Why I Hate Sketchup

One of our biggest fights with our Revit deployment has got to be with the die hard Sketchup users.

I absolutely understand that Sketchup is easy and doing Revit properly is… not as easy. I get that, I totally do. And the really good Sketchup users, when they finish a model, everyone oohs and ahhs, because it looks so good and it’s so amazing. Then why is Sketchup a bad thing?

If you are reading this, you know part of the answer already.

Sketchup is 100% outside of the documentation process for most firms. Sketchup Master has spent all this time creating this elaborate beautiful model in Sketchup. Now let’s waste some time rebuilding the entire thing in Revit so we can actually put out a set of construction document, which is ultimately what we do. I find it interesting how, on a macro level, this issue with Sketchup reflects exactly the same issue that BIM as a whole process is trying to work past. In the “rainbows and unicorns” world of BIM, the passing of the model from designer to contractor to owner is an attempt to not lose valuable knowledge and information that has been put into that model through the process. The Sketchup to Revit shift is the exact same loss of information. It is a waste of time that is unnecessary.

I would submit another reason Skethchup is bad, bordering on evil. It is imaginary. Now, before you start yelling, I know you can make Revit do some pretty amazingly fake things. Things that completely defy the laws of physics and gravity. But if you use the tool correctly, Revit has checks in there to try to help you along the way and not design something that defies the laws of time and space. Sketchup is nothing but fantasy design. Hopefully the designer has enough experience and knowledge to be able to avoid the pitfalls of building a completely imaginary model, but this isn’t always the case. Sketchup makes it very easy to design something that simply cannot be built. And the owner loves it and it’s gonna be on the cover of some grand architectural review magazine! Except that it’s entirely fiction, and when you Revit guy starts duplicating the model in Revit (which is a waste of time – see above) he or she finds this discrepancy with reality and has to spend more time discussing a solution with the Sketchup designer to find a solution.

Sketchup has a place. That place is the first five minutes of predesign, schematic design or whatever you might want to call it. That’s it. The word “sketch” is in the name for a reason.

This is one of my big soapbox items. I could rant for much longer, but frankly this blog post has gotten too long. I will post again soon where I discuss what I have found with some Sketchup snobs users and how we are trying to deal with them.