Any Review Of CAD Options?

 
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Old 10-01-2017, 12:45 PM   #1
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Any Review Of CAD Options?


Does anyone have a review, opinion or link to 3rd party site on differences between the most common program choices?

I've been thinking of learning CAD for blueprint development and to add another skill I think would be useful. I've read through a pile of threads on CT but it's more or less brand loyalty defenses than nuts and bolts comparitives. I've looked through Soft Plan's website as it's what I'm leaning towards and the information about their program and what's offered isn't fully detailed.

I'd like to find out which program is the most user friendly, and in depth with design features but does exactly what I need, single family building construction. I don't need landscape design, parks, bridges, etc.
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Old 10-01-2017, 01:01 PM   #2
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


I have tried my hand at Revit, AutoCad Architecture, VectorWorks, Solid Builder, SolidWorks, Sketchup as well as others but not SoftPlan though I have tried their Demo on occasion.
I currently use and have used Chief Architect for past 9 years after having started with the basic AutoCad Release 14.
Chief Architect sometimes drives me nuts, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, I have found that Chief Architect is the worst form of CAD, except for all the others.

For what I do, mostly residential additions, remodels, ground-up construction docs and some light commercial docs I have not found anything better. That is not to say that Chief is the most fabulous and fantastic program in the world and never gives me a headache.

All the programs for CAD are highly complex and some are just too large, expensive and cumbersome for what I do, which sounds an awful lot like what you would do.

I do not love Chief Architect and I am not a "Fan-boy" by any means. I just hate the other programs more. And I have tried a lot of them, looking for something that was a better fit for me and my work. I haven't found another yet but I keep on looking.

Andy.

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Old 10-01-2017, 01:12 PM   #3
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Thanks for your input, Andy. Many like you prefer Chief Architect. If anything, your response gives me less confidence in a selection, not more. I've never used any software like CAD and only seen it done in person a couple of times. I'm willing to take classes and watch youtube tutorials daily.

Maybe my best option is to take a basic house that would be good to learn on, something like a 1600sf ranch house with a basic gable roof and attempt to build it on all the demo programs available before making a choice.
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Old 10-01-2017, 02:19 PM   #4
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


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Thanks for your input, Andy. Many like you prefer Chief Architect. If anything, your response gives me less confidence in a selection, not more. I've never used any software like CAD and only seen it done in person a couple of times. I'm willing to take classes and watch youtube tutorials daily.

Maybe my best option is to take a basic house that would be good to learn on, something like a 1600sf ranch house with a basic gable roof and attempt to build it on all the demo programs available before making a choice.
I think that that would work but you would spend a lot of time in each program.
I would suggest Chief's demo which is easily available or SoftPlans which I am not so sure about how easy it is to get. Both of those programs are geared toward residential.
Sketchup has one for 30 days I think but it has a bit of a learning curve and the online videos on how to make a construction set are extremely limited.
Revit has a big selection of vids but not so much for residential as does Archicad (which is the one I would get if wanted to spend really big bucks).

Solid Builder seems to be getting better but I was so turned off by the way one had to build in it that I long ago quit that program. They have without a doubt the best take-off of materials and cut-lists in the residential industry though.

Andy.
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Old 10-01-2017, 02:23 PM   #5
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Since you are not versed in Cad programs like AutoCad I think you are in a good position to go with a 3D program for your needs.

Some who had come from AutoCad to a 3D find it really difficult to switch to doing things in a different manner.

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Old 10-01-2017, 10:18 PM   #6
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


This spring I shelled out for Chief Architect, the more videos and tutorials you spend time on the more you'll tend to like it. I've not regretted the purchase once, it's really saved me tons of time and helped my customers visualize things while I'm still sitting at their table.
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Old 10-02-2017, 04:26 PM   #7
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Do you guys know if either CA or SP include all the standard blueprint drawings, for example how a wood floor system meets 2x6 plates on foundation or another would be how the rafters meet the top plates with hangers?

I've seen the same 5 or 6 images and a "general notes" section on every plan I've ever used. It must be mandatory to include, is there a drag and drop feature on preloaded images like the above described or do I have to create(copy) them from other prints on my own?
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Old 10-02-2017, 06:30 PM   #8
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Here"s a wall section I just created in Revit.
I did add detail components but it was taken from the model with the footing to the trusses being exactly as drawn/modeled. Not a preloaded section.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:20 PM   #9
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Nice man.

My architect has about 6-8 pre-built images he adds to every print. They show basic nail pattern and standard frame practices. I always felt like if you needed to read the blueprint to see how the rim board goes above the sill plates, you might be in over your head.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:13 PM   #10
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MattK View Post
Do you guys know if either CA or SP include all the standard blueprint drawings, for example how a wood floor system meets 2x6 plates on foundation or another would be how the rafters meet the top plates with hangers?

I've seen the same 5 or 6 images and a "general notes" section on every plan I've ever used. It must be mandatory to include, is there a drag and drop feature on preloaded images like the above described or do I have to create(copy) them from other prints on my own?
Chief Architect has several of them for various applications...be it various foundations, or framing details, ADA, etc...not everything imaginable, but a pretty good selection of them, all editable to fit the project.
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Old 10-03-2017, 01:22 AM   #11
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Quote:
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Nice man.

My architect has about 6-8 pre-built images he adds to every print. They show basic nail pattern and standard frame practices. I always felt like if you needed to read the blueprint to see how the rim board goes above the sill plates, you might be in over your head.
It may seem stupid on residential but when you get into commercial builds every detail that's not specified is somebody else's problem. Obsessive detail is the name of the game.
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:32 AM   #12
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


With Chief Architect you can get as detailed as you want. I have been using CA since 2002 when it was called 3D Home Architect I think it was a 4.0 version.
Like Andy said they have come along way but the program can be a pain in the A$$ at times, but thanks to the forum blog and experienced users on there (Andy being one of them) you can find pretty good help and workarounds for most situations.

That being said, most programs offer 30-day trials, and like we know to-each-it's-own, so try it out and see what you need and what works for you best.
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Old 10-03-2017, 04:46 PM   #13
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


One important consideration is to make sure the product is appropriate for your specialty.
CA and SoftPlan are targeted to Residential. Some of the most powerful features is how it automatically generates the structures found in Residential work. For example, you choose a standard exterior wall and just draw it. Make a corner and it generates the corner structure. If you need to modify a standard exterior wall, you change it or save it as a new standard. If you have 4 24x48" windows in a room and you want to change them to 36x48", all you do is change that window spec. All the structure in the wall changes for you. This is magic compared to something like AutoCAD.
Some of the automatic features can be difficult if you want to do something very different than one of the standard ways of doing things.
Another nice feature is the libraries that are available with a CA maintenance plan.

There is no way any person could even try to do a demo and build something in several different ones as it is too time consuming. I tried the demo for CA and Softplan at the same time and spent a couple hundred hours just trying to make a decision. A couple hundred hours doesn't even get you started in AutoCAD.

If you want to learn one CAD program, learn Sketchup. You will need it anyway for building various components for other programs like CA. Just don't think you will be building a house in Sketchup even though there are some people that do. That's just nuts!
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Old 10-03-2017, 07:09 PM   #14
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


Quote:
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One important consideration is to make sure the product is appropriate for your specialty.
CA and SoftPlan are targeted to Residential. Some of the most powerful features is how it automatically generates the structures found in Residential work. For example, you choose a standard exterior wall and just draw it. Make a corner and it generates the corner structure. If you need to modify a standard exterior wall, you change it or save it as a new standard. If you have 4 24x48" windows in a room and you want to change them to 36x48", all you do is change that window spec. All the structure in the wall changes for you. This is magic compared to something like AutoCAD.
Some of the automatic features can be difficult if you want to do something very different than one of the standard ways of doing things.
Another nice feature is the libraries that are available with a CA maintenance plan.

There is no way any person could even try to do a demo and build something in several different ones as it is too time consuming. I tried the demo for CA and Softplan at the same time and spent a couple hundred hours just trying to make a decision. A couple hundred hours doesn't even get you started in AutoCAD.

If you want to learn one CAD program, learn Sketchup. You will need it anyway for building various components for other programs like CA. Just don't think you will be building a house in Sketchup even though there are some people that do. That's just nuts!
Great points. What I've seen from YouTube videos is exactly as you describe. SP knows to naturally keep walls squared and parallel as they're being created. It shows the drop-down menu showing about 80 different exterior wall options/dimensions and hundreds of window options.

If I move forward with this and I think I will end up purchasing one, I'd like to capitalize on the takeoff sheets as well. I can do the takeoffs from start to finish myself but they still take time. If the program can ACCURATELY do it for me, that seems like it would be a huge benefit.
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Old 10-03-2017, 09:14 PM   #15
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Re: Any Review Of CAD Options?


CA will do a material list, the more you customize the plans the more accurate the list will be. You do need to setup material parameters too, let it know the lengths you can get, or in items like casing, you can get an overall lineal measurement and have it add in a percentage of overage. You can even enter pricing for each item. That said, ALWAYS re-check things...I find things all the time...like...downspouts/elbows/etc...it's smart, but not human smart

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