SketchUp in Home Building

I use SketchUp extensively during the construction of my new house. Almost for every aspect of the construction, from designing to supervising. Some of the applications are:

  • Grand Design.
  • Detailed Design and Technical Drawing
  • Interior Design.

Grand Design

I call it the Grand Design since I am planning to build the house in several stages to match with my budget. I need to have everything well planned so every stage will not look like unfinished building and no building material is wasted.

The grand design is the final stage of the construction. I myself designed the house layout down to the placement Grand Designof bathtub, toilet and walk in closet. To finalize the design, I ask a professional architect to give "the look" of the house by designing the roof and the fa├žade. The architect also provides my with a better main stair placement so it is not only functional but it also blends with the interior nicely.

The architect provide me with 3D design of the house but only in hardcopy, or pdf of the hardcopy. To have thorough understanding of all designs submitted by the architect, I always make a SkecthUp model of every design and send it to with comment to the architect (if a picture is better than a thousand words, than 3D model at least 1001 times better right ..). Therefore, consultations can be done mostly by email since not much verbal communication is required. At the end of the consultation, Architect send me some 2-D AutoCAD files. This is the final input to the Grand Design.

Structural Design and Dividing the construction into several Stages

Based on the Grand Design, I ask a civil engineer to design the proper structure of the house. The structural design is required not only for obtaining building permits, but it also required to find alternatives on how to split the construction into several stages.

StrukturFrom the structural design, it is determined that the house will be built in three stages. All structure that must be build at the first stage is identified in order not to compromise overall structure of the final design.

Detailed Design and Technical Drawing

I prepare detailed designs and technical drawings for almost all aspects of the house construction. From detailed size of windows, doors, and architrave, placement of toiletries, to detailed design of staircases; even to the laying of tiles.


All of the detailed design and technical drawing is made as detailed and as accurate as possible. Some manufactures, such as Grohe and Grundfos, have already provided 3-D models in CAD formats for some of their products. They can be imported into SketchUp version 6.x/7.0.  Some manufactures, such as Kohler, have already provided SketchUp models of their products in Google 3d Warehouse.

Try Googling what you need or you can always make them on your own. The staircase above is a made according to specification from a handrail producer in Indonesia that I plan to use.

SketchUp has the ability to simulate the movement of the sun for every minute of the day to study how the shadow fall to your building specific location. This is very handy to design how to get most out of the sunlight to your building and to keep away heat (this is important in tropical countries such as Indonesia) by adding plantation at specific locations or adding shade to Windows.

Plumbing Design

I myself design the plumbing system. There are four groups of water piping: (a) water that goes straight up to a water reservoir system installed on a roof platform. (b) cold water to supply water from the reservoir system for all toilets and all the first floor water installation, (c) pressurized cold water and (d) hot water (trough a booster pump) for two main bathrooms. A looping pipe design is use to maintain pressure of the hot water supply. Plumbing

Sound complicated? Not really, because I use 3skeng pluggin (free version, valid until April 2010). From the design I can determine all the piping accessories. The focus is on pressurized water piping that use relatively more expensive PEX pipes.

Determining Electrical Switches & Receptacles .

Electrical design and installation is done by designated experts. What I make is just detailed drawing the location of all points for lamps, switches, receptacles and other electrical equipment. Hopefully no extension cord will ever be used in the house since to the receptacles of each room is pretty much in accordance with the IEE recommendations. From the drawing, electrical installations is designed and installed by experts.

ElectricalI use Panasonic for switches and receptacles. This manufacturer sells their product as parts that can be self assembled according to your specification I define function for each switch and outlet and made SketchUp components based on relevant product part numbers. SketchUp can list all the part numbers and their quantity for your Shopping Lists.

Laying Out Tiles and Parquets

In order to have the highest efficiency for floor covering while maintaining good design, all floor covering are modeled in details. Before buying any of the of tiles, I make a detailed measurement of the room and the tile and create a SkecthUp model for the specific room floor.

TilingI use dynamic components obtained from the Google 3D Warehouse. So designing the laying of tiles and parquets are quite easy.

The illustration shows the laying of 60x60cm tiles for my daughter bedroom. From the this model, I can calculate the number of tiles required and which part of the design that are more prone to damages due to cutting. So I can allocate some tiles for spare and avoid buying more than required.

Technical Drawing

For fieldwork, I prepare technical drawing of each of design. It requires some getting used to for the field supervisor to work with 3-D drawings. However, with a little explanation, this obstacles can be easily removed.

Some technical drawing is also be done in 2-dimension like those produced by architects (Especially for works that is done by third parties.)

Interior Design

LivingI also use SketchUp to make some interior design such as: bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, including kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

The following picture is one example of the interior aspect I created then rendered using Kerkhythea.

There are many more aspects of home building that I do with SketchUp. It is more than likely that you will be able to do the same by learning from this blog. Trust me. But beware, it's addictive.



Cyegna said...

hi, glad to know indonesian sketchup addict like you, well sometime me too, when i'm working with sketchup, i feel so excited, and even the design is complete, i'm still try to enhance it..
i brought here by google, while looking a way to add electrical and plumbing elements on sketchup, instead of made it by myself, since i want to know how much cable i should buy for the design.
so if you know things i need please let me know, thanks in advance..

nice blog harry, keep it nice!

Harrynov said...

Thanks Cyegna.
I did use Sketchup to calculate how much cable and conduit required for the house. I created a group consisting switches and receptacles and each is placed at its designated location.
However to calculate how much cable to buy, I just draw a few lines to indicate two and three wire cabling and find their lengths using the entity info and calculate them manually.