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#1 Kerry Calvert

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Posted 27 February 2021 - 05:46 PM

First let me start off saying I love SoftPlan and have for the last 25+ years however more and more these days I find myself competing with AutoCAD based firms for clients.

 

Often when companies find out that I don't use AutoCAD they won't even talk to me.  AutoDESK has done such a good job marketing their products they have become the generic names for CAD and anything that is not AutoCAD is just crap!

 

Tech schools teach AutoCAD so young people start their careers expecting to use AutoCAD or worse yet Revit in the work place so businesses convert to AutoDESK because it is easy to get previously trained employees not because AutoCAD is the more appropriate software for the task at hand.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions how I can compete with the "AutoCAD" mind set?   

 

I am so darned frustrated, how can we fight it?

 

 

 



#2 Jason Bishop

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Posted 27 February 2021 - 09:02 PM

Softplan is my secret weapon.......

Ask them how long it takes to produce a set of plans in Autocad.......there is NO comparison.

Time is money these days.........90% percent of my builders switch to me because of the time savings.
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#3 Joseph Smith

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Posted 27 February 2021 - 10:29 PM

I think the comparison being made is misleading, isn't comparing apples to apples.  Jason is correct, no comparison the speed and efficiency of residential and light commercial drafting in SP vs. Acad comparison.  Acad is an amazing cad utility tool but not refined for documents in our field.  Speed and efficiency are what I market with SoftPlan, the 'wow' factor is a bonus.

 

Kerry, maybe adjust your target clients.  I've found that linking up with smaller lumber yards and builders is great, you'll be overbooked with work in no time. 

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#4 Don Gibbons

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 05:06 AM

I think I've only been asked a few times and still got the work. A new builder for me asked if I could use their designer's autocad files and I told them I could import the file and convert the floor plans, not an issue. They didn't bat an eye when I told them there would be a little extra time because it's all lines and I need to convert those to walls. 



#5 David Zawadzki

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 09:10 AM

I think I've only been asked a few times and still got the work. A new builder for me asked if I could use their designer's autocad files and I told them I could import the file and convert the floor plans, not an issue. They didn't bat an eye when I told them there would be a little extra time because it's all lines and I need to convert those to walls.


I have found it quicker, easier, and less chance of errors to just trace over a PDF of someone else’s floor plans.
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#6 Don Gibbons

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 10:20 AM

David, a couple things that might help you:

1) SoftPlan can import PDF's as Shapes. You can then set your walls Trace Line option to what suites best and then trace the floor plan. I use this when I don't have a cad file.

2) From a DXF file, 'Monolithic' walls are created. I use the change wall command and select the position. It also includes openings and the width is correct, just need to edit some of them for height.


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#7 Kerry Calvert

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 11:25 AM

I think the comparison being made is misleading, isn't comparing apples to apples.  Jason is correct, no comparison the speed and efficiency of residential and light commercial drafting in SP vs. Acad comparison.  Acad is an amazing cad utility tool but not refined for documents in our field.  Speed and efficiency are what I market with SoftPlan, the 'wow' factor is a bonus.

 

Kerry, maybe adjust your target clients.  I've found that linking up with smaller lumber yards and builders is great, you'll be overbooked with work in no time. 

Hi Joseph thanks for the input.

 

Unfortunately the local technical institutes have flooded the local market with inexperienced AutoCAD users that will work for minimum wage.   I have worked with four mid sized builders who would rather pay to fix design errors on site than pay to have accurate drawings prior to starting construction.  All four of these builders used Softplan just like AutoCAD not one of them used Softplan to generate elevations they were all created with shapes.

 

One of the highly thought of builders in my area built 97 houses one year but had to spend over $150,000ca dealing with drawing errors on site.  He wasn't happy but this was acceptable, the thought of spending a little extra for technically accurate detailed drawings prior to construction was unconceivable.  When I showed him all the errors on his master plans he took offence and said that they have worked fine for years.

 

When I started working with one company one of their senior designers had been with them for 4 1/2 years still thought a 2"x 4" was actually 2"x 4" they had reconfigured SoftPlan standard walls to reflect this mind set. 2"x 8" walls were being drawn 8" thick. They had nine show homes at that time all with tub installation issues because their bathrooms were too wide and tubs were being installed tight to one wall with gaps 1/2"-3/4" from the other wall.


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#8 Sam Morgan

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 01:20 PM

Ask one of those autocad guys to show you their interior and exterior 3D renderings and complete material list.


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#9 Jon Davis

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 08:03 AM

I agree for residential drafting and plans, softplan is the way to go. CAD and Revit are both really powerful but they aren't geared to do what SP is when it comes to lighting/electrical plans, ceiling joist, roof framing, etc... etc.. Not to mention parts lists that are auto generated to go with these tools. 

 

Now, if you're going to be doing a LOT of modeling from scratch, then Revit is the way to go in my opinion. Much easier, since that's what it's geared for. But that's more from an engineering stand point than residential construction. 



#10 David Zawadzki

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:02 AM

My oldest son went to college on a baseball scholarship back in late 90’s. He thought he would take an easy class for him since he had been designing houses on my computer since he was 14 using SoftPlan. The class was called Architectural CAD for Residential Building.

After a couple months my son told me that drafting class was the most boring waste of time of all his classes. I was surprised until he told me they were using Autocad and so far all they had drawn were a box, square, rectangle and circle. He asked me to send him a demo disk with SoftPlan on it.

He gave the demo disk to his instructor and after the instructor watched SoftPlan in action he informed my son that he had no idea there was a software out there that made home designing so quick and easy.

Do you think the college switched software? No! They continued to use Autocad. That is the problem we face when trying to hire a draftsman too.
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#11 Chris Proost

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:39 AM

David, I can only assume AutoCad provides their software to these schools for free to corner the market once these kids have graduated. I've used both and SoftPlan is the way to go for residential building. SoftPlan needs to step up their game and get this software in the hands of some of these technical schools.


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#12 Jon Davis

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 11:21 AM

It's not (or wasn't when I was in school) provided to the school for free. We actually updated all the computers in the lab (I helped out) while I Was a student to the then latest version of CAD. It was heavily discounted and an educational version, but it wasn't free. 

 

If you major in something where CAD is more or less an elective you don't learn very much. The firm I use to work for would hire intern architects, in architecture school, that I then in turn had to Teach how to use CAD, b/c it's apparently not something you learn. 

 

I value my 2 year degree in CAD 



#13 Don Gibbons

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 06:14 PM

I think one of the problems is that the colleges have a narrow vision of what's needed. Given the choice between a free hammer and a $100.00 air nailer, they always choose the free hammer. Now, this is a pretty broad brush I just painted with and there are some exceptions to the rule.

I think to properly equip students for the real world, in a non-partisan way, they should teach both in first year and if a specialization option is offered, expand the beginner courses to the appropriate stream.



#14 Dennis Fletcher

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 03:09 PM

I use both AutoCAD and SoftPlan. I love both for specific reasons.

There have been several times when I drew a small addition so I used AutoCAD. I have it on my tablet, so I did my as-built measurements there, which transfered to my computer, making the drawing time much faster. Not to mention, I've been drafting on AutoCAD since 1995, so I can be very fast. (Not as fast as SP, but fast enough)

I used SP back when it was 14, I believe, then got a job where AutoCAD was all that was used. SOm, until 1 1/2 years ago, didn't touch SP. I recently went back and am getting my feet back under me with it and find that I love the speed and accuracy of SP. 

I still use the AutoCAD though, because of familiarity.



#15 Dan Campion

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 05:58 AM

I have been using AutoCAD since 1996 and am beyond frustrated with Softplan.  I can see the benefits to the program, but the learning process is ridiculous.  Yes, I've watched the Friday Fundamentals and payed for the online classes too.  The book that came with the software is a joke.  I can't find any current Softplan instruction manuals to buy.  The classes I've watched don't seem to touch on the really important items - like how a roof should "reference" a wall, or where the 0'-0" point in elevation is on each floor plan - the really important stuff that isn't covered in the manual.  Instead they seem to be more worried about crown molding and the color of the fridge.  A response from the Softplan+ tech guys can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days - not ideal when you're up against deadlines.  I've had three house projects this month that I had to abandon on Softplan and go back to AutoCAD just to get them done.  One was a simple garage with living quarters and a shed dormer above - after fighting with it on Softplan for 5 days, I went back to AutoCAD and had it finished in 90 minutes

 

The best source of info I've found is this forum - so thanks for all that you guys do. 

 

Our company is willing to hire a trainer to come in and work with the designers in our company, as they are all self taught and fighting with the software too.  Softplan apparently doesn't offer anything like this, and the only company we can find that does is Softplan University.  Anyone have any experience with them?  Or any other suggestions?  None of the local vo-tech schools teach Softplan anymore. 

 

Any other training suggestions or ideas?  



#16 Warren Ducote

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 06:52 AM

I somewhat have to agree with Dan on the difficulty of learning Softplan. It can take years to become proficient. Softplan has really failed when it comes to training new users. Years ago, the absolute best training that I received was in person Training Seminars put on by Randy Cohn and Thomas Roman. I just can not overstate how much you could learn about Softplan in a few days. Sitting in a Conference Room with thirty or forty Softplan users discussing features of the product was invaluable. Someone at Softplan needs to pick up the Battle Flag and organize these in person seminars again.


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#17 David Johnson

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 07:14 AM

Dan, I understand the frustration. I came from 10 years of AutoCAD experience and just started learning SP about 5 months ago. It was completely foreign to me, and I would get so irritated trying to do things in SP that were so fast and simple in AutoCAD. I think the trick is to just keep working in SP, going through all the training videos and drawing along with them, and finding other online resources to help teach SP basics. This forum has been a huge help to me and my learning curve, and I have gotten more and more proficient as I continued working with the software. There are still things I am figuring out, and there are a few things that AutoCAD simply does better (in my opinion), but overall I have learned that there is no way AutoCAD could handle creating a full on set of detailed plans with a working 3D model the way SP does. I am pretty much self-taught, my first 3 weeks on the job here COVID was making the rounds through the office, so I did not have anyone here to help me out while learning. If I can muddle my way through it, anybody can!



#18 Keith Almond

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 10:55 AM

I suppose it's what you get used to ...

 

I learnt Softplan (V5) before I ever used AutoCAD, and found it extremely intuitive. Conversely, I found (and still do) AutoCAD to be very awkward and clunky. I used AutoCAD professionally for 10 years, and now if i need to do anything (12 years later), I can't remember how it works, or what (or where) the commands are. Even with all the changes over the years, I still find that Softplan is intuitive.


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#19 Dan Campion

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 11:15 AM

@Keith - I get it.  I think it'll be great once I get it figured out.  There are just so many goofy, obscure options, commands, and boxes to check in order to get things to work out correctly.  Every time I have trouble I find out about another setting that wasn't mentioned in the book or the training, like the idea of "levels" with floor systems.  Simple idea, but a disaster if you don't know about it. 

 

The software has, lets say for discussion purposes, 2,000 commands and options.  I wish there was a source to teach me the 200 "important" commands so that I could be productive and create buildable plans.  I really don't care what color the toaster over is  :D

 

Thanks again for the help in the forums!



#20 Kerry Calvert

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 07:52 PM

I have been using AutoCAD since 1996 and am beyond frustrated with Softplan.  I can see the benefits to the program, but the learning process is ridiculous.  Yes, I've watched the Friday Fundamentals and payed for the online classes too.  The book that came with the software is a joke.  I can't find any current Softplan instruction manuals to buy.  The classes I've watched don't seem to touch on the really important items - like how a roof should "reference" a wall, or where the 0'-0" point in elevation is on each floor plan - the really important stuff that isn't covered in the manual.  Instead they seem to be more worried about crown molding and the color of the fridge.  A response from the Softplan+ tech guys can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days - not ideal when you're up against deadlines.  I've had three house projects this month that I had to abandon on Softplan and go back to AutoCAD just to get them done.  One was a simple garage with living quarters and a shed dormer above - after fighting with it on Softplan for 5 days, I went back to AutoCAD and had it finished in 90 minutes

 

The best source of info I've found is this forum - so thanks for all that you guys do. 

 

Our company is willing to hire a trainer to come in and work with the designers in our company, as they are all self taught and fighting with the software too.  Softplan apparently doesn't offer anything like this, and the only company we can find that does is Softplan University.  Anyone have any experience with them?  Or any other suggestions?  None of the local vo-tech schools teach Softplan anymore. 

 

Any other training suggestions or ideas?  

Dan,  The trick to learning SoftPlan is to stop trying to draw like you are using AutoCAD.   In SoftPlan you build the structure in 3D you don't just draw lines.  Every single person I have met that comes from an AutoCAD background insists on drawing in SoftPlan the same way they did in AutoCAD, shapes, shapes and more shapes!  I have seen thousands of SoftPlan drawings that were drawn AutoCAD style and the designers all wonder why they have troubles in SoftPlan. Once I have the opportunity to teach them how to use some of the 3D aspects of SoftPlan their learning takes off it is like a snowball rolling down a hill, they learn more faster and faster.   But the most difficult thing for the AutoCAD user to do is shake off how AutoCAD does things.


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