Matching Building and Terrain Heights

Reference Number: KB-00321
Last Modified: July 16, 2021

The information in this article applies to:



How do I match the height of my terrain with the height of my building? In some drawings, the structure seems to float above the terrain while in other plans, the building sinks into the terrain. 


In Chief Architect, both the floor height of Floor 1 and the initial height of the terrain are given values of 0. However, the floor and the terrain are not actually at the same height. The program automatically raises the default floor height of Floor 1 up above the default terrain. This value varies depending on the type of foundation that you choose to build, and also according to the Subfloor Height Above Terrain value that you enter in the Terrain Specification dialog. 

Matching building and terrain heights

  1. With the Select Objects Select Objects icon tool active, click on the terrain perimeter to select it and click the Open Object Open Object icon edit button.

  2. On the General panel of the Terrain Specification dialog:

    Change the Building Pad settings on the General panel of the Terrain Specification dialog

    • Under Building Pad, check the Automatic box to have  the software automatically lower the terrain relative to the first floor.

    • Uncheck this box if you want to specify a value in the Subfloor Height Above Terrain field.  This is the distance between Floor 1 and the terrain at the building footprint center

    • For more information on terrain and building heights, click on the Help button located at the bottom of the dialog or see the Related Articles section.

    • Click the OK button to apply your changes and close the dialog. 

  3. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Perspective Full Overview Perspective Full Overview icon from the menu, to see the results.