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better tools for renovations and additions

model new construction better tools for renovations and additionsComplex designs require advanced tools to describe them and ensure that there are no mistakes. Renovations and additions present unique challenges for communicating the scope of work conditions and require better tools for renovations and additions. Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems like ArchiCAD (www.Graphisoft.com) help us do this and benefit not only our clients but all other designers and trades involved with the project. As these tools are integrated into our process, they are used to help communicate the concept without having to take extra steps to create the images. This progression of images uniquely shows the progression from the existing conditions through demolition and construction and, finally, the finished home.


First, to help illustrate elements to be demolished, they are assigned a filter to identify them as “to be demolished.” This changes the appearance of the floor plan linework and “painting” the 3D image in RED. The same goes for new construction elements, emphasizing their presence in the floor plan and “painting” the 3D image in green. Existing elements are simplified in a grey, understated appearance so that they fade into the background. These visual effects are implemented selectively according to the desired view. Demolition plans emphasize demolishing those elements and hiding any new construction elements. Floor plans can identify demolition conditions in a dashed red line and emphasize new construction elements.


Of course, these very effective graphic communication methods can be performed using traditional two-dimensional drafting methods. However, the process becomes quite cumbersome due to the duplication of drawing views for each of the renovation conditions. Instead, using Better Tools for Renovations and Additions, these views are created efficiently using a single model and toggling the desired renovation condition. This is a huge time saver, especially when it comes to making adjustments to the design. Accuracy is also improved due to the integrated nature of this method.

Renovation Filters

This unique visualization is only the start. Better tools for renovations and additions also include data for analysis. Rather than manually quantifying elements for demolition or areas of new construction, these filters enable automated calculation of these attributes. Not only is this information more useful, but creating the distinctions between existing, demolished, and new construction can be created and modified, if necessary, quite rapidly.


Before you hire your residential architect, ask them to show you how they communicate these standard renovation and addition conditions. For an example of a project that utilized these to a significant degree, see our Un-Split project in Northbrook, Illinois.
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