SketchUp is a great program for visualizing building extensions and renovations, and creating house plans. We show you how you can import house plans in our SketchUp courses.
With the free version of SketchUp (SketchUp Make), you can simply draw the floorplans from scratch, offsetting walls, cutting out doors and windows, etc. But with the Pro version there are a variety of methods of importing files. SketchUp Pro (costs around A$600) will import DWG and DXF formats. Note that in the free versions of SketchUp 7 and earlier you could import CAD files, but after version 7 this was no longer possible and you had to redraw them in Top view.
When preparing Autocad files for importing into SketchUp Pro, it’s best to turn off all unnecessary layers – dimensions, furniture, etc. Simplify the file to just the walls, doors & windows. Also note that if you have an earlier version of Autocad & need to open a file created in a later version, you can download the DWG TrueConvert tool from AutoDesk.com. Save this as a new file – don’t use your original files. If you don’t have Autocad you can simply adjust the layers in SketchUp itself.
Create a new SketchUp file. Then go to File > Import > Type: DWG > and select the file > click the Options button and Check Geometry > options. Make sure the Units are millimetres (ie. the same as your CAD DWG). Tick Preserve drawing origin (if bringing in multiple CAD files) > OK > Open. A dialog box Import Results will open > Close.
Now go to Camera > Standard View > Top > and Parallel Projection. Note that the drawing is grouped automatically, which is due to the default human figure in the new file – if you had deleted the figure and it was completely blank you’d have to manually group the imported objects. Go to Window > Layers and note that the Autocad layers have also been imported.
To check the scale of the CAD file use the Tape Measure tool (T) to measure something you know the size of, eg. a 1 – metre doorway, or a Site measurement. Note that sometimes it’s not the right size. To rescale it just punch in the new dimension (bottom right) > hit Enter > and hit Yes.
It’s a good idea to select all the layers except the Layer 0 (Shift & click to add) > click the Minus button to delete > you may get the message: Layers to be deleted are not empty. Select Move contents to Default Layer (alternatively do this in Autocad first before importing). Then click the Plus button to create a new layer > name it Floorplan & move the Group to this layer. Select the group then right-click to open the Entity Info panel > open the Layers dropdown. It tells us the group is on Layer 0 > so choose: Floorplan. Then close Floorplan layer. Toggle the visibility tick on & off in Layers to make sure it worked – this will be very useful since it’s a reference only. Right-click on your group > Lock – it goes red indicating it’s locked. You would then start to build the exterior walls using the locked CAD file as a reference.
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