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Layer/Class management for additions & renovations


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I do a lot of work involving additions and renovations to houses. Once I draw the existing home I like to be able to show a few planning layout options as well as 3D massing.

What is the most effective way to separate the existing from new? Is it worth setting up layers/classes for both new and existing drawing elements or is it simplest to save views of the desired configurations? I've been doing the latter but am wondering if there is a standard format for this sort of thing that I'm not aware of. I worry that by being a sole practitioner without the input of co-workers I may be trying to re-invent the wheel, or may be missing a more effective tool entirely. Any input is appreciated.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Most of the users I speak with that have an existing as well as a proposed/demolition/renovation set of layers, but keep the classes the same. Usually you can get all of the visibilities needed with a combination of Layer and Class options, and often its faster to just create a duplicate layer structure than a duplicate class structure, as users tend to have FAR more classes in a document than they do layers.

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I use mainly classes for the existing, demolition and proposed.

I use layers for the location of works.

i.e. I throw all of the existing building into a single class (I often grey out the existing building, can achieve this with a single overide) onto a layer which represents the storey (i.e. ground floor, first floor, depending on the project). Then all demolition and proposed works are drawn on their respective layer and classed accordingly.

I either use saved views to create the snapshot or control all visibilities in the viewport.

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I've tried both and find that using layers to differentiate between existing, demo, and new is the easiest in VW.

I use a structure similar to that shown in the Alexandria Lofts example project on VW's site:


I start with an "Original" layer (Floor-1-Original, Floor-2-Original, etc.) and model the existing conditions there. Then I copy that layer to an "Exst" layer (Floor-1-Exst, etc.) and move all work to be demolished to the "Demolition" class. This allows me to use the "Original" layers to produce existing exterior elevations and to have as a backup in case I make a mistake on the "Exst" layer.

Then I model the new work on a new work layer (Floor-1, Floor-2, etc.) and have layers for Demo, Const, MEP, & RCP (Floor-1-Demo, Floor-1-Const, Floor-1-MEP, Floor-1-RCP, etc.) for notes & dimensions.

I have all of these layers and a full set of classes set up in a template file that I use to start each project. In that file, I also have saved views set up for each of the layer sets so I can quickly move from one floor to another and from one drawing type to another.

It works but I must admit I wish it was easier. What I've seen of Revit & ArchiCAD makes dealing with demolition much easier.

Good luck.

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I've tried many ways of doing this and have settled on the following:

I draw up existing conditions. Each story has a slab layer and a walls layer. Walls are in 3 classes:




Layers have an EX appended to name

This layer set I use for demolition drawings. Use a transparent demolition hatch. It's much clearer than trying to have demo on same plan as construction drawings. I do this even on small jobs. All my GCs comment that it makes understanding the project and pricing much easier.

I make a duplicate layer set of the whole existing house with new layers having a CD appended to the name. The EX layers are all together and the CD layers are together.

All new walls in the CD layer use these classes:




So, the new CD layers show both new walls and remaining old walls.

I always design on trace paper. A concept is drawn rough in minutes, sometimes seconds. I then draw a design options in the CD building layer set. Each design option is from a copy of the first design option or from the existing (EX) layer. I keep all the design option layers labelled for example:

1st walls CD-1

1st walls CD-2


To print out options use a sheet layer and just quickly change the appropriate design layer to make a PDF. I keep the extra design layers in the file in case a change back to old option occurs.

This explanation is probably too shortened.

(I present all the houses and additions in 3D as rendered models or sometimes as cleaned up hidden line drawings)

Oh, always use saved sheets extensively. Setup standard project templates for all layers and classes.

Anyway, good luck,


Edited by Henry Finch
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Henry, when you create the duplicate Layers for CD and EX, does your CD layer show both existing and new walls? Where I'm struggling right now is with demolition - particularly where a door or window is being removed and the existing wall is being patched. If I put doors and windows on a demo layer and turn them off, I can't figure out a way to fill the gaps in the walls as I don't seem to be able to fill that gap with a new wall 'patch'. It would seem that I would need to create segmented walls to account for removal of windows and doors and then fill the gaps.

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