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Which Home Design Software is Best?

How to Pick a Home Design Software Program

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IMSI TurboFLOORPLAN Instant Architect - Architecture Software

IMSI TurboFLOORPLAN Instant Architect

Photo: Jackie Craven
For anyone who plans to build a new house, home design software can seem like a dream come true. But with so many programs to choose between, how do you decide? Start by answering these questions.

1. What are your system requirements?
Home design software needs a lot of memory and power. Before you buy home design software, make sure your computer system meets the requirements to run the program.

2. What's your learning curve?
Some home design programs can be challenging. Computer novices will need to spend time reading the manual and working through online tutorials. For out-of-the-box simplicity, opt for a basic program with a minimum of special features.

3. What do you want to do?

  • Dabble, play, and create.
    A simple program with basic features is all you need to try out your creative ideas. Before you splurge, experiment with a free drawing program like Google SketchUp or bargain-priced software like the ultra-easy IMSI TurboFLOORPLAN Instant Architect.

  • Draw simple floor plans.
    If all you want to do is draw simple floor plans, you might not need a high powered graphics program or software for drawing 3D images. Instead, try an easy, free online drawing tool.

  • Prepare to build.
    Home design software isn't as powerful as the CAD programs used by architects and engineers. You won't be able to draft blueprints or construction-ready drawings. With some programs, however, you can create designs with enough detail to give your pro a jump start. Chief Architect Home Designer Suite (compare prices) will let you select from a huge library of cabinets, colors, and other features. Choose the entire suite of Chief Architect software and you can also plan complex electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.

  • Add curb appeal to an existing home.
    Programs like IMSI TurboFLOORPLAN Home & Landscape Pro will let you import a photo and add new landscape features. However, you really don't need home design software if your goal is to view paint colors or make other cosmetic changes to your house. Instead, choose a paint color software program or a photo-editing program.

  • Create a presentation.
    Some home design software has features that teachers and sales representatives find especially helpful. For example, IMSI TurboFLOORPLAN Home & Landscape Pro will let users record voice narratives and create animated views of home designs.

  • Work on a school project.
    If you're facing a tight deadline, pick software that's quick and easy to use. Most school projects don't require enormous libraries of colors and details. Opt for simplicity over bells and whistles.
What's Your View?
Have you ever used a home design program? Tell us your experiences!
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