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Pro's Picks: SketchUp

You know a product's good when you wish you would've started using it a long time ago

August 31, 2017
a screenshot of sketchup in action

Mark Zachelmayer

Owner, Chestnut Hill Renovations

Woodstock, N.Y. 




I’ve been looking at the SketchUp 3-D drawing program for a decade but only started using it in my business two years ago. I wish I hadn’t waited. SketchUp’s intuitive interface makes for a short learning curve. It’s designed so that a user can draw accurate shapes right away, then quickly render them in three dimensions. After just a few hours, I was able to draw and render a basic kitchen, bath, or garage. 

From there it’s easy to learn more advanced techniques like adding texture and pattern to surfaces, and how to copy and paste repeating items such as floor joists. In addition, there are online libraries with thousands of 3-D objects you can use for drawings, including tile patterns, appliances, doors and windows, stairways, and even fences and trees.

The ability to render in 3-D has simplified the task of exploring design ideas with clients, and it allows me to easily calculate framing and other details before work starts. For instance, I needed a steel support bracket for a bar countertop. Drawing it in SketchUp allowed me to communicate exactly what I wanted from the fabricator, including the size and location of the bolt holes.

The company sells a Pro version for a one-time fee of $695 (about half the cost of a one-year license for Autodesk’s AutoCAD program). It has additional tools, such as more sophisticated client presentations and the ability to create construction drawings. However, the free version has all the tools that I as a remodeler should need for doing basic designs and customer presentations. 

About the Author



I've been using Sketchup for over 5 years having been fed up with Chief Architect. Sketchup is highly intuitive and allows creation of custom mouldings and architectural details almost as easily as sketching them.

In addition I find Sketchbook Pro very useful as well, especially since it runs on an iPad Pro. Often I will import a site photo and add layers of sketching, notes, and other details to illustrate a project for clients. These renderings typically turn into construction documents to secure projects. The beauty lies in the fact these illustrations can be created far away from a desktop.

Sketchup allows for detailed drawing with dimensions, whereas Sketchbook is a full featured sketching app. Both are excellent products.

SketchUp is the sort of thing that, like cordless tools, quickly gets you wondering "HOW did I EVER get along without this", right?! I've been amazed since adopting the SU platform 6 or more years ago how perfectly suited it is to remodelers, carpenters and other tradesmen and contractors. Glad to learn there's a growing group of 'adopters' who've learned how to effectively use this fantastic 'tool'!
Matt Jackson
The Digital Jobsite Channel on YouTube

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