Building Elements

The project described in this tutorial is a light-framed, two-story structure. Some portions of the project will have a slab on grade. Others will have a basement level. You are welcome to use other construction types and materials. The content on this page will describe how to add walls, floors, columns and roofs.

BE.1 In order to add floors and other content we will need to generate new Levels. The video below describes how you can add and edit levels.

Generate additional levels as needed for your project. 9'-0" or 10'-0" level heights are recommended. Keep in mind that you can add additional levels or move current levels later.

BE.2. If you find that the Levels do not appear when you go to a new view, try the following: 1. Click on the Show/Hide Crop Region. A black rectangle will appear. That is the Crop Region. Click on the black rectangle. It should change to blue. 2. Click on the blue circles to stretch the Crop Region. 1. Click on the Show/Hide Crop Region icon again.


BE.3. The video below shows you how to insert walls and make adjustments to grids and levels. The video shows 15' x 20' motel units, but 25' is recommended. The steps are described following the video.

BE.4. Pin the column grid layers so they can not move. When you click on an object or several objects the Modify ribbon will appear. Select the pin icon from the ribbon. Keep in mind that you can also temporarily hide the column grid if necessary by selecting an object and then clicking on the eye glasses along the status bar at the bottom of the screen.

BE.5. Now you can begin to place walls on your levels. Complete all of the walls that you can. Walls can be added or moved later. Use one wall type for the exterior walls, one interior type for the walls between units (5-1/2"), and a thinner wall (4-7/8") for any interior walls within the unit. You can use the Copy or Array tools to make multiple copies of wall objects. Place your walls on the grid lines wherever possible. This will make things easier later.

BE.6. Next you can begin to place floors in the model. I recommend using different types of floors. In the Level 1 plan shown below portions will be slabs on grade and other portions will have a framed floor with a basement level below.


BE.7. To generate a slab on grade, you will need to modify an existing floor type. First go to Floor under the Architecture ribbon and select Floor: Architectural. 

BE.8. From the Properties window select Generic 12" - Filled. 

BE.9. To make a concrete slab on grade you will need to modify the parameters of the floor type. Click on Edit Type in the Properties window.

BE.10. Instead of modifying the existing type, it is best to make a duplicate of the type, rename the new type, and edit the new type. Click on the Duplicate button.

BE.11. Provide a name for the new type.


BE.12. You can change the material and thickness values of the new floor by clicking on Edit next to the structure Parameter.


BE.13. Change the thickness and the assigned material.

BE.14. To change the assigned material, scroll down the list and click on the desired material in the Material Browser window.

If you want to add components to your floor, click on the Insert button.


Use the Up button to move the newly added layer to the top of the list or wherever is appropriate for the layer that you are adding. 

Edit the values for the material that you are adding.

You can use more than one floor type on the same floor.

BE.15. When you select ok and leave the editing window, you will be prompted to make a new floor. You can make the profile of your floor using the drawing tools on the Draw panel. You can also select the walls that define the perimeter of the floor by selecting the walls you have already built. This process is described below.

If the following windows pop up, you can respond with yes. You can unjoin and detach walls from floors later if necessary.

The relationship of the floor to the wall will depend on the construction condition in your project. With a slab on grade the slab may sit inside the foundation wall. Click on the following link to see a similar detail. 

Slab on Grade Detail

BE.16. In this case you would uncheck the box that extends the floor to the core of the wall. 

TIP: Having trouble selecting objects because they are below other objects? One way to select the object is to hide the ones on top. Just select the object on top, go the eyeglasses icon on the status bar at the bottom of the screen, and select Hide Element. You can turn them back on by clicking on the eyeglasses again, and select Reset Temporary Hide/Isolate.

Another way is to place your cursor over the object, and press tab until the one you want is highlighted in blue. Then click with your left mouse button.

BE.17. Next select the walls that surround the slab. Magenta lines will appear as shown below. Continue all the way around the slab. You can use a combination of methods by picking walls for some edges and drawing them with lines and arcs on other edges.

BE.18. When you have completed the profile, select the green check mark.

BE.19. If you would like to make additional floors of that type, you can go back to the Architecture ribbon and select Floor on the Build panel. 

BE.20. For other floors that are not slabs on grade, you can select another floor type. Refer to the video below.

BE.21. To make changes to the floor profile click on the floor and select Edit Boundary.

BE.23.  Add floors anywhere that you do not have a slab on grade. This will be the case for any floors on Level 2. To add floors to Level 2 select the Level 2 view from the Project Browser. Repeat the steps described above.

BE.24. To see the project in section watch the video below.

BE.25. If you would like to add columns to your project, you may need to load them into the project. There are only a limited number of column types included in the architectural template. Click on Column on the Architecture ribbon to view the columns already loaded. The list of loaded columns will appear in the Properties window.

To load more types go to the Insert ribbon and select Load Family. You will see a series of folders. Each folder contains content that can be loaded into your project. 

You will find column types under the Structural Columns folder. Below is an image showing steel columns. Choose a type to load and click Ok. Select a column from the next list and click Ok again.

BE.26. Add a roof to your model. Look for the Roof tool on the Architecture ribbon. The steps are similar the steps for a floor. The Roof by Footprint tool allows you to make pitched roof. A flat roof can be made by defining a very shallow pitch to your roof.

BE.27. It is common practice to allow a roof to overhang the walls below. To add an overhang edit the roof boundary. The roof below has a 1'-6" overhang as you can see at the bottom of the image. 

BE.28. The default roof is a hip roof where all edges slope upward as shown above. If you would like to generate a gable roof, you can turn off the roof slope. In the image below, the Modify | Roofs > Edit Footprint tool has been opened after selecting the roof. One edge of the roof has been selected (red arrow) and the Define Slope box has been unchecked. This can be done to the north and south edges to create a gable roof.

From the top level the entire roof should be visible. The image below shows a roof that is cut midway along its slope. If it appears like the image below, you can adjust the view range so the entire roof appears.

You will find the View Range settings in the Properties window. Deselect the roof and scroll down the list in the Properties window until you find View Range. Click on Edit.

Adjust the Top Offset and the Cut Plane Offset so the entire roof is visible. The value for the Cut Plane Offset can not be higher than the Top Offset.

Change the values so that the entire roof is displayed, as shown below.

BE.29. If you have a gable, you can join the wall at the gable end to the room by 1.) clicking on the wall, 2.) clicking on the Attach Top/Base icon, 3.) Click on the Top radio button, and 4.) select the roof.