House Design Software
July 23, 2014 10:06 PM   Subscribe

What software should we use to design our (small) house? We will have an architect draw the final plans, but want to create quick 3D models for visualization.

- Runs on Windows
- Very easy to learn
- Free/cheap would be nice, though not necessary
- A bit of landscape design & site plan capability preferred
- Ability to visualize lighting given different sun angles would be a bonus

We don't need full CAD software - again, this is just for creating quick visuals to help us with design decisions before taking our plans to the architect. Even the learning curve for SketchUp was too steep to justify. Just "point-and-click to create a wall" sort of thing is what we're looking for.
posted by sibilatorix to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Chief Architect might fit your bill. I'm pretty sure there's a demo version available, it's very point-and-click oriented, but there's a bit of a learning curve on the landscaping utilities.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:35 PM on July 23, 2014

You could try SweetHome3D. Comes in Linux, Windows and OSX flavours. Let me know how you get on if you do as I'm thinking of using it to model our house!
posted by pharm at 1:10 AM on July 24, 2014

The free version of sketchup would work. You can use the 3d warehouse to fill in furniture and landscaping. There is a learning curve but I tech it to 6 7 & 8 grade students and they pick it up fast.
posted by dstopps at 5:24 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I did the kitchen renovation in my new home, I found Autodesk Homestyler to be a huge help. It runs on the web, which is nice in that you create an account and can share your designs easily with others. It works a little like The Sims where you drag and drop, so its not that hard to learn.

It may not be everything you are looking for in a free design program, but I loved the way I can create a floor plan and then switch it to 3-D and move around the room taking pictures and getting a sense of the space. I was having trouble visualizing distance between kitchen counters and it was really helpful for me to see that while on a floor plan it looked like there was enough pass-though space -but in 3-D, it looked too tight. So much better to realize this while the kitchen was still on paper and not in the middle of construction. While not exact (due to decorating and some limited cabinet sizes) my kitchen turned out pretty much like the 3-D picture had shown me it would, and that was pretty cool. I am definitely planning on using it again when I renovate the den/bathroom area.
posted by NoraCharles at 5:25 AM on July 24, 2014

I haven't tried the ones above, so I can't compare, but one more that I have used is Not sure if it's sophisticated enough for your needs, but it's very easy to start using it.
posted by daisyace at 7:24 AM on July 30, 2014

I am an architect and what you want is SketchUp.
posted by annie o at 9:27 PM on August 15, 2014

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