Create a structure built on Piers/Stumps/Pilings with Designer Pro

Question

How do I create a structure built on Piers / Stumps / Pilings using Designer Pro?

Answer

To build a house above ground level on piers

In most situations, it’s best to draw the first (ground) floor of a house plan on Floor 1 in the program. However, in the case of a house on piers, the first floor will actually be an open area in which you will place piers to support the structure/floor above.

1. Select File> New Plan from the menu to open a new, blank plan and select Edit > Default Settings from the menu.

2. In the Default Settings dialog, click on Floor to highlight it, then click on the Edit button to display the Floor Defaults dialog for Floor 1.

Note: When this Floor Defaults dialog is opened, it will apply to the currently active floor only. That is, if Floor Defaults is opened on Floor 1, it will set the defaults for Floor 1; if it’s opened on Floor 2, it will set the defaults for Floor 2; and so on.

3. On the Structure panel of the Floor Defaults dialog, specify a Finished Ceiling Height. This will raise the bottom of the floor platform for the first (under-croft) floor in your house above the ground. (we’ve used 1800 in the example).

Designer Pro Floor Defaults

4. Click OK to close this dialog, then click Done to close the Default Settings dialog.

5. Next, select Build > Floor > Build New Floor

  • When prompted to derive the new floor from the plan below, click OK.
  • As nothing has been drawn on Floor 1, the result will be a blank Floor 2.

6. Before drawing anything on Floor 2, you should also set up your Floor 2 default ceiling height. Select Edit > Default Settings from the menu, then specify the default ceiling height as described in Step 1, above.

7. Select Build > Walls > Exterior Wall from the menu, then click and drag the exterior walls of your plan, drawing in a clockwise direction.

8. As per usual, use temporary dimensions and/or the Dimension tools to help you position the walls precisely. When you are satisfied with the placement of the exterior walls, it’s time to place piers beneath them.

Designer Pro Walls Example

To place piers beneath the elevated floor plan

Once your floor plan is done on Floor 2, you can insert piers on Floor 1 to support it.

1. To return to Floor 1, select Tools > Reference Floors > Down One Floor from the menu.

2. In order to place the piers in the correct locations under the walls above, you need to turn on the Reference Display. Select Tools > Reference Floors > Reference Floor Display from the menu The outline of the walls created on Floor 2 will now display as red lines on Floor 1.

Designer Pro Floor Display

3. You now need to create piers using one of the geometric shapes found in the Library Browser. Select View > Library Browser to open the Library Browser window and navigate to the Shapes folder.

Designer Pro Browser Shapes Box

In 2014 and prior versions, the Library Browser was accessed under the Library menu.

In this example, the Closed Box is used, although the one of the Pedestals or Columns from the Architectural > Millwork catalogue could also work.

4. Using the red lines of the Reference Display as a ‘guide only’, click at a corner of your exterior walls to place a pier at that location. If you need to adjust the pier’s location, click on it to select it and move it using the Move edit handle that displays at the object’s centre.

Designer Pro Box Placement

5. With the pier still selected, click the Open Object edit button to open the Geometric Shape Specification dialog. On the General panel:

  • Specify the desired Height of your pier. In most cases, this will be the default ceiling height of Floor 1, specified in the first part of this article.
  • o Specify the Width and Depth of your pier. These values correspond to the piers size and will be the same in most instances.

Designer Pro Geometric Shape Specification

6. Then, on the Materials panel:

  • Click on the word “Main Material”, then click the Select Material button.
  • Browse to desired category of the Materials library. Designer Pro Materials > Iron” style=”max-width:600px” /> </li>
<li>Select the desired material and click <strong>OK</strong> to return to the <strong>Geometric Shape Specification</strong> dialog.</li>
<li>Click OK to close dialog and apply your change.</li>
</ul>
<p>7. Select <strong>3D > Create Camera View > Cross Section/Elevation</strong> from the menu and click and drag a camera arrow perpendicular to either wall above the new pier.</p>
<ul>
<li>o In the Cross Section/Elevation view, click on the pier to select it and use the <strong>Move edit handle</strong> that displays at its centre to adjust its location so that it lines up correctly with your main structure. <img src=
  • Use the top edit handle to make any needed adjustments to the height so that it meets the bottom edge of the wall above.
  • o If you have trouble viewing the pier, select Window > Zoom from the menu and click and drag a rectangle around the part of the view that includes the pier and the wall above. The program will zoom in to fill the view window with the contents of that rectangle, allowing you to edit the pier more easily.
  • o When you are satisfied with the appearance of your pier, select File > Close View from the top menu or click the ‘X’ button at the top right of the view window to close the Cross Section/Elevation view and return to floor plan view.

Add the pier to your library for future jobs

Select the pier

Use the Add to Library icon, (usually located at the bottom of your screen)

Designer Pro Add to Library

To copy piers beneath the elevated floor plan

In floor plan view, click on the pier to select it, then click the Copy/Paste edit button, and then click the Sticky Mode edit button. Your cursor will now display the Copy/Paste icon. Clicking the Sticky Mode tool after selecting Copy/Paste allows you to paste as many copies as you like, rather than just one.

Click at a location that needs a pier to place one there, then continue clicking until all needed piers have been created around the perimeter and in the middle of the plan as appropriate for your design.

Do not worry about placing them precisely at this time as they can be positioned more accurately and height adjusted if you have uneven terrain in a moment.

When you are finished pasting copies of your pier, disable the Paste function by clicking the Select Objects arrow button.

Select the Dimension tool and drag a dimension line through the piers under each wall. The dimension should pick up the centre of each pier.

Select the dimensions and move them out a bit from the wall to make things easier to see.

Designer Pro Lines Example

Now select each of the piers one by one and use the dimensions to move each pier to the desired location or zoom in close and drag the piers to where you would like them to be.

Designer Pro Selecting Piers

Remember too that you can select more than one pier in a row to move the entire row.

To create stairs that reach the ground

With the house elevated on piers, you can now create stairs from the floor to the ground. Normally, stairs generate from the current floor upwards to the floor above and snap precisely to both floor heights. When stairs are built from a floor to the ground, a different approach can be used.

1. Select Tools > Reference Floors > Up One Floor from the menu to go the Floor 2.

2. Select Build > Stairs > Straight Stairs from the menu, then hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and click and drag to create a stairway. Holding Alt while you draw stairs directs the program to draw them in a downward direction rather than upward.

3. When you release your mouse button, a warning message will caution you about drawing stairs in a downward direction. Click OK to close the message box.

4. To create a landing between two runs of straight stairs, create the stair sections as described above, leaving a space between them where you would like a landing.

Designer Pro Landing 1

5. With the Straight Stairs tool selected, click once in the landing area to create a landing that joins the two stair sections. Designer Pro Landing 2

6. Select Build > Door > Hinged Door and then click on the wall at the top of your staircase to place a door.

7. Select 3D > Create Camera View > Perspective Full Overview from the menu to view your elevated house on a pier foundation.

Designer Pro Piers End Result