Converting Plan Files to DWG or DXF

Reference Number: KB-00013
Last Modified: January 31, 2024

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I have a Chief Architect plan file that I need to open in AutoCAD®. How do I convert it from a .plan to a DWG or DXF file type?  


Converting a Chief Architect plan file into either a two- or three-dimensional AutoCAD® compatible DWG or DXF file can be done easily using the export functions.

Line drawings, such as Plan view, elevation views, and CAD Details can be exported to DWG or DXF files.

To export a 2D DWG or DXF

  1. Select File> Export> Export Current View (DWG, DXF) or Export All Floors (DWG, DXF) from the menu.

    Note: Export All Floors is only accessible from a floor plan view.

  2. In the Export Drawing dialog that displays:

    Export Drawing dialog

    • From the Compatible Version drop-down list, select the version of AutoCAD® that you want the exported DWG or DXF file to be compatible with.

    • Specify appropriate Layer Options, such as the Layer Set that you would like to export, whether to split wall assemblies into layers, as well as if you would like to only export displayed layers or all used and named layers.

      • Split Wall Assemblies Into Layers allows you to export each wall layer line onto separate layers, allowing them to be displayed independently.

      • Export Only Displayed Layers only exports layers that are displayed on screen. This is what always occurs when exporting from a layout.

      • Export All Used And Named Layers exports all layers that either have something on them or have a layer name specified. Not available in layout files.

      For more information on layers and Layer Sets, and how they function in Chief Architect, please see the Related Articles section below.

    • Specify the Other Options, as needed.

      • The Scaling Unit allows you to select the unit of measurement to be used. For best results, choose inches or feet for U.S. Unit plan or layout files, or metric units for metric files.

      • Uncheck Create Associative Dimensions to export dimensions as simple CAD entities that are not recognized dimensions by other programs. Associative dimensions are recognized by AutoCAD® and many other CAD programs.

        When exporting a layout page, it is often best to uncheck this box.

      • Check Export Pattern Lines to export pattern lines. Pattern lines are exported as normal CAD lines.

      • Check Export Filled Areas to export filled areas as AutoCAD® 2D solid entities.

      • Check Export AutoCAD® Index Colors to automatically map all colors used in the drawing to the closest 256 AutoCAD® Index Color (ACI). Black (RGB 0,0) and white (RGB 255,255,255) are mapped to ACI 7. When unchecked, colors are exported using RGB colors.

      Note: Dimension lines using non-default primary or secondary formatting will lose their changes and will use the default format(s) upon export.

    • Click the Export button.

  3. A dialog will appear prompting for a save location:

    • Specify an appropriate File name and location to save the file to.

    • Use the Save as type drop-down to choose between AutoCAD® Drawing (*.dwg), DXF (*.dxf), or Binary DXF (*.dxf) file types.

      Note: Binary DXF (*.dxf) is easier for computers to read, is more accurate, and occupies less disk space, but some applications do not support Binary DXF (*.dxf).

    • Click Save to save the file

Any perspective or orthographic camera view can be exported as a 3D model, including AutoCAD® compatible DWG or DXF files. These model files can then be opened by any program that uses AutoCAD®'s 3D DWG or DXF format.

To export a 3D DWG or DXF

  1. Enter a 3D view by selecting 3D> Create Perspective View> Perspective Full Overview 

  2. Select File> Export> Export 3D Model (DWG, DXF) 

    Export 3D Drawing dialog

    • From the Compatible Version drop-down list, select the version of AutoCAD® that you want the exported 3D drawing to be compatible with.

    • Set the Scaling unit that you would like to use.

    • Click the Export button.

  3. Specify an appropriate File name and location to save the model to in the dialog that appears, then click Save.

    Note: The entire 3D model, including geometry is exported. However, 3D models exported in a DWG and DXF format do not include material and texture information.