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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is off topic, but I am thinking of building my own house (Plan, not construction). I know a lot of you are professionals, and I have seen past references to such software in this forum. If I buy a home designer software, what are some of the best ones out there. And what makes them that good. Eventually I am planning to get the plans looked at by a professional, but I want to do as much as possible myself. If you know of a any web sites or good forums on the subject I would also appreciate links to them.


Thanks

Anthony


P.S. I also posted this question in the home integration/distribution forum
 

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Hey Anthony!


Well my father is a professional architect and he swears by VectorWorks. It is a professional level product and has a fairly steep learning curve but will do most anything you want. (He is designing his retirement house with it right now).


I think it is Mac only though... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
imlucid: thanks for the advice, I went to their web site, and it is available for both Mac and Windows, but it looks a bit out of my league (at least in the price category).


I was thinking in the $100-$200 range not the $1000-$2000
 

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Anthony,


For the money I don't think you can beat 3D Home Architect .


I used it to do a rough design on the house we recently built, as well as the HT we are planning.


You can see the house design here , and the HT design here .


It's not a professional package, but again for the money you get software that is easy enough to learn as a beginner, yet powerful enough to get the job done.


I've used this software since v2.0, so if you have any questions feel free to ask.


Good luck with your new home!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Does it do heating ducts? is the framing automatic? Do you plan the roof, or does it decide the best kind from the plan. will it tell you if some things are impossible (like roof too steep....)? I had seen this product before (and it was one of the ones I was looking at).
 

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Anthony,


1. Does not do ductwork, nor any piping for that matter.

2. Framing is automatic based on the plan.

3. While you have some options regarding the type of roof, the actual build is automatic.

4. Don't know if it will tell you if the roof is too steep as I have't tried, but it does have a "Plan Check" option which will let you know if you've violated any general building rules. (i.e. rooms with no lighting/doors/windows, etc.)


3D Home Architect may not be for you if you're looking to go much beyond laying out your floorplan.

Punch Software has a product called "Professional Home Design Suite" which may be more to your liking. It's also relatively inexpensive. (around $75 IIRC) I own this package as well, and while it has some features you may like (more roof design control, for instance) I found it to have a steeper learning curve and was overkill given what I wanted to do. YMMV


For much more control beyond this I think you'll be heading into the realm of much more expensive software. I can't recall seeing much in the $150-200 range. Seems you have to jump from the consumer products mentioned here right to commercial packages such as AutoCAD which are going to run you $1000+.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I guess I don't know what I want :)


Being in Canada, the house will need heating, I just want to make sure that any plan (or plans) I draw make some sense, and that something important is not forgotten. I also want to make sure that everything makes sense. Which of the two do you think would be better at that. I already have an old flour planner, but each flour is independent, and you cannot see what the full home will look like. I think that is why I am making the roof sound more important then it is (I don't know how the whole house will look like)
 

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I've used both 3D Home Architect and Punch. The prior poster was correct in his assessment.


I find 3D Home Architect to be great for quickly building a plan, but I rarely put a roof on it because the roof function isn't up to snuf. To do things like electrical, I like 3DHA. Much faster. You can place all your power outlets in a room with a single click for instance.


Punch does a much better job of roofing a house. It is much much better at the 3D visualization step too.


Another nice thing about Punch that I haven't seen in 3DHA is aging the landscaping. Nice touch... you can see it young or old.


I have not done too much with HVAC in either product, so I can't speak too much to that one.


Punch does a better job in making different layers visible. You can see the HVAC or the electrical or both very easily. 3DHA has this function hidden in a menu/dialog box.


$0.02...


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
On an other post of this question someone mentioned a Sierra product, how does it compare to the other two?


From what you have said, 3D HA is simpler to use, but Punch has more tools. Is that it? 3D HA also checks for some stuff, does Punch check also?


Sorry if I am a nuisance, I just want the best tool.
 

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3DHA is a good basic program with poor 3d visualization tools. Punch is a little harder to build the initial floorplan, but gives better visualization and better finishing tools.


I don't think I mentioned but it is easier to move things from floor to floor (or copy) in Punch than it is in 3DHA. That's another reason to go for Punch.


I finished transfering my floorplan (2950sqft, 2 floors with basement) into 3DHA and most of it into Punch. I did 3DHA in less than 1 hour (including electrical). I gave up on the roof angles. In the same amount of time I put in all the walls in Punch, but still don't have things quite right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all your help. I guess the next step is to go look at some of the stores in the area and see which one they carry, and what is the price.


Since this is my first home, and I am not sure what it takes to build one, if you know of any good web sites on the subject I would really appreciate it.


Thanks again

Anthony
 

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I used Punch for my home theatre.


I really liked the ability to set the camera height - made sightline checks in 3D easy. 3D walkthroughs are also great for getting the feel for the room on entry. Also making custom 3D furniture was a real cool feature.


For 3D visualization I found the texture mapping invaluable when it came to finishing the room. The only drawback is there is no texture import so you have to find something close in the program.


There are no light sources though - so you will not be able to see sconces/soffit light effects.
 

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I played with the Punch Super Home Suite, and I couldn't stand the product. I thought it lacked in accuracy and basic necessary features to assist in the design of decent floorplans. In my opinion, the only good thing about it is that it does a good job of 3D visualization. My frame of reference is different though, we are a professional firm so we use Autocad2000. If you use the Punch product then make sure you let your architect know that it's for basic reference only.
 

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AutoCAD is generally out of the price range for one time projects. To go beyond 3DHA and Punch, you can look at some of the products from IMSI ( www.imsisoft.com ). While they have Floor Plan 3D, they also have two products...TurboCAD and TurboCAD Pro both of which have 3D rendering. The pricing is way short of AutoCAD. There is a learning curve however. You can do your basic 3D design in Floor Plan and import into TurboCAD for details.
 
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