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From LayOut to Playhouse

While I don't get a chance to design buildings for work anymore, every now and then an opportunity comes along outside of work where I get to put my design experience (and SketchUp/LayOut knowledge) to work!

My friend Donovan Ewing, from Once Upon a Workbench, contacted me recently as he wanted to build a playhouse for his son based on Link's house from the video game, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Of course, I said I would help him out. Not only would this give me a chance to model something fun, but it would also let me put my money where my mouth is and create a set of construction documents for a model I would make from scratch!

The first thing we did was pass a SKP file back and forth showing the general shape of the structure. Due to the fact that that a full size house was being resized to fit a 5 year-old, we had to warp and move a few pieces. Fortunately, Donovan and I were able to pass simple images of the file back and forth a few times, and within a half-hour had identified a shell for the structure.

The massing model was just simple faces, so I grouped each face (walls, floor, and roofs), and then dove into each and made them framable! Donovan and I planned to use 1/2" plywood for stability, and 2x3 framing members to minimize the size of the walls.

From here on, it was as simple as working through one piece at a time, using 2x3 components and plywood components to fill out the framing. Ok, ok, I am over simplifying - a little. This did take quite a few hours, but the process itself was actually pretty easy.

As I completed each section of the building, I was able to use Generate Report to get a cutting list for each wall. With a materials list for each wall, I created a scene for each and headed into LayOut. From there, I created a drawing for each wall and sent them, piecemeal, over to Donovan to build. If anything did not work as documented, I was able to hop back into the model and either make a change, or generate an image that clarified how things should be going together.

Being able to quickly generate clear, easy to understand images was essential in communicating my thoughts as a building designer with first time builder Donovan. In the end, we were able to create a pretty extensive set of plans that you can actually check out over on Donovan's site (If you want to purchase a copy, use the coupon code SketchUp to get a plan set at half price!)

The best part of the whole project? Seeing images of the playhouse that I designed come together in Oklahoma, while I was sitting at my desk in Colorado. Truly an epic design and build!

If you are interested in this sort of thing, you can check out Once Upon a Workbench or Aaron Making Stuff on Instagram!