Software Decisions


Pinnacle3D
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I just started learning how to draw construction plans for residential homes and accessory structures a couple months ago. I was in the residential construction industry for 10 years and have had to make a change to a job I can primarily do from home due to medical reasons. I have tried a few different types of software so far and (Revit LT, AutoCAD, CA X10) I am kind of stuck trying to decide which one I am going to purchase.  

 

My current thoughts on each software so far are that AutoCAD is too old school and slow for me, even though I know the software fairly well.  I am also doing only new builds and not working with documents that were already generated in AutoCAD so there is no need there.  I also spent about a month trying Revit LT, which once I got over some serious learning curves I was beginning to see the huge potential and time savings of the software, but I feel the learning curve is fairly difficult for someone that is learning on their own. Then I tried CA and was able to be up and running with the software much faster, it's more intuitive and easier to use.

 

I am having a difficult time deciding which software best suits a draftsman (that works alone) that produces residential and light commercial construction plans. In short, I need a software tool that is going to produce accurate construction plans for review by a city or county in order to get approval for building permits. 3D renderings are also a factor for me as well since I sometimes I will be working directly with clients and not through and builder. I am sure there are a few on here that have used both types of software on here and may be able to give some insight into what may suit me best for my needs.

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I also come from a construction background having a business for 45 years and wasn't ready to quiet, I stated using Chief with version 2 doing design build for clients, this program was fairly easy to use sine it draws like you build, I have no reqrets and use it daily building houses and additions on the computer instead of the field, there is still going to be a learning curve, look into chiefexperts.com, David Michaels Designs, youtube and chief video's, this site is great for asking questions and getting answers from a great group of people all willing to help when you are stuck, hope this helps your decision

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Grew up on AutoCad 2.5 through Architectural Desktop and found Chief met my needs better, particularly the 3D and rendering capabilities which I found far superior.  Suggest Chief.  The new Physically based Rendering (PBR) is outstanding.  Good luck.

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2 hours ago, Pinnacle3D said:

 In short, I need a software tool that is going to produce accurate construction plans for review by a city or county in order to get approval for building permits.

Any software tool is only going to produce what you put into it, so just in case you have the impression that Chief or any other program will just magically generate drawings for you, this is not the case.  Some people do expect that, so if that is not the case with you, my apologies.

 

Chief is a very capable program for producing constructin drawings, even with some significant shortcomings.  Getting efficient requires a lot of training and the development of your own procedures and workflow, as well as assets like a custom user library and templates.  I find it is best to develop these over time as you weed out what works and what doesn't.

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25 minutes ago, KervinHomeDesign said:

Any software tool is only going to produce what you put into it, so just in case you have the impression that Chief or any other program will just magically generate drawings for you, this is not the case.  Some people do expect that, so if that is not the case with you, my apologies.

 

 

Hey, no worries I just didn't explain things the right way.  I don't expect the software to do the work for me and I do expect to spend a significant amount of time learning how to use it for my needs. 

 

Here is a better way to put the question... (let's say I have become an expert with the software) Does Chief Architect have the capabilities to produce these types of documents or will I have significant shortfalls with the software for the purposes I will be using it as described above? When you say "shortcomings" can you describe some of these?

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4 hours ago, Pinnacle3D said:

Here is a better way to put the question... (let's say I have become an expert with the software) Does Chief Architect have the capabilities to produce these types of documents or will I have significant shortfalls with the software for the purposes I will be using it as described above? When you say "shortcomings" can you describe some of these?

I don't have any great examples, but it would be things that we just have learned to work around and patch over.  Nothing that breaks your ability to put out con-docs in a reasonable amount of time or of reasonable quality.  Hang around here long enough though and you will get an idea of some of these items that experienced users commonly gripe over.  But this is par for the course for any software package.  I know a designer using AC Lite who has similar issues there.

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9 hours ago, KervinHomeDesign said:

Any software tool is only going to produce what you put into it, so just in case you have the impression that Chief or any other program will just magically generate drawings for you, this is not the case.

 

Couldn't have said it better.

Thru the eighties I built homes by day and drafted by hand at night, you can imagine how tiresome that became.  When I decided to buy a computer and jump to cad.  I looked for software that wasn't autocad because of crappy plans that I assumed was a result of that platform.  It didn't take long to realize it wasn't the software it was the technician using it.

 

When I jumped to modeling, I mainly focused on softplan, archicad, and chief.  I really liked archicad, but it was way more than what I needed to draft homes.  With chief I was up and running in a little under 2 weeks - half the time it took to somewhat master the other programs - principally, because of the automated framing.  With your experience and some dedication to study I can imagine you doing just fine.

 

 

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I switched to home designer from framer after 20 years.  I LOVE FRAMING!

 

As far as software, I like CA but I still keep a current subscription to AutoCAD LT for those times when I want extreme precision sections, details, or hand-cut roof sheets.  I still draw to "cut sheet" level detail sometimes, and CA just doesn't make that very easy.

 

 

Para-CAD Complex Roof.pdf

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Hey just wanted to say thanks to everyone's responses, they were all helpful. Definitely, a very friendly and helpful forum and I really appreciate that. From what I can tell CA has great support on its forum (Chief Talk).  I do also like all the helpful how-to videos on the website which a lot of other software does not have especially in terms of volume and quality otherwise I spend lots of time on YouTube trying to find good videos which is not always successful.

 

I'll have a look at Para-CAD and Solidbuilder to see if its something that I could use.

 

Thanks, Kelly for the motivation!  I've been using CA for just a little more than a week and you couldn't be more right.

 

And I wish I could draw like your 12-year-old grandson!  Maybe in a couple weeks ;)

 

 

 

 

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David I did that with my son with a smaller version cost me around 50 bucks I think he is 33 know with a degree in engineering and a P.E. with the state we live in, so starting them young is a great thing for him, he also came from an autocad enveyorment and when he helps me with structural issues or does some commercial work for me he uses my second version of Chief which he has also have done project for others that use a file type like dwg or dxf and he still uses Chief to do the projects, so I feel Chief is a very friendl product that has learning curve like anything else but can make things happen, I know at my age not climbing anymore I say that I build houses on the computer for builders and clients keeps me busy, and kuto's to your grandson's for a nice job

 

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Thank you Ray.  I will pass on your compliment to my grandsons.

 

$50 sounds like the price for 3D home Architect.  I remember passing that software out as Christmas presents.  I also remember giving it to a young couple who came to me to build their dream home... he wanted a ranch and she wanted a 2 story... they came back with a 1-1/2 story plan.

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