CJT1963

UK Construction with Chief Architect or Home Designer Pro

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To all, (originally posted on CA forum)

 

I've been discussing recently with CA HQ about purchasing either CHIEF ARCHITECT or HOME DESIGNER PRO & then upgrading to CA. I've always liked the look of CA & their website & videos, but got put off a long time ago now that the thinking was both were not suitable for the UK construction market. I may have even discussed this before on similar forums, so as an update, are there any UK users on this forum that use CA or HDP for the UK market ?

 

Most of the videos I've seen clearly are for the US, i.e. timber frame wall construction, no cavity walls. However in the UK it's the norm for cavity wall construction, either 100mm th'k rendered blockwork or face brickwork on the outer leaf with various widths of cavities ranging from 100mm to 150mm wide. The insulation can be full fill within these cavities or partial fill. The inner leaf also varies, insulation (AIRCRETE) or dense block work 100mm to 150mm th'k or insulated timber frame 140mm th'k. We are also seeing wider insulated timber frame walls with just caldding, MARLEY ETERNIT being quite popular.

 

There are many more variants, however can someone confirm if CA or HDP can undertake these forms, a video showing this would be great to see. In the meantime, I enclose some snap shots from a video I've seen that didn't really say it was CA or HDP but later found out it may be a 'doctored' non-legal version, whatever this means.

 

Over & out,

CJT1963 

 

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In just modelling my house for some alterations I found a number of annoyances and issues using HDP 2017 (not sure if these are applicable to CA premier):

  • No effective door and window inset control and placement as per UK construction. There are workarounds such as changing layers, short wall sections but these bring their own challenges
  • Lack of UK/European symbols/materials even to purchase - yes alternatives can be found elsewhere and created in Sketchup etc, but its very time consuming.  I had to make everything from windows to electrical outlets and with HDP that's an issue as all imported items are on one fixtures and fittings layer.
  • Lots of defaults set to US sizes (larger).  These can be changed and used to create another template but again its time consuming.

Wall types are flexible enough though and cavity isn't an issue - I have 20+ wall types in my design as the house was built and extended over 40 years and its coped fine with the mix of cavity sizes, brick/block types and solid plaster/plasterboard finishes.   In various places  I could have done with better wall connection control but that's something I believe is available in CA premier. 

 

Overall the door and window issue is my biggest complaint as even with very time consuming workarounds and patching over cavity gaps its impossible to get exactly what I need and I haven't got anything out of the ordinary.

 

It's also a little frustrating that the other items above don't need updates to the application itself, just its symbols and setup.  I would also happily pay for some UK specific libraries but there's nothing on the site to buy.

 

 

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In just modelling my house for some alterations I found a number of annoyances and issues using HDP 2017 (not sure if these are applicable to CA premier):

  • No effective door and window inset control and placement as per UK construction. There are workarounds such as changing layers, short wall sections but these bring their own challenges
  • Lack of UK/European symbols/materials even to purchase - yes alternatives can be found elsewhere and created in Sketchup etc, but its very time consuming.  I had to make everything from windows to electrical outlets and with HDP that's an issue as all imported items are on one fixtures and fittings layer.
  • Lots of defaults set to US sizes (larger).  These can be changed and used to create another template but again its time consuming.

Wall types are flexible enough though and cavity isn't an issue - I have 20+ wall types in my design as the house was built and extended over 40 years and its coped fine with the mix of cavity sizes, brick/block types and solid plaster/plasterboard finishes.   In various places  I could have done with better wall connection control but that's something I believe is available in CA premier. 

 

Overall the door and window issue is my biggest complaint as even with very time consuming workarounds and patching over cavity gaps its impossible to get exactly what I need and I haven't got anything out of the ordinary.

 

It's also a little frustrating that the other items above don't need updates to the application itself, just its symbols and setup.  I would also happily pay for some UK specific libraries but there's nothing on the site to buy.

 

Thanks Smn842,

 

As a potential new user, this is all helpful info to me & from your comments, I understand you're a UK user of this programme. This topic is also running on the CA forum, but no UK users have yet dropped in to comment on any issues, so perhaps not a CA annoyance, just HDP. As I noted on the CA forum, I've been using DataCAD & SketchUp-Pro for years now, so I hope I'm experienced enough to also find work-arounds, as you've done. I'll also have consider if this would be such an over-riding issue, that may prove too time consuming to even consider as an addition to my CAD armoury.

 

I'm thinking if anyone has the resources to delve into this a little further for a possible resolve, it would be CA HQ. As you say, they would have customers (& potential ones) who would gladly pay for some UK/European symbol libraries. However, having said that, I've mostly found with most CAD programmes, that I tend to make my own specific symbols. I'll have to look into this further, as typically with other CAD software I've used, it does take some dedicated time to achieve, but I hope it's not overly a difficult task in CA or HDP. I also wonder if users are willing to share some of their own symbols, not too sure if it works like this with CA or HDP ?

 

The inset control of windows/doors within a cavity wall construction, i.e. how far in from the outer leaf it should be placed, does sound annoying if you can't simply control this at the time of creation or even to just simply move it long hand after the event. This from what your saying may not be as simple as I note, not being a user.

 

It might be an idea to save some snaps shot images of these issues, so all can see what we'd like to see achieved, perhaps CA HQ could then offer some assistance or even evoke this to be an update to future releases.

 

Over & out,

CJT1963

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The door and window inset issue issue as well as doors opening through a thicker wall (rather than away from it) has been discussed in a few posts in this forum recently and in the suggestions area so CA should be aware.

 

For users of the professional CA products spending days finding/creating symbols and materials may be fine over a number of projects. However in my case I spent over half the time modelling my house on these limitations and I've not yet finished using soffits to cover cavity gaps around doors and windows.  So given for a home owner personal use case its a real pain to spend so much time on these issues and if I had found a less sophisticated product that could get these core details correct I would have gone with it, but I didn't find these problems on a quick trial.

 

 

 

 

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The door and window inset issue issue as well as doors opening through a thicker wall (rather than away from it) has been discussed in a few posts in this forum recently and in the suggestions area so CA should be aware.

 

For users of the professional CA products spending days finding/creating symbols and materials may be fine over a number of projects. However in my case I spent over half the time modelling my house on these limitations and I've not yet finished using soffits to cover cavity gaps around doors and windows.  So given for a home owner personal use case its a real pain to spend so much time on these issues and if I had found a less sophisticated product that could get these core details correct I would have gone with it, but I didn't find these problems on a quick trial.

 

Hi Smn842,

 

As I'm an Architectural Consultant in the UK, us types spend vast amounts of time just looking at work-arounds when the standard CAD programme can't do what we want. It's mainly all about making a conscious effort in saving items as symbols to use on other projects & repeated adaption & re-symbol saving. Eventually it does save time, but I now see where you're coming from as a home user. 

 

Parametric powered software is ideal for quick building Plans, but slows right down when things have to be drawn long hand. This is generally accepted by us types, unless the software one uses has limitless parametric abilities like ArchiCAD or EliteCAD, however these tend to be really expensive. I think the balance is finding CAD software that can be parametrically easy to use & at the same time be flexible to understand how to draw in long hand effectively for the final printed 2D plans.

 

I'll have to look into this as I need to asses this myself. I know there are 2D CAD tools one can use to draw over the extracted 3D model for your plans & sections etc when finalising the printed 2D sheet/view ports. Some of the items you describe may be better just left for drawing over in 2D for your final printed 2D plans. However I've not seen any videos yet about drawing longhand in 3D, just like SketchUP, for adding items that aren't covered in the parametric dialogue boxes'.  

 

Over & out,

CJT1963

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I started with HD Pro and after a month I upgraded to CA X8.  There is so much more flexibility with CA than with HD Pro -- polyline solids just to name one.  Yes you can start with HD Pro and then get a $500 discount off CA when you upgrade.

Alan

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I would pay for a product version between HDP and X8 (at around double the HDP cost) with some more features but as a user only working on their own home the full X8 is a bit costly.

 

I appreciate the need to keep the two product lines a way apart but though, its just frustrating when you cannot get fundamental items like windows and doors to look like an average house in the UK.. 

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I'm not a professional but american-only objects/windows/doors etc are sometimes also a problem for me.

I think an inclusion of european and international objects (e.g. door handles, major appliances, switches, outlets, doors, windows etc) would be REALLY appreciated in a next new catalogue.  

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However, having said that, I've mostly found with most CAD programmes, that I tend to make my own specific symbols. I'll have to look into this further, as typically with other CAD software I've used, it does take some dedicated time to achieve, but I hope it's not overly a difficult task in CA or HDP. I also wonder if users are willing to share some of their own symbols, not too sure if it works like this with CA or HDP ?

I know that there are some European centric symbols that have been posted in the Symbols & Content section over on ChiefTalk like outlets and appliances.

The advantage that Premier has over Pro or any of the other Home Designer programs is that it allows you to import a symbol, like a light, and actually have it be a light in the software, so you can add light sources to it and whatnot, whereas in Home Designer, everything imported is just a "fixture."

We also can't change how the 2D CAD block associated with the 3D symbol looks like they can in Premier.

However, if you want Chief Architect to provide specific types of UK symbols, make sure to post examples in new threads over in the Suggestions forum (either here on HomeTalk if you go with Home Designer, or on ChiefTalk if you go with Premier).

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I was very disappointed today as I finally found time to look at a trial of Chief Architect Premier X8 and it also appears to suffer from the door and window inset and fitting limitations unless I am missing something.

 

Sure it resolves some annoying limitations in HDP but after all the replies to questions on this forum where its stated how easily Premier manages various tasks I had high expectations.  It just seems odd to have features such as fine grained wall join control and not be able to put a door at the exact depth in a wall without fiddling with wall types and covering gaps with soffits.

 

 

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I was very disappointed today as I finally found time to look at a trial of Chief Architect Premier X8 and it also appears to suffer from the door and window inset and fitting limitations unless I am missing something.

 

Sure it resolves some annoying limitations in HDP but after all the replies to questions on this forum where its stated how easily Premier manages various tasks I had high expectations.  It just seems odd to have features such as fine grained wall join control and not be able to put a door at the exact depth in a wall without fiddling with wall types and covering gaps with soffits.

Maybe post over on ChiefTalk to see if there is something you're missing.

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Well after lots of deliberation over CA product limitations relating to UK construction and the challenges with making workarounds in HDP I've upgraded to CA Premier X8.

 

It's a big cost for a single home project especially with current exchange rates so lets hope the time saved is worth it. Given the time I've invested in my plans switching products didn't seem an option.

 

Premier doesn't fix everything but does make workarounds easier.  So I'll be complaining about door and window inset control on the chief talk forum soon enough  ;)

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