Using blender for simple CAD design

I need advise (just to get me pointed in the right direction)

I’d like to model a structure made of blocks. Then create a series of cross sectional images showing the placement of blocks at each level of the construction (ie: design plans).

It’s a simple task. Blender would be overkill for the job. If I only wanted the 2D cross sections, I’d use something like Inkscape. However, I thought it’d be nice to also provide a 3D render of the construction as well. As a bonus, maybe I could provide VRML/X3D files for model viewing on the web.

I eventually would like to produce several of these “design plans” and create a PDF book of them. Hence using Blender as my tool for documentation of how these structures are made.

So my question is: What would be the easiest way for me to accomplish this in Blender?

My initial attempt was to create an object for each block shape, then use copy, rotation and placement to virtually build the structure (usually with a snap to grid). This worked rather well, but I had to pay very special attention that I didn’t have blocks that overlapped. Is there a setting that I could turn on that would prevent me from overlapping blocks or at least give me a warning?

Also, when creating my virtual blocks, can I give them texture and color such that I get a realtime view of what my 3D structure would look like? It’s hard building this thing in 3D space when all my bocks are smooth gray.

Lastly, when I get to the point of creating 2D cross sectional images, is it possible to link them directly to the 3D model? Meaning, if I move a block in the 3D model, the 2D cross sectional images would get updated automatically. The 2D cross sectional images could be top down camera views at each layer of interest (that was my thinking), but if the camera plane cut through a block, could I somehow have hash marks indicate this. Also, if looking top down, have some means to indicate if a surface (ie: block) is at an angle (like a roof tile).

Sorry for the real general questions. I’ve only partly completed my first Blender tutorial, and before I go much further, I’d like to know if I can accomplish what I’d like to do. I’m also trying to find the easiest way to do it.

spend the $10 and buy a fairly complex Lego model and look at the booklet they supply. They do a FANTASTIC job with no words at all. All your answers are there. Use shadeless materials different for each block configuration. keep the 3D perspective the same and show it being built up. My son has built every complex model they have-the booklets run into the hundreds of pages like for the Millenium Falcon and the Battle Cruiser.

PS-I love those foam models.