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Kevin EarthSoul
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Do you all have recommendations for design software that will allow for planning alternative building practices? Some I have played with allow for custom wall dimensions, for instance... and I can create a 22" wall that is 'straw bale plus 2" finishing on either side'.

What have you all used?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Kevin,

As much as "Auto CAD" hates it when professional designers suggest this...the lion share of CAD work today is being done by Sketchup.

They are an "open source" (not closed and proprietary entity like Auto CAD and others) and even the "professional" version is about 1/5 to 1/10 the price of what was considered "professional versions." This has...in certain circles...becomes a very heated debate (attached to money of course.) I support any company that supports "open sharing" and free education to schools and training programs...like Sketchup does.

Does it have all the "bells and whistles" of "Auto CAD?" Well not yet... (But that changes about every six months as Sketchup gains ground) however, I don't use those "bells and whistles" anyway. I sure don't need to drop $7K for them...that's for sure...compared to free or $500 for the pro version.

I have, in recent years come up against some very large architectural firms, and they would have cost many of these projects the minimum of $30,000 on average...while still requiring their drawings to get PE approval. So the Project Managers would of course ask...if a designers fee is a fraction of that, and both entities have to still get PE approval...why hire an architect? It boiled down to a degree and experience. More and more, the "design-build companies" (especially in historical timber framing) are pushing Architects out, or to at least charge more realistic fees, and/or "team up" with design builders.

So, over all, I would say try Sketchup. You get great support, and it is a "self-paced" learning curve that is not that difficult to master.

Good Luck,

j
 
Amedean Messan
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:
As much as "Auto CAD" hates it when professional designers suggest this...the lion share of CAD work today is being done by Sketchup.

They are an "open source" (not closed and proprietary entity like Auto CAD and others) and even the "professional" version is about 1/5 to 1/10 the price of what was considered "professional versions." This has...in certain circles...becomes a very heated debate (attached to money of course.) I support any company that supports "open sharing" and free education to schools and training programs...like Sketchup does.


I'll second that. Sketchup is the most practical of the lineup. Unless your looking to do engineering analysis I would stick with sketchup. If you need something more specialized I would investigate the many plugins available. Just checkout what these guys did using the platform.

 
Brian Knight
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Location: Asheville NC
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I agree with the above but there are also times when its nice to hand off work to another design professional who may have their own software preferences. I would strongly encourage people to start their ideas, plans or design the old-fashioned way; pen and paper. There is something very impersonal and rigid about using a computer for design.

Lines, shapes and mass create a more immovable mind set when done on computer. Drawing by hand doesnt have to be pretty but it allows for a more flexible and free-flowing design process. Developing ideas on paper before solidifying them with a computer can be a great way of arriving at a better outcome.
 
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