Reddrick

Chief Architect versus Revit, Sketchup, and Autocad for traditional conceptual home design and other tasks

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Everyone what do you think of Revit, Sketchup, and Autocad? And how do you think they compare to Chief Architect for traditional conceptual home design, custom complicated modern home design, and detailed construction home drawings?

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Have you read through the forum, or tried a search. 

 

This has been discussed many times.

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Yep.  Been discussed ad nauseam but in a very small nutshell...

 

Revit...more expensive for full version, way overkill and much slower for average residential projects.  More powerful though if you are doing a lot of commercial or complex/highly "modern"/free form residential.

 

Sketchup...cheaper, maybe slightly easier to use for some things, but requires a crapload of plugins and add-ons to do what Chief can do OOB.  Also slower IMO when comparing completed 3D models and 2D output apples to apples. 

 

AutoCAD...Really a 2D CAD app even though there's a 3D version.  Kinda spendy for what you get but it still seems to be the standard for a lot of drafting shops.  I think this is slowly dying though and unless you're already heavily invested in it or working for a company that requires it, I see no reason to start down that road.

 

A lot of us use one or more of the above in addition to Chief to either supplement capabilities or for different projects.  Chief is a good program though and I personally think its probably the best software out there for average to mid range higher end residential.  Especially for smaller shops.  And although a lot of guys use multiple software platforms, I think Chief really can do just about all of it. 

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I'll just add the collaboration abilities of revit and Archicad, I think, is the only real deficiency of Chief over these other programs. 

On the other hand collaboration is necessary on these other programs because I don't think you can effectively and productively work alone in these other programs seeing how much leg work goes into setting things up to be as efficient as Chief out of the box. 

 

 

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In the comparison of 3D CAD software, there are several core questions

that should be considered by the potential user.

 

SIZE OF FIRM
1. Are you a single practitioner

2. Small practice that employs people. 

 

TYPE OF PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN AND FOR WHOM
1. Residential
a. single and two storey mainly
b. Residential one off "unique design" (sloping walls etc)

 

2. Multi-Residential

a. Single storey
b. Two level
c. Multi-Storey

 

2. Commercial - light assumed
a. Single storey
b. Two level
c. Multi-Storey

 

3. Health

4. Industrial 

5. etc.

 

CONSULTANTS USED - exchange of information
For your likely building types, what degree of exchange of documentation do you
anticipate with your consultants? (Structural, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing etc)

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT, STATE, OR FEDERAL project types
What will be the documentation requirements of these bodies?

 

LOOKING AHEAD:
Consider your practice/firm phases in the next 5, 10, 15, etc years of your anticipated practice.

Now in reading the comments from current Chief Architect users remember to  Beware!

 

Those active ChiefTalk participants currently using Chief Architect are I guess
mainly mature practitioners.  Let's be generous and say they may be in practice for at least the next 5 - 10 years.

They may avoid the impact of the exponential change in 3D CAD software. If you are a younger user of Chief Architect you may not.

 

Now consider the rapid changes that are now evolving in software and its applications to the CLOUD use
and to BIM (Built Information Modelling). Will the software you choose be able to exchange data and take

advantage of this rapidly emerging environment?

 

Is it likely or possible your chosen software will allow the integration with the available and evolving environmental software apps.?

Will all the above occur within your selected time frame?

 

YOUR AGE DETERMINES THE USEFUL SHELF LIFE OF YOUR FIRM / PRACTICE
Depending on your age bracket and expected practice life the above factors change accordingly.
The younger you are the harder it will be to pick a winner.

 

 Older practitioners can work with what they have as their client base is retiring or dying. (no disrespect intended)

 

OPTIONS?
So if you are a clever "Venetian merchant" you would hedge your bets.

 

One cost effective option at present is the use of the SketchUp "suite" to enhance your workflow.

This gives you a "toe in the door" to another evolving software program for initially no capital expenditure.

However, the cost of software is NOT in its purchase price or upgrade price but in the
time and energy, you will put into it over the coming years.

 

EXAMPLE - 01
SketchUp.

The suite of SketchUp apps available to complement Chief Architect are:
1. mySketchUp - free (browser use only on the WEB)
2. SketchUp Make - free (capable of using extensions and plugins) from a selection of over 800 to do specific focused tasks.
3. SketchUp Pro.

 

For those interested in reviewing the merits of using SketchUp in their workflow with Chief Architect
my following thread on SketchUcation may be of interest.

 

INTEGRATION of SKETCHUP suite of apps with -  CHIEF ARCHITECT

(Note: I have NO commercial arrangements with SketchUp or any software supplier)
To view the thread you may have to sign into the "free" SketchUcation discussion group, similar to ChiefTalk.


http://sketchucation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=323&t=66668&p=611560#p611560

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Must resist... This is as of X8 vs Softplan 2016 vs Revit 2017

 

Chief Architect 

-easy nearly trivial concepts and you can create basic residential layout right away

-true 3d modeling

-Massive cabinet library and options

-Strong roofing tools 

-Strong layout [also pretty poor templates are provided out of the box]

-Strong tech, videos and forum support

-Strong: easy to adjust the model 

-Provides automatic plan audit tools

-Provides quick import /3D export tools to allow end user walk 3D models

-Provides decent Walkthrough, with colors / textures etc

-Strong AnnoSet / Layerset tools [Quick hide what you don't need, adjust fonts, colors based on what you need or presenting ] 

-Weak: 3D tools to design new solid elements symbols [addressed by supporting Sketchup] 

-Weak: non standard stairs

-Weak: Material list

-So so: floor framing tools  

-So so: Floor options, As builts - are done by basically creating separate floor plan. 

-Avg: Plugins Ruby is supported but limited.

 

 

Softplan:

-Strong Estimation part ( SoftList ) also I believe it is pretensious  

-Strong plan Floor options

-Support for extracting some GoogleEarth data for plot plan.

-Weak nearly every place else...

 

RevIt

-Somewhat difficult to use and requires LOT more clicks and efforts

-Strong BIM

-Strong Documenting

-Provides systems (HVAC)

-Strong collaboration

-Strong plugings 

-Strong 3D tools

-Takes way TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LONG to design something

- adjusting structure after is a pain.

-No audit tools... 

-Weak libraries

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I started out as a Revit user (2 years). 

Migrated to Softplan as completing designs in Revit was taking way too long. 

Used Softplan for about a year when I lost my USB Security Key. Was told it would be $1,000 to replace it. Instead of replacing it, I just went with Chief. 

Within 10 minutes of trying Chief Architect, I instantly regretted shelling out $2600 for Softplan. 

For residential design, I honestly don't think there is a better program out there than CA. 

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Was told it would be $1,000 to replace it

 

It is suggested to get "named insurance" for items like security keys or hardware locks

in case they are lost or stolen

 

CA will replace a broken lock for a small fee

but if lost or stolen they don't have to - and probably won't

 

the cost of the insurance is minimal and is a business expense

 

Lew

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15 minutes ago, lbuttery said:

Was told it would be $1,000 to replace it

 

It is suggested to get "named insurance" for items like security keys or hardware locks

in case they are lost or stolen

 

CA will replace a broken lock for a small fee

but if lost or stolen they don't have to - and probably won't

 

the cost of the insurance is minimal and is a business expense

 

Lew

 

Didn't even think of this. Thanks for the suggestion :).

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Who cares, I'm using Chief right now and don't want to spend my time thinking of anything else.

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Whatever happened to Lotus 123 or Wordperfect?...

Buy what you need to get the job done Today!  If something better comes along in the future, then buy that.

Don't get lost in analysis paralysis...

Worrying about what software will be the best for you five years down the road is CRAZY!

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Good lord ..... haven't we been over and over and over and over again on this software trip.  

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Pick the right tool for the job.  Or, put more colorfully: Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.

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3 hours ago, dssharp said:

Good lord ..... haven't we been over and over and over and over again on this software trip.  

My sentiments exactly, and yet here you are to sneak a peek at what is recommended.  Hard to resist to see what others think.  As usual, all very cogent responses.

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Worrying about what software will be the best for you five years down the road is CRAZY!

 

I agree

 

Lew

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I have Revit in the office three seats. I could write a book about the money and time wasted  in leaning and implementing Revit. We used it for one project. It would have been better to buy a nice boat. I have one word to say about this. Chief... Chief Chief... oops that is three words. If you have no money go to Sketch Up Pro but be prepared for a boat load of plugins that will be more expensive than Chief.  

 

Here is the thing  I really do not get though.. this is A Chief Forum if your not a Chief Fan what are you doing here. I am not trying to be snooty but come on really. There is rivers of ink and mountains of paper expended on Revit and Sketch Up  Forums.  We use Sketch Up to make some models (obj) but i do not talk about it here. Just saying.

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22 hours ago, Reddrick said:

how do you think they compare to Chief Architect for

traditional conceptual home design,

custom complicated modern home design,

and detailed construction home drawings?

 

1. Traditional Conceptual Home Design

I dont think Chief is particularly strong at "conceptual design".  You can save a lot of time using Chief going from concept to construction drawings, but if you had to rate Chief just on conceptual design I would say its poor.

 

2. Custom Complicated Modern Home Design

Chief doesn't have good solid tools to do a lot of "complicated" modern homes.  I'd have to rate Chief the weakest of any software i've used for this specific type.  I'm sure someone is going to show off some modern home they've done in Chief, but the reality is you are asking for "Custom Complicated" modern homes - which is fairly popular style today.  Revit and Sketchup is way better than Chief for this type of work.

 

3. Detailed Construction Home Drawings

I think Chief does a decent job here - but Chief's 2D tools are very much lacking.  That said, if you model your home well you can get a lot from the model that keeps you from drawing in 2D much.  I still dont see that as a "time-saver" but it is the best approach.

 

Even though I would rate Chief poor at #1 and #2, it doesn't mean I think its a bad app.  Like Michael said its probably the best rounded BIM app for typical residential projects.

 

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I have Revit in the office three seats. I could write a book about the money and time wasted  in leaning and implementing Revit. We used it for one project. It would have been better to buy a nice boat. I have one word to say about this. Chief... Chief Chief... oops that is three words. If you have no money go to Sketch Up Pro but be prepared for a boat load of plugins that will be more expensive than Chief.  

 

Here is the thing  I really do not get though.. this is A Chief Forum if your not a Chief Fan what are you doing here. I am not trying to be snooty but come on really. There is rivers of ink and mountains of paper expended on Revit and Sketch Up  Forums.  We use Sketch Up to make some models (obj) but i do not talk about it here. Just saying.

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Yep and that is why I spent overt ten grand to keep Revit in our office. I am not sure I agree on the conceptual weakness of Chief but hey you guys have been at this longer than me what do I know?

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2 hours ago, payettedesigns said:

Yep and that is why I spent overt ten grand to keep Revit in our office. I am not sure I agree on the conceptual weakness of Chief but hey you guys have been at this longer than me what do I know?

 

Chief has some very specific paradigm methods which makes it not nearly as easy free form model or draw like other apps feature.  Its not very easy to place modeling items in a basic form to then plan on coming back and model more specifically later.

 

I do think if you spend more time in the "concept" stage in Chief and end up going to completion you are much further along than other apps.

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this is A Chief Forum if your not a Chief Fan what are you doing here

 

Payette:

 

all civil discussion is valid and useful

 

if all you have is a hammer in your toolbox, then everything begins to look like a nail

 

Lew

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8 hours ago, lbuttery said:

this is A Chief Forum if your not a Chief Fan what are you doing here

 

Payette:

 

all civil discussion is valid and useful

 

if all you have is a hammer in your toolbox, then everything begins to look like a nail

 

Lew

 
 
 

 

Thanks for injecting a voice of reason and sanity into this topic, Lew!  (+1 to you!)

 

CAD software and computer architecture is a dynamic and rapidly changing field.  What was a programming triumph years ago is now regarded as passe.  Any program that now dares boast of "wireframe" views as its top graphical accomplishment is toast, and will go the way of Wordperfect and Lotus 123, as Parkwest noted. 

 

It is becoming ever easier for programmers to write ever more intelligent algorithms that make it easy for relatively unskilled persons to perform ever more complex work in fields they were previously not adept at.  So mere "builders" can now produce complete sets of competent house plans that can adequately compete with professional architects in the lower residential market.  This trend will only continue ... to the point where it will become the norm that the retail client will be able to produce his own set of drawings without any external input, and shop this around to the builders and tradesmen for a quote to "produce".

 

CA is a very prominent influence in this trend, and many on this forum - by their own admission - owe their livelihood to CA for this very ability.

 

My point is that anybody in business for themselves NEEDS to keep an eye on the competition. 

 

If you are a builder, you surely keep an eye on what your fellow building competitors are doing in your neck of the woods.  If you spot that another builder uses a neat technique for getting something done, you quickly learn to do the SAME.  If your competitor is walking away with all the jobs that you also quoted for because of some smart conceptual presentation made easy by a user-friendly CAD program, then you are going to want to do the same. It is both natural.  And foolish not to do so.

 

And if you have invested in expensive CAD software, then it is in your OWN interests that you CONSTANTLY pressure your CAD vendor of choice to DO THE SAME!   The first step in doing so is to always be checking what is better in other competing programs, and INSISTING  that your current program of choice incorporate those improvements also.  ASAP.

 

The more a company actively addresses user-experienced irritations within its own programs, the better it becomes.   Yes, CA can take a hint -_-  And oh yes, so can every other CAD vendor out there as well, but they can worry about that on their own forums!

 

When a company refuses to even acknowledge this customer frustration, then that has to be a MAJOR warning sign.

 

There is NO reward for being loyal to any program.  Loyalty only breeds vendor complacency and smugness - which NEVER works out well for EITHER the customers OR the vendors in the end (eg Wordperfect and lotus 123).

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My biggest issue with CA today is the lack of 3D HVAC routing so I can easily see if my systems are designed well and integrated with structures...I watched videos of others like Archicad with library's full of duct, plumbing, electrical connectors along with easy routing & collision detection tools (the kind of collisions I don't want to be found at the job site I see often from 2D plans errors). It's not easy to even route a gutter. Is there some plug-in or way around this? 

 

Other is everywhere I look SU is included as an import to energy modeling software....Why SU and not CA? I guess since SU is plug and play based more than CA and others?

 

The only other import option is a GBXML (Green Building XML)....you know the "Green" buff word about 10 years old as of "today". Why is so hard and taking so long for CA to add this export? So what I have to do is recreate geometry using the energy modeling tools instead of imported CA geometry. 

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2 hours ago, Jonnoxx said:

t is becoming ever easier for programmers to write ever more intelligent algorithms that make it easy for relatively unskilled persons to perform ever more complex work in fields they were previously not adept at.  So mere "builders" can now produce complete sets of competent house plans that can adequately compete with professional architects in the lower residential market.  This trend will only continue ... to the point where it will become the norm that the retail client will be able to produce his own set of drawings without any external input, and shop this around to the builders and tradesmen for a quote to "produce".

 

With PHIUS as of "today" rapidly growing on all the green sites 372 certified strong as of 2016, the trend or dream of any drafter, builder, or homeowner doing integrated CAD designs software retailers hope for will die. It takes alot more than drawing lines on paper to design one, some like WUFI very complex. Take a look at the design tools like WUFI and other input software for net zero designs CA does not even have a GBXML file export to? http://www.phius.org/software-technical-resources

 

Those softwares take into account energy systems losses & gains it be nice to have in 3D CA. 

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