Doug_N

Work Flow

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It might be just me, but I have noticed that as I work on a building and things become complicated, with CA sometimes it is just easier to start over.  With the things that I have learned from the mistakes that I made doing the design, the second time goes much quicker, and with a much cleaner build.

 

Also I wanted to comment on the great help I have had here in this forum.  You guys (and ladies) are great.  Thank you so much.

 

Doug

 

Doug Norton

Whitby Ontario

Canada

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Doug:

 

yes, if I "struggle" thru a task

 

I will often go to the prior backup and do it over again

that is the time I bill the client

 

a few times I have lost my changes and zip thru them the 2nd time

 

Lew

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Doug, that will change over time. I had those struggles in the first year of using CA and would break the model badly enough to want to start clean. That never happens anymore as I know the software well enough to fix the problem or not create it in the first place. Or, if I am in a deep hole the kind folks on this forum have bailed me out.

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The big problem is with as built drawings.  Sometimes the original building is a bit chaotic.  Non standard methods create awful details that need to be captured attach the addition to.  That is the case with the attached file.  Drove me nuts, and I am still not done.  This is a draft. 

 

Just uploaded it as an example.  The builder had gone ahead without a permit, and now I have the problem of making this mess compliant with code.  The owner is asking me to work around what is already done and to change only what must be redone to meet code.  For example on the wall above the stubby roof in the picture was built on top of the roof, even thought the roof inside the wall was demo'd.  Arrrrggggg.   

Renovation Plan MODE.plan

Roof Detail.jpg

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Like Alan said, it is more the end user and NOT Chief related. After having used and taught Chief since 1994, I just draw, it matters not what I am drawing because I have seen it all and done it all, now it is just create, create, create. Chief is merely a tool, not an opponent or evil fairy God Mother, it is an inanimate tool which you control or not from moment to moment.

 

DJP

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11 hours ago, Doug_N said:

The big problem is with as built drawings.  Sometimes the original building is a bit chaotic.  Non standard methods create awful details that need to be captured attach the addition to.  That is the case with the attached file.  Drove me nuts, and I am still not done.  This is a draft. 

 

Just uploaded it as an example.  The builder had gone ahead without a permit, and now I have the problem of making this mess compliant with code.  The owner is asking me to work around what is already done and to change only what must be redone to meet code.  For example on the wall above the stubby roof in the picture was built on top of the roof, even thought the roof inside the wall was demo'd.  Arrrrggggg.   

Renovation Plan MODE.plan

Roof Detail.jpg

Just drag the exposed roof overhang to just inside the wall and you won't see it, and it will still show in sections

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David,

 

Far be it for me to blame the tools. This reminds me of a story about an apprentice carpenter who was complaining about the quality of his saw.  He said that he had cut a board 3 times and it was still too short.  If only he had a better saw.

 

I realize my shortcomings with CA because I have been using it now for just short of a year.  Every time I use it new methods are discovered that make me think, I wish I had known this on the last project.  But I disagree that CA is just a tool.  It is an intelligent tool.  It completes a great number of tasks in the background as you go about the work of defining space to live or work in.  Overall on a scale of one to ten, I would rate this program as an 8.  It does nearly everything that most jobs required.  

 

That being said, there are also some things that CA are really quite poor at.  When you need to do something that doesn't fit the "rules" that make it smart, it is hard to turn them off.  It is hard to do railings for example, and I have run into that problem on nearly every project that I have worked on so far.  Chief Architects creates roof details amazingly well and like magic, can join them together, making ridges and fascia details pop up like nobody's business.  Roof and wall intersections.  Not so much.  Most can be fixed with a few tweaks of the surface material planes with the editing tools.  But sometimes the planes decide to fly, and off they go and you end up with a punk rock version of the building with really bad spiky hair.

 

Do I plan to go to some other software?  Not a chance.  I LOVE this application.  For any of the frustration, it makes my job a complete joy.  I can hardly wait to start the next project!  And the next, and the next.  One other small wish, and this is for the support people.  Autodesk will try and walk you though something.  If they can't they do a remote session on your computer to see first hand what is going on.  That is amazing support, and often with amazing results.  Just saying.  

 

Well enough for now.  I am so happy to be a user, and really happy with the group of users who are so willing to support one another.  

 

One other small point.  I am really really happy that most of my competition are not using this software.  (I hope the Chief Architect guys are not listening to this last one.)

 

Regards from the not so frozen north.  Hotter than Miami today.  

 

Doug.

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I think your experience mirrors mine in the early days of learning Chief. I would seem to cruise through many tasks then I would just get stuck - not because Chief lacked the tools but because I could not understand the paradigm Chief chose to get specific tasks done. Still have a hard time with some interface choices but can get though most challenges with relative ease. Oh yeah, been using Chief for about 20 years...Sheesh...but still learning as us not so sharp tools learn a bit slower than others :)

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Some things I've learned over the years:

 

Every time I take a design in a significant new direction, I create my own "archive" folder in the client's project folder and do a "save as" of the previous version.  Then I carry on with the new design idea using the active file.  If it doesn't pan out, I save it, close it, and move it to the archive folder and go back to the last iteration.  It is easier to keep track of this then to go into chief's autosaves.

 

For remodels and additions:  I begin by creating a full as-built model in chief.  I don't half ass this part either; I make sure it has everything that is of interest to the design and eventual drawings, including windows, doors and features that will appear on as-built elevations, even in areas that aren't going to change.  I save this file with the description "as-built."  I then do a save-as with this file and rename it with the descriotion "proposed."  Now I am free to fly away with all the changes.  It can take an hour or two to set all this up before I even start designing a remodel, not to mention the time on site, but it saves me headache in the long run.  I always run separate "as built" and "proposed" files for every remodel.  If needed, I will convert the "as built" plan to cad lines and import it into the "proposed" plan file to show demolished walls, etc.

 

Organization:

I have created a number of tools to help me work, and they all started as simple Excel spreadsheets that I've added to and have made more complex over the years.

 

I use a project worksheet template that I copy and save-as for each new project.  It has about 4 tabs of code and bylaw review information, a tab for notes, a tab for my timesheet, an analytics tab that tracks productivity, and the most powerful tab, the checklists.  This tab has ~150 lines of items to check over as I do various drawings in a set.  That sounds like a lot, but it is organized very efficiently for the work flow that I prefer, and follows in a logical order to prevent reduncancy and errors.  It ensures that my drawings are consistant from project to project, and helps me to attack a project small pieces at a time, instead of being overwhelmed by it.

 

I use another template spreadsheet for each project to manage assemblies.  Before I copy and save-as, I add new assemblies that I need, so that they are available for the next project.  After it is saved for a specific project, I remove those I don't need.

 

Another tool I have is a project scheduler.  It pulls data from all my active projects, right off their spreadsheets, and puts up a sort of dashboard of my workload.  When projects are complete, I remove them from this tool and add them to a metrics spreadsheet.  I track all my time for specific stages of a project, and sort projects by size.  This allows me to see how efficient I am, and gives me a powerful data set to estimate future projects.

 

After many years of using Chief, I find that I don't make significant mistakes or have to spend a lot of time fixing things.  When I do, it is usually a very marginal amount of time for each project.  So unless I find myself putting in an hour or more at one time fixing a mistake, I don't turn off the clock.  I am human, and I bill for my time, mistakes or not.  I spoke with a designer a few weeks back that was putting in twice the number of hours into the average project than me, and probably spent 35% or more on average fixing mistakes.  He would only bill for the time he determined he was not fixing his mistakes, and would end up making on an hourly basis only about 65% of what I make.  Something that took me a while to value, is to really pay attention to how much time you are wasting on errors, and find ways to fix them permanently.  Learn better methods, adjust your habits, create workarounds, add things to library that you find yourself creating from scratch every time.  Pay attention to where you waste time.

 

Another thing that is very important is to manage your energy.  The human brain has a limited time each day to be able to focus on work that is highly creative or requires a lot of problem solving.  Once you surpass that capacity, productivity will take a sharp nose dive.  This designer was working 8-12 hour days producing plans, was making much less than me, and was spending significant time fixing errors.  I work no more than 3-5 hours per day in front of Chief.  Then I allow for 1 client meeting, and about 30 minutes of business administration.  It is a very short work day indeed, but I find I get more done than if I strap myself in for a gruelling 8+ hour day, and I'm prone to far fewer errors.  Also important is to take regular breaks.  Get up from your chair (i use a standing desk) stretch, go for a short walk, and only work in 30-45 minute segments.

 

Well, that kinda went beyond the scope of Chief, but just figured I'd share some of what keeps me from going insane.

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for remodels I will copy my remodeling plan template and layout template to a new job folder with the correct name. Then you will need to rename those and relink them. My plan template has everything to show as existing (windows-doors etc.) . Once done with the existing I will save as to existing plan as to not have to re-link to the layout. I will also create a cad mask for all floors and put these in the background so when you remove a wall what's underneath will show.. I then change all my existing defaults like walls,doors windows ,headers, beams etc.  Then draw the new, anything new will show up in schedules, materials list, room finish, foundation. it does take a bit of time to separate it all but you'll be glad you did., and now it's all automatic. been doing it that way for ever but with each new release it's getting much easier and saving me time, which is what all about. The thing about Chief is there are many way's to go, everyone does it a little different, That is the mark of a great program.

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Yep, my method is different

 

for remodels, I measure to the 1/16" and model to the 1/16"

but I only model the work area enough that I can show the client the changes needed for the remodel

 

this allows the client to see the alternatives sooner and we can plan with ideas as needed until the final decision are made

 

then I clone the remodel plan and name it as the as-built model

then I strip out the changes and finish the entire as-built down to the level of detail needed

 

this gives the standard two plans and a layout that uses both

but I prefer working on the changes first :)

 

Lew

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