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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!

About the Author

You probably recognize Aaron from those videos on YouTube. Turns out, he can write sometimes, too! Aaron has years of experience with SketchUp and enjoys using it for both professional and personal projects.

Profile Photo of Aaron Dietzen