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Any Advice for Setting up Walls When 3D Modelling Renovations

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Posted (edited)

I do a lot of home renovations but typically do those drawings in AutoCad because it's quick and easy. However, I then often end up having to model in SketchUp to help homeowners visualize spaces. I'd like to be able to handle the entire workflow in Vectorworks, which I typically use for new builds. I'm having trouble figuring out how to model in 3D in a way that I can show the walls of the existing home, the walls to be demolished and the new construction. I tend to define a set of classes for the existing house with the prefix EX while new construction gets prefixed with CD (construction development/document). This works well for 2D drawing but I'm having trouble trying trying to figure out how to set up a drawing for 3D modelling. Does anyone have suggestions for a seamless way to integrate classes in a 3D model that clearly shows existing, demolition and new construction? In AutoCad 2D draughting it's just a matter of creating a plan where layers (classes) are toggled on and off to show the desired information. I'm having trouble trying to figure out how to achieve this in Vectorworks 3D drawing. Any recommendations or examples of workflow would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Edited by MaltbyDesign
lousy grammar and spelling

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I think each user prefers his own unique aproach of many available.

It also depends on the project and how complex your Class (ACAD=Layer) Setup is.


I personally would prefer to use VW Layers (ACAD=n/a)

I would create 3 Layers for each Story, 1 for each.

Because for me it is easier to switch between states.


That could interfere wich Wall Connections or Slab Auto Binding when being

separated on different Layers though.

Also you won't save much if you want different Appearance and PIO-Styles

per state anyway. In case those 3 states will not need to many extra Classes,

Classes might be the better way.


Beside you can toggle Classes and/or Layers on and off in DesignLayers

(ACAD=Model Space) as well as in Viewports on Sheet Layers (ACAD=Paper Space)

as much as you want. Filters and Saved Views may help for Visibility Management.


And basically I don't see any difference for that kind of Separation of states between

2D or 3D.



I think there have already been some discussions about renovations here on the Forum.

Might be worth to do a search.

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My method:

model the extg building accurately.with seperate Site, Floors & Walls, Ceilings, Roofs layers. These layers have an “- Extg” Suffix in the layer name. Also everything in the extg model is also placed in classes which have a “_Extg” suffix in their class name. E.g. “MODEL-WALLS-Framed_Exterior_Extg”.


Layers will be set to the correct real world RL. 

For demo drawings I just create floor plans, elevation viewports of the extg model and in vp annotations place a Red Cross hatch over items to be removed plus explanatory notes as required.


For proposed drawings I duplicate the layers of my nice accurate extg model and change the layer name suffix to “ - Prop”.


If there is not much siteworks I may not duplicate the site layer, instead just use classes to differentiate extg, demo and proposed site work. 


For the proposed layers I trim out / delete all demo items.

I draft in my new walls, floors etc placing these items in classes with a “_New” suffix. The new and extg classes will have different graphic attributes so that it is clear which is which.


For 3D hidden line render views I often use textures for new walls and roofs which have a hatch fill as part of the texture whereas the extg walls and roofs, if they are of the same material, will have duplicate textures but with no hatch. Hidden line renders will show new walls and roofs hatched whilst extg walls and roofs will have no hatch. This really helps graphically distinguish new and extg in elevation and other hidden line views.


I use other render styles for 3D presentation drawings and in these new and extg of the same material will look the same.


Overall this system works really well for a variety of different project types. It is handy to have an accurate seperate  model of just the extg bldg as with most projects there are design changes and it can be used as a reference point.


Both extg and proposed models need updating if further site measures call for changes however if the Bldg is measured and modelled accurately from the start this is not usually a problem.


As @zoomer mentions this topic has been covered on the forum before so a search is worth the effort.

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Posted (edited)

Sorry for the late reply @Boh . Thanks very much for the detailed response. I think I understand your process for working in plan but with the existing model having objects demolished and, effectively, deleted from the model does one need to have two models? One model showing the entire existing building and then one model showing all of the modifications? It seems to me that it would be really difficult to show both demolition and new construction in a single model.

Edited by MaltbyDesign

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Yes exactly , I have 2 models. As explained in my earlier post, one with design layers which have an “-extg” suffix in the design layer names, the other with a “-prop” suffix.

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1 hour ago, MaltbyDesign said:

I think I understand your process for working in plan but with the existing model having objects demolished and, effectively, deleted from the model does one need to have two models?

Note also, I don’t delete anything from the extg model. Demo plans are simply extg plans with annotations identifying items to be removed. 

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Posted (edited)

Here’s a link to the Vw Recommended Model Setup for Renovation Projects.
It has a ZIP file containing a descriptive PDF along with sample .VWX plans.

Also a link to an old related thread on this topic:


Edited by rDesign
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The link posted by rDesign I also found helpful. Also...


...I create 2D plans, section and elevations from on-site survey measurements of existing.


I draw the plans on separate layers arranged in storeys at specified levels. They are drawn on layer planes.


Then I draw the section on its own layer and on its own working plane, WP, perpendicular to the layer plane.


I draw the north and south elevations on separate layers but on the same working plane. That WP is also perpendicular to the layer plane.


Similarly the east and west elevations are on two more layers, both on a second WP. That WP is also perpendicular to the plans. And perpendicular to the north-south WP.


This leads to a sort of rapid reference model of existing viewable in 3D. Meaning you can see floor plans, elevations and section arranged in their correct planar orientations. With plans are real surveyed levels. But all objects are simple 2D lines.


I can then build a 3D model related to the 2D objects easily. Without having to build a 3D model of the existing. Which is time-consuming. And  hard to do so that it accurately reflects the survey. E.g. of a 17th century stone built house here in the English Peak District, where no walls are parallel and all vary in thickness and by level!


In this example I've switched off two of the elevations. I actually drew the section on the same WP as the N/S elevations. By using the same WP for opposite elevations you can generate the second elevation very easily in outline by duplicating objects and changing their layer. So it makes sense to put the section on one of the elevation WP's to generate the elevation outlines in this way.


As in the link above I use a "demolition layer" mirroring every "existing layer". Then for each pair there are any number of "proposed" layers.


So this method does not rely on classes for differentiation between whats retained, demolished  and new.


Any and all comments welcome!


Example of 2D Model.pdf

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21 minutes ago, thinkingpencil said:

I can then build a 3D model related to the 2D objects easily. Without having to build a 3D model of the existing.

Can you post an image showing the 3D model as well? I am interested to know what it is you are modelling if it doesn't include any of the existing structure. Thanks.

If it's any consolation the buildings I'm working with here in rural Norfolk are similarly anarchic...

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Hi Tom,

In this image I show the massing model (as well as the  wireframe one, made of the 2D objects to compose elevations).

Incidentally in the first image I used a template. So that shows misalignment between the section and the side elevation because there's two projects in there! In this second image I've corrected that so now you can see the section and side elavation mapping onto eachother. There's no fourth elevatoin because this existing building is semi-detached.

The massing model is made from roof faces, solids, and a wall type. Using just a few  "massing classes" (walls, roofs, glass etc).

The wall type has just one component, class "walls". It's width is precisely the same as a wall type with various construction components. So later in the design process I can easily change the wall type to create a construction model.

At this stage floor plans are simple 2D ones using filled coloured polygons to show spaces . You could use the space object for this.

PS I have not been to Norfolk recently. But was in Cambridgshire. They have a local rendering/plastering technique...been trying to google its name, unsuccessfully...

Regards, Mark

Model WF and OGL.pdf

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Just some advice from an ancient VW user. 🙂

Just basically forget 2D...for the most part. It is all about creating a good,  solid, thoughtful 3d Model for whatever you do.Construction Docs and working drawings are an easy downhill slide once you have a good 3d Model. No more drawing sections and elevations using witness lines from the floor plans. That paradigm went out about the time the asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.   

Perhaps you already know this, but I am simply reinforcing it. You update something on the Model and it updates everywhere.


There ya have it.....my sage advice for Sunday !

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Respect. Thank you Kevin.  Advice accepted! I agree that ideally we only ever create a 3D model. After many years of large scale practice I now choose small scale. So I am a designer again, not a team manager. But I am competing in a very competitive local marketplace. If I built a model of the existing building accurate enough for construction docs downstream I'd price myself out of the market place. However...on my next commission I will obtain a survey of the existing building consisting of a point cloud from laser technology. I am aiming to import these data into my VWX file. So, hopefully, making my 2D workaround unnecessary. I'll let you you know how it goes! Mark.

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