[ LONG POST ] - I'm a new user, hoping to ask the Chief community if Chief Architect is the best program for my somewhat-unusual use-case. Would greatly appreciate help.


Ty_Tradeswork
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Hello everyone, thank you for clicking on my post. It's gonna be pretty long, so I appreciate your time and help,

 

I'm a relatively young independent contractor and graduate engineer. I'm trying to steer my life in a direction that will have me designing and building one-off, small but beautiful homes/cottages for clients, and friends/family.

 

In terms of the types of design I'm going for, it's stuff like this: https://pin.it/nByfQTl

 

Modern, highly architectural, often with unusual elements (at least, unusual for residential builds), like slanted walls, display features made of unusual materials, piers keeping the building suspended off the ground, etc. 

 

I have a background in computer-based design, and am already familiar with parametric CAD modelling programs like SOLIDWORKS. Additionally, I've taken about 35 hours of courses in Revit, and can now easily handle all the basics, and create finished projects for simple buildings. What I've started to notice, however, both first-hand, and from forum discussions, is that Revit really isn't geared towards residential, timber-framed, architectural construction. Just trying to build a timber-framed garden shed involves placing every single stud, joist, and beam 100% manually, with arrays and copy commands and the like. Wood-framing add-ons exist, but are phenomenally expensive ($3200 a year was the quote I got from AGACAD's Wood Framer Pro). And heaven forbid you go to change the length of a wall after...

 

I know that Revit is the "powerful but cumbersome" program. I know that everything IS possible in it, but sometimes at so high of a time-cost, that it simply isn't worth it.. This has lead me to reconsider if Revit is the best program for me, or if there are programs better suited to the style of buildings I want to make. This search eventually brought me to Chief Architect. Seeing as I've only invested a few dozen hours into Revit, I don't mind pivoting to a totally new program, so long as its a good one.

 

Now, the reason I'm making this post is because my use-case is a little bit weirder than most, as I will take on all roles related to the design and construction of these buildings: I will be the architect, the interior designer, the framer, the mason, the everything.

 

I will be building these structures entirely with my own hands, doing everything except for the final MEP hookup and installation. (Whether or not this is a good idea, however, is beyond the scope of this discussion. Please just assume that this is what's going to happen). Because of this, I need to create a model that is more detailed than just a pretty-looking box. I need full section views, I need detailed construction drawings, I need proper framing, because the model-making process is the only opportunity I'll have to actually think through the construction, and ensure that my designs are code-compliant and feasible to build. 

 

A lot of people have suggested Rhino 3D, or even Sketchup, but, like Solidworks, these are just parametric 3D CAD programs. They just create objects, shapes, volumes. If I wanted to create a stud wall, first I'd have to draw and extrude a panel to represent the drywall.. then I'd have to draw and extrude a single stud, then I'd have to copy that stud in an array. Then I'd have to draw and extrude a top plate and bottom sill, then I'd have to draw and extrude sheathing, then bricks, then mortar, then....and that's all for a single wall. These programs really aren't meant for building construction... These programs also don't have any of the BIM data that I'll need. I can't create door and window schedules in Rhino 3D (to my knowledge), so how will I generate lists of which windows to buy from which manufacturers, at which sizes? I'd have to do it manually.

 

So then it really comes down to Revit, Chief Architect, ArchiCAD, etc... but I don't have the experience to know which program would be best for me. For the sake of this discussion, assume the price of the base-program is NOT a factor, but, that being said, I don't want to have to buy 28 different Add-ons to get a useable program.

 

If anyone can shed some personal experience with these programs, it would be hugely useful to me. I've tried to do my due-diligence, I've tried to browse the web and read forums and discussions, and I know the "Is Chief Architect better than ____" topic is worn out, but nothing I've read has addressed my specific use-case, so I'm turning to the community here, looking for help

 

Any help or discussion is greatly appreciated, thank you all for your time. 

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5 minutes ago, Michael_Gia said:

If there ever was the ideal end user that Chief was designed for, then you are it. 
 

Chief and Softplan, I would say are your two only choices based on what you wrote. 

 

I would agree, except for this:

 

18 minutes ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

Modern, highly architectural, often with unusual elements (at least, unusual for residential builds), like slanted walls, display features made of unusual materials

 

Chief doesn't do slanted walls. There are workarounds, but basically manual similar to how you described working in Rhino, Sketchup, or Solidworks. Or using roof planes as walls, but there are problems with that method too.

 

Pretty much everything else though, as Michael said, you could do in Chief.

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I have used Chief since the early 90's, and it has improved dramatically since then.  I have also used Chief for both commercial and residential work.

 

In the commercial arena I have found that Revit is fairly straight forward for most of the basics, but it gets complicated fairly quickly when you start pushing the envelope with it.  I actually used Chief to model the walls and metal wall framing in a multi-story hotel and everything went fairly well.

 

What I found with Chief is that if you are already comfortable with industry standard CAD programs, my guess is that you will become frustrated with Chiefs CAD tools fairly quickly.  I am not saying that the tools are bad, just different.  What I do is to use Chief for what it is good at, and TurboCAD Pro Platinum for more complex Solid Modeling.  There are a few hoops to jump through when using other programs along with Chief, but there are ways of dealing with that such as importing PDF files into Chief's Layout.

 

I am not saying that what you are after can't be done with Chief alone, just that from the sound of your background and expectations, then I would seriously consider a secondary CAD / Solid Modeling application as well.

 

Hope this info was helpful 

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I've used both Chief and Archicad for over twenty years. For the type of work you have displayed, I'd say Archicad is the best. It handles slanted walls like a dream and easily allows you to put doors and windows in them, and you can create your own very complex walls with any profile. I'm a big fan of Chief for mainstream projects, but what you are indicating goes way beyond Chief's capabilities. Revit might be okay, but I don't really know the program, and couldn't stand the UI when I tried it. 

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1 hour ago, Michael_Gia said:

If there ever was the ideal end user that Chief was designed for, then you are it. 
 

Chief and Softplan, I would say are your two only choices based on what you wrote. 

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

1 hour ago, LevisL said:

 

I would agree, except for this:

 

 

Chief doesn't do slanted walls. There are workarounds, but basically manual similar to how you described working in Rhino, Sketchup, or Solidworks. Or using roof planes as walls, but there are problems with that method too.

 

Pretty much everything else though, as Michael said, you could do in Chief.

 

Realistically, I'm not going to design an entire building with only slanted walls, so if I have to manually build the one or two slanted walls in my project by hand, element-by-element, then so be it.... I know there's not going to be one program out there that can handle it all. It's still good to know though that you agree with all the rest, thank you for your comment!

 

 

 

 

1 hour ago, RodCole said:

I have used Chief since the early 90's, and it has improved dramatically since then.  I have also used Chief for both commercial and residential work.

[CUT]

Hope this info was helpful 

 

It was, thank you very much for your comment!

 

 

55 minutes ago, Richard_Morrison said:

I've used both Chief and Archicad for over twenty years. For the type of work you have displayed, I'd say Archicad is the best. It handles slanted walls like a dream and easily allows you to put doors and windows in them, and you can create your own very complex walls with any profile. I'm a big fan of Chief for mainstream projects, but what you are indicating goes way beyond Chief's capabilities. Revit might be okay, but I don't really know the program, and couldn't stand the UI when I tried it. 

 

It's interesting that you're the only dissenter here, so far, and with all that experience. Thank you very much for your insight. ArchiCAD is the program I know the least about so far, but when I read Revit-Vs-Archicad posts, it seemed like there were a far greater number of people fanboy-ing over Revit, though their enthusiasm is probably overstated. 

 

What I find most interesting though is that you've said what I'm wanting goes way beyond Chief's capabilities, but the others here seem to think it'll handle it all fine. Not to try and pit you guys against one another, but, do you mind if I ask you to expand on why you think I'm going to run into difficulties with Cheif?

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1 hour ago, Richard_Morrison said:

 but what you are indicating goes way beyond Chief's capabilities.

 

I agree. Based on the projects displayed on your referenced website, it's my opinion that they could be done in Chief, but you will need a lot of workarounds and support from external programs.

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2 hours ago, Richard_Morrison said:

I've used both Chief and Archicad for over twenty years. For the type of work you have displayed, I'd say Archicad is the best. It handles slanted walls like a dream and easily allows you to put doors and windows in them, and you can create your own very complex walls with any profile. I'm a big fan of Chief for mainstream projects, but what you are indicating goes way beyond Chief's capabilities. Revit might be okay, but I don't really know the program, and couldn't stand the UI when I tried it. 

 

Fully agree.  Chief actually doesn't do modern homes well IMO.

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5 hours ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

It's interesting that you're the only dissenter here, so far, and with all that experience. Thank you very much for your insight. ArchiCAD is the program I know the least about so far, but when I read Revit-Vs-Archicad posts, it seemed like there were a far greater number of people fanboy-ing over Revit, though their enthusiasm is probably overstated. 

 

What I find most interesting though is that you've said what I'm wanting goes way beyond Chief's capabilities, but the others here seem to think it'll handle it all fine. Not to try and pit you guys against one another, but, do you mind if I ask you to expand on why you think I'm going to run into difficulties with Cheif?

There are a couple of areas of difficulty:

1) Chief does not do slanted walls AT ALL. You can get something that looks similar with a polyline extrusion or a roof, but all openings will need to be cut manually. It's just not set up to work that way. Slanted windows that are fully scheduled in the construction doc's -- forget it. Archicad on the other hand, can do curtain walls, slanted or otherwise, without breaking a sweat.

 

2) Chief's CAD capabilities are fine functionally, but after you get to a certain point, excessive CAD use in the main file is going to start choking the program. Again, it's fine for "builder's grade" documents, but if you needed, say, 40 sheets of highly detailed CAD details, all referenced to the main file, it will be molasses time. Archicad is routinely used for very large projects, like hotels and office buildings, in addition to highly detailed residences. Chief has generic steel sections, but if you want a W8x36, you will find it in Archicad with exact dimensions for depth, width, flange and web thicknesses, etc. Here's an example of the level of detail possible with an old Victorian, that I really wouldn't want to try in Chief: 

 

 

Regarding the fanboy issue: Revit is more dominant in the U.S., so it can seem like it's more popular, but if you go to the international forums, the statistics change. Dominance does not equate to capability, and I think if you look at some of the more design-oriented firms, you'll find many that use Archicad. Again, Chief is the right tool for many projects, especially in the residential world, I just don't think it's the right tool for what you're trying to do.

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I am in near complete agreement with Richard and Johnny.  You can force Chief to do just about anything but even something as seemingly simple as the slanted walls… if 95% of what you do includes only plumb walls than that one project out of 20 might be worth dealing with workarounds on.  If slanted walls and other unusual or non conventional architecture are going to be more common for you than I would strongly recommend that you consider Archicad.  
 

Even a single slanted wall can cause major complications with the entire model...everything from floor and ceiling connections to wall connections to window and door behaviors to roof connections to framing...the list could go on.

 

Also, if you had already been using Chief for 10 years and were already heavily invested in it, and/or if you had already mastered it, that would be one thing, but if you haven’t even taken the dive yet you’re much better off starting with a program that is more specifically suited to the type of architecture you are planning on drawing up.

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In your website link, these don’t really look to be slanted walls but rather roof planes, which Chief has no problem with. 
 

As far as mouldings and trim, Chief’s room definition approach is much more flexible, automatic and efficient compared to either Revit or Archicad.  In Revit and Archicad, a simple baseboard has to be trimmed around door openings and when you move that door you have to re-trim them. Don’t believe me? Just do a google or YouTube search for baseboards in Archicad and listen for the crickets. 
 

Kitchen cabinets are also horrendous out of the box in Archicad and Revit. Framing, same thing. 
 

No temporary dimensions in Archicad. You can’t just click on a door, window or wall and then click on the temporary dimension to move the item. It’s a cumbersome combination of clicking and dragging from various points on the item to move it.  In any Archicad tutorial you never see anyone moving an item or wall a specific distance. Everything is drawn exactly from the get go, not realistic at all. It’s as if they never need to adjust anything or ever make mistakes. Must be nice. (I know you can use offset snapping to initially place items, you just can’t easily modify there placement) 

 

So why do so many companies use Revit and Archicad?  Well, look at their business model and marketing. They target large firms with lots of manpower because they know that all though their software is more powerful than Chief, for example, they also know that you need a ton of man hours to implement that power. 
 

You are a solo user and are on the job site yourself, Chief is the software for you for traditional North American stick frame construction. Only competition is Softplan. That I’ll leave up to you to explore. 

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As was said, CA would be great except it's more geared to conventional design. Other than that, it's perfect for what you want to do.

 

Don't overlook the fact that you have at your disposal here a (probably) unparalleled resource of master users (not me haha) willing to offer assistance with the software.

 

 

20 hours ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

Whether or not this is a good idea, however, is beyond the scope of this discussion.

 

 

Personally I think it's a simply FABULOUS idea and I whole-heartedly and strongly encourage you to pursue your dreams like a starving lion after a herd of gazelles.

 

 

 

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Thank you to everyone who has commented so far! This discussion has been very informative for me. Unfortunately, it seems like although Chief Architect might not be the best program for my use-case... no one really knows what WOULD be best. Both ArchiCAD and Revit have their downsides. So far, the conversation leaves me with a sense of "Okay, Chief is probably not going to work well for the types of builds I want to do.... but it doesn't seem like any program is well-suited to it."

 

 

 

On 3/17/2021 at 3:27 PM, rlackore said:

I agree. Based on the projects displayed on your referenced website, it's my opinion that they could be done in Chief, but you will need a lot of workarounds and support from external programs.

 

On 3/17/2021 at 4:19 PM, johnny said:

 

Fully agree.  Chief actually doesn't do modern homes well IMO.

 

Thank you both! That's two more votes against Chief, from people on the Chief forums. Counter-intuitive opinions like that are always the most valuable, because if you can get the users of a product to tell you it probably won't work well for you... then that says something.

 

 

 

20 hours ago, Richard_Morrison said:

There are a couple of areas of difficulty:

1) Chief does not do slanted walls AT ALL. 

2) Chief's CAD capabilities are fine functionally, but after you get to a certain point, excessive CAD use in the main file is going to start choking the program. 

 

Regarding the fanboy issue: Revit is more dominant in the U.S., so it can seem like it's more popular, but if you go to the international forums, the statistics change.

 

Jesus H. Christ, that video.. I would never ever want to take on something that detailed, holy. My mind is reeling at the sheer complexity of all the required trims. But also, thank you again for expanding on your points. It's good to know about Chief's CAD limitations.

 

 

 

20 hours ago, Alaskan_Son said:

I am in near complete agreement with Richard and Johnny.  [...] you’re much better off starting with a program that is more specifically suited to the type of architecture you are planning on drawing up.

 

Ahh, well that IS the question, isn't it? Which program IS best for me, for my use-case? It seems like there's not much agreement so far.

 

 

8 hours ago, Michael_Gia said:

In your website link, these don’t really look to be slanted walls but rather roof planes, which Chief has no problem with. 
 

As far as mouldings and trim, Chief’s room definition approach is much more flexible, automatic and efficient compared to either Revit or Archicad.  
 

Kitchen cabinets are also horrendous out of the box in Archicad and Revit. Framing, same thing. 
 

No temporary dimensions in Archicad. 

You are a solo user and are on the job site yourself, Chief is the software for you for traditional North American stick frame construction. Only competition is Softplan. That I’ll leave up to you to explore. 

 

You raise some very interesting points here, thank you. The lack of temporary dimensions is... very strange. I'm going to start looking into that, to see the workflow in an Archicad build. As far as decor and kitchen cabinets go... well, yeah... Unfortunately, even The Sims has better furnishings than most of these programs. 

 

Overall, though, you say that I am better-suited to Chief Architect than another program. What do you think about the points raised here against Chief, by other commenters?

 

 

 

7 hours ago, Chrisb222 said:

As was said, CA would be great except it's more geared to conventional design. Other than that, it's perfect for what you want to do.

 

Personally I think it's a simply FABULOUS idea and I whole-heartedly and strongly encourage you to pursue your dreams like a starving lion after a herd of gazelles.

 

Hahaha, thank you.... what could possibly go wrong?Thing is, I gotta ask, because your first line is leaving me a bit confused.... do you think overall I SHOULD move to Chief, or is your statement more of a "Well in a perfect world, you'd be suited to Chief, but because your main post talks about unconventional design, it won't serve you well?

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23 minutes ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

Hahaha, thank you.... what could possibly go wrong?

 

Oh, pick a few out of potential millions :lol:

 

23 minutes ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

Thing is, I gotta ask, because your first line is leaving me a bit confused.... do you think overall I SHOULD move to Chief, or is your statement more of a "Well in a perfect world, you'd be suited to Chief, but because your main post talks about unconventional design, it won't serve you well?

 

I guess somewhere in between. I know Chief excels at conventional US wood framed residential construction, which is all I use it for, but I've read lots of comments about limitations when you step away from that... which I never do, so don't have much else to add.

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Let us know when you find the holy grail of BIM/CAD programs. There always will be features that another program does better. It may boil down to which program is least painful. I'd suggest whittling down the list to your two top contenders -- knowing what your deal-breakers are -- and then spending some time with each to see how the UI feels to you.  

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38 minutes ago, Richard_Morrison said:

 There always will be features that another program does better. 

 

This is very true.  I find myself often wishing one package had a feature the other has and vice-versa.  It would be fun to pick and choose what features you liked from each to make your own....lol  

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Download the X12 Trial version and give it a spin and kick the tires.;) You can't save the file or print it from the trial (unless that has changed) but you can give it a go - otherwise fully functional.

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On 3/17/2021 at 12:43 PM, Ty_Tradeswork said:

I'm trying to steer my life in a direction that will have me designing and building one-off, small but beautiful homes/cottages for clients, and friends/family.

  


This statement is what I put most of my weight in my recommending you go with Chief. 
 

As for the others that said Chief is not a good option for you, it seems they put too much emphasis on your desire to build “non conventional” and homes with slanted walls as you had stated at the outset. 
 

I guess it’s up to you to decide how often you’ll need slanted walls with windows and doors with framing plans. If that’s the case then maybe Chief isn’t for you. 

If slanted walls won’t make up the majority of your designs then Chief is your quickest and most pain free route from design conception to construction documents.  Revit and Archicad will be a longer and more cumbersome route on a per project basis. 

But as others have mentioned there is no other forum of this kind that will provide as prompt and comprehensive a reply to any issues that might come up where you would need advice as to a solution. 
 

good luck!

 

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Thank you again to everyone who has continued the discussion. I really do appreciate you all taking the time to try and help. Unfortunately, my takeaway so far from all of this discussion (here, and on other forums), is that there really is no one program that can do modern, unconventional building-design well

 

So, rather than just continue to ask the same question, of "which program is best for me", allow me to just ask this one last question:

 

Clearly, modern, unconventional buildings do exist. My pinterest board of photos proves that. Clearly, SOMETHING must have designed these buildings. SOME program MUST have designed the model, and the construction drawings, or else you just wouldn't be able to build the thing... so... what was it? What CAD/BIM program DID these modern builds use?  How did they come to be?  Is the answer really that it was just CAD/BIM drafters brute-forcing their way through the program limitations of Revit/ArchiCAD/Chief with a bunch of unpaid overtime? Is the answer really that unfortunately simple?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 hours ago, Richard_Morrison said:

Let us know when you find the holy grail of BIM/CAD programs. There always will be features that another program does better. 

 

Spend some time with each to see how the UI feels to you.  

 

Yeah, I know, I guess I'm just.... disappointed in the industry. Trillions of dollars flow through the construction and architecture industries, worldwide.... You'd think that industry-titans like Autodesk would be able to put out modern, optimized, streamlined programs....And yet, all of the CAD/BIM programs out there are 20 years behind the times. Chief can't do sloped walls, Archicad has no temporary measurements, and Revit.. don't get me started. It can't even do something as simple as use the GPU to render scenes and load materials, and is instead 100% CPU-based, like a program from 1995. I find it sad that even some bush-league videogames are more up-to-date than these massive programs.

 

But anyways, that's just me complaining. Your advice to spend some time with each program is, of course, the only way forward. I tried modelling the wood-framed garden shed in my backyard in Revit, and it was a mission. I also just found out that you can't use any of the standard annotation tools on structural elements because.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ screw the end-user, I guess. 

 

 

5 hours ago, johnny said:

 

This is very true.  I find myself often wishing one package had a feature the other has and vice-versa.  It would be fun to pick and choose what features you liked from each to make your own....lol  

 

The dream. After seeing how many limitations these supposedly industry-leading programs have, it's starting to seem like Minecraft might be the most powerful building designer of them all :P

 

 

2 hours ago, Michael_Gia said:


This statement is what I put most of my weight in my recommending you go with Chief. As for the others that said Chief is not a good option for you, it seems they put too much emphasis on your desire to build “non conventional” and homes with slanted walls as you had stated at the outset. 

But as others have mentioned there is no other forum of this kind

 

 

Maybe I've been asking the wrong question... now I'm wondering, well, if all of the major CAD/BIM programs have a hard/impossible time handling modern, unconventional builds... how DO those buildings get designed? I mean, something has to be generating the plans, something has to be generating the construction documents.... is it really just CAD/BIM drafters brute-forcing their way through the program limitations with a bunch of unpaid overtime? 

 

But yes, I will say this much, the forum here has been wonderful in this thread :) Thank you to everyone who's commented.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

if all of the major CAD/BIM programs have a hard/impossible time handling modern, unconventional builds... how DO those buildings get designed?

 

I think perhaps you've glossed over some of the advice you've been given.  I don't believe anyone here has suggested that other programs have a hard time handling modern/unconventional architecture.  On the contrary, I think at least a couple of us have suggested Archicad would be a good choice for you.  Richard in particular gave you some solid advice including but not limited to this little nugget...

 

On 3/17/2021 at 9:29 AM, Richard_Morrison said:

For the type of work you have displayed, I'd say Archicad is the best. It handles slanted walls like a dream and easily allows you to put doors and windows in them, and you can create your own very complex walls with any profile.

...and that from a guy who uses both Archicad and Chief.

 

 

Yes, programs like Archicad and Revit have the problems, shortcomings, and inefficiencies, but they are designed to handle much more complex architecture then Chief is really designed for.  Things like not having a "temporary measurement" tool really have absolutely nothing to do with a program like Archicad's ability to model a house shaped like a walnut.  It's just a productivity feature that tool doesn't happen to have. 

 

The main problem with Chief is this...It is extremely quick and efficient at modeling conventional architecture...and possibly even the single best program for modeling kitchens and bathrooms in my opinion, BUT the main reason it is so efficient at those things has much to do with how automated many things are.  The problem with your potential use case is that even adding a single sloped wall to your project could very easily require you lose all those amazing automated capabilities, not only for that one wall, but for much of the rest of the project as well.  You would be forced to go completely manual with everything and draw many components that Chief was never designed to handle. Guess what...that means you just completely defeated the purpose of using Chief in the first place.  Sure a program like Archicad might lack some features or take a little longer to model with, but it was clearly designed to handle the architecture so you won't be fighting the program and instead will be using it for exactly its intended purpose. 

 

Oh, and by the way.  Do yourself a big favor and don't test the programs by modeling simple sheds if you're going to be modeling unique modern homes.  Model something complex that includes some of your intended geometry and architectural features. 

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9 hours ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

So, rather than just continue to ask the same question, of "which program is best for me", allow me to just ask this one last question:

 

Clearly, modern, unconventional buildings do exist. My pinterest board of photos proves that. Clearly, SOMETHING must have designed these buildings. SOME program MUST have designed the model, and the construction drawings, or else you just wouldn't be able to build the thing... so... what was it? What CAD/BIM program DID these modern builds use?  How did they come to be?  Is the answer really that it was just CAD/BIM drafters brute-forcing their way through the program limitations of Revit/ArchiCAD/Chief with a bunch of unpaid overtime? Is the answer really that unfortunately simple?

 

Yes, the answer may be that simple. People design buildings - computer programs are just tools. Usually, you need several people, using several tools, to complete a design. You may wish to do everything yourself - and perhaps you're capable - but each design professional will choose the tools that work best for their scope of work. A surveyor won't use Chief. A structural engineer won't use Chief. Product suppliers and specialty contractors won't use Chief (maybe cabinet folks will). So if you truly are going to do everything yourself, you'll need to invest in more than one tool. In our office, a typical construction drawing set contains data generated from several design programs. We also rely on custom spreadsheets, checklists, and other tools that we've developed over the years. And of course, experience, research, and community collaboration are equally valuable. To Michael's point: you will not find a "holy grail" of CAD/BIM programs.

 

Have you tried contacting the folks who designed the buildings shown on Pinterest, and asked what software they use? Perhaps you could find a local architect whose work matches your vision and directly discuss their technology and workflow; they may charge their normal fee, but it may be worth the investment.

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10 hours ago, Ty_Tradeswork said:

is it really just CAD/BIM drafters brute-forcing their way through the program limitations with a bunch of unpaid overtime

 

You may wish to watch this vid on Revit. Worth watching the whole vid, even this basic overview should give a good sense as to the power of this level of software, especially if you are interested in organic architecture.

 

Revit Modern House - Autodesk Revit Architecture 2019 Demonstration - YouTube

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10 hours ago, Alaskan_Son said:

 

 

I think perhaps you've glossed over some of the advice you've been given.  I don't believe anyone here has suggested that other programs have a hard time handling modern/unconventional architecture.  On the contrary, I think at least a couple of us have suggested Archicad would be a good choice for you. 

 

The main problem with Chief is this.. [...]

 

That was a very clear and concise explanation, thank you. Your explanation of how making a single unusual change to chief can break its automation was helpful.

 

Your comment though, that I might have glossed over some information, made me realize that I very likely could have, so I went back and read through the thread again. It seems that Richard_Morrison, Johnny, and Alaskan_Son all recommend Archicad, so I guess I will buy a course and start learning that program. I'm surprised that no one at all recommended Revit, but I guess that reflects its gearing towards commercial builds.  

 

The only thing that worries me is that, so far, the recommendation to try Archicad has been made solely on the basis of me needing to create "unusual" designs.... but being able to create accurate framing is arguably more important for me. Chief can obviously do the framing in an instant... but only so long as I keep everything traditional....    ... Since I'm not keeping everything traditional, and will need to use a different program, I guess that just means that I'm S-O-L for automated framing, and am looking at manually placing every timber by hand, right? In this regard, I take it most people here recommend Archicad over Revit for manual timber framing?

 

Basically, the only question I have left then is seeing as how I WILL need to use a program other than Chief, which among them have the best wood framing abilities? Or to put it another way, in which program is it the least painful to manually place elements like studs, one by one? Would that still be Archicad?

 

 

 

1 hour ago, rlackore said:

 

Yes, the answer may be that simple. People design buildings - computer programs are just tools. Usually, you need several people, using several tools, to complete a design. You may wish to do everything yourself - and perhaps you're capable [...]

 

So if you truly are going to do everything yourself, you'll need to invest in more than one tool. In our office, a typical construction drawing set contains data generated from several design programs. We also rely on custom spreadsheets, checklists, and other tools that we've developed over the years.

 

Have you tried contacting the folks who designed the buildings shown on Pinterest, and asked what software they use? 

 

(Sigh) yeah... I know that what I'm looking to do is a tall order, I know that what I'm looking to do is usually done by a whole team... but... I don't know. I don't have the money to be hiring others to do the design work for me, so I'm trying to take it on myself, but like you said, there's a lotAlthough I have no basis for this estimate, I'm guessing that designing a complete cottage, with all of its framing and systems, will probably take a few months of constant work, and I don't have a problem with that, I just have a problem with the cognitive load of it all. Learning how to use one program is no problem.... but trying to learn 3, 4, 5 different programs, and use them simultaneously? That's hard. You need one program for the architecture, one program for the framing, one program for the cost estimating, one program for the renders..... just replace "program" with "person" and all of sudden its obvious as to why architectural firms have a whole bunch of employees. And that's not even mentioning that each of these programs costs thousands of dollars that I just... don't.. have. Oh boy.

 

As for contacting the architects responsible for the designs I showed, yeah, that's something I've been wanting to do for years, and I've been thinking about it, but I don't even know where to begin with that one. Still, though, I will somehow find a way to learn more about these builds.

 

 

 

1 hour ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

 

You may wish to watch this vid on Revit.

 

I've actually already watched that whole video, thank you! Although the building looks decently nice from the outside, there's really nothing that separates it architecturally from a normal suburban home. Just four walls, roof and a floor, all plumb and level.

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Late to this great discussion and some very good points from everyone. I've been using Chief for over 20 years for small, residential construction with a couple of fairly crazy designs thrown in and it fits my business model to a 'T'. If I had ambitions of entering into the world of extremely eclectic design then Chief would not be my choice. Even though the program can be stretched to do much more than initially meets the eye some of the steps take many years of knowledge or the knowledge of this great forum to complete.

 

I don't have any experience with other CAD building software because as I mentioned Chief fits my business model perfectly.

 

I watched some of the Revit video above and was once again struck with the amazing complexity of the program for designing a rather simple house. Sure the design is 'modern' but it is at its core a fairly conventional built with conventional wall and roof structures with an ode to modern design. The one thing you will notice in the over an hour long video is the presenter (extremely talented) doesn't show you the kitchen cabinet design and a lot of detail that's shown in the final renderings.

 

Look for a video showing how Revit handles those things and the 'families' of cabinets you must purchase to have even 1/10th the capabilities of Chief and its cabinet and kitchen bath design tools. I'm convinced that the house shown in the video could be created by an expert Chief user in half the time with excellent results. The down sides with Chief are that with the complexity of Revit comes the detailing and other capabilities that Chief lacks. But as far as designing that 'modern' structure, which again is only modern in design but not structure, give me Chief all day long. For truly eclectic designs Chief will be difficult but for a house like that shown in the video Chief won't even break a sweat.

 

Best of luck in your search and again the previous advice has been very valuable and hope this might help a little as well.

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