AutoCAD Architecture: Renovation Mode Boosts Productivity

AutoCAD® Architecture 2011 boasted some great new and enhanced features and the Renovation Mode is one of my favorites!  Renovation Mode easily identifies objects and associates them with different phases of a renovation project, allowing for clear construction drawings every time.  You have the ability to display existing, demolished, and new construction—all in one drawing.  Working within one drawing and having the ability to switch between renovation plan types allows you to avoid errors that are typically caused by editing multiple drawings.

Let’s take a closer look at how Renovation Mode works.

Activating Renovation Mode

The first time Renovation Mode is activated, a specific Renovation display configuration is created.  You will notice that this specific configuration is a copy of the existing display configuration with “Renovation” added as a prefix (see Figure 1).

To begin Renovation Mode, click the Manage tab of the ribbon, Style & Display panel, Renovation Mode.  This brings up the First Activation of Renovation Mode dialog box, which allows you to give a name to the new display configuration.  Note that it is best to maintain the default prefixes for display configurations to eliminate confusion later.  Next, select the Options button to change settings using the Display, Layers, and Styles, Blocks and Materials tabs.  Click OK and you are now working in Renovation Mode.

Figure 1: First activation of Renovation Mode dialog box.

Working In Renovation Mode

When you begin Renovation Mode, the existing category is assigned to existing objects.  Objects that are added to the drawing while you are working in Renovation Mode are automatically categorized as New.  If objects are deleted, they are assigned to the demo category; however, they are not actually deleted.  For example, moving a door will create both a new door as well as a demo door along with the corresponding wall openings.  It is important to note that existing and new walls will automatically clean up after each other while in Renovation Mode; however, demolition and new objects do not interact.  This will be discussed later in the article.

In the display configuration for Renovation, objects are displayed according to their display representation.  Within this display configuration, Existing, New, and Demolished categories are specified.  They can be viewed in plan, elevation, and section displays.  Both 2D and 3D objects will display according to the categories that they are assigned in plan, elevation, and section views.

Dimensions are important to mention here as well.  When you use AEC dimensions, you cannot automatically ignore objects by Renovation category.  All existing, demolished, and new objects are dimensioned.  Any undesirable dimensions must be manually removed.

Objects can be manually assigned to a Renovation category, if needed.  The display properties will change according to the category specified. This option may be necessary for 2D, multi-view block, or block objects because these objects are automatically assigned to the Existing category when you begin a Renovation session.  To do this, click the Assign Existing, Assign New or Assign Demo buttons, based on your needs.  Next, select the objects to be assigned to the specified category and hit Enter.

To make things easier, you can click the Select Existing, Select New, or Select Demo buttons on the Renovation panel of the ribbon if you have several items to work with at once.  Once selected, you can complete a command, such as Delete.

Renovation Mode Settings for Objects

Design rules for New, Demolished and Existing categories by object type are controlled by Renovation styles.  You can import Renovation Styles from external catalogs or export to external catalogs in the Renovation Options dialog box.  For maximum flexibility, Renovation styles for display and layer assignment can be specified independently from each other and are saved to the current drawing.

In the Renovation options dialog box, the Display tab allows you to specify the Renovation Display Style and set specific design rules for objects such as walls and doors (see Figure 2).  The layer tab allows you to set the Layer Assignment Style as well as to specify a prefix or suffix to layers in lieu of changing the layer name (see Figure 3).  The Styles, Blocks and Materials tab allows you to add a prefix or suffix to style/block names to avoid naming conflicts between objects in different Renovation categories (see Figure 4).  This is much quicker than having to manually rename each object!  When the Duplicate Material Definitions box is checked, a copy of the material is automatically generated and assigned to the building object.  The corresponding color settings will automatically display.

Figure 2: Display options

Figure 3: Layer options

Figure 4: Styles, Blocks and Materials options

Ending a Session In Renovation Mode

Once you are finished working in Renovation Mode, ending the session is simple.  On the Renovation panel, click the Close Renovation Mode tool.  Note that if changes are made to the drawing after Renovation Mode has ended, the uncategorized objects are automatically assigned to the Existing category when you reactivate Renovation Mode.

Continuing to Work In Renovation Mode

When Renovation Mode is reactivated in your drawing, the existing Renovation display configuration can still be used or you can create a new one.  The objects that were previously categorized in an earlier Renovation phase will retain their representation and category.  Any objects that do not yet have a Renovation category will be automatically categorized and displayed as Existing objects.  The Show existing, new, and demolished objects option is automatically selected by default.  I recommend that this option remain selected, as it ensures that categorized objects in your Renovation plan remain visible while switching between the Demolition, Renovation and Revision displays.

To continue working in Renovation Mode, select the Manage tab on the ribbon, then click the Style & Display panel, and finally click Renovation Mode.  This will display the Repeated Activation of Renovation Mode dialog box (see Figure 5). 

Next you will need to specify the settings in the dialog, depending on what you want to do.  To begin with an existing Renovation display configuration, click the drop-down arrow next to Activate an Existing Renovation Display Configuration, select the display you wish to use and click OK.  To begin with a new display configuration, select the Create a New Renovation Display Configuration Named button, enter a name for the new configuration and click OK. 

Next you can change the display style or design rules of objects by clicking the Options button at the bottom left of the dialog box.  Click OK when finished.  Then click OK again to exit the dialog box.  You are now working in Renovation Mode again.

Figure 5: Repeated activation of Renovation Mode.

Activating a Demolition Plan

The display of a demolition plan shows existing construction and those objects categorized as demolished.  All new objects, however, are hidden.  Display settings for the demolition plan type are located in the options dialog box for Renovation Mode.

To create a demolition plan, activate Renovation Mode as previously discussed and then select the button for Demolition Plan on the Renovation panel of the ribbon.  You can now select a Renovation Display Configuration to activate.  The box next to Hide All New Objects is automatically checked.  If you want New objects to show while you are working in the drawing, click in the box to de-select the item and then click OK.  You can also click the New Show/Hide button on the Renovation panel.  You are now ready to begin creating a demolition plan.

Please note that yellow is automatically assigned by default to demolition objects.  This can be changed in the options dialog box for Renovation Mode under the Layer tab.

Figure 6: Demolition dialog box

Activating a Revision Plan

A revision plan displays new and existing construction objects, but all demolition objects are hidden automatically. Display settings for the revision plan type are located in the options dialog box for Renovation Mode.

To create a renovation plan, activate Renovation Mode as previously discussed and then select the button for Revision Plan on the Renovation panel of the ribbon.  You can now select a Revision Plan Display configuration to activate.  The box next to Hide All Demolished Objects is automatically checked.  If you want Demolition objects to show while you are working in the drawing, click the box next to de-select the item and the click OK.  You can also click the Demo Show/Hide button on the Renovation panel.  You are now ready to begin creating a revision plan.

Figure 7: Revision dialog box

Manual Modifications

Sometimes walls of different renovation categories do not intersect correctly, so manual modifications become necessary.  This can be done by temporarily suspending Renovation Mode.  For example, you may have a plan that includes walls categorized as demolition and walls categorized as existing with wall edges that need to be corrected. Remember, objects categorized as New do not interact with objects categorized as Demolition. 

When you need to make a manual correction, you temporarily interrupt Renovation Mode by freezing the walls you want to modify and then correcting the edges.  These changes are not considered part of Renovation.  The option to freeze or thaw walls is only available when Renovation Mode is active.

Let me make this a little more clear.  To do a manual modification, click the Freeze Walls button on the Renovation panel of the ribbon.  Next, select the walls in question and hit Enter.  Renovation Mode is now temporarily suspended.  Proceed with correcting the wall edges and then click Thaw Walls when finished.  Renovation Mode resumes.


Renovation Mode is an excellent tool for those needing to show new, existing, and demolished objects in a drawing.  I challenge you to open a drawing and activate Renovation Mode.  Explore the possibilities for yourself.  You will be glad you did!

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