SJM Planning is a planning consultancy based in Kent. The studio works primarily on residential projects including home extensions, new build properties, and office to residential conversions, in addition to projects in the agriculture, equestrian and fisheries industries.
How the extended trial helped SJM Planning
George Bryant of SJM Planning explained that by receiving the extended free trials from Graphisoft’s Furlough your software costs programme, they were able to educate their subcontractors and increase the number of staff who use Archicad.
“Previously, our business was just myself and Simon – and we outsourced to subcontractors when we needed to. But subcontractors often use different software.”
The practice aim to expand the consultancy, where everyone will all use the same software. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic has brought slight delays, however the company are at a stage where they are now planning to bring in their own surveyor, as well as a new architectural technician, moving them both across to Archicad.
SJM Planning’s Archicad experience
Previously the company would outsource their design work. However it was decided that it would be better to bring that work in-house. George mentions that he had some basic CAD knowledge and had used Autocad and Sketchup in the past.
“We’ve been using Archicad for three years now and since we started using it, we haven’t looked back.”
SJM Planning originally took a trial of Archicad when coming across it. George states that he immediately found that using Archicad was so much quicker, and incredibly intuitive.
“With Autocad, you need to learn a whole host of command keys – but that’s not the case with Archicad. You simply click on the button that says ‘draw a wall’ and it draws a wall. It’s great because if you move a window in the 3D model – it immediately updates all the elevations in every view which saves so much time.”
He went on to compliment Archicad’s usability – how you can simply click and drop objects, and even how he was able to talk through how to update drawings in the software on the phone with a colleague. “It’s that intuitive you can just talk someone through it.”
Support from vendors
“Of all the software I’ve ever used, Graphisoft and Applecore Designs have been the most willing to help without charging you for every minute you’re in contact. When I email Scott – he is happy to email me back. I can’t imagine the MD of an Autodesk reseller would do that.”
George explained that he has been able to train others to use Archicad up to the needed level in-house, and for any queries, YouTube is great for quick answers. When the company come to use Archicad for technical drawings, they know they can rely on Graphisoft’s training courses as and when they need them.
“Applecore provides a personal service and treats me like a valued customer – even though I’m a small customer.”
Archicad’s impact on SJM Planning
George states that Archicad has revolutionised the way that SJM Planning work.
We are now working with a digital generation of planning officers who don’t have time to study plans to try to work out what they mean and figure out how the buildings will look.
“We need to be able to put something in 3D and render it with the correct materials and provide the black and white elevations as well. This way, the planning officers don’t have to picture the building in their mind which makes it so much easier for them to make a decision.”
George notes that planning decisions are frequently made by a planning committee; often volunteers. They may be part of the parish council for example, but have no professional planning or architectural experience. Understanding architectural drawings is not their profession but they have to make a judgement. It is helpful that studios can present the plans in layman’s terms so that people can visualise the building straight away.
What are the best things about Archicad that you’ve discovered so far?
“Archicad is easy to use; it comes with a range of presentation styles, out of the box, with no need to buy additional software. Also, it’s a fraction of the cost of an Autodesk license which is a key point for a small business.
As Archicad is so easy to use, it saves a huge amount of time. For example, I recently worked with an architectural technician who has 20+ years’ experience in Autocad. We created the same plans from the same data, but I used Archicad and he used Autocad. I created the plan view and 3D model in 1.5 days while the architectural technician created the same plan view, with no 3D model, in 4.5 days.
Using Archicad, my productivity increases threefold. Working solely in Archicad, I could turn over another 250% to 300% of work. Coupled with the cost saving from the software, it makes sound financial sense.”
What would you say to others thinking of trying Archicad?
“I can’t sing Archicad’s praises highly enough. For others who haven’t made the switch – I would say, ‘Just try it’.”
SJM Planning state that making the switch to Archicad was the best decision they have ever made. They are looking forward to bringing new people into the business and training them in Archicad.
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