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Architect of 30 Years transitioning to CAD...or BIM??

rcm1231

Howdy. Considering the switch to 2D or 3D "CAD" software. My work is mainly high-end residential, transitional to modern in style, we often construct our own designs. What software would everyone recommend? My son is in Building Science at Auburn, and promotes Revit. Thoughts? 

 
Jul 22, 20 6:36 pm
thisisnotmyname

Maybe none.  What benefits are you seeking from changing how you work?    I assume you are hand drafting now?  

Jul 22, 20 6:50 pm  · 
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rcm1231

efficiency, modeling, material take-offs, to name a few



Jul 22, 20 7:00 pm  · 
1  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

Revit, if you can, but it's not a panacea, you will still need to do take-offs manually as Revit isn't perfect. You will still construct details in the old school AutoCAD way, but Revit is closer to building with "things" rather than lines. Plus you get the added bonus of having a 3d model.

1  · 
atelier nobody

Honestly, if you've been able to keep on hand drafting this long and you don't have clients demanding CAD or BIM, I'd keep going. In my experience (I'm a former CAD manager), CAD & BIM really only add value to your work if you're a power user - most CAD users are really no more efficient or productive than they were at the board, and most BIM users aren't really more efficient or productive than they were in CAD.

If you do decide to pull a Bob Dylan and "go electric", I wouldn't spend too much money right away - start with SketchUp and AutoCAD LT or one of the other .dwg-compatible (and less expensive than ACAD LT) programs (I'm personally fond of DraftSight, though I'm annoyed they no longer have a free version). 

Jul 22, 20 7:23 pm  · 
3  · 
thisisnotmyname

This. I began in a fully non digital environment and now 38 years on and fully digital, not much efficiency gain. We architects still work the same number of hours and are no better off financially. We are perhaps worse off because it would take a hell of a lot of old-timey vellum and blueprints to equal the amount I shell out yearly for software subscriptions and upgrading computer systems every 2-3 years. As others have said, if the OP's current set up gives them an acceptable work-life balance and financial return, they should perhaps stick with it.

1  · 
urbanity

graebert ares commander is the #2 for cad program per seats. it does just about everything that autocad does, except for dynamic blocks [autodesk holds a patent for dynamic blocks]. they do have custom blocks with geometric and dimensional constraints. they have perpetual seats with annual maintenance fees. works with windows os, macos and linux.

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urbanity

look into sketch up pro. it's easy, it's fun and it's not complicated. there are all sorts of plug-ins that will give the program some bim tools, including one's that will do material take-offs, estimating, energy.

1  · 
urbanity

by the way, draftsight is built on ares commander with some modifications by dassault.

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rcm1231

Morning. My perception of CAD is that it saves time in drafting, expedites revisions, while providing other benefits with little extra work, such as modeling, material take-offs, etc. The learning curve is a concern, as well as selecting the correct software for my practice. 

Jul 23, 20 7:54 am  · 
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proto

biggest bonus going from hand drawing to 2d cad: expedites editing & multiple versions. 

biggest bonus going from 2d cad to bim: it's a database, not a drawing (no more drawing conventions, no f'ed up references, no conflicts btwn plan/section & cataloging project items like windows & doors into schedules)

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rcm1231

Someone mentioned the "V" word. I do not remember those days of vellum fondly. Thanks for the recommendations on CAD software. None of you seem to be pushing BIM such as Revit?

Jul 23, 20 7:58 am  · 
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b3tadine[sutures]

Look at archicad. Their pricing model is better, can work on Mac and Windows, and people seem to like it more.

1  · 
urbanity

select the best tool for the task. i use archicad for apartment projects and complex commercial projects. For smaller residential and commercial projects sketchup and cad. i do have drafting support and that is considered when selecting the programs to use. look into sketchup for layout on udemy or the book of the same name to utilize sketchup layout for your sheets.

1  · 
Almosthip

Revit is great and because you have no cad experience it probably wouldn't be that hard for you to pick up.

 ·  1
randomised

If you are really thinking of giving up the drawing board, you could also opt for Vectorworks...has kind of a manual feel to it in the way it shows on-screen (lineweights and textures) not sure how to explain it. Works quite simple and straightforward in 2D and  has 3D and BIM capabilities if ever you want to dive into that further down the line. I wouldn’t go with Sketchup AND Acad LT, that’s two programs you’ll need to work with and switch between back and forth, which can be quite tedious. With VW it is all within the same program and the prints look prettier in less time with less to none post-processing compared to Acad (“Pretty” is usually not that important with technical drawings but with private clients and residential projects it helps when all your drawings simply look nice)

Jul 23, 20 8:30 am  · 
1  · 
rcm1231

Thanks for the insight and recommendations. What is the majority of everyones work: residential or commercial?

Jul 23, 20 9:56 am  · 
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mightyaa

I would also add that if you are doing smaller remodels, additions, etc. to existing buildings, ... Autocad is still king.  The issue I've found with Revit is you need put in the whole building, so if you are doing something like a kitchen remodel adding windows, etc. Revit is overkill and time consuming.  

A advantage of Revit over Archicad is support and training.  Much larger base for the Revit folks and plenty of training options.

And another option I'd do; Drafting services.  You give em sketches, they give you back cad drawings, renderings, or whatever you need.  You could even 1099 a remote Gig worker to draft. It might balance with the lost revenue, cost, equipment, etc. you'll face setting yourself up plus give you more free time to focus on other things.

Jul 23, 20 11:44 am  · 
2  · 
mightyaa

I find it hard to believe you've been hand drafting all this time. I too have been around that long... I started with hand drafting in the 80's, but by the 90's it was Autocad with very few holdouts. It became super-rare by 2000. And here you are twenty years after that? You might consider just going into management and making friends at art galleries to get commissions to ink architectural plans for rich people to frame on their walls.

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rcm1231

LOL. I must admit that I enjoy the physical act of drawing and writing. I'm an artist at heart. However, manually drafting an entire set of drawings, even if you use sticky-backs, and Pages to generate notes, is a pain in the ass. So admittedly, any proposed migration to CAD is a double-edge sword.

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mightyaa

You'll like it coming from a hand drafting background... Things like the owner wants to move that exterior wall 6-inches, this millwork across the room, etc. are a breeze with Autocad and computers... with drafting, not so easy I know. Other things you'll love; dimensioning... no more addometers to verify your math is right. But stuff you'll hate; those little things you can't do anymore like a heavier and slightly extended line at corners to give the drawing a bit of flair. Those years of getting your text just like you like... replaced with standard font type. The artistry of the drawing suffers. But... how to put together a set, what details are needed, how to dimension, how to note, and all those things you do out of hand to save time come into play and once you master the software, you'll be a lot more productive than most.

2  · 
midlander

i'm going to guess at this point neither efficiency nor scalability are factors in your firm's business success, since you continue to hand draft.

how much time and energy are you hoping to put into this? it's hard for me to guess how long it would take going from zero to working proficiency in any of this software, but if you haven't factored that substantial time into your plan it might be a problem.

you should consider how you will fit this into your workflow during the gap between starting the software and becoming proficient. even users who were totally familiar working in autocad / sketchup took a while to get efficient in a revit workflow. it's not a single-step process to learn and be effective. literally months to a year depending on your work. it might mean choosing software that can do part of the work very well, while other portions remain hand-drafted.

Jul 23, 20 12:09 pm  · 
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rcm1231

Honestly, over the last many years, especially with renovation projects, we use a design build approach, where most design is "visioneered," and then built by us, in the field. However we are completing a 17 month renovation on a 6,000 SF 1956 mid-century modern home which truly tested the efficacy of that approach. Never again. So in the midst of the 24 hour work days and frequent self-ridicule for incomplete detailing, I began to explore CAD. It's funny when I look back at the early years of my career. I worked for a regional firm who used AutoCad - but only for door and window schedules :O.

Jul 23, 20 5:14 pm  · 
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G4tor

Hardcore ACAD user here. I have worked on residential and now institutional. Barring the actual drafting with the software, another major hump is to digitize your office standards. There are offices who have their own CAD/BIM standards tech onboard whose full time job is to make sure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. I'm of the mindset that if hand drafting has worked for you in the past and is working for you now, then you should stick with it. If you still want to go 'electric', I'd suggest that you hire some CAD tech to go to your office, look at your drawings and work with you 1 on 1 in digitizing your standards/expectations.

Jul 23, 20 5:19 pm  · 
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G4tor

Keep in mind that in regards to Revit, or anything Autodesk related, there will be a recurring subscription fee associated. I'm not a big fan of Autodesk due to their switchover to this model back in 2016 (?). Personally, I'd give Vectorworks or ArchiCAD (same parent company) a go if doing residential.

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MysteryMan

As someone who started using Pin-Bar Drafting & wuickly transistioned to AutoCAD, then much later into REVIT, I can say this: If you can 'crank' using Hand-Drafting, then stay there as long as your clients will buy it.

But if you absolutely have to go digital, then just go all-the-way & dive into REVIT.  The good thing about it is that there are tons of good, free YouTube Tutorials out there for you.  It will just take time.

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rcm1231

Fortunately, I am a one man shop, so the standards process will be relatively straightforward. I have a consulting structural engineer, mechanical engineer, and interior designer, and we are a good team. I bring in other resources when needed. I do agree that consulting with an experienced CAD/BIM user we certainly flatten the learning curve. My biggest decision is which software. I'm currently playing with Chief Architect, and have received numerous suggestions for other programs. Finding time to try out multiple software programs is a challenge.

Jul 23, 20 5:27 pm  · 
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SirDrawsAlot

      I would probably try AutoCAD LT for a project or two. Walk before you run.

Jul 24, 20 10:00 pm  · 
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MysteryMan

That is a crawl. Be a MAN (or a Kick-Axxed Dame) & jump into Real AutoCAD, or go full-Monty REVIT.

 ·  1
SirDrawsAlot

If AutoCAD LT is a crawl, what is hand drafting? Sorry, you're right, I forgot that AutoCAD LT is cheap, powerful, user-friendly BUT much too girly. Yeah, jump from the drafting board into Revit, that's a great idea.

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MysteryMan

I started using AutoCAD in 1986 & can crank out a set of drawings in a heartbeat with it.  That said, AutoCAD on its own is & has always been a 'dumb', drafting program....but, if you want to FLOW, you cannot beat it.

AND, if you were so inclined, you could customize the Hell out of it for your specific group's needs.

NOW, with that said...over the last 5 years, I have been transitioning into a BIM-based / Model-centric / 3D-centric design process because I see the value in it.  I have always wanted to use software to BUILD A MODEL & CONSTRUCT with Objects/Components, etc. 

I staarted out with Sketch-Up because it seemed like an easy package to pick up & with SKP Pro it offered the promise of being able to setup sheets & a drwaing set.  Good Concept, very Poor Execution...SKP ain't quite there.  It's just got a real SimpLISTIC aura about it,  Like designing is all about being 'Hip'.

I finally broke down, bit the bullet...& afew other cliches' later, dove into REVIT...finally,,,after what, 20 or so years of it being around.  BIG Difference.  Much Superior to SKP.  I will never go back to SKP if I can't help it.

REVIT is Very Good.

It AIN'T Great, though.  REVIT is infuriating, espeially if you have cut your teeth producing via AUtoCAD.  AGAIN, REVIT is far superior to AutoCAD for DESIGN, and it seems pretty good for putting together a set of Drawings like a DESIGN TEAM should.


HOWEVER...REVIT lacks the ability for us to FLOW.  What AUTODESK is Piss-Poor at is incorporating the great features of both REVIT & ACAD into onE Package.  REVIT could benefit a lot from the way you can MOVE in ACAD.  It should also incorporate some of the much more intuitive aspects of editing of ACAD.  REVIT is good, but it is often like controlling an aircraft with rubber bands instead of 'fly-by-wire'.

I think that the root problem is that AUTODESK is perennially consistent at not having its LEFT Hand talk to its RIGHT Hand.  AUTODESK has cobbled itself together from who knows how many Software groups over the last 30+ years into an organization that just does not get it.

They are like Disneyworld: 

When I was 6, we went there for the 1st season & returned for the next 12-13 yrs.  The (stupid-axxed) "It's a Small World" ride got that (stupid-axxed) song in your head, then the damn boat stops within sight of the exit & you had to endure that shite for another 10 minutes.

Fast-forward to 2015:  I took my 4yr old Son to Disneyworld>  "It's a (EFF-ing)Small World" still had the same (EFF-ing) Boat malfunction, PLUS 3-4 of the Animatronic, Happy Intl (EFF-ing) Kids were missing heads.  2 or 3 were missing hands - but they were still (EFF-ing) Waving as the (FUCKING) Song droned over & over & over....until the (eff-ing) boat got to the exit (10 eff-in' minutes later).


WHAT THE "F" is Mystery(EFF-ing)MAN talking about???  THIS --->

AUTODESK is the "IT's a (FOCKING) SMALL WORLD " of Architectural Software.  They came up, or bought something  30-35 yerars ago & REFUSE to put the Missing Heads on the Handless, waving Animatronics.  And they haven't fixed the EFF-ing Boat Malfunction after several decades because they make money & have us basically hooked....just like EFF-ing Disney.

Walt Disney was highly regarded as a SOn-of-A-Bitch....those that have run AUTODESK must've studied that FOCKER in detail because they are cruisin' on what they came up with 30-35 years ago & refuse to fix easy SHite that would evolve their products so that their customers would love them instead of thinking that going to Orlando is an EFF-ing Ordeal & a Journey of Immense Stress.

I miss Pin-Bar Drafting.

Jul 24, 20 10:04 pm  · 
4  · 
midlander

i love this unexpected comparison and sympathize with anyone who expresses contempt for autodesks aloof and patronizing view towards product users.

1  · 
randomised

that left and right hand thing might be because Acad was built by Autodesk and Revit simply acquired.

1  · 
apscoradiales

ACAD and Revit, both are important.

Revit seems to be winning the battle, though, in terms of employment possibilities.

Jul 25, 20 10:39 am  · 
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