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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    517

    Default Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    MY husband does his own drawings and we would like to begin converting to computer aided programs. Reasons are obvious - to be able to make changes with ease and to make stronger presentations. How hard are they to learn? What programs are popular and why? What is the price point on these? We primarily do residential renovations and generally the jobs are at largest main floor renovations (so far).

    Thanks,
    Nicole

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    right around the corner
    Posts
    1,609

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    Nicole,

    Everyone is differant but we love www.chiefarchitect.com

    Cheif x1 is what we have and love it. not to hard to learn but the more indepth you get with your drawings the more you need to learn. there are some great tutorials for it as well as interactive teaching. A really good product in my opinion.
    JASON

    "The measure of success is how high you bounce after you hit bottom"

    George S. Patton

    www.jmsbuildersandremodelers.com
    (shameless plug for the google bots)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    Nicole,
    Check out this article:
    http://www.jlconline.com/cgi-bin/jlc.../View/0702buil
    My brother does all our stuff in some version of CAD, but he went to school for it. A lot of people tout Google Sketchup (I know nothing about it) - check out Gary Katz's tutorial thread in the finish carpentry forum.

    Honestly if your husband is a relatively proficient draftsman it might not be worth it until you start looking at more extensive jobs. I've ofter felt that our drafting and design can be a bit of a distraction - we briefly entertained the idea of outsourcing it to India (that ought to get me flamed!)
    Jesse

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    235

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    I use Softplan and it works for me.
    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Nothern California
    Posts
    734

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    I've been using AutoCAD Architecture. It has a very steep learning curve.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    3,154

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    First off, welcome to the 1900's lol

    We currently use SoftPlan, also.

    Go to

    www.mbcplans.com

    to check out some drawings my 23 year old son did this year using SoftPlan. These are his first attempts. Go to floor plans and then pick a model and look for the link at the bottom of the page to check out the drawings.
    It is a simple matter of being patient. I do patience very well, except for the waiting part. That's the one aspect of patience that still bites me.

    I'm not saying I'm Superman. What I'm saying is no one has ever seen me and Superman in the same room together.

    ParkWest Homes LLC
    Working Man Online Store
    Living Healthy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Easton,MA.
    Posts
    437

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    I am currently using Softplan myself and I am
    quite happy with it.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Upstream
    Posts
    10,019

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    Nicky,

    The initial investment for a CAD program can prove quite expensive. Chief Architect makes Home Designer Professional 8.0 for $495, which is geared towards beginners and allows discounted upgrades to the professional version of Cief Architect. SoftPlan Lite starts at around $1000 and discounts upgrades to SoftPlan.

    I bought and test drove all the inexpensive, off-the-shelf CAD programs and really like the Cadsoft products. TurboFLOORPLAN retails for about $130 and is a limited version of Cadsoft's Envisioneer, which is the program I currently use for drawings and renderings. Very easy learning curve. Far and away, Envisioneer is my best single sales tool. Links:


    BH&G Home Designer Pro 8.0 - http://www.homedesignersoftware.com/products/

    ...which upgrades to...

    Chief Architect - http://www.chiefarchitect.com/


    SoftPlan Lite - http://www.softplan.com/lpsoftlite.htm

    ...which upgrades to...

    Softplan - http://www.softplan.com/lpsoftplan.htm


    TurboFLOORPLAN - http://imsidesign.com/Products/Turbo...5/Default.aspx

    ...which upgrades to...

    Cadsoft Envisioneer - http://www.cadsoft.com/products.php


    I also see that Cadsoft will have a booth at JLC Live in Long Beach May 15-16. Wanna get in free? http://www.cadsoft.com/events/JLC_LongBeach08.html
    Last edited by Overbuilders; 05-02-2008 at 10:08 AM.
    Richie Poor

    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, value engineer your unit prices.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    NOLA
    Posts
    4,187

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    http://www.cadsoft.com/
    This is another option. I have used it on simple designs and it works.
    It is compatible with SketchUP.

    Bill R

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    5,891

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    I draw on Softplan, I've been using it since 1993 and I find it easy, it's great for home design pretty weak for anything else. I bought it for building new homes and it was excellent for that. I also have a old copy of Autocad lite that I never really learned to use, Softplan is too easy.

    Before you invest in software where is Alberta headed in terms of design and liability. When I first started submitting plans to city hall in the early 1980's you could scribble something on the back of a napkin and get it passed. Alberta and Ontario were about the same in that respect. Things have tightned up over the years but there was a radical change in 2006 with the full implementation of bill 124 http://www.uniongas.com/business/channel/bill124.asp where you are now required to be a registered designer to submit a residential plan for anyone other than you own use. Everything that isn't specifically perscribed by the OBC has to be designed by an engineer. The new regulations are so tough that only the largest residential design firms are still in business. I have been drafting since high school and have always designed the homes and additions I have built. I designed a simple 800 sf addition for my home a last year that took 6 months to get through city hall. I have a dozen seperate stamped details for a simple 2 storey 800sf addition with a simple gable roof w/ cathedral ceiling. I have a file folder full of correspondence between myself, city hall and my engineers ( yes there were 2 engineers involved) The commercial jobs I work on are worse. We tear out a grill door in a store, replace it with a door that's half the weight and are requires to spend $10000 on an 18" steel beam, columns and footings to carry it. Builders around here are freaking out over these changes, it is changing who can afford to stay in business.

    The driving force behind these changes is liability. The municipalities are no longer putting themselves in any position where they are exposed to liability.
    Either it's specifically perscribed by the OBC and a registered designer takes responsibility or an engineer stamps it and they take responsibility. Either way the municipality has their ass covered.

    The big residential design and design/build firms can afford to to have their guys certified and hire an engineer. One big reno contractor started up their own design and engineering business that does a lot of work for smaller builders. Unless you are an engineer or have one on staff it is no longer practical to do design in house.

    With this in mind before you invest in software find out if Alberta is heading down the same road. It may be better to keep the investment light and get a relationship with a designer or get your husband to start studying to become a registered designer.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    Quote Originally Posted by dave_k View Post
    I draw on Softplan, I've been using it since 1993 and I find it easy, it's great for home design pretty weak for anything else. I bought it for building new homes and it was excellent for that. I also have a old copy of Autocad lite that I never really learned to use, Softplan is too easy.

    Before you invest in software where is Alberta headed in terms of design and liability. When I first started submitting plans to city hall in the early 1980's you could scribble something on the back of a napkin and get it passed. Alberta and Ontario were about the same in that respect. Things have tightned up over the years but there was a radical change in 2006 with the full implementation of bill 124 http://www.uniongas.com/business/channel/bill124.asp where you are now required to be a registered designer to submit a residential plan for anyone other than you own use. Everything that isn't specifically perscribed by the OBC has to be designed by an engineer. The new regulations are so tough that only the largest residential design firms are still in business. I have been drafting since high school and have always designed the homes and additions I have built. I designed a simple 800 sf addition for my home a last year that took 6 months to get through city hall. I have a dozen seperate stamped details for a simple 2 storey 800sf addition with a simple gable roof w/ cathedral ceiling. I have a file folder full of correspondence between myself, city hall and my engineers ( yes there were 2 engineers involved) The commercial jobs I work on are worse. We tear out a grill door in a store, replace it with a door that's half the weight and are requires to spend $10000 on an 18" steel beam, columns and footings to carry it. Builders around here are freaking out over these changes, it is changing who can afford to stay in business.

    The driving force behind these changes is liability. The municipalities are no longer putting themselves in any position where they are exposed to liability.
    Either it's specifically perscribed by the OBC and a registered designer takes responsibility or an engineer stamps it and they take responsibility. Either way the municipality has their ass covered.

    The big residential design and design/build firms can afford to to have their guys certified and hire an engineer. One big reno contractor started up their own design and engineering business that does a lot of work for smaller builders. Unless you are an engineer or have one on staff it is no longer practical to do design in house.

    With this in mind before you invest in software find out if Alberta is heading down the same road. It may be better to keep the investment light and get a relationship with a designer or get your husband to start studying to become a registered designer.
    David,
    You can't just print your own plans and have an outside Engineer put his/her stamp on it. Here in VA that is all that is required but I know that there soon will be a day when I am in your shoes. Everything changes for a reason and the way everything goes one bad apple ruins it for the rest of us.
    Justin Thomas

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    5,891

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    David,
    You can't just print your own plans and have an outside Engineer put his/her stamp on it. Here in VA that is all that is required but I know that there soon will be a day when I am in your shoes. Everything changes for a reason and the way everything goes one bad apple ruins it for the rest of us.
    No Justin, in order to submit drawings to any municipality you have to have a BCIN number which is the government registration number along with professional liability insurance. The engineer can only design in his professional scope, he has a BCIN number as well, as an engineer, but not necessarily as an architectural designer. You could do your drawings and hand them over to a registered designer to review them them pass them off as their own but you need that BCIN number to submit a drawing.

    I have a friend in the city hall legal department. He tells me the legal department is very happy with the legislation because it absolves the city from most risks associated with design and construction of buildings. All the plans examiner has to do is a quick review and rubber stamp the dwgs. The designers have assumed all responsibility and the city knows who they are and knows they are insured if they have to go looking for them.

    It is a windfall for engineers and registered designers. The engineer that I use finds it a PITA though. He finds himself working late into the evening writing letters and designing little asinine details. I had a few head shakers on my house. In one case my drawings were sent back because I had a 2-2x10 lintel over a 4' window to carry a point load holding up 13 SF of roof. I had to get the engineer to design the lintel. His design called for 2-2x4's. Anyone can see that my drawing was more than adequate but the plans examiner sent it back because that particular condition wasn't covered in the code and I wasn't qualified to design it. It cost me 6 weeks delay. It would have been longer but after 5 weeks my wife lost patience and phoned up the plans examiner and unloaded on the poor guy. We got our permit in a week.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    3,154

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    Makes you wonder how the human race survived all those years without having the building dept micromanage home building.
    It is a simple matter of being patient. I do patience very well, except for the waiting part. That's the one aspect of patience that still bites me.

    I'm not saying I'm Superman. What I'm saying is no one has ever seen me and Superman in the same room together.

    ParkWest Homes LLC
    Working Man Online Store
    Living Healthy

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Swansboro, NC
    Posts
    1,550

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    In sane, here if the building doesn't have anything that falls outside of what is in the codebook then I can draw the plans for up to a 4000sq ft house. Don't know why that threshold has been set for when an engineer or architect has to be involved. But I can still draw the plans and have my engineer stamp them for a fee and the building departments will accept them.
    Rob
    O'Brien and Sons Construction
    Swansboro NC

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    517

    Default Re: Auto Cad or other drawing programs

    This gives me much to consider. I will check out the direction Alberta is headed in.

    One more question is do you feel that having computer drawings helps close the sale significantly or just a little?

    BTW I would love to go to a JLC event - and Free tickets nice but hey its a long way to go plus flights and hotel. Can not leave the little ones yet anyways. One day I will go.

    Nicole

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