On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on macOS. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.

All the common layouts (that we can think of) are blocked up in the project templates. These guidelines apply no matter when a layout is first needed.


Plans need to align across all layouts.

We use an object, Sheet Area RND10, in the floor plan to represent the usable area of the layout. The object has its own layer, +Z Drawing Area. This layer is always locked, and is showing in every plan-related layer combination.

Choose the sheet size in the object's settings. Construction Documents will be size D or E. Schematics or 1/8" design development will be C size. (C size for CDs is not supported, because the cover sheet can't hold all the necessary information. If the project is that tiny, you can put two plans on a sheet.) Word to the wise: If it barely fits on D, use E. I agree that E is cumbersome, but if the shoe doesn't fit...

Unlock the drawing area layer and drag the object around until it looks right. Try to get it perfect. While you can make adjustments later, it means repositioning all the plan drawings manually which is not ideal.

On the first floor, on the Archicad layer, place hotspots on the four corners of the object. You don't need them for the alignment itself, but these spots record the placement of the object in case you have to use additional sheet sizes for some reason.

Plans don't use automatic titles. Instead, they have a special title object, Plan Title RND10. In this object, you tell it what stories you have, how you want to name them, and what kind of plan it is, and the object places the correct title on each story. In the templates, there is one object for each kind of plan. Tip: Turn on all the note layers, select all the plan titles, and set their story settings all at once.

In each plan layout, resize the drawing frame to fit the sheet area object. (Plan drawing frames will often be 'Manually Resized' as opposed to 'Fit to Drawing', because things like driveways extend past the drawing area.) The object will be faintly visible as four L shapes. Tip: Drag the drawing into the gray space around the layout to see the corners better. Once the size is right, drag the drawing so the corners align with the layout's corners.

Elevations and Sections

The templates have four elevations, two cross sections, and two long sections. You'll eventually need more, and you'll certainly need to adjust the provided ones.

Position the markers to show what you want. Add staggers as needed. Try not to cut through walls lengthwise. Don't run them far beyond the house.

Set the depths to make sure the section reaches everything you want to show.

Seriously consider using Marked Distant Area to lighten distant elements. (MDA should always Use One Pen, which should be pen #30.) If MDA doesn't apply, turn it off.

Check the Z-elevation of the bottom of the cut. Don't cut deeper than you have to. (The top of the cut is usually set 'plenty high'.) If the basement is not visible in an elevation, the cut should be set such that the basement's story marker doesn't show.

Change the names as needed. Remember, with automatic drawing titles, nothing goes in the name that you don't want in the title. Direction codes (U, D, L, R) belong in the ID.

Drawing frames will usually be Fit to Drawing. Elevation and Section extents should be controlled by stretching the marker elements.

Once an elevation or section is placed in a layout, its marker can be moved to the +Z SE Print layer.

Interior Elevations

There are no interior elevations placed in the template, because there are no rooms. IE polygons should meet the inside planes of the room. The height can be set to use the zone's height, if that has been set correctly. Either way, the IE height should meet the bottom plane of the ceiling. The bottom of the IE should be at the subfloor of the room.

Use the pet palette to turn off the sides of the IE that aren't needed. This makes the marker arrow disappear. You can turn them back on that way too. Don't show arrows on the marker for drawings that aren't actually placed.

I recommend always using a 'group' IE, never the single line version. The single is difficult to select, and while you often need to show only one wall of a room, many times you have to add a second one later. This is much easier with the group.

Once an interior elevation is placed in a layout, its marker can be moved to the +Z IE Print layer.

Site Plans

The site plan consists of two drawings. First, a 2D drawing of the site boundary, contours, etc., and the house footprint. On top of that, a live 3D top view of the house. The exterior of the model needs to be well done at this point.

The footprint is drawn manually around the foundation walls. The top view is aligned to the footprint. Precise alignment is difficult, but usually not necessary. If it looks right, it's right enough. The stake data will be taken from the footprint, which does need to be exact.