Initial Setup

Layers & Layer Combinations

Where to find: Command + L.


Use this to: Assuming you have set up and are using a template file this wouldn’t require more attention. Sometimes adjustments or a quick check are necessary however, especially to Layer Priorities. As you know, Layer Combinations save a state of all Layers in your file in regards to visibility, locking and priority. Check that a strategy for the naming of layers is in place so that Layers are grouped by purpose (e.g. Structure or Landscaping or…) and easy to find. Check that per Layer Combinations being used apply the correct state for every layer and the combinations are named and grouped by name clearly and logically.

Check that the strategy for Layer Priorities allows for some flexibility but is not overly complex. A few dedicated numbers (of say 0 to 5) should be sufficient at design stages and a more comprehensive set of numbers can be set for construction stages if necessary.




Where to find: Teamwork>Project>Share

Use this: In case you are setting up a project to be shared with team members. We can even recommend projects with only a single person on them to be set up as a Teamwork project if the server is already set up anyway. This way you will always know where to find all your projects’ ArchiCAD files.

Review all the settings in the pop up window before clicking okay. Especially review the backup schedule settings as the default creates far too many backups; five every hour and / or switch off PLN backups.



TIPWhile you are the only one working on the file go : Teamwork>Reserve All. Remember to release all when you’re done.



Where to find: File>Libraries & Objects>Library Manager

Use this to: Make sure the correct libraries are loaded for your project. See our basic field guide for more about Libraries.


INFO > ArchiCad also allows for an embedded library. Avoid having objects in this library (especially if you are working with multiple linked files) and keep all your library parts in a single easy to find office library available across all projects. When creating project specific library objects, these will default to the embedded library when they are created from the floor plan via File > Libraries & Objects > Save selection as… > Object. Ensure these are exported onto the BIM server by means of the Library Manager as they are created. Generally, Objects are best created via File > Libraries & Objects > New Object… , copying / coding relevant elements and finally go File > Save as….


Add Stories

Where to find: Story Settings : COMMAND + 7.

Use this to: Set up Stories. Keep Story 0 as your ground level. Note that this Story can sit at any given level. Also include a Height Datum Reference Story that has a level coordinate of 0. This is a Story that will never change and is therefore safe to place critical items on. For example the base of the site mesh will be placed here so you have a visual reference for its correct elevation and it will not be affected by adding or subtracting storeys.


TIPYou don’t have to show every Story Level Line in Sections or Elevations. Uncheck Stories Level Lines that you don’t want to be represented in the Story Settings window.

INFO > ArchiCAD 16 and earlier versions calculate the story height by adding the current wall height to the current slab thickness. Set them up correctly in the tool’s settings window before you add storeys.


Set story levels

The easiest way to adjust story levels is not through the Story Settings (COMMAND + 7).

Follow these steps instead:

1. Open any section or elevation. Ensure Story Levels are displayed in the Section or Elevation Settings.

2. Check the section or elevation settings to

ensure story levels are displayed.

3. Regenerate if necessary.

4. Right click on a story level line>Edit story


5. Choose (in order of appearance):

(See image)

Edit Single Story Level

Edit Selected Story Level and all below

Edit Selected Story Level and all above

Edit all Story Levels

6. Click the level to be adjusted (note the tick at the cursor).

7. Type the Z coordinate for the new level.




If not already set up;

1. Create a new worksheet. Size does not matter but do include the origin within its boundaries. Give the worksheet a relevant name. Place the marker on a Layer dedicated to markers that are not to be shown on your drawings.

2. Place the survey on a worksheet. If it is a DWG then place it as an external drawing and NOT as an xref. This avoids polluting your file with the xref attributes like line types, fill types, etc.

3. Locate it so the site set out point or to the most distinct boundary corner is on the ArchiCAD origin.

4. Rotate the drawing so it fits on a layout.

5. If the survey indicates the North Point, go back to the floor plan and Trace & Reference the survey worksheet. Go ArchiCad>Project Preferences>Set Project North and proceed to adjust as per the survey’s north arrow.


Best practice is to trace survey information with the 2D drawing tools and objects for trees etc. Use office standards set up in Favourites.



These files are not typically set up for ArchiCAD with your standards, thus copy/pasting will pollute your file and bring in drawn information that’s usually not that accurately drawn; e.g. lots of short disconnected lines where you would use one arc.


North point

Where to find: Options>Project Preferences>Project Location

Use this to: Set project location and north.


Check the correct north angle on the placed survey before entering the correct value in this window.



Elevation Markers

Use favourites to place elevation markers and name them relevantly. Ideally you have a Favourite set up for this which contains all the correct settings for the marker.



Sections Markers

Repeat above steps with the section tool. Ideally you have a Favourite set up for this which contains all the correct settings for the marker.


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