Saturday 22 December 2007

Sketch proposal of dwelling

I have recently started experimenting with Impression, software developed by Autodesk. It gives AutoCAD drawings a hand drawn effect, which is ideal for presentation of concept drawings. The software is still in development, and has some bugs, the print quality from the software itself is poor for example.

I have found, however that printing the final image to a .pdf file produces a better result or saving the image as a .jpg. Different styles can be applied to different layers so one can of a combination of effects.

Thursday 29 November 2007

Software Software ....... everywhere

In the last week we received delivery of our new software. On Tuesday of last week NBS Scheduler arrived. We'll be using this to assist us in generating specifications for projects. After spending a few hours examining it I have figured out how to use it.... Now for the real test.... to put it into practice on a project. Its content appears to be sufficent for what we do, which is important, I would have got my ass kicked if it didn't cover our basic bread and butter work.

Yesterday I took delivery of AutoCAD's Revit Architecture Suite. Haven't had a chance to use it yet, although I did manage to find time to install it on my laptop. For the moment I'll work thought the tutorials to get familiar with the software before attending a training course. The best way of learning is of course to start a project, but as we're on the run in to Christmas, the pressure will be on to get stuff out in hurry. New Year new beginnings or that's the plan anyway.

Friday 16 November 2007

Plan Expo Visit

Last Thursday I visited Plan Expo and attended the seminar on Alternative House Building Types. The exhibition itself , had a large selection of stands devoted to energy efficiency, from heat exchangers to air tightness membranes. Many of the more traditional exhibitors were missing, no Velux windows, no Moy Materials to name a few.

The seminar on alternative house building types was worth attending. Gerry McCaughey, Chief Executive, Kingspan Century Ltd as expected spent the afternoon telling us that timber frame is the future in housing building and that the concrete block is on the way out. What a load of sh!te. Naturally the concrete representatives disagreed. Each of the building methods have their own advantages and disadvantages and should be examined for individual projects.

The main thing I took from the seminar was, the standard of workmanship on site will have to drastically improve as air-tightness is here to stay whether we like it or not. It was stated that insulation standards are now at the standard where any further reduction in u-values would not have a significant improvement in energy efficiency, however substantial improvements are to be gained by improvements in air tightness of the construction. Off-site construction, where services are integrated into the construction in the factory definitely have the advantages as regards air tightness and quality control.

The question is how well the builders will adopt to the new requirements and at what cost .Time will tell....

Sunday 4 November 2007

Plan Expo

Heading to Plan Expo this week , which is Ireland's largest annual construction show. In the past, I used only visit the event every second year, however it is now necessary to attend every year to keep abreast with new technologies and advancements within the industry. This year there is a zone focused on sustainability, no doubt in response to the growing interest in the area.

As part of this year's visit I will be attending a seminar on
Alternative Housebuilding Types which takes place on Thursday afternoon. It should be a useful seminar and hopefully give an insight of how the industry as a whole foresee the future of housing.

While attending the event, I hope to do some networking and gathering information for future CPD events, both for the office and CIAT. Naturally I'll also be looking for information for some projects that are in the pipeline and will be going to tender soon and of course doing some research of products for my own house which is under construction. I will particularly be interested in sustainable elements, solar heating, rainwater harvesting etc, which I am considering to put into the house, might even be ale to twist a few arms and get a few deals or at the very least ensure that the builder isn't going to screw me.

I'll report on my visit next week.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Sketchup for Dummies

I picked up a copy of Google Sketchup for Dummies. It's a typical Dummies book, with loads of basic information. In saying that there's loads of information in it which I don't know, including tips and methods of improving the way I do things ..... so its well worth the €23.70.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

CIAT Conference

Friday last 19th October 2007 , all roads brought us to the RDS, in Dublin for CIAT's Conference on POP records. The event was partly orgainised in response to the IATGN's report and recommendation of its members to join both CIAT and RIAI.

While the attendance was only in the region of 70 and nothing like the claimed 1500 members in the IATGN, I think the event was worth while for everyone who attended. I have to say that I found the conference worth while and should be of assistance in completing my POP Record. Many of the key staff of CIAT from City Road were over for the event, including the current President and President Elect, which demonstrates CIAT's commitment to Ireland.

Thursday 4 October 2007

POP Records

What are they you ask, well POP records are short for Professional and Occupational Performance Records, which is the main means used by the Charter Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) to access competency. At present I am progressing to Chartered Architectural Technologist from Associate membership and have been working on the POP record for the last 9 months or so. Just finished another unit this morning dealing with procurement procedures and advising clients there of. I pity the poor client when he seeings the letter i sent him, all 3 pages !
Reading the POP record there appeared to be alot in it, but when you work through it, it was straight forward, a 3 page letter to the client cover the unit, of course not all units are that simple, I have one or two which will take a bit more work, well it won't really as the work has to be done anyway....only normally not by me !!!

Time I got back to it now

Thursday 27 September 2007


Yesterday, I went to an AutoCAD Revit Architecture Launch organised by the local Autodesk Reseller. Looked impressive, and definitely worth trying. I took a trial CD home with me to test it out for myself. It seems to be easy enough to use, although it is a little different to use compared to AutoCAD.

Of course there are factors to take on board, if we consider to invest in the software. To purchase a licence will work out at €100/week for the first year and then €20/week with subscription for yearly upgrades. A new notebook may also be required, the cost will also have to be factored in.Then there's the cost of training and the time required to adjust to the new work method. From talking to others, one should allow about 3 months to get totally up to speed with things.

But then if production is increased, the investment is worth it in the long term, considering I think BIM will be the future in terms of building design and CAD.

Wednesday 26 September 2007


Sketchup ! what a great piece of software for doing up concept sketches. The above was created in a matter of a couple of hours and got some post production in photoshop where I applied some of the standard filters. I have to say that sketchup was so easy to learn. .. not that I know everything about it... still learning !

I have it about 2 years now and just love working with it.

Friday 21 September 2007

More red tape !

The DOEHLG (Government) Guidelines for the design of apartments, have come into effect this week. The net effect is that all apartments will now have to be larger, with considerable larger storage space required than before. While these guidelines are welcomed and should help change the perception that apartments are small, more regulation is required to reduce noise transmission between apartments.

The guidelines recommend dual aspect apartments generally with balconies/patio areas to the living rooms. Can be difficult to accommodate in village/town centres of rural Ireland, where the Planners want traditional vernacular design. We'll wait and see if the apartment quality really improves.

Today saw the DOEHLG publish their latest amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations, relating to energy efficiency for dwellings. In theory it could to work, in practice it could be another story. Training, for both consultants and the builders/developers and information needs to be rolled out now, and not 2 weeks before or after the amendments come into effect. I must go study the Final Draft document, before it is wrote into law.

Thursday 20 September 2007

No rest for the AT !

Working as an architectural technologist can brings its pressures and rewards...
After almost 3 months, the holidays in between and some going backwards and forwards with the client, the largest project of the year so far to be undertaken in the office was delivered to the clients yesterday for submission to the Planning Authority. As the clients were new and the fees good, we were out to make a good impression.Presentation is everything and I think we got it right for this one. Of course the detail is important too and I think we managed that too, but you are always abit anxious with any project that, it will firstly get planning permission and secondly that the development will work.

With that job off the desk, the pressure is still on, as we have a number of masterplans to complete for the same clients. Not complaining though, as things have slowed down quiet considerably, generally in the office in the last 12 months... At least I get a chance to clean my desk at the end of the week not and even manage to take a day or two off work, as I done today and will do tomorrow, to catch up on the diy around the house, which I have put on the long finger for 2, 3 or is it 5 years now ! that's for another day