Owner, Chestnut Hill Renovations
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.