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Drawing system for building project files


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Am trying to set up a system of organising files for small buuilding projects in terms of Classes and Layers etc. to establish a drawing template for our small office. In theory all the information for a project can be stored on a single file and Sheet layers with viewports and interactive layers etc. to create documents. My concern is that files may become unwieldy and over complicated for small projects where full time CAD management might result. Is it best to split drawing information files separately into some sort of Plans/Sections/Elevations logic with details derived from these for eg?? Has anyone already set up a system that works for them or have views about the best way to approach a project drawing system? Don't want to descend into chaos!

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It depends a lot on how many people you'll have working on the project and how powerful your machines are. If you can you're best to keep everything in one file in my opinion. If you have multiple people working on the project or your machines aren't the fastest then you might consider splitting the project up as you suggest.

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Try looking at the BIM sample projects:


Alexandria Lofts is a single file setup.

Ellicott Heights is large multi-file setup.

I believe that if you use a fully integrated modeling approach, then it is not necessary to divide a project up into as many pieces as most people do in a "drafting" workflow.

In a 2D drafting workflow in which the views of a building are not really connected in any way, dividing a project into Plan vs. Section vs. Elevation is a "divide and conquer" methodology that I call a "division of labor". That is, it takes a lot of labor to produce end result drawings because each drawing is entirely independent collection of lines.

In an integrated modeling workflow, as a user "builds" the model, the foundation of the drawings are simply views (top/plan or section viewport). Less time is spent constructing the view, in addition to the needed annotations. In this way a project can be less fractured, in terms of number of files, and any division may be by discipline or expertise/knowledge (arch, struct, MEP, exterior, interior, core, etc.).

Edited by Jeffrey W Ouellette
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I am a sole proprietor working on small projects.

I use a single template file for each project. My template file has all layers necessary for two stories plus basement. It has all classes necessary for all information needed in a typical drawing set. It has sheet layers all set up for all typical drawing sheets with titleblocks, notes, and sheet layer view ports already in place. It also has saved views for each drawing type (demolition plans, construction plans, power & communication plans, RCP, etc.)

I've only been using VW for a year so it's all still a work in progress but, generally speaking, I open my template, start building the model, and the sheets sort of generate themselves. Demolition, floor, P&C, and RCP plans all show up on their proper sheets with correct layers, classes, and class overrides showing as they should. Elevations are SLVPs from the model so they just show up on the elevations sheet. I use section layers or sections and interior elevations. This is a little bit tricky sometimes and the SVP technology in VW doesn't feel 100% worked out but it's worth the investment of time when you begin to make changes.

The only thing that I haven't worked out yet is how the integration of schematic design. In general, I create new design and sheet layers for each schematic design option. I work in 3d from the very beginning so that I can show perspective views to my clients. The bummer is, that when I move from SD options into CD production, I have to manually copy information from my SD option design layer to the correct CD design layer. I tried to use design layers / work group referencing to ease this process but there are some issues with overriding class overrides in design layer viewports in VW 2008 so I'm back to square one - manually copying things from one DL to another.

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I am also a single person firm, and tend to work like Bill's description. I set up different layers for different plan options, with the primary "Floor xxx" Layer being constant elements. This gets tricky if there are significant differences, but has worked ok so far. I use Saved Views to work with the different options. I haven't really looked at the new DL viewports methods yet (I know, I know..).

When going to CD's, just set up the Sheet Layer viewports with the final schematic design layers, or duplicate that layer as a CD layer. There are inevitably elements from the other options that come into play, so there is always some copy and pasting and acommodation, but that is no different than "adjusting" the final design into Design Development. Most of the time I find I have already set up most of my viewports during the design and presentation process, so I copy and psst them for the other (Elec, struc, etc) VP's and I am off and running.

Edited by blackdogarch
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The only thing that I haven't worked out yet is how the integration of schematic design.

We also end up with the same situation as well; where we end up pasting our final scheme into a different "contract" layer, once it's been approved. Our template basically has a few design layers (one per floor) for schemes only, and draw up the schemes next to each other pasting whatever existing floor info is needed. Most of us like seeing the various designs adjacent to one another. Moreover, we have a Single sheet layer called "Preliminary Schemes" which is set up with three columns of five sheets. Row one is "scheme A" row two is "scheme B", and so on. We have the viewports already made up as well.

I am really surprised that VW doesn't emphasize that a person can print more than one drawing per sheet layer. I always thought this was a huge limitation in Autocad. There is nothing like seeing my entire contract set in front of me; all on the screen at once. It certainly makes for easy alignment of titles.


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