SketchUp Extensions for Architectural Designers

Larch Studio

Architectural design is a complex task, one with countless interdependencies, rules, regulations, health and safety stuff, and a vast choice of building materials and methods to take into account. Imagine doing it all with pen and paper? Nightmare! Thank goodness for CAD software, which takes most of the sting out of the complexity for you, leaving you free to draw, create, present to clients, and output accurate plans with ease. To help you do this there are some great must have Sketchup plugins for architectural designers, created to extend the core tool’s functionality and deliver the potential for infinite creativity.

These Sketchup extensions are your can’t-do-withouts, your key essentials. Read on to discover some of the best Sketchup plugins for architects, available for free through the Sketchup extension Warehouse. Walk this way to find out about the most popular rendering software for Sketchup and lots more. If you’re researching Sketchup for architecture, and how to use extensions in Sketchup, this is for you.

Sketchup Plugins and Extensions

What are Sketchup plugins? Like any other plugins, they’re tools designed to add extra functions and features to your Sketchup life, perhaps making things faster or easier or joining up dots between specific actions. There’s a plugin, for example, that generates and edits secondary support steelwork with all the right fittings, supports, pipes and ducts, and another supporting perfect lofts and skinning, generating surfaces from contours. What are Sketchup extensions? ‘Extension’ is simply Sketchup’s word for Plugins.

They’re the same thing.

Sketchup’s many brilliant plugins are developed by members of the Sketchup community to boost the native Sketchup toolset. While Sketchup Extensions and Plugins mean the same thing to most users there’s a technical difference. An extension includes some extra code that tells Sketchup about the copyright, developer, and description of the extension so that it can be displayed inside the Sketchup Extension Manager. But most people use the terms Plugin and Extension interchangeably when it comes to Sketchup.

What is the Sketchup extension Warehouse? It’s where all the plugins/extensions live, collected together and sensibly organised so you can find what you need easily and fast. Take a look. You’ll see everything from architectural textures to a plugin that renders huge amounts of vegetation in no time, plugins to clean up and optimise your Sketchup models and entire suites of special architect tools. Next, some must have Sketchup plugins.

Sketchup Extensions for Architectural Design

There’s an enormous choice of excellent Sketchup extensions and Sketchup plugins for architects to  support various crucial aspects of architectural design. Here are some of the best.


V-Ray for Sketchup – Probably the best Sketchup render plugin, this is known and loved as one of the best 3d rendering tools available. As top class rendering software for Sketchup it delivers fast rendering and includes a set of cool lighting tools for an infinite number of lighting effects, day and night. Visualisation of complex scenes is absolutely fantastic, making it an exceptional way to make successful client presentations.


SketchupBIM – Extends Sketchup capabilities to provide BIM tools in Sketchup, making building information modelling a doddle. You’re effectively using it to turn Sketchup into BIM software and make building models faster.  


1001 Bit Tools – A collection of tools designed for creation of several architectural elements, it makes creating roofs, railings, windows, staircases, and overall roof design so much easier.


Instant Roof  – is a member of the Vali Plugins collection. They’re all extremely useful for creating a wide variety of architectural elements. This clever plugin focuses on making roofs from selected faces and edges.


Instant Road – Another plugin element from the Vali Plugins collection, this one is designed for creating roads, pathways and waterways on terrains.


PhotoSketch – Lets you build 3D models in existing urban structures using 2D photographs.


Keyframe Animations – Helps you animate Sketchup models.


Affinity –Allows you to make the connection between the model, the spreadsheet and all the underlying data about your building’s requirements.


Timber Frame Rubies – Simplifies the modeling of timber frame designs in 3D.


Joint Push Pull – Performs push pull on multiple faces in one go.

How to Install Sketchup Plugins

How to add extension to Sketchup? It’s good to know installing Sketchup plugins is an easy matter. How to add plugins to Sketchup? They’re much the same as extensions, so the same applies. It’s just as easy as it is to download a file of any other kind. When you access the Extension Warehouse from inside Sketchup you get an install button. If you view it direct from a browser you’ll be offered a download option. As a rule it’s easiest to do from within Sketchup but if you download one manually, all you need to do is follow the usual installation process:

  • Download the extension you want. It’ll be in a .rbz file format.
  • In Sketchup, go to Extensions > Extension Manager.
  • Click the ‘Install Extension’ button.
  • Navigate to where the .rbz file was downloaded – It’ll be your Download folder, unless you chose a different place.
  • Install the extension – responding ‘Yes’ to the caution prompt.

Sketchup for Architecture

A core set of functions that achieves absolutely everything you want to do, quickly and efficiently. Masses of extensions for extra functionality. A huge warehouse of free 3d designs to download and use. Endless video tutorials plus non-video learning resources. And there’s a 30 day free Pro trial to enjoy, too. Click here to download it, and here to download the V-ray for Sketchup free rendering trial. There are also masses of tutorials to improve your knowledge and skills even more. 

About Elmtec

Elmtec have been the UK distribution partner for SketchUp since 2010, and service a network of UK and Irish resellers. We have over 22 years’ experience within the digital design community.

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