SketchUp & Layout for Architecture | Site Plan 3

Once you have each layer defined with the survey you want to set the north compass to the green axes. Next, you want to import the google earth texture to compare and add to your site.

Import the geolocation of your site from google earth which has a tool specifically for that in SketchUp. You don't want the 3D terrain for the time being so you can just hide that temporarily.

Make sure you set the green axes to north on the geolocated texture. 

To find the exact direction of North you can use the coordinates from the survey and then work off of the predefined lines in the site survey. 

If your site survey has a north direction other than the green axes and it is important for you to have accurate shadows you need to do these steps.

You will need to clear the shadows setting from the scenes bar so that they can be reconfigured. Using the solar north plugin. Adjust your compass from the site plan and rotate the image to match the green axes. 

Next, you can review your geolocated texture and the site plan and manually add in other objects that you wish.

Optimizing contour lines. SketchUp has a built-in tool that allows you to create terrain from contour lines. This is optional but will create more perspective while designing and will give you more ideas for the building. You want to create more than enough contour lines so that you will have space enough for your building and for Layout documentation.

Since you are drawing more terrain than needed you don't need to be precise. So this means you can manually draw them out with the freehand tool.

Now use the sandbox, from contours tool and elevate it into a 3D object

SketchUp & Layout for Architecture | Site Plan 2

To start modeling you want to import your site survey.

Having a bunch of different layers for the site is good for the organization.

Default layer - Default layer that should always be active

Google earth - Layers will contain images and terrain from google earth

building model - Building model to be placed in the site

object layers - Objects such as terrain, trees, and rocks

Special Layers - Property lines,  setbacks, and easements

Importing CAD site survey, Before opening the DWG file into SketchUp it is best to first open it in CAD to do some cleanup to the file.SketchUp will automatically delete things like dimensions, text, hatching, etc. Once it is imported into SketchUp you will want to do some cleanup and start to assign layers. 

Before you begin organizing the imported CAD, its best to make each layer have its lines show the same color that the layer is set to. pg-64-65

Once you assign everything to each layer you then want to purge the model. This essentially removes all objects that are not assigned to layers as well as layers that have nothing assigned to them. This likely won't remove all the entities you want to get rid of so you have to manually go through and delete objects you wish to remove.

SketchUp & Layout for Architecture | Site Plan, Client Information, & File organization

Creating a site plan before modeling your design ideas is ideal to capture the terrain, sun exposure, and wind to optimize the best building located on the site.

Predesign information, the location of tree's other structural buildings in lots nearby is important to the design phase. 

Find out what is important to the client to then incorporate their thoughts into your design.

The existing site is will play a very large part in the designing of the building.

Typically you would hire a site surveyor to provide you with a CAD file of the site for you to work off of.

The site survey should include

Property Lines - This would define the line of the property for you to design within

Property setbacks - There are certain restrictions for building on most sites that require a certain distance from things like roads and other properties.

Site contours - This defines the terrain where it rises and falls.

Roads - Knowing the location of the road is important for setting the location of the driveway and garage. 

Utilities - Pipelines such as water and sewage for designing is important to keep needless extra work from occurring.

Adjacent buildings - You need to know the location of nearby buildings to see how this affects your project. 

Trees - Trees and other vegetation are important for either removal or preservation of them during the construction phase.

Views - Waterfall's, mountains or other scenery is important to note for the placement of windows and outdoor features.

Compass - The site survey should have a compass facing north to define the direction of the site.


Client Program

One of the most important pieces of information is to find out the expectations and requirements of the project are. Things like family size, lifestyle, accessibility, style preference, business needs, room sizes and building size are all things that should be discussed with the client beforehand.

Starting a new project. The first step to starting a new project is to create a project folder and have templates to work off of.

Setting up an automatic backup file saver is very important.

Title Blocks. After making a copy of the template files you can start adding info to the title block such as client info and dates. Copy this to each file template for this project.


SketchUp Projects | Desk Setup

My current computer setup is a in a corner with very little workspace for other projects. So I decided to design a new one that will fit in my current place that will optimize the space and provide me with the best arrangement.

I have a computer desk setup with my two monitors on it and the desktop computer on the ground below the desk. While designing it I realized I could add more features like shelving and a side bar for personal projects. 

Trying to keep down the cost I decided to design it with 2x4 and pallet wood boards (cleaned up of course) for the top of the desk. Eventually I came up with this design:

The next step is to separate it all into different sections to make it easier to build afterward. This consisted of taking each 2x4 and grouping them with other ones into smaller sections like this:

To then organize the project and create a stable foundation for the workspace. I was considering adding a backing to the frame but decided against it in case I decide to add onto it. Each section would be built separately and then put together all at once before making sure each piece fits in its correct place.

I was originally going to have 6 2x4's as legs but ended up doing 12 and having each connected to each other for a more secure standing.

I have yet to build this and will probably make more changes as I start the project.

SketchUp & Layout for Architecture | Introduction

Working through the book SketchUp & Layout for Architecture by Matt Donley and documenting what I am learning.



While designing in SketchUp its important to organize your model. Doing this in the fashion of making groups and components as well as layers is really helpful.

Organizing is very important. Using layers is really helpful in modeling. You can create groups and components from objects and then assign those to layers and then toggle the visibility of those layers for ease of designing. Keeping track of each layer is key. For naming layers, you can use letter acronyms. Such as: 

  • Location layers: LO etc. so for the first floor you would put LO_1ST-FLOOR signifying the first floor. You would do the same for each level such as the basement, first floor, second, and roof.
  • Other things such as walls, doors, and furniture you would have Object Layers, OB, so for a cabinet you would put OB_CABINET. 
  • Then you would have layers for anything other than location and objects. This you would title SP, special layers. So for let's say a 2D look, you would put SP_2D and so on.

Designing Phases

While designing a home or building you will go through a few different phases:

  • Schematic Design Phase, in this stage you are working with the client designing the home, placing the rooms and general layout of the house.
  • Design Development Phase, this stage is designing the house with detail and finishing it up for rendering and documentation. Finishing up the main design of the house and set it in concrete.
  • Construction Documentation Phase, in this stage, you are cleaning up the model and documenting it with Layout and preparing to send it to the contractors.