SketchUp is a computer program in which you can create both simple and complex 3D models fairly easily. SketchUp was originally developed by Google (so it is often called ‘Google SketchUp’) but has since been sold to Trimble. Currently there is a free and ‘pro’ version of the program available.
If you plan to make changes to the design of a house, having the SketchUp model can make this significantly easier. Changes can’t easily be made to a set of printable plans. If a change is desired, the plans will generally need to be recreated. This can be complex since a change to one page of a set of plans (or section of a house) may impact other pages (and so on). By instead modifying the model for which the plans are based on, you can immediately see how your changes will impact the other parts of the house and then recreate the plans with the new changes.
Even if you don’t plan on making changes to the design, having the SketchUp model can be extremely helpful. SketchUp can be used to visualize and understand how the house is assembled, and to get additional details and measurements during construction.
While SketchUp is extremely powerful, it is also relatively easy to use. If you just want to navigate an existing model and perhaps take some measurements, you’ll only need to know a very small subset of the available features in the program. For a quick overview of those, I’ve put together the following video:
If you plan to use SketchUp to create a model from scratch or to change an existing model, you’ll need to know a lot more about the program. For a wide range of video tutorials visit: http://www.sketchup.com/intl/en/training/videos.html.