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?
- Draw a box. Set the parameters asked for.
- If the default elevation isn't right, choose the right one.
- Add openings.
- Use the menu to adjust parameters as needed.
- Select colors of trim etc.
- Select BOM/Reports to generate a quote.
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.
- PostFrame Manager Ag Edition -- includes slider doors, lean-to wings, gambrel
roofs, and other elements normally associated with Agricultural and some commercial
- PostFrame Manager Commercial Edition -- assumes buildings are insulated hence no
slider doors, gambrel roofs, etc. Includes hip and other complex roofs, multiple stories,
and so on.
- SIP Manager -- what you need for Structural Insulated Panel construction
- StudFrame Manager -- mainline commercial and residential appearance, includes
hip and other complex roofs, etc.
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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