These fun and useful programs can help with planning your next home build, remodeling, landscape design, furniture layout and more. For those planning to build a custom home, remodel or redecorate the existing one, these programs are a great way to communicate exactly what you want to contractors or interior designers.
Choosing a Design Program
The range of options for architectural design programs can be overwhelming. These five stand out for their balance of ease of use, and the benefits they offer. Which is best? That depends on your project. Most of these programs offer free trials for download. Find the one that fits your needs, and then try it out before you buy.
1. SoftPlan Architectural Design Software – Full Featured Home Design Software
SoftPlan is wonderfully easy to use. It’s a real joy to see this thing do all the work of an architect. The user can view a floor plan and gorgeous 3-D model at the same time. Make changes to either the floor plan or the model and both update automatically.
This whole-house program starts with the exterior shape and then specific dimensions. It then lets you select doors and windows patterned after real-world brands and sizes. Cabinetry and fixtures are also available in standard, stock and custom. Choose appliances by brand name and model. This program is probably the most realistic and professional of its kind. All this doesn’t come cheap, though. Unless you’re already committed to building a house, the price tag of over $2,500 doesn’t fit the bill.
2. Turbo Floor Plan3D – Home Design Planning
A much more affordable option for the average homeowner, Turbo Floor Plan 3D has features very similar to Soft Plan. There is a wizard for everything, walking users through each process. The price and means to buy are very straight forward and obviously a good deal. It is a steal for only $99.99 when compared to its competitors. Without the ability to create blueprints for your builder, it’s not a replacement for SoftPlan. Turbo is available on DVD or as a download. Get the free trial first and see if you like using the user interface.
Home Designer Suite from Chief Architect – Home Design Planning
Home Designer Suite is very easy to use and far less architecturally professional than programs like SoftPlan, but it definitely offers many similar bells and whistles. At $99.00, it’s great for interior design, and almost exacting enough for architecture, though possibly not quite everything you’d need to actually build the house. It’s fun and doesn’t trouble the user with the nuts and bolts of building as much as some. It has automatic roof generation just like Sims 2 for example, not expecting the user to plan the roof structure in detail.
Punch Home & Landscape Design Premium v17 – Home Design Planning
Punch is similar to Turbo in price at $99.99, but it doesn’t have all the elements and features. What it does though, it does beautifully. The look of finished designs is awesome. It creates floor plans, but not of architectural blue print quality. There is no working materials list, although there is a cost estimator. This makes Punch best for working out your ideas before you see the architect, but not for figuring out your own house plans. Unfortunately, Punch does not offer any sort of tutorial or free trial download.
Icovia Space Planner – Interior Design Only
Icovia is a professional grade interior design program. It’s made for pros, but it isn’t hard to use at all. It is an online service with free upgrades, for $29 a month. It’s not nearly as flashy as other programs, but is clearly the workhorse of the professional interior design industry. It features floor-space plans instead of 3D.
Icovia is fast, efficient and perfect for making sure the furniture you plan to buy will fit in the room as you envision. The one room at a time approach seems limiting, but that’s just how this one works. If you want flashy 3D models, this probably isn’t for you. But if you just want to turn out designs quickly, this works well.
What makes a great home decor program depends on the user, the budget and the scope of the project. These are among the most popular. Icovia serves one very specific purpose and it is widely used by interior designers. The glossier programs from Chief Architect, Punch and Turbo are just an incredible amount of fun, and allow for a lot of creativity and exciting ideas. SoftPlan is professional architect’s software. Grab the one that fits your needs best.