jmyers

Best way to learn the business?

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Not too long ago, I asked "What is the best way to learn Chief?" and the responses were very amazingly helpful.

So, what is the best way for someone to learn single family residential drafting/design without wanting to become an architect?

I have read on this forum where many are self taught draftspersons/designers.

I have 15+ years in residential construction and remodeling management. Therefore, I have a very strong foundation. However, I realize that my knowledge is probably very limited compared to experienced draftspersons/designers.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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You have the knowledge and just need to take that and run, my background is like yours and I started to do design build for my clients using Chief way back in the early versions and have just grown with the program, take that knowledge, learn the program and dig in, you don't say where you are located and what is required in your area as far as plans go, the only thing I don't do for my clients which are builders and people looking to build is the heating systems which there plumber can get at the local suppliers, read the manual, view the video's, and ask questions on here these guys are great and are always willing to help, getting membership to Chief Experts and ChiefTutor has be invaluable to me for learning the program and worth the investment, also youtube has great video's on there. HTH

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I'm in the Midwest and plan requirements by the building department for permit application are very basic (foundation plan, floor plan, and elevations). Engineered roof and floor systems do not have to be submitted for permit application. The lumber suppliers have to submit them when the floor and roof packages are delivered to the site.

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I would say for one, set up your template plans and layouts for maximum performance. You can set them up, so when you are ready to draw, you can get started  immediately by having everything already sent to the layout, and notes and details you would use on every project ,ready to go also . At first you might get lost but when done, you never have to set up defaults again. It's a work in progress, I'm still changing things, like with new versions of Chief b/c every new version saves me time, since version 10 for me. Good luck, when in doubt come here and ask.

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With those basic requirements you shouldn't have any problems, here to by the IRC codes and have to go before a plan reviewer for approval before construction begins, I supply 4 elevations with any notes that are needed, foundation plan with requirements for my area for frost protection, floor plans, flr jsts sizes, clg jsts, and rafters, a roof framing plan, electrical plans, section details

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I have designed several homes and remodel projects in which I handed over my designs to a draftsman to draw up for the permit application.

Now, I would like to learn Chief and draw for other builders and remodelers. However, my biggest fear is making a structural mistake.

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If your building supplier is to do that then that relieves a lot from you, one thing you might want to learn or get a book on the IRC codes and lookup what are the requirements for your area as far as floor and roof loads with any snow load and frost requirements

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I already have the IRC code book and study it often. This is all great advice! I sure appreciate it and welcome all of the advice/thoughts anyone is willing to share.

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With all of your resourse and knowledge I would tell you to dig in and draw something you want as a trial and do as Perry says set your defaults first and start drawing on the first floor anything you can think of and when you get stuck refer to the manual or video's, search this site and ask questions and just go for it, you are not going to learn everything is a day and will take alot of dedication on your part to how far you want to go, since my age caught up with me and I can do the phyical work I use to know I build them on the computer and a lot of the builders around here like that because I came from the trenches

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So, what is the best way for someone to learn single family residential drafting/design without wanting to become an architect?

 

I think it's great that you are asking the question. The best way is to start by recognizing that drafting and design are two very different skill sets and should not be used as synonyms. You can be a really great drafter but a poor designer. Drafting is a a technical skill that you probably CAN learn on your own, and it sounds like you have a good start on knowing what goes into building a home. Partnering ASAP with a good residential structural engineer will alleviate your structural concerns. Learning about building systems, waterproofing, insulation, moisture migration, etc. is an ongoing activity. Reading trade journals, like JLC or Fine Homebuilding is important, but you can do that at night.

 

Design is something that you probably CAN'T learn well on your own, and will need to get training. If you sincerely want to be good, you will have to learn about good planning principals (circulation and flow), good proportion, architectural styles, lighting, furniture arrangement, and a myriad of other topics. I am not talking about being naturally artistic/creative/gifted, which might be nice qualities to have, but not particularly relevant. This is more about making additions not look "tacked on," that views and space are optimized; essentially creating a house that is a joy to live in, rather than an awkward and expensive container. I would look for local classes; perhaps there is a design school nearby, even if only an interior design school. You will learn things that will put you head and shoulders above your competition. 

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I learned priceless knowledge by shadowing a builder. I'm not talking about the owner of the company who sits in an office and makes site visits. I'm talking about the owner of the company that builds the house along with his sons and subs with his bare hands. The framing knowledge alone was a great experience! Just my 2 cents  ;)

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I am with Richard on the design portion of the job. Just because you know structure, the codes and how to use Chief doesn't make you a good designer. Clients will depend on you knowing proper room layouts, traffic patterns, space requirements, balance, style, etc. etc. Read books, take classes, look at designs and above all listen. It is a fantastic job. Good luck.

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As a drafter who has "discussed" this issue with Richard many times over the last decade

 

I fully agree with his reply 100%

 

to add my own two cents - read every single post on this forum "forever"

 

when I started in 2004 - even before I bought Chief I skimmed the postings for 6 months

and I read prior postings also for at least a year back

 

then when I bought Chief I started reading every single post

 

I joined www.ChiefExperts.com

 

I bought books - lots and lots of books

check out Amazons used books

I bought hundred+ for under $10 including shipping

 

if the newest book is 4th ed buy 2nd or 3rd and if you really find it useful

then spend $$ and get the latest edition

 

start learning every day and never stop

 

if a project is in county A then go to their website or call them

and ask what they require for a permit set

 

it is different for each and every county/jurisdiction even if the state follows the IRC/IBC

 

I took classes at the local community college under audit status

why audit? - didn't save me any money

but I didn't have to take the tests or do assignments I didn't have time for

 

but I attended every class and bought the book(s) and did as much as I had time for

 

learn - learn - learn

 

Lew

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Lew,

While I may have butted heads a number of times with you on other issues, I have always respected your decisions about getting a design education, as well going so far as to join the AIA as an associate member.

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With those basic requirements you shouldn't have any problems, here to by the IRC codes and have to go before a plan reviewer for approval before construction begins, I supply 4 elevations with any notes that are needed, foundation plan with requirements for my area for frost protection, floor plans, flr jsts sizes, clg jsts, and rafters, a roof framing plan, electrical plans, section details

 

One suggestion would be to get a hold of a set of plans that have past muster with local POA, and permitting authorities. The later are usually very helpful in providing you what they want and expect to see on your plans. In many cases the requirements vary greatly depending on the structural engineer used and or the local sub-contractors hired. The previous advise is sound...jump in and start, and use Perry's suggestion to setup templates. In my area, all homes are built on pilings where the "Foundation" is actually 2x12 stringers on top of pilings with sub floor sheeting. My default framing and structure has the pilings on Floor 1 and the sub floor "Foundation" is on Floor 2. The concrete is not structural and only serves parking.

 

I also use a lot of 3D images and slices of the structure to show clients. Many cannot visualize a plan in 2D or Elevation views so, this is where Chief shines. Use this forum for help...guys like Perry and many others are always willing to assist.

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The encouragement and willingness to share information by those on this forum is incredible.

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I have designed several homes and remodel projects in which I handed over my designs to a draftsman to draw up for the permit application.

Now, I would like to learn Chief and draw for other builders and remodelers. However, my biggest fear is making a structural mistake.

 

Do you have Chief X8, and can you access this training video series ?

 

https://www.chiefarchitect.com/videos/breckenridge.html

 

If so, try it out, do not be intimidated by the complexity of the model, it's just

an assembly of routine features.

 

Keep the plan and your practice plan both open as you progress.

 

I am doing it now as a refresher and getting a lot out of it.

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I have designed several homes and remodel projects in which I handed over my designs to a draftsman to draw up for the permit application.

Now, I would like to learn Chief and draw for other builders and remodelers. However, my biggest fear is making a structural mistake.

When I became concerned about structure and starting drafting a lot of engineered wood floor systems I took week long classes put on by some of the EWP manufacturers.   Most are online now.  Look at the APA website they offer "Wood University".

 

http://www.apawood.org/

 

When you can calculate loads and load paths you can calculate your projects so there are hopefully no surprises when you send it off to an engineer "if needed".  The only time I send anything to an engineer for gravity loads is if a specific building inspector requires it.

 

 The drafting part will probably be the easiest to learn, the structural stuff is the next easiest.  Lastly is the design talent.  That takes a little more natural born talent. 

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When I became concerned about structure and starting drafting a lot of engineered wood floor systems I took week long classes put on by some of the EWP manufacturers.   Most are online now.  Look at the APA website they offer "Wood University".

 

http://www.apawood.org/

 

When you can calculate loads and load paths you can calculate your projects so there are hopefully no surprises when you send it off to an engineer "if needed".  The only time I send anything to an engineer for gravity loads is if a specific building inspector requires it.

 

 The drafting part will probably be the easiest to learn, the structural stuff is the next easiest.  Lastly is the design talent.  That takes a little more natural born talent. 

How do you handle lateral load calculations, which are equally important?

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How do you handle lateral load calculations, which are equally important?

The fact it was not mentioned should give you an idea.

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How do you handle lateral load calculations, which are equally important?

 

Richard:

 

since my clients were builders they handled all load issues

 

unless the permit office wanted engineered info

 

then the builder would sub-contract to the engineer for the appropriate info/drawings

 

sometimes we just added the engineers page(s) to our pages for the builder to submit

 

other times the engineer would send the drawings to us and my partner would do them in cad

and then we placed them on our pages

send them back to the engineer for review and stamping

and the builder would sign and submit

 

Lew

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How do you handle lateral load calculations, which are equally important?

In the area of Massachusetts I'm located in we are in a 110 mph wind zone.  There is a prescriptive 110 checklist that is acceptable if all items on the checklist are met in your project so you don't need shear wall designs.  If something doesn't comply with the checklist then it goes to an engineer to design hold downs etc to bring it into compliance.

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Jay:

 

VA did the same with the IRC codes for bracing walls

 

Lew

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In the area of Massachusetts I'm located in we are in a 110 mph wind zone.  There is a prescriptive 110 checklist that is acceptable if all items on the checklist are met in your project so you don't need shear wall designs.  If something doesn't comply with the checklist then it goes to an engineer to design hold downs etc to bring it into compliance.

The WFCM is an excellent manual if you can get projects to meet the prescriptive requirements. We don't know where the OP is based, but around here, I suspect that maybe only 1 in 3 projects would meet the wall offset requirements, as well as the requirements for solid panels at the corners. We also have to evaluate the seismic loads and compare to the wind loads, and use whichever is higher.

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He is here in Indiana. I handle most of my calcs, and for residential, we are still on the 2003 IRC with some updated energy amendments.

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