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Posted by Mary in PA on 7/29/2009

After the disappointing first round with the architect, I took some time to think it over and see if I could come up with a design myself. I know… this is my second time around as I started out a few months back trying options before turning it over to the architect. Well, if at first you don’t succeed…


When I tried a few months ago, I was attempting to use a home design program from Punch. I’m reasonably computer literate, but I found the program pretty doggone difficult, to the point that it became a hindrance. So I decided to just do it on paper. That worked well enough I suppose, but was slow, difficult to generate options, and impossible to view in 3D without time-consuming models. And so on. Enter the architect, and you know how that’s gone so far.


So I recently downloaded a free trial of another design program to give this second try. It is Chief Architect v. 9.0. After about 6 hours with the download, I was pretty sure this was a program I could work with in a productive manner and get at least a floor plan together. I bought the program and have been working with it for about 80 hours and I believe it’s going better than I had anticipated.


I spent about 30 hours sort of ramping up on the program. That sounds like a lot, and in truth, in just a few hours with very user-friendly ‘space planning’ tools and the click of a ‘build house’ button you can get to a custom floorplan. Building roof structures, staircases and such takes a bit longer, but still is surprisingly easy. I practiced with a simple rectangular gable-roofed house. After that initial ramp-up, I spent another 30 hours or so exploring two different floor plan options we were considering. I carried those designs through to a stage to include windows, furniture placement, windows and a generic roof. We were able to study these in various types of 3D renderings (i.e. doll house, glass house and walkthrough). And then in the past 20 hours or so, I turned my attention to site planning for the house and the two planned outbuildings. John and I were able to look at a several brainstormed ideas on the site plan and discuss the pros and cons of each. This was a very useful exercise. We both seemed to narrow in on one site plan as the best option. Now I’m trying to refine the previous house floorplans into the site plan – and refine issues related to views, prevailing winds, daily traffic (car, truck and people) to and from other buildings.


I’m not certain where this will lead in terms of working again (or not) with our architect. It may be we take our fairly refined floorplan and site plan and ask him to produce construction drawings for us. Or, if we go with a non-framed building envelope (i.e. looking into composite block such as Durisol or Faswall), then perhaps we don’t need the framing construction drawings and can work with a lumber/truss supplier on the roof since the walls would be block. I’m not sure on that yet, and initial prices on Durisol took me back a bit… but that’s a story for another post.


For now, floorplan and site planning continues and progress (albeit slow) is being made. :-)

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