Thanks to modern CAD tools as e.g. Solidworks, the conversion from side view sketch to 3D model is not too hard. Using the "sketch picture" tool eases this process a lot. Although there's quite some surface functionality in Solidworks, I prefer to limit the use of surfaces as much as possible.
Solidworks software is initially built for Solid modelling, and that is still noticeable. When doing modifications early in a long feature three, the rebuilt will definitely fail, due to flipped surface trims, flipped normal, jumping selections etc… leaving you with a lot of "repair" work. The software is designed to work perfect if you know exactly, what you want to construct and how you want to construct it. Unfortunately, In a design process this is seldomly the case.
Some tips :
*use “hybrid” modelling (solids combined with surfaces only when there’s no alternative to the surface functionality)
*use solid multi-body constructions to do partial cut’s without trimming and knitting surfaces
*when working with surfaces, create them large and smooth enough from the start (avoid extending them later)
* the “move face” tool is really strong once you understand what can be done with it !