floor plan software suggestion needed

kled2008August 8, 2012

Hello all,

I would like to find an inexpensive (or free) home design/floor plan software that is very easy for a first timer to use, as I have an idea in my head for a home that we would like to build. Have any of you used something you like and would suggest?

Many thanks!!

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Sophie Wheeler

Chief Architect has a homeowner grade package that Better Homes and Gardens puts their name on to retail. You can start with the $79 package to be able to do basic sketches, but it has it's limitations. The minimum that you really need is the Architectural, IMHO, if you're going to try to design your own home. The Pro version would be even better, and it's only $500, which is pretty darn cheap for something that can communicate with actual real architectural software.

Of course, if you are patient beyond belief, you can download a free graph paper and use Paint to lay out some very basic ideas, but you might as well do that by hand as it's easier to revise things. And, it's where most people begin. It's just so limiting though that most people quickly move on to at least buying the cheap version of Home Designer. They allow you credit to upgrade to the next level if you find the current one inadequate.

This is another area that I really must say if you find the software "expensive" then you perhaps are not suited to the time and money you will have to spend to have a custom home designed. $500 is one of the cheapest and most valuable investments in the process that you can make, especially if it allows you to visualize what's in your head and communicate that with others.

Here is a link that might be useful: Product Comparison Chart

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:10AM
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I found SmartDraw VP to be easy to use & worth every penny. We were able to use it for floor plans, exterior elevations including color selections, interior elevations, kitchen cabinet plans, bathroom plans, landscaping plans, etc. Great tool to make modifications (you can import an existing plan) and create new original plans, designs & elevations. You can even download a 7 day free trial of it before you buy.

Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Smart Draw VP Site

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:26PM
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2nd the SmartDraw s/w, easy to use and the trial is nice to play around with. Beware though, my inbox is littered w/Smartdraw spam.......... (easy enough to filter though)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:39PM
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I just got Chief Architect and while I'm still learning quite a bit, found it easy to use for a beginner. There's plenty of tutorial videos online to help (anything from general 'get started' tutorials to very specific tutorials).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 1:58AM
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I use sweet home 3d and its fulfilling my needs just fine atm. 100% free.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:32AM
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For those of you currently using some 3D software, does your program handle land elevation well? We are about to build on a sloped lot that we plan to make some major modifications to. Trouble is, I'm having difficulty figuring out how to explain what I want to the graders. I need to find a program that handles the ground/land elevation angles really well. Basically I want to be able to input our current dimensions (3+ acre lot) and elevations (I'll use a GPS and details from our survey) and draw it how it exists now, then create a separate drawing to show what we want the finished grading to look like.

Do any of the software packages handle something like this really well?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:27AM
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dBrad - Sketchup will do what you need to do and has a powerful version which is free. I think I am pretty smart (ha!) but the learning curve is steep for Sketchup to do a complex rendering of a home and land elevation. I have done tutorials and bought a step-by-step diagram book and still struggle with Sketchup. I was trying to start with a 2D floor plan, progress to 3D, then add the terrain to the model so I could visually express to the builder how I want the land graded.

kled2008, see above.

I've thrown in the towel and am back to pencil and vellum graph paper for the elevations and floor plan. My guess is builders see homes and elevations in 2D anyway, the way it's been for years, so they don't need 3D models.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:40PM
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