Dennis Fukai, Architect, PhD


Dennis is a licensed architect and construction manager with more than thirty years experience as a professional construction administrator, researcher, and construction management professor. He is a Fulbright Scholar and earned his PhD in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. Dennis has written seven books and numerous chapters and articles on graphic communications in construction and has been recognized internationally for his work in advanced construction modeling and information systems. (See for more information)


16 Responses to “Who?”

  1. red Says:

    SketchUp 7
    are you updating your books relevant for current SU7?

    • insitebuilders Says:


      I thk we covered this when we talked on the phone, but yes, the new book, “How a House is Built: with 3D Construction Models,” uses SkUp V7, tho there isn’t a significant difference between V7 and V4 — except the Outliner.

      This new book differs from the original 3D Construction Modeling book, because it goes step by step through the construction of the entire house (using illustrations, 3D models, Shorties and tutorials). The book starts with layout, goes thru foundation and framing, close-in, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical, and finally finish work.

      The 13 tutorials parallel the details of the house’s construction, but use the construction of a tiny version of that house in the hands-on lessons at the end of each chapter (or later online sections). IOW, I tried to make learning to build a construction model simpler than the early book by keeping the tutorials more openended, sticking to basic techniques, tricks, and tips, rather than detailed instructions.

      The goal is to leave the reader with the skills to communicate and construct their own ideas using the same techniques and 3D construction models…

      Hope that helps clarify….


  2. red Says:

    I am wanting to learn more about the Outliner feature in sketchup, layers, groups and components and how best to work with them for the creation of construction documents and construction models like you create.
    Would you suggest that I focus on outliner as the key?
    And is this covered in the book with examples of how to best organize and utilize the organizer for a 3d model of a residence.

  3. Dear dennis,
    I ordered your latest book in order to learn to use sketchup pro7 for designing a house for a friend/ client of long standing, and need to prepare a complete set of documents in order to get the project approved in Sausalito.

    As you’ve spenttime in the Bay Arena, you might be familiar with Sausalito and it’s idiosyncracies(?). I’m not sure they are willing to accept and electronic set of referrals as opposed to paper documents. Having only just discovered you, your books, and yourforum which Iam using now to querie you, Iwanted to ask if sketchup pro 7 and you book are sufficient to produce these, and also,if you can give me any tips or suggestions regarding how to proceed in this? Does your book serve as a tutorial to some extant for sketchup as well as the proceedure for creating what necessary documents would more than likely be required for a permit?

    In reading this forum,my impression is that you don’t like paper jobsite documents.
    Do you think AutoCAD lt is sufficient to fill in where sketchup fails (lack of real 2D capability), and can you explain how to otherwise get around it?

    I’m sure you probably think me a moron, But this is fairly new to me. I have eperiience with Auto cad, but since Ihad to buy a new computer (as my harddrive died without a backup, and I’m suffering through trying to learn 64bit Vista, Sketchup pro7, and keep myself alfoat during these economicaly challenging times as a 1 man band furniture maker, I’m having the best time I’ve ever had. But I am having a ball with Sketchup inspite the problems I’m encountering.

    Hope your book helps, and any firther advice or suggestions would be hugely appreciated.


    • insitebuilders Says:


      I wouldn’t recommend SkUp for the 2D documentation for a building permit, especially if you are familiar with ACAD and 2D. You could use SkUp but it would mean a bunch of cut and paste and very little control over layouts that you find in ACAD’s Paperspace. IMHO SkUp Layout does not even come close to the capabilities of 2D Paperspace and what you’ll need for construction documents, especially for an electronic permit submittal (which I believe is only dxf/dwg, perhaps PDF). In short, ACAD (or a similar 2D program) are really your only realistic choice for 2D drafting.

      That said, SkUp has a lot of value as a construction modeler. Especially for planning and presenting ideas to clients. It is also invaluable as a construction management tool for materials and labor (as you probably will see in the book). Reduction in paperwork will come in improving construction communications and project management and not necessarily from the construction docs themselves.

      IMHO furniture design and construction is an excellent application for SkUp, especially b/c most of this work benefits from 3D piece based documentation. If I were in Sausalito (and we once lived there) I would also focus on the capabilities of SkUp as a preconstruction modeler — both for clients and contractors in the Bay Area. Once you’re up to speed w/ construction modeling, you can do a lot of phased presentations, site utilization planning, simulations, and value added analysis of alternatives — all in 3D. The market in area surrounding the Bay has a huge potential b/c of the sophistication of builders and designers practicing there.

      I’d especially recommend a stop at Builder’s Booksource in Berkeley, it is the mecca for construction and architecture books.

      Hope this helps, let me know if you have any Q’s or probs



  4. Hello Dennis,

    I just wanted to thank you for being a voice or reason and common sense in decrying the overspecialization of the design industry in the way it uses digital design tools. I have been using Sketchup on all of our projects for around 4 years now, and have been finding more and more ways of using it not only as a representational design tool (for which it is amazing), but one that can create precise and detailed models which are ‘dissected’ and converted in a ‘lossless’ fashion into survey coordinates, software which drives CNC equipment, steel fabrication dwgs, framing drawings, and on and on. Since the information that is used to program total stations which do the concrete layout and set anchor bolts comes from the same model in which steel and envelope assemblies are created and integrated, we’re able to confidently order these assemblies far sooner than would be possible without this degree of integration. There’s a section in our website which attempts to illustrate this integrated approach:

    I keep hearing that Revit is becoming the standard for 3d construction design, but worry that it and others like it will become another set of specialized tools that require a form of education that is very far removed from the real-world knowledge gained by years of experience on the field. Furthermore, I’ve found that those ‘field generals’ that possess that knowledge and experience have been left stifled by a lack of communication skills necessary to share information on a level playing field with the design professionals. Sketchup and many other easily accessible tools change all that, but only if the industry is willing to embrace a simpler set of tools, instead of gravitating towards tools that generate mountains of impressive looking, but often useless information.

    I’d be very interested in hearing about other companies that are creating ‘virtual’ models with Sketchup, as opposed to using Sketchup as a representational tool.

    Marty Tipton/Hart Tipton Construction, Ltd.

    • Dima Says:

      What do you mean by information being “impressive looking” and “useless”? And what particular tools do you refer to in this case? In case you are talking about BIM software you are in control of how much information your model actually carries (on top of “by default” settings). The bottom line is that your BIM model can be as information rich as you would want it to be. when you say “creating ‘virtual’ models with Sketchup” doesn’t that actually mean turning it into a BIM type of software?

  5. HO Says:

    Hi Dennis:

    Appreciate the focus of your blog. Can I invite you to an e-Semianr on ConstructSim V8i, a revolutionary construction automation tool for workface planning, sequencing, execution and monitoring of construction activities within an integrated virtual plant model? The product builds upon 3D models. You will find it an interesting talk. Visit our site to make arrangements if you wish:


  6. Jai Dixon Says:

    Thank you for your clear voice – gentle and understanding ways.

  7. Joel Orr Says:

    Hi, Dennis! Love your beautifully articulated thoughts.

    Best wishes,
    Joel Orr

  8. Pedro Gomes Says:

    He liked to promote my blog with you!

  9. Dima Says:

    Are you deleting comments of people that confront your opinion regarding your “extremely educated” and “visionary” BIM-bashing articles like “3 Myths of BIM”?

    • insitebuilders Says:

      I’m actually waiting for someone to object to these myths and encourage a thoughtful and professional response. Preferably point by point so that it doesn’t come off as just some pissed off BIM operator….so to speak…;-) But keep in mind this is a CONSTRUCTION website, so the readers are by and large construction managers and not designers…

  10. Pat Says:

    We are a green energy freelancing site using Sketchup for project development and design, we would like your help as we go from using sketchup exclusively in the sales process to using it for our construction documents (instead of Autocad).

    • insitebuilders Says:

      There are actually quite a few companies using SketchUp for 2D construction documents. The program is quicker and far simpler than most 2D drafting programs and allows a company to mix 3D and 2D images. Efforts range from literal cut and pastes to a Draw program (or even glued paste-ups to a D size sheet) to much more complex construction detailing and process representation similar to those done by Stangl Associates .

      You might also want to look at some of the comments on the SketchUcation Forum Especially the Layout Discussions you’ll find regarding Google’s pro version of LayOut — as you know, its a 2D sister program for the SketchUp modeler. In that regard, Bonnie Roske has a couple of books on Layout and SketchUp you might find useful She’s a guru when it comes to the nitty gritty details of using either program — for design and design documentation.

      There are several small and large construction companies (and manufacturers/design builders) using annotated Scenes and screen captures of 3D piece-based models to document features/details and assembly/process. Examples from the smaller companies are all over the net. The larger ones include corps like Holder Construction in Atlanta and ConXtech in California. These are companies using process illustrations, communicating construction changes/details to workers or customers actually doing the hands-on work and NOT design documentation. In this case it’s NOT about the drawing (or BIM..;-) It’s about the physical assembly — or its construction.

      Hope that helps, PM me if you have a specific question or need more info, happy to help….

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