Specifying Which Wall Layer Exterior Dimensions Locate

Reference Number: KB-00658
Last Modified: April 8, 2022

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I would like Auto Exterior Dimensions to locate the sheathing layer of my exterior walls. How can I have exterior dimensions locate specific wall layers in a particular wall type?


By default, a wall type's Main Layer is also its Wall Dimension Layer. You can, however, specify a different Wall Dimension Layer in the Wall Type Definitions dialog.

To specify the Wall Dimension Layer

  1. Open the drawing in which you would like to change how exterior dimensions locate exterior walls.

  2. Select Edit> Default Settings from the menu and in the Default Settings dialog:

    Default Settings dialog with Exterior Wall selected

    • Expand the Walls category.

    • Select the Exterior Wall option, then click the Edit button. 

  3. On the Wall Types panel of the Exterior Wall Defaults dialog that displays, click the Define button to the right of the Wall Type drop-down.

    Defining the wall type in Exterior Wall Defaults

  4. In the Wall Type Definitions dialog that opens, use the drop-down menu next to Dimension to Exterior of Layer to select the layer that you want to dimension to, then click OK.

    Wall Type Definitions dialog changing the Dimension to Exterior of Layer setting

  5. Back in the Default Settings dialog, expand the Dimension category, select the Dimensions option, then click the Edit button.

    In X12 and prior versions, select the the Auto Exterior Dimensions default option, then click Edit.

  6. In the Saved Dimension Defaults dialog that opens, select your desired dimension default, then click Edit once again.

    This step does not apply to X12 and prior versions.

  7. On the Locate Auto Exterior panel: 

    In X12 and prior versions, access the Locate Objects panel instead.

    Dimension Defaults changing the Locate Auto Exterior to go to the Wall Dimension Layer

    • Make sure that Wall Dimension Layer is selected

    • Specify which side of the wall the dimensions will locate under the Wall Options section.

      The primary side of exterior walls is the exterior side while the primary wall side of interior walls is the interior side.

      Note: Walls specified as "No Locate" will not be located by some dimension tools, such as the Auto Exterior Dimensions tool. By default, Railings, Deck Railings, and Room Dividers are specified as "No Locate".

    •  Click OK when the dimensions are set up the way you want.

  8. Click Done to close the Default Settings dialog, as well.

  9. Select CAD> Automatic Dimensions> Auto Exterior Dimensions .

These new dimensions will reflect the changes you made to the exterior wall type, as long as all of your exterior walls are of the same type that you modified in the Wall Type Definitions dialog. 

Showing how dimension lines locate the wall in plan view

Remember that the settings in the Wall Type Definitions dialog apply to one wall type only. This permits great flexibility in the way you create dimensions, but can also create confusion if you are not mindful of the specifications for other wall types.