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Software to create floor plans


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By Connie in Melissa, TX on 9/4/2006


Looking for recommendations for software to create floor plans. Any suggestions to get or avoid?


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By Rob in Ottawa, ON on 9/4/2006


We used Home Designer Deluxe (homedesignersoftware.com), which was around C$120 and worked well. It has some quirks (and a not infrequent tendency to crash), and has a fairly steep learning curve. After several months I am still learning various tricks that are buried fairly deep in the user interface, but I am happy with the output it produces. If you get it, then after learning the basics it is worth reading through some of the discussion forums at hometalk.homedesignersoftware.com to learn how to get the most out of it.

We also bought QCad from ribbonsoft.com it was only $30 but was a great investment if you are more technically inclined. We have been able to accept electronic versions of our floor plans, septic design and grading plan and use it to take off measurements very accurately and more easily than using a ruler on the paper copies. Don't expect to pick it up in just a few minutes, but I think it is well worth the time.

A final piece of software that it worthwhile is SketchUp: sketchup.com. This is a very different type of design tool, but has the wonderful feature of being able to project accurate lighting and shadows based on an exact location, date and time of day. This is invaluable if you are looking at any passive solar features, or just for investigating how much sunshine the back deck will actually get.


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By Patti and Jay in Uncertain, TX on 9/10/2006


Connie,

We tried to use Total 3D Home and completely gave up. That learning curve thing was just too steep for us. If you are very computer-graphic savvy, it might work for you, but it was way too difficult for us. Maybe we're just too old. Anyway, we have it and, if you want it, we'll give it to you. I live in East Texas, but work a week a month in Richardson and stay in Sachse during that time, so I can bring it with me, or we can mail it.  We sure aren't using it.
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By Michael Penn in Dripping Springs, TX on 9/10/2006


Are y'all planning to use your software for actually producing your final construction blueprints?

I've got a couple software packages, Punch Home Design Suite and 3D Home Architect.

Haven't made much progress up the learning curve on Punch, and literally haven't yet opened the 3D Home Architect.

But at any rate I don't expect to be able to reliably produce final construction blueprints, so I'm looking for a house designer in the north Texas area. Do y'all know any?

(I'm going to be building outside Dripping Springs, in Hays County west of Austin, but I'd rather have a home designer that I can work with more conveniently from where I live now, in Dallas)

Michael


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 9/11/2006


Michael:

My architect is located in Georgetown, Texas, about an hour from Dripping Springs and three hours from Dallas. Awesome designs, reasonable prices and very knowledgeable.

If you are interested, I can get you his contact information.

Phillip


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By P in North, FL on 9/12/2006


Someone told me that there are designers on eBay that do really nice designs inexpensively.


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 9/13/2006


It is really great to work with someone who listens to your ideas and suggestions and then finds a way to incorporate them into the theme of your design.

A good designer can make the difference between walking into your house when it is all done and saying, "Wow" vs. "Oh, man..."


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By Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/13/2006


Hi Connie,

I took a somewhat different path than everyone else.

I chose to buy Chief Architect for $2,200 and design the house from there. I found some "ideas" for my home on the Internet, and then just changed a plan to find the best fit for me. After this, I found a local architect who builds custom homes and arranged a deal for $5,500. He would do all the engineering, consult on local code quirks, and work on curb appeal so I got the look I was looking for. We ended up with 8 revisions of the plans; he was happy, and so am I.

We're planning on reselling Chief Architect, our eBay survey makes us think we can get 75%-85% of the value back. The architect fees may seem high, but he was essentially acting as both designer and engineer. This architect normally charges 10% of finished home price... at that rate I did awesome!

I hope this helps...

Arnold

Leave a comment if you'd like a copy of the plans and I'll email them privately to you.

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 9/13/2006


I used Broderbund 3-D Home Architect. I bought one version older than the current version on eBay for next to nothing (IIRC it was <$10 delivered). I figure for the minor investment, if it didn't work at least I had a coaster. I really liked it, I wish all of my investments paid off with this many dividends.

If you are looking for takeoffs (it will do quantity takeoffs, I am not sure how much I would trust it to do so), structural details, or final plans, you definitely need to look further. But for developing preliminary plans for the architect to start with, changing facades, changing roof styles, cross-sections, ensuring you have adequate spaces for staircases, figuring staircase rise/run (I framed my own house with no prior framing experience, the two staircases are actually fairly complex for a first-timer), trying different size and placement of windows, etc. it was invaluable.

When we got our preliminary plans back from the architect, they looked great on paper. It took me several hours to take these plans and put them into my measly floorplan program, which my SO considered a waste of time (why are we paying the architect?). However 3-D Home Architect allows you to "walk" through the house, place furniture, walk from inside to outside, walk from outside to inside, etc. and based on this "walk-through" we made a lot of fairly minor revisions - nothing structural. Designing around the furniture you want to keep, in addition to planning what furniture you want to buy and making sure it will work in your new floorplan was invaluable. We even put our cars in the garage, doors open to ensure we had wide enough space (garages around here are 20' wide for a two-car, this is simply too narrow but you don't know it until you pull your car in). The architect was very impressed with the extent of our revisions, and how much they actually "added value" and not simply nit-picky things.  In the end, my SO considered the hours spent putting the plans back into the "cheap program time well invested, as the ability to walk through the house prior to breaking ground is extremely important.

Another architect I know always recommends building a model for this same purpose, so people can "see" what their final house will look like as most people cannot visualize from a flat piece of paper. He was pretty impressed with the capability of this cheap software program in accomplishing an on-screen model. Simply for the 3-D modeling capability, Broderbund 3-D Home Architect was worth the investment.


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