Why Use Sketchup in an Architectural Practice?
There are many reasons I love Sketchup. I find it It more suited to use in my small Architectural office specialising in Residential work than either Archicad (Graphisoft) or Revit (Autodesk).
Since the Internet likes simple lists I will break down my past 10 years experience using BIM into a short list of ways in which I have found Sketchup to be great.
10 Reasons To Use Sketchup in an Architectural Practice
- Sketchup is quick to learn. Time is money in a business and so this is a big plus.
- The Sketchup “make” version is free. I used it to produce perspectives in document sets for several years before I progressed to the paid for “Pro” version.
- There are lots of tutorials on-line, plus a great sketchup community with advice.
- There are lots of models and components (pre-built useful objects from nuts and bolts to entire buildings) freely available on-line.
- The “Pro” version upgrade is cheap compared to other BIM software and the license is perpetual, unlike Autodesks latest direction, which is to charge a yearly maintenance or subscription fee. The cost of a Sketchup perpetual license is about half a yearly Revit subscription.
- The “Pro” version isn’t much different from the free version so when you decide to upgrade (yep I suggest that you should eventually upgrade) you really don’t notice much change. What it does do however is provide you with a separate program called “LAYOUT” which is dedicated to producing Architectural documents, rather than just producing the 3d model. This is great as you can get completely familiar with Sketchup before you need to spend any money. If you just want to do quick 3d sketches, see out how complex roofs work or give fly throughs’ of the building with your client, then you probably will never need to upgrade. If you want to produce scaled elevations and sections then “Pro” will pay for itself on the first job.
- The shadows settings, Geo-location and Google earth compatibility are not only easy to use but also really efficient to render. Showing shadows throughout the day or year takes only seconds to set up and the graphics on even an average PC is smooth enough to produce seamless movie style shadow clips. I have used this software at Council DAP meetings and in Planning documents to prove conclusively what solar impact a particular building design has on its neighbors.
- There are thousands of free materials to render your model with on-line that can be added into your libraries as you wish. The default Sketchup Material libraries are a bit average, but adding in new materials or even entire new material libraries is easy. Even making materials from scratch isn’t that difficult and can give an added reality to your models if you have an existing building with an unusual brick or stone or lead-light pattern that needs to be shown.
- The clients of my Adelaide based Residential Architectural Practice love to sit next to me at the computer while I talk them through their house design in real time, taking them through the building room by room, looking at every angle of the building, including views with and without the roof, turning shadows on to see how far the sun penetrates in winter or how a pergola shades in summer. This means that by the time we start proper documentation the clients actually understand their building and so very few design changes need to be made.
- My clients love the fact that I can put their model on one-drive (the files are usually too big to email easily) and they can download Sketchup “make” and navigate their way through their building. I leave them with a set of roof and wall materials that they can paste onto the building so that they can see what colour scheme they prefer. The fact that the Sketchup is easy enough for a novice to do this speaks volumes about the intuitive nature of the program. Gotta love SHETCHUP!