Frequently Asked Questions


Why do we left and right click?
What is Site Grade?
What is Add Freeform Items to BOM?
How do I change which wall is West (or North, etc.)?
There's a bug. I can't delete/move corner posts!
There's a bug. I can't delete/move certain line posts!
Can I build more than one wing?
Are there limits on the size of buildings I can make?
Where's the hip roof?
So. I draw a box, and that's it?
Can you give me a step by step?
What do you mean by parameters?
What's the downside to this program?
Can I do standard (stud) framing?
Do I have to draw with the mouse?
This seems more complicated than "fill-in-the-blank" systems. Why?
How is labor calculated?
How long should it take to quote a complete building reliably?
How do I spec web bracing?


Q: Why do we left and right click?

Left click is used to perform an action, right click is used to fine tune. For instance, in the main screen to draw a wing, you click and drag with the Left button, telling PostFrame Manager (PFM) that you are drawing a wing. Click the Right button inside one of the wing rectangles, and you will bring up a menu that is specific to that wing.

This way, if your main wing is say a big warehouse and a second smaller wing Tees into the main wing sidewall, you can click the smaller wing and select (e.g.) wainscoting details. You may not use wainscoting on the main wing. This keeps things easily accessible and uses the same way to get to things throughout.

This becomes even more pronounced as you get to more advanced features such as implementing interior walls. Click with the left button to draw a wall. Click on the wall with the right button to change parameters. If we didn't do this, it would become very problematic for you to start a wall at the corner of one you've already drawn -- "That left button click at the end of this wall -- hmmm. Does the user intend to draw another wall starting here or is s/he intending to make a change?"

Q: What is Site Grade?

If your building site isn't level, Site Grade is a mechanism you can use to vary post lengths so that all are buried to the proper (code) depth below ground and still reach the intended uniform elevation height above ground.

Q: What is Add Freeform Items to BOM?

Sometimes your customer will want items on a quote that aren't in your data set and it may not be likely that, due to uniqueness, they will be. This is a simple way of adding one-off items to the MISC data file. MISC, as the name itself suggests, is used to hold data which doesn't really fit into the standard categories.

Q: How do I change which wall is West (or North, etc.)?

The compass rose in the upper right corner of the gridded drawing field is clickable. Click an arrow point to set the direction at the top of the screen.

Q: There's a bug. I can't delete/move corner posts!

Not a bug. This is by design.

Q: There's a bug. I can't delete/move certain line posts!

In this copy of PFM, we limit your ability to remove posts to 1.5x of the nominal post spacing. If you have post spacing at 8 feet, post removal will not allow you to remove a post resulting in a bay longer than 12 feet.

Q: Can I build more than one wing?

In a fully registered, paid for copy, yes. PFM supports up to 4 wings.

Q: Are there limits on the size of buildings I can make?

Yes. The largest building you can make using the draw system is 400 feet. There is another limit as well; you can't have more than 100 or so bays. That, however, is the limit in the present copy, which is an arbitrary practical point. If you regularly need to create large buildings or an ultra-high bay count, we're able to provide you with an altered version.

Q: Where's the hip roof?

In the commercial copy of PFM and in Stud Frame Manager. This PFM copy is Ag centric; that is, the feature set herein is largely used in Ag moreso than downtown commercial structures, residences, and so on. By and large buildings with both hip rooflines and Ag features are rare. The important thing is that yes, we certainly support hipped rooflines.

Q: So. I draw a box, and that's it?

Pretty much. The idea is to draw an outline, add openings, and then use the menu to make adjustments to the structure parameters as you think needed. What, is this supposed to be complicated?

Q: Can you give me a step by step?

Sure.



Q: What do you mean by parameters?

Anything that's variable. Is this building using a wainscot? How high? What color or material? And so on.

Q: What's the downside to this program?

In a word, DATA. It's tough to get an electronic feed of data from the various suppliers, so you often have to enter data by hand to get it in place. The good news is that we generally have reasonably comprehensive data sets from most of the major suppliers, so we can help with this aspect.

Q: Can I do standard (stud) framing?

If you use the correct product. Stud Frame Manager, the cousin to PFM, is available now. Here's a list of the products we have -- Regardless of what style you normally work with, these products ought to be able to get you most of the way there.

Q: Do I have to draw with the mouse?

Once you go beyond one wing, there are many operations that are difficult or impossible to accomplish without a pointing device. Try to imagine adding a second office wing that T's into a warehouse wing. Which wall will this go on? Starting at how far from the egde? And so on. Very simple thing to do with a mouse. Not so simple with pressing buttons and filling blanks.

Need to delete a post or move one? How do you do this with a keyboard that's easy and consistent? We're still waiting to see an example of a 4 wing shopping mall that has been created with a system based on entering text values. With PFM you can do this easily within minutes, and that's the point.

One of the jokes with the founding fathers was that democracy wasn't a very good form of government -- except for all the others. Similarly, using a pointing device isn't a very good way to implement a system like this -- except for all the others!

Q: This seems more complicated than "fill-in-the-blank" systems. Why?

Same thing as the mouse question, really. Most of the spreadsheet-like systems out there seem to work well for single wings, but they tend to get really complicated really fast when adding a second wing. Think of it this way -- how many "fill-in-the-blank" products have you seen that can handle multiple wings? Hint: there are none. (Hmmm. Maybe this is because you can't do it cleanly.)

Q: How is labor calculated?

We use a measurement driven system that is tied to the application of the materials. What this means is that for each material you put on a building, there's a corresponding unit of measurement. For example, fascia trim on a building may total 96 linear feet. You know from experience that it takes say 4 minutes a foot (tough trim!) which gives you 384 man-minutes, which is 6.4 hours. If your trim application crew is being paid $15/hr then the labor cost for applying fascia trim is $96.

Not only does the measurement system apply to all facets of construction, you can assign different measurements to different "crews" such that the more difficult and expensive labor can be calculated separately if need be, or you can break labor up so that wood framing is calculated at one rate while siding or trim application is calculated at another. How You break this up is up to you. It's your business.

Compare this to simpler systems or spreadhseets and you can see where this represents a great deal more precision. No more guesses.

Q: How long should it take to quote a complete building reliably?

Once everything is set up? Probably 15 minutes or so from the time you open the program until the quote is printed. That's assuming the customer wants to see a couple of minor variations or options and has some idea of what s/he wants.

Think of it this way -- when you draw an outline, you calculate a 3D building. Every last board, panel, nail and screw is known. Add a window. Same thing. How long does that take? A second? Two? That's how long it takes our advanced realtime algorithm to calculate the full price. It's Never the program that takes the time! If you could decide on what to build quickly enough, you could do the whole process, including quotes and drawings, in 5 minutes or less.

Q: How do I spec web bracing?

You don't, at least not as part of the main program. This is a function of the truss editing and setup. Try this.


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