jmyers

How difficult is it to learn Chief Architect Premier?

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I am considering purchasing Chief and am wondering how difficult is it to become proficient enough to draft sets of "Builder Plans" (floor plan, elevations, foundation plan, and a cross section).

 

I know that many learn at different paces and in different ways, but am just trying to get an overall feel of the degree of difficulty in becoming fairly proficient with the software.  I do understand that even the most advanced users face challenges at times.

 

A degree of difficulty scale, with 1 being very easy and 10 being very hard, may be helpful.

 

Thanks to all who reply!  All thoughts/comments are greatly appreciated.

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It's a 10 if you want to master the program. It is a very sophisticated modeling program and if you are starting at ground zero and have no other design program experience you better be ready to LEARN. It also depends on what your knowledge of the construction industry and what projects are you tackling. Good luck

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CA has a far more intuitive interface than Softplan for sure.  Took me 50-60 hours to get my first basic set of drawings printed and I'm half of that now after a few months. Some folks here can do the same work in a day.  In addition, I initially spent half my time watching videos and reading help screens to get the next steps figured out.  

 

The videos are great, and there is lots of excellent help available on this Board.  

 

Jump in, the waters fine!

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10 or more. IMO. i say this because i started with 0 knowledge of CA. i tried other apps in the "Builder Plans" market. like Softplan and Revit. all them are still will have the level 10 Difficulty to it. i dont think theres a level 1 Easy to do what we do. if theres a Level 1 easy out there, i sure  would like be interested.

 

so it'll be well worth the time you invest in CA, once you've reach the skill level to "draft sets of "Builder Plans" " 

 

by far the best  "Builder Plans" (floor plan, elevations, foundation plan, and a cross section) CAD software on the market.

 

i am not sure it would be worth it for someone thats not in the profession who just want to draft  1 or 2 builder plans a year to invest the time to learn CA. if it's not your profession to produce "Builder Plans" as you core business, then it's not worth you time and effort.

 

pay a professional to do your "Builder Plans", and spend you time operating your core business, whatever that might be.

 

Chief Architect is definitely not an amateur CAD software.

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I would say that within days you could have a two or three story house with

average floorplan created in 2D - be able to create 3D views - frame the house - roof the house

 

and send all of that to layout ready for printing

 

would it pass the building inspectors ??? - maybe, unlikely but maybe

 

would it be buildable ??? - maybe, unlikely but maybe

 

would it be a well-designed house ??? - maybe, unlikely but maybe

 

bottom line - you can be surprised how "easy" it is do the basics

 

it's doing it right and doing the "complex" that will take tons of learning time

 

Lew

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Chief requires a user to do things a very certain way - specifically, Chief's way. There are so many things that if you dont do it a certain way, you will be stuck for hours.

That said, it can also be very rewarding and fast if you do learn its secret handshakes. Chief is a mixed bag but I have to give it a 10 in difficulty due to the aforementioned. Its been the hardest app i've ever had to learn and i do some pretty complex things with other apps.

Flip side I am still using it...so for me its been worthwhile to learn.

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I've been using CA for 10 years. I had my 1st set of working drawings within a month. Looking back compared to what I turn out now they were crap. It probably took me 2 years before I was proficient with the program but probably 4 or 5 before I really mastered it. Those first few years were difficult because I would run in to situations that I could not resolve without help. Now when I run into an issue I can usually figure it out on my own because I've learned enough about the program to understand how it thinks and what causes certain problems. Occasionally I still need help from tech support but that is rare and usually ends up being a software problem that gets resolved.

 

With that said I would have to give it a 10 as well but it's worth the effort. One piece of advice I would give anyone learning CA is to use the hotkeys. Figure out your most used commands and create your own hotkeys. I've probably cut my design time in half over the years by using this one feature.

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Wow.  These are all great responses and very helpful.  Additional thoughts and opinions would be greatly appreciated. 

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Why don't you download the trial version and try it?

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The thing most new users foul up on is not really studying the software in depth before taking on a complicated project. This is like self torture where you assume you can " figure it out on the fly". 

 

When reading or watching a video NEVER go past a word or symbol you do not fully understand, get it defined and understood because it is part of the intended knowledge you need to be competent. Part of learning what Chief can do and how it does it is finding out what it does not do or how you thought it should work. That information is to be found in your "Users Guide" and "Reference Manual" that install as part of your software.

 

Study in short time segments outside of your working time. Read or watch a video and then open your software and demonstrate whether or not you understand what you just studied. Once you really learn how to do what you desire, using this software is a joy indeed.

 

DJP

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I have downloaded the trial version and have found it to be relatively simple to use. However, I have been doing the most basic tasks. I fully understand that the complex tasks would take quite some time to learn. Being able to perform the more complicated tasks is what drove my question.

I have a 15 year background in construction management. For years, I would design homes in the old 3D Home Architect Deluxe and then hand off the floor plan and elevations to a local draftsman to create a simple set of "Builders Plans" (floor plan, foundation plan, elevations, and one cross section).

I have only been part of this forum for one week and it is an outstanding resource.

Thanks to all who have been willing to give me advice!

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I have downloaded the trial version and have found it to be relatively simple to use. However, I have been doing the most basic tasks. I fully understand that the complex tasks would take quite some time to learn. Being able to perform the more complicated tasks is what drove my question.

I have a 15 year background in construction management. For years, I would design homes in the old 3D Home Architect Deluxe and then hand off the floor plan and elevations to a local draftsman to create a simple set of "Builders Plans" (floor plan, foundation plan, elevations, and one cross section).

I have only been part of this forum for one week and it is an outstanding resource.

Thanks to all who have been willing to give me advice!

 

For MOST basic tasks Chief is unbeatable in its speed and simplicity.  Actually a lot of the comments above are relative to the complexity of your projects.  A basic straightforward home in Chief isn't going to cause you any issues and Chief is certainly the fastest app on the market for that type of work.

 

Id recommend any new user to focus their attention to learning how Chief handles rooms and the default settings that control those rooms.

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How difficult is it to learn Chief on a scale of 1 to 10??

 

I'd say right between 1 and 10...and I'm not kidding.  Totally depends on what exactly you need to do with it, how much you care about the little details, whether or not you will be using other software, what design processes or software you're accustomed to, your individual techniques and tendencies,  your design and/or construction experience, your expectations in general as to what a 3D design software should do for you, etc. 

 

In general I think the guys above have about covered it.  Its really easy to get started but can take a substantial amount of time to master.  I totally agree with David...Study things till you really grasp them.  If you don't fully understand something you're just going to continually get hung up on it later and it will likely affect your understanding of other processes as well.  The Users Guide is really a valuable resource and is probably worth going through, and the Help files are invaluable as well.  Take advantage of them. 

 

I'd also add one more note...You will likely learn substantially faster and more efficiently by studying, taking training classes, hiring a tutor, and/or watching tutorial videos than you will winging it and just using the forum.  I've kinda done both and I have to say the best things I've learned that have proven to be the strongest foundation and best reference were things I learned from the Users Guide at the very beginning and things I've read in the Help files when I have questions. The forum is definitely a close 3rd but IMO should serve as more of a supplement and clarification source than as a main learning tool...although, you will of course also pick up value tips and tricks from the forum that you can't find anywhere else which gives the forum a unique value all its own.  I just really recommend you avoid making it your go-to learning source.  I think a lot of people do it and it really just slows the learning process in a lot of ways and can lead down all sorts of rabbit trails keeping people from learning things correctly.  

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To jump start your CA education, take a few classes online, or better yet get actual training. You will save a lot of time wondering what to do. I did and it worked. I needed to learn very fast b/c I dumped Softplan and needed to get going or I would have starved to death.

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Learning difficulty depends on the house and scope of the project. Small ranch on slab with hips everywhere you'll feel like a hero which is deceiving. The irony is it tends to be the more complex jobs that require 3d.. which is the way I started in Chief a looong time ago. Quit using it due to frustrations and hours stuck. Came back a few months ago and it is much better than before.

 

Get help.. either a live tutor or a good step by step training manual. FAST PC required. DO NOT learn with a paying, deadlined, complex project. Learn Hotkeys.

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buy Chief Premier

 

then model your own house

 

do it completely and accurately

 

by the time you are done you will have a good handle on most of Chief's features

 

watch ALL of CA's videos

if you do that you can probably skip CA's basic class

 

if you need to get up to speed ASAP then take the basic class

 

at some point take the Intermediate Training from CA's trainers

 

save the advanced classes for "later"

 

check out WWW.CHIEFEXPERTS.COM

 

Lew

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I have always felt that one on training is the best. I was fortunate to have Louis Fernandez teach me the program one on one for quite a while ( I was also working for him). This was back in versions 8, 9, and 10. One on one allows you to stop and ask a question at any time. Your mind can only soak up so much information at one training session. one key is practice, practice, practice.

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When I first was learning Chief I bought 4 hours of one on one training from Chief. I used that training over about a 2 week period. I was actively working on my first project and generating a lot of questions. I would package those questions and get very specific help on the areas where I was getting hung up. I found this worked quite well. After that I went to this forum for a lot of help.

 

You will find that if you ask a thoughtful question and provide a plan file and any images that can communicate the question well, you will probably get an answer back on this forum within an hour or two. Giving your question a clear title relating to the question will help you. A title like "Ahhhhhh, Help" is quite unclear. "Poly line won't connect" is clear.

 

The key for me in learning CA was time at the computer. It does take a lot of time and consistent work on the program to pick up speed and find efficient methods that work for you.

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JMYERS,

I'm in your boat. I am a builder of 25 years. I wanted to make my own plans just to control the little things. My draftsperson took a month to move a wall, and add a shower. So I downloaded the

trial, fell in love and bought the program by the end of the day. I have now drawn a dozen plans or so, same type as you listed on your question. It took me from November to now to do this. Of course you have to do your regular work all day and draw evenings and weekends. I love it. But...the time contribution is enormous. Go for it.

Dave

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Thanks to all for all of the advice and information. It is greatly appreciated!

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Hello,

 

Feel free to contact us in the Chief Architect Sales Department.  We can provide you with a list of free training resources to help you to get started as quickly as possible.  We can also set  up a one-on-one online demo of the software.  You can contact me directly by email derek@chiefarchitect.com or call 208-292-3400 and ask for Derek.

 

Kind regards,

 

Derek

Chief Architect Sales

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Not sure if Joey Martin chimed in yet, or if he is offering training sessions at this time, but he does a very good job. He knows his stuff. Look for him and send him a message.

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Get some one-on-one time with David Potter! He was great getting me started in Version 9. You can collect your questions/problems and then meet with him again to get things ironed out.

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