Category Archives: Home Design

Best Home Design Software

For folks who are looking for a home design software that is not only easy to use, but more importantly, equipped with the best tools for all types of designing needs, then perhaps it’s time to stop searching. Famed home design software producer Chief Architect has once again come out with a product that is definitely going to be there or thereabouts when talking about the best home design software in the business. With Architectural Home Designer, users can make use of a variety of designing tools for remodeling and home design that covers cost estimation, site planning, landscaping, decks, baths, kitchens, as well as entire interior designs.

Everything in One Package

What makes a good home design software is its ability to strike a balance between a user friendly interface and excellent outputs. However, aside from this combination, what makes a great home design software is its integration of all types of remodeling and design tools that will satisfy all of its users needs. It must be an all-in-one design solution which should leave users with a feeling that they could no longer ask for anything more. Architectural Home Designer is one type of software which is just that.

With this amazing piece of software, users can choose from thousands of sample plans which they can use as a basis for their designs. Also available are a myriad of different home style templates that can be used in line with either the House Wizard Feature, or customized fully to suit the user’s wishes. Architectural Home Designer also features highly effective building tools such as automatic generation of foundations, framing, stairs, dormers, and roofs. This program also makes use of the most artistic rendering methods to come up with the likes of Technical, Glass House, or even Watercolor illustrations.

Excellent for Interior Design

Although Architectural Home Designer is indeed an excellent program for both deck designs and landscaping, its strength lies in its interior design capabilities. For starters, there’s the Material Painter feature which allows users to easily apply all types of materials and colors on their walls and scene objects. Users can choose from thousands of different textures and colors which are brought to life by the digital photograph feature. Also on board is the Smart Design Objects feature which lets users literally drag and drop thousands of objects from the program’s extensive library which has been excellently categorized by object types.

Quick and Hassle-Free Startup

What makes Architectural Home Designer even more impressive is it allows users to get started quickly and without any unwanted hassles. Aside from the Quick Startup Options Guide, there’s also the very useful House Wizard feature which allows users to easily lay out rooms in a very uncomplicated manner. As mentioned earlier, the program is also loaded with hundreds of different templates that come in full color and are complete with all sorts of objects and fixtures. Also included are 40 helpful training videos that provide step-by-step instructions on how to get started on a home design project. Further support is also provided on the publisher’s online help system which gives even more detailed information on all sorts of designing projects.

3D Home Designing Software

Although it does come with quite a high price tag, Home Designer Professional Edition is definitely a worthy investment. Serious designers and professional builders alike will realize that the $495 required to purchase this piece of software is actually going to prove to be money well spent in the long run. Below are some of the reasons why Home Designer Pro has been named as one of the best home design software in the entire industry.

At a Glance

Designed, developed, and published by the renowned home design software company Chief Architect, Home Designer Pro is a program that has been specially created for serious home and design enthusiasts. The latest edition of the program is version 9.0 and similar to its predecessors, this too contains the same cutting edge tools that are used by actual professionals for various purposes including interior design, home remodeling, landscaping, deck design, and even cost estimations.

This program basically combines all the main features of other Chief Architect-designed programs such as Landscaping and Deck Designer, Interior Designer, and Architectural Home Designer. Plus, it also includes a myriad of the most advanced CAD tools available in the market today. With Home Designer Pro, users are given the power to create blueprints, roofing, manual framing, and a whole lot more. It’s pretty much like an all-in-one program that definitely justifies its seemingly high retail value.

Professional Level

As mentioned earlier, one of the best features of this particular program is that it is able to produce outputs that are of the professional level. This capability is brought about by none other than this program’s advanced tools that are cutting edge in every sense of the term. Users can create floor plans that are accurately scaled and within minutes, automatically produce 3D models. Home Designer Pro also makes use of high-tech 3D cameras that allow a multitude of different user views such as Cross-Sections, Elevation, Framing, Doll House, and Glass House. Aside from creating a scaled representation of one’s dream design before actually building it, users are also given the chance to take a virtual tour to ensure that they are more than happy with their plans.

But Still User-Friendly

Although Home Designer Pro makes use of design tools that are highly advanced, it does not fail to keep the program’s overall user-friendliness in mind. In fact, this program makes it a point to ensure that users will be able to navigate through the program with as little complications as possible. For instance, there’s the Quick Startup Options Guide which serves as an excellent source for “how to” tutorials that cater to all types of projects. The pre-installed House Wizard tool is also a great feature that makes home designing a lot easier for the less experienced users.

A multitude of landscaping and actual home design templates are also available for users to choose from if they don’t wish to start from scratch. These templates even come complete with decks, cabinets, colors, and much more. Should users encounter any more issues with the program, they can either make use of the online help system or watch the dozens of tutorial videos which both offer excellent support and guidance.

Home Designer Software For Mac

Most of the home design software products in the market run on the PC platform with just a few on the MAC OS X computing environment. Here are a few stand-out home design solutions running either exclusively on the Mac or on both Mac and PC workstations.

Punch! Home Design Studio

Retailing for just less than a hundred dollars, the Punch! Home design Studio made popular on the PC has been ported on the Mac with the same features that let you realize on the screen your dream house, inside and out. It can now take advantage of the excellent 3D graphics capabilities of the Mac to render fast 3D drawing of your designs with the usual multi-angle views and textured realism that Punch! Home Design Studio can deliver.

3D Home Architect Home and Landscape Deluxe Suite10

Coming down a bit with lesser features and sophistication is the Architect Home and Landscape Deluxe Suite 10 from 3D Home. Costing just a third of the Punch! Home Design Studio at $36 from Amazon, the suite gets the job done for most homeowners who are not really as interested in designing their dream houses but would like a simple tool that can save them the cost of hiring a professional architect. You get the same 2D and 3D rendering and modeling features with its expensive drag and drop library of design elements that make designing your house and landscaping around it a breeze.

MacDraft

Coming in two flavors, the Pro and the Personal Edition versions, this is basically a 2D drawing tool that does a good job at drafting and creating floor plans as 2D views of your house design project. IA bit pricey at $320 for the Pro and half that on the Personal Edition, either product is as sophisticated as any home-bound CAD-based vector drawing software which can also read AutoCAD files as imports.

Interiors Professional

A $250 value, this is arguably one of the best interior designing tool for the Mac platform. It also has one of the most user-friendly controls for creating some of the best looking interiors with excellent textures and lighting effects in 3D-rendered models. Targeted for both the novice and professional interior designer, the software is easy to learn and use with a library of 3D design objects like furniture, planters and appliances to mention some while allowing you to create your own.

Mac Freeware

There is a couple of free downloadable application for home design worth mentioning. These are Sweet Home 3D and Live interior 3D. For the homeowner or novice wanting to get a feel of what it is like to work with a home design software on the Mac, these two are fine options that take some of the design features available in the market without costing anything, just your internet bandwidth. The graphics are not their best points as some object can look blocky and less refined, certainly not as realistic with software that you pay for, but you get an idea. For many, providing the means to let you play around, simulate and visualize your dream house inside and out on the Mac — without spending a dime is a treat itself. If only for that, despite its limitations, freebies offer stand-out value for the novice.

Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer

The magazine staff and editors of Better Homes and Gardens have come with a design solution for the intrepid homeowner wanting to realize his/her dream house. The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 8.0 is the latest edition of that effort that started years back and has become popular among American novice designers and even professional architects and home builders.

Getting to see your dream house with uncanny 3D realism on your PC has never been as easy with a software application tool that can make just about anyone a home designer. You just need to make sure your desktop or laptop PC is powerful enough to render 3D modeling. Not to worry, the software package comes with the recommended PC configuration you need.

Indulge your Imagination

The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 8.0 gives reign to your innate design skills the better for you to visualize your dream home on the PC. But even people without artistic talent can to it.

  • Automatic Designing Tools. The Suite has 5,000 competent and easy to use building blocks and tools to simplify getting your design looking real. For starters, you design your lot and backyard terrain with the Automatic Build Terrain and Terrain Perimeter tool that can be aided with a GPS terrain elevation data. Add pools and other landscaping details like fences and driveways from its landscaping library. Generate house roofs, ceiling beams, floor patterns, dormers, stairs, framing and house foundation automatically.
  • Design Templates. There are over 1,500 sample house floor plans as well as a Design Inspiration Gallery with photos by house designs categorized by type that can inspire you with your own unique design ideas. It has a library of home-style templates you can start with or create own customized house designs. There’s also the House Wizard that can automatically generate a house design for you based on information you supply.
  • Design Libraries. There are over 6000 design elements like furniture and electric fixtures, windows and doors, wall paper and floor designs and appliance, just to mention some, in its built-in library that you can just drag and drop on your design work area, or you can design your own. There’s even a Plant Encyclopedia on the side containing 1,500 popular plant species you can learn about that’s suitable in your country as indoor plant ornament in your design.
  • Online Advice. You can get free online design expertise from the Design Planning Center of Better Homes and Gardens as well as download additional design elements from the Home Designer website.
  • 3D Rendering and Virtual Tours. Once you’re done with hour house and interior designing, remodeling, landscaping, and floor planning, go into 3D simulation of light and shadows and a virtual walk-through of your dream house.
  • Project Cost Estimating. Once you’re happy with the look of your new house complete with interiors and landscaping, the Suite will estimate the cost of making your design happen, generating a spreadsheet where you also get material estimates on how much lumber and concrete is needed which creates the basis for the costing.

Professional Home Design Software

With computers getting increasingly more powerful and more accessible to wider home markets than ever before, software publishers have started putting the power of professional desktop software solutions once the exclusive domain of industrial users into homebound applications and marketed accordingly.

In the area of 3D rendering and drawing focused on home designs, you have professional home design software that are both powerful and user-friendly enough to be used by homeowners. About the only distinguishing quality is the price and networking ability to share common files that corporate users demand. Then there’s the after sales technical support that is more responsive for corporate professional software editions. Otherwise, there’s really little to distinguish between the two, except AutoCAD.

AutoCAD: The Standard Home Design Software for Professionals

It can be an uphill battle overcoming a standard that has long dominated industries for the last 25 years. The AutoCAD 2D drawing and 3D rending tool has lorded it over industries ranging from toy makers all the way to space shuttle builders and remains supreme as the design tool of choice among professionals.

Just about all commercial products have been designed from it. It is not specially optimized for home design, but it has all the features and functions that home design software application products have, from simple 2D floor plans to sophisticated 3D models with simulated light and shadow interplay as well as walk-through animation.

There are a lot of commercial copycats to the AutoCAD software from Autodesk, all wanting a piece of the industrial and professional market with some pricing themselves low and successfully getting some market share. Admittedly, AutoCad is not for everyone, as it is quite expensive, costing $3,500 for a single user license. But it’s comforting to note that professional and amateur home design solutions are CAD based, borrowing many of the 2D and 3D drawing features from AutoCAD.

Chief Architect

Specifically designed and marketed to residential and commercial designers and architects, Chief Architect home design solutions come from a company bearing the same name that has been in the home designing business since the early 90s. Chief Architect Pro is the professional architect and builder’s choice application. It is essentially a suite of drawing tools that encompass all aspect of home building designs such as house architectural designing, remodeling, interior design, garden design and landscaping, deck and patio design and floor planning, all in 3D and realistic light and shadow application and animated walk-throughs.

Chief Architect Home Designer Pro

In addition to Chief Architect, the brand has formed a business partnership with Better Homes and Gardens to carry the next generation Home Designer software products under the Chief Architect name. Hence, after Better Homes and Garden Home Designer 8.0, the 9th iteration is marketed as Chief Architect Home Designer Pro 9.0 with sub-derivatives for the home markets.

Targeted to both novice and professionals, corporate and home markets, the Chief Architect Home Designer Pro 9.0 can be considered your-upscale top-of-the line home design solution costing about $400 in the open market. It is a derivative of the Chief Architect Pro. Chief Architect also markets Interior Designer Pro 9.0 which is taken from the same suite, with a more detailed focus on, as the name implies, interior designing.

Elements of Modern Home Design

Updating a home involves many elements of change, which involves anything from modern furniture and artwork to room designs. A home can be transformed into a contemporary dwelling with features and accents that have a 21st century edge and style. Modern home design elements can add a touch of style and design to any home.

Modern homes can mean many things to many people, but all of them point to non-traditional style and features. Contemporary home furnishing outlets have home furnishings available, including things like glass panel kitchen cabinets and island kitchens with bar stool seating. These attractive furnishings can really serve as an attractive centerpiece for contemporary kitchen design.

Homeowners can also add updated features to their bathrooms as well to make them look neater and more spacious. Wall mounted cabinets are a great way to store bathroom items as well as give the room a decorative look. Some people choose to remodel their bathrooms with stylish vanity sets that are functional and attractive fixtures for bathing and pampering as they prepare for their day. These attractive bathroom accents add a touch of style and grace to a bathroom space.

Living room areas also lend themselves well to modern design features that can incorporate amazing colors, geometric shapes and contemporary furniture pieces. People can buy furniture coverings with vibrant colors and design patterns to enhance the modern color scheme and design. The living room will stand out and people can enjoy the contemporary feel when they entertain and relax in the room.

Room design and furnishings are not the only ways to modernize a home, however. Many homeowners are choosing to add additions to their homes to accommodate relatives or borders in addition to extra rooms, such as laundry rooms off of the kitchen or entertainment rooms the whole family can enjoy. Environmentally friendly features are also popular that help to brighten the home, save money and improve the environment. Solar paneled windows and energy efficient doors can really help to insulate a home and make it cost effective.

Modern home design elements can enhance a home and make it look more attractive and inviting. Additions can help to modernize a home and expand the possibilities of contemporary styles and design. Even small changes, such as updated furniture, color schemes and room design can bring a modern touch to one’s living space. After all, a home is not truly yours until you add some aspect of yourself into its design.

Home Design Plans

Home design plans are what you make of them. Or, in the event that you hire a professional house building construction company, they are what you have made of them. Either way, you can easily create your own custom home design with the help of architects and builders, or choose from an array of existing designs for your new home. It is up to you to determine which designs are best and which designers you want to work with, and here are some tips to help you along the way.

1. This is your dream home. A huge part of planning new house construction is picturing what your ideal home should look like and then going about creating it. If you are choosing from existing home design plans, find the one that best matches your desires and ideas. Ask designers and your building company if these plans can be altered to suit any particular preferences you have. Ask architects about examples of work they have done and ask building companies if they have show homes you can visit. Nothing quite compares with walking through a show home to get a feel for the living space and general design style.

2. Make sure that your designer or builder knows what they are doing. Choosing reputable companies isn’t difficult as long as you are willing to invest the effort to look. You need to be absolutely certain that your builder is going to be there for you and provide you with not only great home plans, but also with great service and support throughout the building process. If you find a builder who claims to be a Registered Master Builder, for example, make sure you ask for their registration number so that you can confirm this is so, the guarantees covered by the Master Builder program won’t mean much to you if you encounter problems during your house construction only to find your builder isn’t actually a Registered Master Builder after all. Don’t fall susceptible to the heartache and frustration many people suffer as a result of not running credential checks.

3. Choose plans and builders that match your budget and design style. This might seem obvious, but it is really easy to get swept away by a house design that costs twice what you can afford, or alternatively, choose a builder recommended by a friend whose building and design style isn’t quite what you require. No matter how you justify it, you can’t pay more than you can afford, nor have a new house construction that you are only reasonably happy with. Try to find home design plans within your price range, that also match your design style, to avoid the let down of not getting a better home due to your budget constraints and/or wrong choice of builder.

These tips may seem like basic common sense, for the most part, but they can’t be emphasised enough. People often get overzealous and forget to stop and do the simple things when they are designing a home. It is important to take things one step at a time and fully understand what you are getting involved with. This will make finding the right home design plans and builder much easier and less stressful. Everyone wants their dream home realised, and now is your chance to do that. Just keep these tips in mind to help you along the way.

Generation Homes – Custom Home Plans is a multi-award winning home building company with locations across New Zealand.

Generation Homes devised a construction programme that allows customers to be given a guaranteed move-in date the day their unconditional contract is signed. These systems have enabled Generation Homes to build over 1500 homes and deliver 99.7% exactly on the due date. This guaranteed delivery date, a fixed price contract and a complete turnkey house and land package takes the stress out of home building for customers. By combining all of these features Generation Homes is able to fulfill its business purpose to -Make Building Easy-

Tips To Use When Meeting With Your New Home Designer

Meeting your new home designer is the first step you can take in your journey of building a custom designed home. It’s exciting – are you excited? You should be! This is your chance to relay all of the exciting ideas you have about your dream home. This meeting is all about you you you. So how can you have a really successful meeting and give yourself the best opportunity for your home design to be as close to what you wanted, the first time round.

Tip 1 – Be Yourself

I know some of you are thinking, “who else would I be”? But you would be surprised at how many people sit in their design meeting acting like they’re attending a funeral instead of taking one of the most exciting steps life has to offer. Relax. Great home designers know what it’s like to bring your dreams to the table, they are tasked with the responsibility of delivering it.

If this is the first time you’ll be building a million dollar home, don’t think you have to act like a millionaire (or what you think millionaires might be like – some people will be surprised to find out they’re often very common). If you are yourself the home designer will get to know you, and more about what you’re like which will give them the best opportunity to putting your personality into your new house.

Tip 2 – Be Brutally Honest

If you like sex in the hallway, then tell us and we’ll make sure that hallway is the best damned hallway to have sex in. You need to be brutally honest with your lifestyle and what is most important to you. Communicating your lifestyle is the biggest challenge for most people as they may not want to draw attention to aspects of their life or perhaps they think something may just be common sense. Don’t assume that the person sitting across the table thinks like you, walks like you, talks like you or has the same values. If you love teddy bears and need additional room in the bedroom for your 101 teddies, then say it. If you’re sporty and want a gym with mirrors on the walls, then say it. If you’re an enthusiast photographer and will use one of the bedrooms as a dark room then say it.

All of the above are examples that I’ve come across during my time as a custom home builder. What’s more, the items that were being discussed had to be coaxed out of the home buyers over time. More importantly, we modified the design to suit which gave them a far better outcome than they would have got had they not told us. We changed window heights in the hallway (in fact, we did a lot of adjustments through the entire house!). We created teddy niches in the bedroom, we removed skirting boards in the gym and added a TV and power outlet point in one corner at 2.0m high and we switched the window in the dark room to the south side of the house to avoid the sun but still give enough ventilation.

Tip 3 – Enjoy The Process

Remember this is your time, relax and enjoy yourself. Make jokes and get to know the people sitting opposite you on the table. You’ll find the more comfortable you feel with your designer, the more information will flow during your design brief and the better your home will be.

If you’re using a custom home builder and are looking to ensure you have the best home design suited to your needs you should follow these three tips. Your new home designer will appreciate how much easier you made the meeting and love the fact that they’ll have the best opportunity to make you happy first time around.

Benefits of a Universal Home Design

A universal home design is a growing concept in house planning and construction that provides for changes that can occur in living such as disability issues, aging and general accessibility for everyone. Many homes today are built with the idea that no matter who the occupant is, the living spaces within as well as outside the home, should be readily used by just about anyone. A growing number of home designers, builders and contractors are embracing this concept as the baby boomer population ages and a new wave of disabled or elderly home occupants emerge.

Here are some of the best benefits of a universal home design:

Home values

If you decide to use a universal home design to build your new home, you can expect your house to be worth more at the outset than another home of similar square footage and amenities, but that is not built from a universal design. The reason is that a universally designed house is more appealing to all segments of the population because of its practicality and usability for everyone. Universally designed homes are easier to sell and acrue in value more readily.

Good planning for the future

For those who plan on living in their homes until they die, this type of house design is excellent because it will accommodate occupants in any change of life. If an occupant becomes suddenly disabled or eventually must have certain handicap amenities in areas like the bathroom due to aging issues, this design allows for changes in life that are bound to occur.

Important design elements

There are many elements of design that go into a universal home, but several of the most important are constructed into the bathroom area, kitchen, hallways and the construction level of the home. The bathroom is perhaps one of the most important areas of the home, as it is designed to be accessible by combining within the design some handicap requirements. Wider doorways for wheelchair accessiblity, nonslip flooring, wet room style spaciousness and open shower areas are just some of the common features for a handicap bath area that can be enjoyed by all.

Exploring Slow Home Design

What is slow home design? Basically, it is the principle of slowing down to design homes and spaces that are sustainable, practical and functional.

The slow home movement began in 2006 when John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm wanted to create a “critical response to the poor design practices that pervade the mass housing industry. Our intent is to advocate for a more thoughtful approach to residential design that improves the quality of our daily lives and reduces our impact on the environment”. Slow home design strives for a more “considered, calm and intuitive” approach to residential design. The concept is to use well-considered design principles to create smaller homes that will be both environmentally sustainable and literally so, in the sense of being built to endure. The practice also includes remodels of existing, appropriately sized older homes that need updating.

Brown says in an interview with The Chicago Tribune that a slow home is “reasonably sized and carefully designed to support its occupants. It might have an entry where family members can easily take off their boots, stash their keys and store their backpacks, for example. It might have a living space that encourages people to talk or read, not just watch television or surf the Internet. It’s energy efficient, filled with natural light and designed for easy flow among rooms and access to the outside.”

North, in this interview with The Calgary Herald says, “I think the boom of the big-house era is coming to an end. So those houses will be less desirable and valuable as time goes on. Expect a shift to smaller, more energy-efficient homes, North says, and a move away from homes on the fringes of cities. A decade ago, a 5,000-sq.-ft. home sounded like a dream to some. These days, that much square footage sounds like a noose around your neck. There’s uncertainty about the energy cost to heat your house.”

Slowing down to design a space that is functional, long-lasting, meets the needs of the family now and later, and is, of course, stylish and comfortable – that’s the aim of the slow home movement.

But even if you are not starting from scratch, you can still join in living a slow home lifestyle. Re-work your rooms to make sure that they are functional for your family’s everyday living. Instead of purchasing a new piece of furniture, look for family hand-me-downs or thrift store finds to re-purpose. Organize your kitchen, bathroom, closets and office using bins, jars, boxes and dishes that you already own but rarely use. Make the stuff in your home work for you and create a stylish and comfortable space that you will be happy with every day and for years to come.