Release Notes, see the SketchUp Website.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Official SketchUp 2016 Video Here!