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Good home design software for beginner

willbraden's picture


I'm interested in buying a software program to design my first home.  I'm a total beginner and don't want to spend alot of money.  Any recommendations would be helpful.



(post #175934, reply #1 of 8)

You may get more answers if you post on the Breaktime forum--just go to top of this page and click on "Breaktime" after "Other Tainton Sites:" in the green box.

I've been fooling with "Autosketch" which I got at a computer software place for a couple hundred bucks. Some things I like, some I don't. I learned "Autocad" at a community college, but unless I were still signed up for the course, Autocad was something around $2000! (Should have bought it when I took the course, because I could have gotten it through the college for several hundred dollars, much less than $2000). If you have time, taking a course at night at a community college is a good way to learn though. 

A guy I often work with (he does remodeling) uses "Chief Architect" software and seems to like it.

Edited 1/21/2007 2:31 pm ET by Danno

(post #175934, reply #2 of 8)

You might consider hiring an architect before you go to all the trouble and expense of purchasing software and then the time to learn it. My experience has been that a good architect who is a member of the AIA (American Institute of Architects)is well worth the investment. Go to and then click on "architect finder" in the top grey colored bar. I thought about designing my home ... how hard can it be right? Hiring my Architect was money well spent ... he knew things about me that I didn't know. Extremely insightful, knowledgeable and well abreast of the "big-picture" as it pertained to budget, value and a well designed home for me and my family.
Good luck!

(post #175934, reply #3 of 8)

Hi - I agree - if you are a beginner, software for designing homes, no matter how simple, has quite a learning curve. Also remember - designing a home is not a 2D project - it has to be 3D - stairs, Building Code for minimun rise and run, head room etc. etc. , so yes, an architect or a REGISTERD Interior Designer can help you out.

However, if you want to try the software one of the "easiest" programs I have come across is called Punch - it comes in a couple of different levels - you can find info at

Good luck.

Try to use autocad, but it (post #175934, reply #4 of 8)

Try to use autocad, but it really takes time to learn all the basic tools. You can also use photoshop, illustrator or even freehand software. There's always have tutorials in every software so you can have tips and short commands to learn the basics.

Did U notice the age of the (post #175934, reply #5 of 8)

Did U notice the age of the thread you were replying to?



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

Hi there, There are many (post #175934, reply #6 of 8)

Hi there,

There are many software which can be used easily for beginner like Print Shop, Adobe Illustrator which helps you to learn and solve your queries also.






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I like the Better Homes and (post #175934, reply #7 of 8)

I like the Better Homes and Gardens home architect software (used to be marketed by Broderbund). It's written by the same developers who write Chief Architect, but is simpler. It's not a substitute for an architect, but it allows you to fairly easily put your ideas down in such a way that you can generate a 3D rendering for communicating them to others (architect, builder, etc). The low-end version of this software is under $100. Rebeccah

Not sure waht you mean. (post #175934, reply #8 of 8)

Not sure waht you mean. There's a big difference between "design"  and doing the technical/permit  drawings.

Regarding the former, no software will give you the creativity often required to tool the homes design into something that works on multiple levels. That stuff can only come out of your head (just so you know, I'm an architect and go through this process on a daily basis).

And JayWElle above had good advice but I wouldn't necessarly look for the AIA label. Like a country club, if your check clears the back, you're in the club. I'd look for someone who has a solid rep in housing and talk to former clients. If you wan some book suggestions there send me a PM.

I usually come up with the main concept using a pencil and paper. It's then developed using software and even then the software isn't suggesting solutions. It's not being creative for me. For example, if  I'm looking at one room and it seems out of proportion in some way, the software doesn't say "Why don't you increase it's height by 2' "? It's me thinking "Maybe increase the height" and then manipulating the room so it gets taller. It can help me evaluate solutions but it can't come up with them. that's gotta be me.

When my clients querry me on why I don't come up with concepts  using the computer I tell them I could have the very best word processing program with all the latest bells and whistles, etc.  and that's not going to make me J.K. Rowling. All of her stuff comes out of her head and then it's likely finetuned using software. Still, all the creativity there is hers. Same with design.

But if you're looking for a design program to help you look at your solutions, I'd suggest Sketchup  The price should be right. The basic version is free. And the learning curve is very shallow.  Not good for technical drawings however.