Creating a Symbol that Sits on the Roof

Reference Number: KB-01042 Last Updated: 07-08-2014 01:20 PM

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors or Chief Architect Lite


I often design Victorian style homes with a lot of moldings and ­millwork - including finials, cupolas, and other details on the roof. How can I create these symbols so that they will sit on the roof automatically?


You can easily create or import a symbol and specify that it sit on the top of the roof in your plan using the "Sits on Roof" option in the Symbol Specification dialog.




In this example, we will create a symbol based on an existing library item, modify it to suit our needs, and then save it as a custom symbol in the Library Browser.


To create a rooftop symbol

  1. Open a new, blank plan and select Library> Library Browser  from the menu.

  2. In the Library Browser, browse to an object that you would like to use as a roof ornament and click on it to select it.

    • In this example, we used a section of ironwork fencing, found at Chief Architect Libraries> Architectural> Fences & Railings> Ironwork.

    • Other good candidates for roof ornaments can be found in Chief Architect Libraries> Architectural> Millwork.

  3. Move your mouse pointer into the drawing area and click once to place the selected object at that location.

  4. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Perspective Full Camera  from the menu, then click and drag a camera arrow at the object to create a 3D view. 

  5. When the object is edited to suit your needs, and with the 3D view active, select Tools> Symbol> Convert to Symbol  to open the Convert to Symbol dialog.


    • Select an appropriate symbol category from the drop-down list. For the roof ornament, "Fixture (Exterior)" is used.

    • Make sure the boxes beside Show Advanced Options and Add to Library are both checked.

    • Click OK.

  6. In the Symbol Specification dialog, which opens next, you can customize aspects of the symbol such as its name and special behaviors.


    • On the General tab, specify a short, descriptive Symbol Name.

    • On the Options tab, check the box beside Sits on Roof

    • Also on the Options tab, we can also adjust the height of the symbol relative to a roof plane beneath it using the Height Off Floor setting. In this example, we will leave this setting at 0".

  7. On the Sizing tab, we can specify what parts of the symbol are affected when the object is resized. 


    • In this example, we want the top portions of the railing to remain the same size when the rest of the symbol is reduced in height.

    • Under the "Stretch Planes" heading, check the boxes beside 1 under XY plane at Z = .

    • In the first text field, type 1".

    • When the height of this symbol is changed, it will stretch or contract along a horizontal plane 1" up from the bottom of the symbol.

    • When you are satisfied with your changes, click OK to close the dialog, apply your settings to the object.

      Note: If your symbol has twisted or curved surfaces, you may find it more effective to define two Height Stretch Planes instead of one, and then check the box beside Height 1 - 2 under the "Stretch Zones" heading.

  8. Select File> Close  from the menu to close the 3D view and return to floor plan view.

  9. Select Tools> Symbol> Get Last Symbol  from the menu, then click once in the drawing area to place the newly converted exterior fixture symbol into the plan.

  10. Select this new symbol and click the Open Object  edit button.  On the General tab of the Symbol Specification dialog, specify the desired Height of the symbol.

    • In this example, a Height of 11" is used. 

    • After you enter the new Height value, press the Tab key to update the preview drawing on the right side of the dialog box.  Notice that the symbol resized, but the height of the top portion remained the same.

    • Notice that the dialog includes a Follow Roof checkbox, and that it is checked.  This checkbox is present because of how we specified the symbol in step 6, above.

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your change.   

This symbol is now saved in the User Catalog in the Library Browserand is ready to be placed in any plan.  When positioned within a roof plane, it will automatically seek the height of the roof at that location.

Note that in version X3, it will be saved in My Library and in version X2, it will be saved in the Import category.


If you do not see a symbol in the Chief Architect library that meets your particular needs, you can create a custom symbol from scratch using tools like the Primitive Tools and Molding Polylines. 

You can also import custom symbols from outside sources. Chief Architect is able to import 3D symbols in .­dxf, .­dwg, .obj, .3ds, and .skp file formats.