CAD, building dimensions

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Scratchin_Mike, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. Scratchin_Mike

    Scratchin_Mike New Member

    Has anyone here used CAD programs to help them lay out their construction plans?
    I've used it before in planning, and been thankful for it. Plus its nice to have a plan to work off of.

    Also, does anyone have any links to websites with standard construction dimensions?

    Windows should be X feet/inches high from base, overall exterior size of 2 floor home, etc.?

    Or am I just taking it to far?
  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    No computer links from me: just posting here sometimes tests my limits. I have a softcover book that I got from the building department in our town when I went to inquire about a building permit. That was some years ago, the cost was about $20.00. Full of really useful info on materials, load ratings for joists and rafters, span limits, etc., etc. If you're building your own house, as I did, a valuable tool, but for most people, overkill. An easier way is to start measuring things around you, keeping in mind the era that you intend to model. For example, ceiling heights commonly varied anywhere from 7' to 12', with plenty of exceptions, all dependent, for the most part, on the date of construction. Nowadays, many dimensions are standardized, but that was not always the case. Same with lumber sizes: that piece of 1 1/2" X 3 1/2" lumber that we call a 2" X 4" actually was at one time really 2" X 4".
    Last summer I built a model of a house for a local museum. I was lucky to have the house still available to measure, along with old photos depicting the way it looked in the time frame the museum wished to represent. I did simple, on-the-ground measurements, counted boards to determine height and upper window sizes, and calculated the roof area from known measurements. Speaking of window sizes, a standard size in real life probably doesn't exist, and in the modelling world, standard sizes are what manufacturers like Grandt Line and Tichy have to offer for scratchbuilders or whatever Walthers or whoever decides would look good in their kits. If you want to scratchbuild windows, chances are you're trying to duplicate a particular prototype. Even for my museum model, Grandt Line came "close enough".
    As far as plans go, some people can't work without them and to others, they interrupt the creative process. For the museum's house, I made a few sketches to work out spatial relationships or engineer a model-building solution. To build the house that I live in, I made dimensioned drawings, both floorplans and elevations, then took them to an architect to have proper blueprints made. After I spent almost $1,000.00 to have this done, the building department rejected the plans because the "professional" had not completed the drawings properly (his error, not mine). After corrections and town approval, I went over the blueprints with a pencil in one hand and that book that I mentioned at the outset. There were so many engineering and structural deficiencies in the blueprints, all introduced by someone who was supposedly trained in this field, and missed by a building commissioner, that I had to redraw and re-engineer almost all of the drawings. The main reason for having the blueprints done was to satisfy the building department. If I build another house, I'll do the blueprints myself. After all, with adequate information and some common sense, it's not really all that complicated.

  3. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    YES! Having worked in Civil engineering, Structural Engineering & Architectural design, I've come to use AutoCAD for everything and don't think I could function without it! All of my coffee table track plans were drawn in Cadd and then plotted on a 24x36 sheet and then transfered to plywood. Also, there are a lot of books out there covering graphic standards for construction but I don't know of any web sites offhand. I've been out of the construction world (for the most part) for about 6 years and am sure there are a few sites that could help. As of now, I use AutoCadd with Mcolor as a plug in to draw up purty graphics for military projects of a wide and varying scope.

    One more thing... a while back, Iron Goat posted a link to a neat Train CADD site...
    Note: for those venemously aghast (hehe) of hearing any noise of any kind from your computer...beware of this site as it opens with all kinds of steam train sounds and plays them for a while.
  4. zedob

    zedob Member

    I have 3rdPlanit for layout design and I love it, however, I'm not an expert and I'm still hacking my way through, but it is a powerful program, albiet not cheap. I will say it was/is worth the $99.99 I paid for it and is actually overkill for my simple shelf layout-to-be. It's great for designing layouts, but I can't see using it for much else.

    I have AutoCad and I use that quite alot for my 2D drawings ( I haven't had much luck with the 3D part of it), but for quick drawings and sketching I rely on using my hand because it's faster for me. When it comes down to it, I freehand sketch in 3D for ideas and use CAD for definite dimensioning. To be truthfull, I have never designed a layout beginning to end on paper or computer and end up going with the flow a lot of times just because spacial relations are easiest to comprehend (for me) when the components (track, boxes/buildings, paper cut-outs,etc.) can be laid out right in front of me.

    I've also used SolidEdge and SolidWorks, but those two are better left for machining and sheetmetal work.
  5. Arlaghan

    Arlaghan Member

    3-D CAD Program - FREE!

    If any of you are interested in a CAD type program, you should check out Sketchup, available for free download from at

    Make sure and go through the tutorials (included) to get started quickly. There are also video tutorials available online, though I haven't tried them out. The program really is very simple to use, and they have a 3-D warehouse of models that people have built and shared of almost anything you can think of (from doors and windows to furniture and building materials) that you can use to build any model you like. I immediately thought of model railroads when I began playing with this. You can use it to design benchwork, layout your inclines, make buildings, etc.

    Below is a picture of a basic light fixture I made for a house I am sketching up just to give you an idea of what can be done.

    Attached Files:

  6. abutt

    abutt Member

    Are you building a home or a train layout? Are you gathering info for scratch building model railroad structures...or your new home? I'd like to know the answers to these questions before I launched into a lengthy answer.

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