The pros and cons of designing with CAD



“The art of writing has evolved dramatically with the introduction of technology and the Internet, and it continues to evolve. “

| May 10, 2021

The needs of our customers are the driving force of a project. Oral communication is okay as long as everyone remembers, understands, and recognizes the goals. But people can forget. This is why it is crucial to translate verbal communication into electronic messages and send them to everyone involved in the project.

It is also essential to have systems in place to help organize information for clients’ plans. The information should be organized so that the details go into the plans. Entrepreneurs don’t care how we collect the data, as long as the plans show everything they need. They need to have complete information to do their job – to turn our creative ideas into reality.

Owners also don’t care what we do to keep everything together, as long as they get the results they want. Even if they learned to interpret plans, it’s still up to us to explain how every detail we have written benefits them. They can relate to perspectives, renderings and quick sketches made in a meeting, so knowing how to draw and sketch by hand is a great communication tool.

The art of writing has evolved dramatically with the introduction of technology and the Internet, and it continues to evolve. This development has helped me – and many designers like me – to grow and change over time.

Visualization through handwriting

Hand drawing was a goal for me in college. Computer aided design (CAD) software was not an option at the time. The interior design department at my college was weak when it comes to teaching drawing, so I took classes at other schools and hired an architect to guide me.

It took a minimum of eight hours to manually write my clients’ plans to complete each page. When customers changed their minds about anything, it involved erasing and redrawing details. If there were a lot of changes, it meant redesigning everything. Hand-drawing prevented me from working with more than two clients at a time and caused chronic tendonitis to settle in my right thumb. Obviously, it was time for me to learn CAD.

AutoCAD was the biggest fish in the pond, but it was limited to drawing. The user had to create plans, elevations, sections and perspectives.

Within five years of graduating from college,
there were several building information management (BIM) software available which luckily made it easy to generate all views with the click of a mouse.

Computer-assisted drawing professionals

There are many welcome benefits of working with CAD. For starters, it cuts the time to write and edit the plan in half. You can draft a kitchen or master bathroom plan in about three hours. “Save File As” allows unlimited iterations quickly!

The software also produces elevations and sections. What you want to see appears immediately on the screen after placing an elevation or section marker on the plan, then click the left mouse button. It also generates prospects. Just place a virtual camera from a point of view, drag and click, and you and your customers can see the view immediately.

Another advantage of CAD is that the software creates virtual tours, which help owners visualize the results. The first time I used this feature it helped a stubborn owner change their mind. He wanted a shed roof on his kitchen addition, but chose a gable roof when he saw the difference.

He builds virtual photographs and motivates customer comments. Homeowners can see perspectives at scale and provide feedback on how their project looks like, which helps more clients and increases income. Less time spent preparing plans and modifications give you more time customers, and more customers equals higher income.

In addition, CAD will reduce the workspace. It is possible to work on an ordinary desk or table using a PC or laptop.

And CAD eliminates the need for blueprints. Printing plans on a plotter is better for the environmentis lying. Before plotters, we used plan machines which required ammonia for processing. Storage the needs are also decreased, because you do not need To store paper plans since the plans are on a hard drive.

Hand lettering is also eradicated thanks to CAD. This was the longest part of the handwriting.

Finally, CAD offers the possibility of retrieving plans instantly. Plans stored on a hard drive can be quickly retrieved. It’s also easy to share email plans as email attachments or upload them to Dropbox. Plans and views are visible during screen sharing.

Designers can also create a custom layout that gives a signature look. CAD allows users to draw single parts or import library parts from SketchUp and duplicate details. The functionality of different customer plans can also be replicated, saving time.

Disadvantages of desktop writing

Unfortunately, there are downsides to working with CAD. It requires an investment of time, and the time spent learning how to use it varies depending on previous CAD experience and the time available for lessons. It took me two years to master my first CAD program. The major problems I encountered were learning jargon and understanding a poorly written manual.

It also required a monetary investment. There is an initial investment for software, the computer, a powerful video card, and a large monitor, and the ongoing investment includes software and computer upgrades, as well as computer repairs. A plotter saves time, eliminating the need to get plans printed from a service desk.

It also generates postural pain. Sitting for hours in the same position is terrible on your back! But it was worse to stand for hours, cantilevered over the drawing board. An adjustable chair is vital. The height of the monitor and keyboard is also critical.

Looking back, we can see how far we’ve come. The progress we have made inspires us and motivated, and focused on future growth.

Imagine designing in 3D. Imagine software capable of correcting mistakes or rectifying inconsistencies between different views. Think of software that knows the codes in force and warns us or modifies plans and views. The future of our profession is really very promising!

To note: With love and gratitude, I dedicate this column to Ellen Cheever, who inspired me to follow my passion. I will always remember his kind and wise words of encouragement. Ellen shared a great tip on her first Beyond Basic Cooking class. “On the kitchen plans, show all appliance doors open. This will help your customers understand why you are making specific recommendations. Thank you, Hélène! ▪

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, CAPS, NCIDQ is the Director of DP Design in Oregon City, OR and has over 35 years of experience as a kitchen and bathroom designer. She is the author of the award-winning book, THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling, and has received numerous design awards. Named a 2019 KBDN An innovator, Plesset taught Western design to students at Machida Academy in Japan and has a podcast, “Today’s Home”.


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