Using RefNotes & Cost Estimates
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Using RefNotes & Cost Estimates

Monday, 05 May 2014
Video Length:  46:25
Presented By:  Amanda Berry

No project is too small to use RefNotes to make it more efficient. This is the motto we go by, since setting up a project with RefNotes right from concept can help speed up the process to produce accurate detailed drawings, and construction drawings, with cost estimates at every step along the way. We'll go through some advanced-user tips with RefNotes using an actual project.


(note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions, You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)

  • Intro & TOC
  • Starting With a Concept – Rough Costing
  • Preliminary Design & Exporting RefNotes for Refined Cost Estimate
  • Detailed Design and Costing from RefNote Foundation
  • Construction Drawings and Bid Sheets
  • What to Take Away


0:00 – 7:11: Intro & TOC

The Old Way (3:20)

  • Using the AREA or DISTANCE commands in AutoCAD (slow, repetitious, and inaccurate)
  • Polyline + Properties + Calculator (a little more flexible than the AREA command, but still prone to calculation errors)


7:12 – 8:55: Starting With a Concept – Rough Costing

Start with a sketched concept (7:30) and …

… a rough cost: Count up the trees, hardscape items, site amenities, etc. and provide a  rough cost estimate (8:00)


8:56 – 15:09: Preliminary Design & Exporting RefNotes for Refined Cost Estimate

Note: Use RefNotes early, and make them as detailed as you can.


Preliminary drawing steps: Sketching over the concept sketch in CAD, creating a Land F/X project, setting the scale, etc. (9:50)


Pulling in RefNotes from a template (11:15)

Clicking Import in the RefNotes Manager to open the Reference Notes library (12:03)


Adding RefNotes to the project (12:40)

Numbering the RefNotes (13:30)


The importance of a RefNote naming hierarchy from general to specific (13:45)


The Edit Reference Note dialog box (14:24)


15:10 – 41:08: Detailed Design and Costing from RefNote Foundation

Placing RefNotes (15:10)


Question: How do you edit the properties of a hatch? (18:28)

Answer: Clicking the hatch opens the AutoCAD Hatch Editor ribbon. If you click the Select button on this ribbon, you can add more outlines to the hatch, for example. You can also click Remove to remove an outline.


Another advantage of using RefNote templates: You have a list of which RefNotes you should have placed, which reminds you which RefNotes you still need to place. (21:10)


The distinction between Length, Object, and Area RefNotes (21:45)


Trick for sod (or any hatch): Turn it gray so it doesn’t overpower the drawing, and send it to the back layer. (32:40)


Note: If you create a new RefNote for a project but think it will apply to other projects as well, you can set it up properly in the current project, import it into your RefNotes template, and make it available for future use. The important part is to set it up properly, and early, with cost, attached details, etc. (24:30)


Note: When you import RefNotes with details already attached to them, those details will automatically be added to the current project’s Detail Manager. You can then place those details in your drawing. (26:40)


Exporting a cost estimate of the conceptual stage for the client to use (28:14)


Generating a RefNote Schedule, either in the drawing or as an Excel spreadsheet (this schedule can serve as your cost estimate). (29:00)


Tip: When you name your RefNotes, name them exactly as you want them to appear in the RefNote schedule / cost estimate. (30:45)


Note: Make sure you’ve set each RefNote on the correct layer, so the calculations occur correctly. (31:40)


Customizing the RefNote schedule (34:20)


Converting the cost estimate into a bid sheet (essentially, the spreadsheet can turn into the bid sheet) (37:20)


Taking the design to the public (example: using the Land F/X SketchUp plugin) (38:47)


Note: If you set up your RefNotes properly early in the design process, the revision stages can be remarkably less time consuming.


41:09 – 43:00: Construction Drawings and Bid Sheets

Demonstration of a detailed plan and cost estimate based on the conceptual design of the park covered in the conceptual component of this webinar (41:09)


43:00 – end: What to Take Away

  • Spend the time to set up your RefNotes during the concept stage; it’s worth it!
  • Efficiency is the goal.
  • Make the smart choices that reduce the chances for error:
    • Double-check your design.
    • Use the Verify Plants tool to find and error-check plants.

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