Free Plans Drawing Software

29 May 2014
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United Kingdom

I am looking to submit a planning application for a simple 2 storey rear extension. Two storey box with flat roof.

I have looked at recent applications at my council and think I could do necessary drawings without spending my hard earned cash on an architect / draughtsman.

Can anyone recommend a free simple drawing package that they use for this.

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I used Google (now Trimble) Sketchup - it's a 3D drawing package so you'd draw the whole thing in 3D and then take 2D slices. Like any software, it has a learning curve so do follow the tutorials. The software is free (you get an 8h trial of the pro version then it reverts to the free version. For basic models you won't see a difference) and has a good support base

Before you even decide to install it, take a look at this video:

It'll help you decide.

Drawing in 3D is massively helpful because with 2D you have to keep the 3D alignment and cohesion in your head. It's much easier to have the computer do that

Tip: Use millimetres
I occasionally use TurboCAD, although that is not a free programme.

Thanks for this information, cjard. Google Sketchup looks very attractive and easy to use and, as it is free, I think I'll download it and give it a try.
Sketchup (the free version) is awesome though for producing 2D plans and eles is pretty limited as you cannot do title blocks or print to scale. There's been a couple of threads on drawing software on here before.
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Sketchup (the free version) is awesome though for producing 2D plans and eles is pretty limited as you cannot do title blocks or print to scale. There's been a couple of threads on drawing software on here before.

Not sure what "eles" is - typo?

SketchUp prints to scale. You have to be in "parallel projection" rather than "perspective" and pick a standard view like "top", "left" etc..

In the print dialog you may have to untick options that alter scale for you (like "Fit to page") and if you just want the current view scaled, you untick "use model extents"

After that, the scaling options should be active

For my recent submissions I printed to PDF, then used the normal text tools in the PDF program (Foxit PDF) to add titles and other bits, callouts listing materials etc. Downside is you have to redo it when you print a new PDF, but Select-All and Copy Paste means it's not a hard job.
You can place 3D text using sketchup - I used this to annotate what room was what, give a title. I also drew scale bars literally by drawing a row of 10 alternating colour rectangles at the right size in the model (a 1 metre long rectangle) that when scaled in the print output met the planning dept's requirements

Yes, the output was a bit crude, in that you can't set the line weights, dashes, styles.. Areas aren't shaded if you use vector output - for all that you need to purchase SU Pro, and use Layout, but the planning dept really didn't mind - they had drawings that were accurate and to scale and conveyed the intended schemes
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I think I'll download it and give it a try.

If youre accustomed to other CAD it might take a bit to get used to - the clickrelease-drag-clickrelease mouse movements drawing style was the first big adjustment for me. The second was Layers - in SU they purely control visibility of lines, faces and groups. If you want to stop suff sticking together it has to be a group or a component. Even if faces/lines are on different layers, they will stick together if SU thinks they should. The basic rule is "group faces/lines into groups or components, then put the group on the layer, not the lines themselves"

Also, remember that drawing in 3D on a 2D monitor means the software has to "guess" where your mouse pointer is in the 3D world - for this it uses inferences to something that already exists like an axis or other part of the drawing. Sometimes you might have to draw a load of lines that you will erase one day, just so you can create a "starting point" for something you will draw. I.e. you drew a house and you want to draw a tree 10m south, 1m east, and 1m below the corner of the front door, so you draw 3 lines that describe that path, then draw a tree connected to the last node of the path, then you erase the path. Guaranteed the tree is at the right place. Or, you can draw a tree, group it so it doesn't stick, attach it to the front door corner, then move it 3 times in 3 different axes to get it to the right place. It makes sense after a while. Leverage the tutorial videos heavily, and ask Qs on forums if really stuck. There are some geniuses out there
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Bloomin hell, I'd sooner do a proper hand drawn drawing than all that cjard. Not that it's for issue to me.
Thanks for the replies.

I have downloaded sketchup , and it works great , both 3D and 2D.

Great on the computer that is , anyone worked to how to print the 2D plans off to scale , e.g. 1:100 in line with Planning requirements.
I still have a tee square and a drawing board that my father left me in his will. A roll of tracing paper, a wooden box with a tray of Ammonia and a lid on top and this yellow coating of light sensitised paper roll for making prints! Oh and a plain glass frame for exposing to sun! He had these things from the 60s

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