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  1. What a beautiful render! Gosh, the lighting in it is so warm and inviting, it feels like a house from a cute videogame. I like your new house! Especially the beautiful timber-framed vaulted ceilings and exposed rafters. Got any photos of the finished build? I'm not surprised to hear that you use multiple programs. I sorta expect this from most working professionals. Each program covers the weaknesses of the others. Unfortunately, that's just too much mental load to take on all at once. Maybe in a few years I can start using multiple programs, but for right now, I'm already going to be using <Program of choice>, and photoshop, and solidworks, and blender, and..... I've been watching as many videos as I can on SketchUp, and I LOVE how much detail I can model in. Is there a reason you don't use it exclusively? Just to save time, because CA is faster? Interesting that you also use SketchUp to do the detail drawings. Is that an area where Chief falls short? Wow, a third person with the same workflow! What's going on, does Chief suck at detail views or something? Thank you very much, and thank you especially for the video. I've found it hard to find good video resources on Chief Architect.
  2. Thank you for your detailed reply, and the excellent photos! I don't know if you missed a critical line in my original post, but the reason I'm needing stud-by-stud construction docs is because I'm going to be the one doing all the framing and carpentry, by my self, alone. I'm definitely going to be on the job site 8 hours a day, because I'm going to be on the job site 12 hours a day, because I am the job site . Being able to model it all out stick-by-stick allows me to plan my cuts, figure out my geometry, identify any conflicts, all from the comfort of my computer chair, rather than when I'm out standing on the site. I know things will always go sideways, and I will have to modify things on-the-fly, and that's where my actual work experience will come in, but still, the stick-by-stick modelling is crucial for me, unless the program really can spit out framing schedules that are perfect. And yeah, an excellent point about the overhangs. I live in Canada, and these buildings would have to deal with a lot of snow and rain, so I would never build something that doesn't have overhangs, unless the roof itself is wrapping down the wall somehow. Hey, one-trick pony's still have their place! People with decades of experience are wonderful to talk to about this sort of stuff, because you will be intimately familiar with the shortcomings of the program. in regards to customized chief templates, I wouldn't know the first thing about how to seek out that kind of help, and I certainly wouldn't be able to afford paying someone to design it for me. If I do go with Chief, I will be going through dozens of hours of guided tutorials from websites like Udemy, and those tutorials typically help you set up a decent workspace in whatever program they're teaching.
  3. Hello again everyone, thank you for clicking on my post. It's gonna be pretty long, so I appreciate your time and help; Many of you may remember me. I made a post three years ago that lead to the best discussion experience I've ever had on an online forum. The Chief community is great, and so I return to you all once more for help, now that I have learned more about what I need from a design program, and what my workflow is going to look like. I'm a relatively young independent contractor and graduate engineer. I'm trying to steer my life in a direction that will have me designing and building one-off, small but beautiful homes/cottages for clients. The funding and feasibility of this type of project is beyond the scope of this discussion. Please assume that it's going to happen, even if you feel it's a ridiculous idea. You may very well be right, but my concern at this time is in choosing which Architectural design program would be best. I have put together a Pinterest board to illustrate the type of architecture I'd be aiming for. It's different than what I had in mind in my post from three years ago. It's stuff like this: https://pin.it/2Cau3MUoE I'm aiming for modern cottages. They will be fairly simple from a structural perspective -- I won't be doing any crazy cantilevers or suspended buildings, for example, but will contain some more exotic decorative design elements. These include things like pillars or piers holding half of the building aloft, unique roof designs with large overhangs, large curtain walls, "architectural" or "exotic" exterior wall and roof claddings, and other design elements like rooflines which blend seamlessly with walls. Additionally, the framing of the structure will involve multiple materials, with some walls being ICF, while others are timber-framed, and with a floor assembly maybe involving some steel beams, depending on structural requirements. The buildings would be small, maxing out at around 1500 Sq ft. Now, the reason for my post is because although I have an educational background in computer-aided design, and am quite familiar with CAD programs like Solidworks, Solidedge, AutoCAD, and even Revit. I've taken about 40-50 hours of guided tutorials on Revit through Udemy. I can now easily handle all the basics, and create finished projects for simple buildings. What I've started to notice, however, both first-hand, and from forum discussions, is that Revit really isn't geared towards residential, timber-framed, highly-architectural construction. I tried my hand at designing a simple wood-framed garden shed, and, compared to building a "normal" building in Revit with the pre-existing wall families, designing this shed on a stud-by-stud basis was like pulling teeth. Wood-framing add-ons exist, but are phenomenally expensive, and heaven forbid you go to change the length of a wall after... That's why I'm considering ArchiCAD. The reason I need to design these buildings on a stud-by-stud level is because I will be the one building them. I have been working as a general contractor and fine craftsman for several years now, and my intention is to build these places myself, with my hands, and my tools. Doing this stud-by-stud level design is my opportunity to plan things out, make sure my joinery works, figure out dimensions and conflicts, etc. Of course, the tasks that are beyond what a single person can do, will be sub-contracted out. The foundation pour, the sceptic install, electrical, plumbing, etc., is all going to be hired out to the respective professionals. Everything else, though, like the framing, roofing, sheathing, etc., will be me. The projects will take several years each. Once again, the feasibility or financial reality of these projects is beyond the scope of this discussion. I know that Revit is the "powerful but cumbersome" program. I know that everything IS possible in it, but sometimes at so high of a time-cost, that it simply isn't worth it.. This has lead me to reconsider if Revit is the best program for me, or if there are programs better suited to the style of buildings I want to make. The reason I'm making this new post, is because my workflow has evolved a lot since my post on these forums three years ago. I have a much better sense of the features and abilities that I will need out of a program, and some of the things that may have caused an issue in Chief no longer apply. As far as I can tell, there are five options that may serve me: 1) Revit 2) ArchiCAD 3) Chief Architect 4) Google Sketchup 5) Solidworks What I'm needing from the program is the following: The ability to design the entire structural framing of the building on an element-by-element basis. I actually DON'T intend to use Chief's out-of-the-box framing capabilities, unless they really are perfect, and can handle everything I throw at them. That means I need to manually design every stud, every floor joist, every roof rafter, and, most importantly, for these elements to have "mates" or other kinds of relationships, such that if I decided to raise the ceiling in a room, for example, the studs move with it. It would be extremely painful to need to go in and manually change the height of every stud, should I make a change to the layout. The ability to design the joinery and construction details of building elements. That means the birdmouth cuts in the rafters, the miters on the ends of the rafters, and so on. The ability to design the entire building envelope on an element-by-element basis. That means modelling every 4x8 sheet of plywood sheathing on the exterior walls, ever 4x8 panel of drywall on the interior ones, all the floor sheathing, insulation panels, etc. Being able to model detail elements like joist hangers, electrical outlet boxes, etc., would also be fantastic. The ability to model different types of wall and floor assemblies, such as using a few steel beams in a floor assembly if needed, or vertical steel beams for architectural reasons, or a random concrete wall in the middle of the structure, or even slanted wall assemblies. The ability to do some basic landscape modelling. I don't need full terrain mapping or terrain elevations, but at least being able to draw out a stand-in green slab for the ground, and model a basic patio or a driveway would be great. The ability to do some very basic modelling of MEP systems through the use of basic geometric shapes. I do NOT need a full MEP side to the program, but being able to model a basic cylinder passing through my floor assembly as a stand-in for an HVAC duct or something would be very useful. The ability to generate lots of diagrams and drawings. Elevation views, cross-section views, and, most importantly, construction diagrams of the wall, roof, and floor assemblies, with dimensions and annotations. Based on these needs, and what I've seen of each program, my thinking is as follows: Revit: It can handle them all, but it's extremely cumbersome. I have to place studs and joists by using column and beam families in the structural side of the program, but first I need to manually create all of the different columns and beams I'll need, and then these structural elements don't play well with the architectural side of the program, and, and, and, it's all very cumbersome. ArchiCAD: This program seems like it could be a good choice, but I'm basing that entirely on this video. This video was where I first learned about ArchiCAD. It seems very similar to Revit, but a bit more intuitive to use, and like it handles element-by-element construction better than Revit. Chief Architect: By FAR the best program to use for timber-framed construction, but only if you're keeping to relatively tame suburban design. My old post on this forum generated absolutely fantastic discussion, but the consensus seemed to be that although Chief excels as the framing and diagram part, it can't handle the unique architectural features AT ALL. Even something like a simple slanted wall will completely break it. Now that my intended building designs have gotten a bit more tame compared to the ones I envisioned three years ago, though, I wonder if Chief is now a better choice. Google Sketchup: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Sketchup is not a parametric design program, it is a "push and pull" program, more akin to Blender. Quite frankly, I don't know how I would efficiently design a building in this program, if I have to take many steps just to assign a fixed length to a specific beam, for example. Admittedly, though, this is the program I know the least about. My understanding is also that the program does not have a means to create elevation views, or shop drawings, or any kinds of diagrams, without first needing to find or purchase add-on programs to gain this functionality. Solidworks: This is the program I have the most experience in, with a few hundred hours, and a university course in it. However, it's designed more for mechanical engineering and small parts, and so its workflow of needing to design elements individually as separate files, then save and assemble them manually in an assembly by assigning mates, is extremely time-consuming, and performance-heavy. It also cares a LOT about minutia, spitting out errors and screaming at you if you forget to assign a coordinate origin for a given part, for example. And so that's where I'm at. Five different programs, and no sense of which one would be best for me. Any help, insight, or suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
  4. I know I keep saying it, but thank you again to everyone who has kept this conversation going. I really didn't think I would get this much feedback on this discussion. The Chief Architect community is certainly a helpful one I apologize for my lack of responses recently, just got a bit distracted with something. That was actually my exact thought process which lead me to learn Revit in the first place. It's the same reason why I went directly from MS paint to Photoshop, not bothering to learn the easier-but-less-powerful intermediate programs out there. I figure I'd rather just start at the top, and have nowhere left to go, even if it presents the steepest learning curve. From my pre-selection research, I knew that Revit was the most-powerful-but-cumbersome program, and so I figured that it would give me the highest skill and ability ceiling.... thing is, even with that consideration, I still underestimated just how cumbersome the program really is. It's not just cumbersome in the sense of "architecture is complex, so naturally, these programs will be complex too." Unfortunately, a lot of its cumbersome-ness stems from just bad UX-UI design, and a refusal to modernize or update. Even simple things, like hardware acceleration. That's what got me second-guessing my decision, and made me look into other programs, like Chief. Are you nuts? That's a great building, and a gorgeous model! I don't care if it's not ray-traced, and doesn't have displacement-mapped textures -- none of that takes away from the quality of the actual model. Thank you for sharing this build! I wonder how long it would take me to re-create something like that... Interesting that you say my goals are modest, and that these programs would be overkill, meanwhile some of the features of the buildings I'm looking to make are straight-up impossible to model in Chief, and extremely clunky in Revit. The general discussion seems to suggest that Revit/ArchiCAD alone won't be Enough, let alone too much. That's a very good distinction to keep in mind, thank you for mentioning that. As far as your suggestion goes..... haha... yeah... no time for that. Thank you for your well-wishes though See, to me, that looks so good, and it looks like everything I would need in my model... but I know it just seems that way because I'm not able to see the details, or the actual model. Based on what others here have explained, I'm guessing that the model, as generated by Chief, wasn't enough to prepare all of the construction documents, right? You still had to have structural engineers and the like revise the model, and add details to the construction plans that are accounted for by Chief, right? Still, it looks great! Good to know your thoughts on Revit! Thank you for the vote of confidence in it. As far as your suggestion goes, yeah, fortunately, I'm already familiar with SOLIDWORKS, which I'm hoping can serve as that secondary parametric CAD program, to build the custom features not present in Revit by default. Now it's just a matter of learning how to actually bring custom CAD models into revit and create families based on them. Still though, the cognitive load of all of this is getting pretty intense. Despite my desires, I'm the type of person to get burnt out a lot... As far as the builder thing goes, though... ohhh no, trust me, I'm not overlooking that one - I am the builder. That's exactly the problem though. Although I have several years of experience in these fields, it's not enough to build an entire house just yet. That's why I'm trying to supplement my lack of knowledge, with more planning. Rather than starting the build, only to find that I have no idea how to actually frame a specific wall, I'd rather invest the time to figure it out during the design phase, when I'm in the comfort of my own home, in front of a computer.... not standing on the jobsite wasting time and money. It's like that old parable: the more sweat you expend in training, the less you bleed in battle. I don't have enough experience to just show up on-site and know how to frame everything... so I gotta take the time to frame it all up virtually, and make sure it all comes together. Ahh, but what happens when you ARE the builder too, hmm? See my reply just above ^
  5. That was a very clear and concise explanation, thank you. Your explanation of how making a single unusual change to chief can break its automation was helpful. Your comment though, that I might have glossed over some information, made me realize that I very likely could have, so I went back and read through the thread again. It seems that Richard_Morrison, Johnny, and Alaskan_Son all recommend Archicad, so I guess I will buy a course and start learning that program. I'm surprised that no one at all recommended Revit, but I guess that reflects its gearing towards commercial builds. The only thing that worries me is that, so far, the recommendation to try Archicad has been made solely on the basis of me needing to create "unusual" designs.... but being able to create accurate framing is arguably more important for me. Chief can obviously do the framing in an instant... but only so long as I keep everything traditional.... ... Since I'm not keeping everything traditional, and will need to use a different program, I guess that just means that I'm S-O-L for automated framing, and am looking at manually placing every timber by hand, right? In this regard, I take it most people here recommend Archicad over Revit for manual timber framing? Basically, the only question I have left then is seeing as how I WILL need to use a program other than Chief, which among them have the best wood framing abilities? Or to put it another way, in which program is it the least painful to manually place elements like studs, one by one? Would that still be Archicad? (Sigh) yeah... I know that what I'm looking to do is a tall order, I know that what I'm looking to do is usually done by a whole team... but... I don't know. I don't have the money to be hiring others to do the design work for me, so I'm trying to take it on myself, but like you said, there's a lot. Although I have no basis for this estimate, I'm guessing that designing a complete cottage, with all of its framing and systems, will probably take a few months of constant work, and I don't have a problem with that, I just have a problem with the cognitive load of it all. Learning how to use one program is no problem.... but trying to learn 3, 4, 5 different programs, and use them simultaneously? That's hard. You need one program for the architecture, one program for the framing, one program for the cost estimating, one program for the renders..... just replace "program" with "person" and all of sudden its obvious as to why architectural firms have a whole bunch of employees. And that's not even mentioning that each of these programs costs thousands of dollars that I just... don't.. have. Oh boy. As for contacting the architects responsible for the designs I showed, yeah, that's something I've been wanting to do for years, and I've been thinking about it, but I don't even know where to begin with that one. Still, though, I will somehow find a way to learn more about these builds. I've actually already watched that whole video, thank you! Although the building looks decently nice from the outside, there's really nothing that separates it architecturally from a normal suburban home. Just four walls, roof and a floor, all plumb and level.
  6. Thank you again to everyone who has continued the discussion. I really do appreciate you all taking the time to try and help. Unfortunately, my takeaway so far from all of this discussion (here, and on other forums), is that there really is no one program that can do modern, unconventional building-design well. So, rather than just continue to ask the same question, of "which program is best for me", allow me to just ask this one last question: Clearly, modern, unconventional buildings do exist. My pinterest board of photos proves that. Clearly, SOMETHING must have designed these buildings. SOME program MUST have designed the model, and the construction drawings, or else you just wouldn't be able to build the thing... so... what was it? What CAD/BIM program DID these modern builds use? How did they come to be? Is the answer really that it was just CAD/BIM drafters brute-forcing their way through the program limitations of Revit/ArchiCAD/Chief with a bunch of unpaid overtime? Is the answer really that unfortunately simple? Yeah, I know, I guess I'm just.... disappointed in the industry. Trillions of dollars flow through the construction and architecture industries, worldwide.... You'd think that industry-titans like Autodesk would be able to put out modern, optimized, streamlined programs....And yet, all of the CAD/BIM programs out there are 20 years behind the times. Chief can't do sloped walls, Archicad has no temporary measurements, and Revit.. don't get me started. It can't even do something as simple as use the GPU to render scenes and load materials, and is instead 100% CPU-based, like a program from 1995. I find it sad that even some bush-league videogames are more up-to-date than these massive programs. But anyways, that's just me complaining. Your advice to spend some time with each program is, of course, the only way forward. I tried modelling the wood-framed garden shed in my backyard in Revit, and it was a mission. I also just found out that you can't use any of the standard annotation tools on structural elements because.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ screw the end-user, I guess. The dream. After seeing how many limitations these supposedly industry-leading programs have, it's starting to seem like Minecraft might be the most powerful building designer of them all Maybe I've been asking the wrong question... now I'm wondering, well, if all of the major CAD/BIM programs have a hard/impossible time handling modern, unconventional builds... how DO those buildings get designed? I mean, something has to be generating the plans, something has to be generating the construction documents.... is it really just CAD/BIM drafters brute-forcing their way through the program limitations with a bunch of unpaid overtime? But yes, I will say this much, the forum here has been wonderful in this thread Thank you to everyone who's commented.
  7. Thank you to everyone who has commented so far! This discussion has been very informative for me. Unfortunately, it seems like although Chief Architect might not be the best program for my use-case... no one really knows what WOULD be best. Both ArchiCAD and Revit have their downsides. So far, the conversation leaves me with a sense of "Okay, Chief is probably not going to work well for the types of builds I want to do.... but it doesn't seem like any program is well-suited to it." Thank you both! That's two more votes against Chief, from people on the Chief forums. Counter-intuitive opinions like that are always the most valuable, because if you can get the users of a product to tell you it probably won't work well for you... then that says something. Jesus H. Christ, that video.. I would never ever want to take on something that detailed, holy. My mind is reeling at the sheer complexity of all the required trims. But also, thank you again for expanding on your points. It's good to know about Chief's CAD limitations. Ahh, well that IS the question, isn't it? Which program IS best for me, for my use-case? It seems like there's not much agreement so far. You raise some very interesting points here, thank you. The lack of temporary dimensions is... very strange. I'm going to start looking into that, to see the workflow in an Archicad build. As far as decor and kitchen cabinets go... well, yeah... Unfortunately, even The Sims has better furnishings than most of these programs. Overall, though, you say that I am better-suited to Chief Architect than another program. What do you think about the points raised here against Chief, by other commenters? Hahaha, thank you.... what could possibly go wrong?. Thing is, I gotta ask, because your first line is leaving me a bit confused.... do you think overall I SHOULD move to Chief, or is your statement more of a "Well in a perfect world, you'd be suited to Chief, but because your main post talks about unconventional design, it won't serve you well?
  8. Thank you! Realistically, I'm not going to design an entire building with only slanted walls, so if I have to manually build the one or two slanted walls in my project by hand, element-by-element, then so be it.... I know there's not going to be one program out there that can handle it all. It's still good to know though that you agree with all the rest, thank you for your comment! It was, thank you very much for your comment! It's interesting that you're the only dissenter here, so far, and with all that experience. Thank you very much for your insight. ArchiCAD is the program I know the least about so far, but when I read Revit-Vs-Archicad posts, it seemed like there were a far greater number of people fanboy-ing over Revit, though their enthusiasm is probably overstated. What I find most interesting though is that you've said what I'm wanting goes way beyond Chief's capabilities, but the others here seem to think it'll handle it all fine. Not to try and pit you guys against one another, but, do you mind if I ask you to expand on why you think I'm going to run into difficulties with Cheif?
  9. Hello everyone, thank you for clicking on my post. It's gonna be pretty long, so I appreciate your time and help, I'm a relatively young independent contractor and graduate engineer. I'm trying to steer my life in a direction that will have me designing and building one-off, small but beautiful homes/cottages for clients, and friends/family. In terms of the types of design I'm going for, it's stuff like this: https://pin.it/nByfQTl Modern, highly architectural, often with unusual elements (at least, unusual for residential builds), like slanted walls, display features made of unusual materials, piers keeping the building suspended off the ground, etc. I have a background in computer-based design, and am already familiar with parametric CAD modelling programs like SOLIDWORKS. Additionally, I've taken about 35 hours of courses in Revit, and can now easily handle all the basics, and create finished projects for simple buildings. What I've started to notice, however, both first-hand, and from forum discussions, is that Revit really isn't geared towards residential, timber-framed, architectural construction. Just trying to build a timber-framed garden shed involves placing every single stud, joist, and beam 100% manually, with arrays and copy commands and the like. Wood-framing add-ons exist, but are phenomenally expensive ($3200 a year was the quote I got from AGACAD's Wood Framer Pro). And heaven forbid you go to change the length of a wall after... I know that Revit is the "powerful but cumbersome" program. I know that everything IS possible in it, but sometimes at so high of a time-cost, that it simply isn't worth it.. This has lead me to reconsider if Revit is the best program for me, or if there are programs better suited to the style of buildings I want to make. This search eventually brought me to Chief Architect. Seeing as I've only invested a few dozen hours into Revit, I don't mind pivoting to a totally new program, so long as its a good one. Now, the reason I'm making this post is because my use-case is a little bit weirder than most, as I will take on all roles related to the design and construction of these buildings: I will be the architect, the interior designer, the framer, the mason, the everything. I will be building these structures entirely with my own hands, doing everything except for the final MEP hookup and installation. (Whether or not this is a good idea, however, is beyond the scope of this discussion. Please just assume that this is what's going to happen). Because of this, I need to create a model that is more detailed than just a pretty-looking box. I need full section views, I need detailed construction drawings, I need proper framing, because the model-making process is the only opportunity I'll have to actually think through the construction, and ensure that my designs are code-compliant and feasible to build. A lot of people have suggested Rhino 3D, or even Sketchup, but, like Solidworks, these are just parametric 3D CAD programs. They just create objects, shapes, volumes. If I wanted to create a stud wall, first I'd have to draw and extrude a panel to represent the drywall.. then I'd have to draw and extrude a single stud, then I'd have to copy that stud in an array. Then I'd have to draw and extrude a top plate and bottom sill, then I'd have to draw and extrude sheathing, then bricks, then mortar, then....and that's all for a single wall. These programs really aren't meant for building construction... These programs also don't have any of the BIM data that I'll need. I can't create door and window schedules in Rhino 3D (to my knowledge), so how will I generate lists of which windows to buy from which manufacturers, at which sizes? I'd have to do it manually. So then it really comes down to Revit, Chief Architect, ArchiCAD, etc... but I don't have the experience to know which program would be best for me. For the sake of this discussion, assume the price of the base-program is NOT a factor, but, that being said, I don't want to have to buy 28 different Add-ons to get a useable program. If anyone can shed some personal experience with these programs, it would be hugely useful to me. I've tried to do my due-diligence, I've tried to browse the web and read forums and discussions, and I know the "Is Chief Architect better than ____" topic is worn out, but nothing I've read has addressed my specific use-case, so I'm turning to the community here, looking for help Any help or discussion is greatly appreciated, thank you all for your time.