While Google’s free webware, SketchUp, is great for helping clients visualize projects, it’s also handy for enabling remodelers, designers, and architects to take the adage “measure twice, cut once” to a new level. “It’s a nice test of whether a project is buildable,” says Chuck Smith, an architect in Rochester, N.Y. “If you can draw it in SketchUp, you can build it.”
But don’t let computer applications scare you. Using SketchUp is fairly simple, and there are good learning tools online. You can go to the source at sketchup.google.com, which offers how-to videos for everyone from beginners to experts. There’s also School, which offers training, webinars, and videos such as “The SketchUp Show #64: Using Shaderlight for Interior Renderings.”
South Dakota remodeler Matt Jackson, a.k.a. The Timber Tailor, has developed a series of videos and models for Fine Homebuilding’s “Digital Jobsite” on topics such as hip rafters; the design and layout of inlay floor patterns; figuring concrete volume; and using SketchUp’s photo match feature for efficient project design. Jackson’s tutorials also can be found at Google’s 3D Warehouse, a searchable collection of products and models that can be scaled to fit into your SketchUp designs.
For details on using SketchUp for carpentry, finish carpentry, or architectural millwork, check out Gary Katz’s tutorials at garymkatz.com. Katz, a nationally known master carpenter, says he swears by the “Groups and Components features, which make designing and altering a project effortless.” And, he adds, “The ‘Follow-Me’ tool is one of the most profitable tools since it helps carpenters create a 3-D example of exactly the way a bookcase or cabinet will look including the crown molding and trim. A potential client doesn’t have to rely on their limited imagination to see the project inside their home before it’s built.”
If the free version of SketchUp doesn’t have enough bells and whistles for you, there’s SketchUp Pro, which enables users to create PDFs, permit and construction drawings, and reports.
—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.