SketchUp & HOVER: Expediting design processes and reducing project cost

August 19, 2021 Sumele Aruofor

Kevin Neprud’s pursuit of architecture and design began at a young age. Growing up by the seaside with his engineer father and artist mother, he tinkered with boats and cars and spent hours drawing and designing vehicles, houses, and entire city master plans. No surprise that he decided on a career in architecture by the 8th grade or that he started his practice while still at Boston Architectural College. Learn more on how he leverages innovative, interoperable technology in his work.

Established in 1987, Kevin Neprud and Associates (KNA) provides design, development, and consulting services for single-family, multi-unit, mixed-use, institutional and commercial projects. These can range from small additions to single-family homes to expansive elderly life care communities. On average, the practice works on about 30 jobs per year, with up to eight design projects running concurrently. This volume of work makes time management and careful resource allocation crucial to the success of his business. 

From 3D model to completed home. New home in Massachusetts, US, by Kevin Neprud & Associates.

The starting point for all proposals is to consider and capture any existing buildings as well as surrounding context. A site plan, floor plans, elevations, illustrative sketches, and 3D models of the existing site or home are produced during the initial design phase. In the past, this required pulling out a tape measure, pen, and graph paper, walking around the house, and carefully recording all interior and exterior measurements, including rooflines, windows, doors, and wall heights. Back at the office, these handwritten measurements would be used to create 3D models in SketchUp. This process could take up to five days to complete: two days for measuring and three days to create a detailed SketchUp model.

New home in Virginia, US, by Kevin Neprud & Associates.
 

Technology for better projects

By leveraging innovative software and technologies, the practice’s work was transformed saving significant time during schematic design. Using HOVER’s proprietary technology, designers can generate a fully interactive 3D model of any property by using their smartphones to capture as few as eight orthogonal photos of the existing building. 

From photos (L) to 3D model in HOVER app (Middle) and SketchUp (R) in less than a day. Images courtesy HOVER.

To get the existing context in place quickly and accurately, the photographs are sent to HOVER via its app. HOVER generates a full-scale 3D model (above) in SketchUp’s .skp file format ready for use. With HOVER’s technology, dimensioned floor plans and take-offs (below) can be exported in pdf or Excel format.

Designers can access dimensioned floor plans and extract crucial information such as floor area, and door and window schedules.

“With HOVER, the time we spent on measurements and 3D modeling was reduced by over 35%.  It is now possible to take a handful of photos walking around the home in about 15 minutes.

Once HOVER builds out the model, it’s easy to download and open it in SketchUp, where I add the necessary changes and additions the homeowner wants.

This was a game-changer and it improved the design process on all projects, resulting in significant overhead time and cost savings."

- Kevin from Kevin Neprud and Associates.

A 130-bed elderly assisted care facility designed by KNA in 1989, shown on the right in the image above. To design an extension (on the left) in 2011, he imported his original hand-drawn 2D elevations as a material into a SketchUp context model. 

Kevin designs and details projects in SketchUp, generating 2D construction drawings that he supplements with 3D renderings to better describe some of the complicated details of creating high-end homes. 

“Working up design options in SketchUp makes iteration much easier and quicker. Schematic designs, details, and construction drawings can be generated in one step, including 2D plans, sections and elevations, and 3D exports."

Kevin from Kevin Neprud and Associates.

Another benefit Kevin and his team find is the ability to elevate standard drawing sets using plugins like the iRender NXT extension from SketchUp's Extension Warehouse to generate photorealistic renderings.

Generating existing context models with HOVER

Design for a new sports barn connected to an existing house via a partially underground corridor. 

In preparation for a barn extension, photos of the existing property were uploaded to the HOVER app to generate the SketchUp model. Kevin added siding and roofing materials from Sketchup’s materials library and imported HOVER photos of windows, doors, and stone as .jpg maps. He applied the photos as a SketchUp material to capture the fenestration detail of the existing home and added materiality to the proposed building.

The images above were exported from SketchUp.

To capture the sloping terrain of this site in 3D, Kevin imported a 2D site survey that included topography into the SketchUp model, and extruded each contour line. 

Once approved, additional detail will be added to the model and a comprehensive drawing set — including exterior 2D elevations, an architectural site plan, and a roof plan for the construction drawings — will be generated for construction use. SketchUp 2D section cuts will also be exported as .dwgs and these will serve as profile outlines for additional drawings and detail sets.


Driving competitive advantage & improving the customer experience

Due to the efficiency gains realized by using HOVER and SketchUp, Kevin can pass the savings directly to his customers. “This is truly win-win,” Kevin said. “Clients don't like to pay for field condition surveys. They just want the design, and if I can do that part of the work for a lot less money, it's going to make the customer happy and give me potentially more budget to focus on the design and do a better job at it. This can give me an edge over other architects that may be bidding to get the renovation job. They have to charge several thousand dollars to do the existing field conditions, and I can do it now for a fraction of the cost that they can.”


About HOVER

HOVER transforms smartphone photos into fully measured interactive 3D models of any building, unlocking the potential of property data by creating an accurate record of the world’s physical structures. HOVER is used by designers and architects, contractors, and insurance industry professionals to create workflow efficiencies and for homeowners to optimize their largest economic asset.

About Kevin Neprud Associates

Kevin Neprud and Associates LLC has continuously operated since 1987, providing single-family home design, multi-unit and mixed-use design, commercial, hospitality, institutional design, real estate development, and construction management services. Kevin Neprud is the sole proprietor and Principal of the firm. He has 36 years of professional experience, primarily in design and real estate development, and construction management, and industrial design.

About the Author

Sumele Aruofor

Sumele contributes architecture and performance-focused content to the SketchUp blogs. When she's not writing or practicing architecture, she can be found singing, cooking up a storm, or with her head stuck in a book.

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