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Old 11-25-2006, 04:07 PM   #1
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design software


I want to build a house and design it myself to some degree.
I need some software to visualize the design, not necessarily to produce blueprints.

Visualization does not need to be overly sophisticated.

There are two possibilities:

100 USD Punch software (HDA 4000), will not draw blueprints, apparently
has some problems designing roofs.

1100 USD Chief Architect 10.0 (base) will draw blueprints and is probably
fully competent in all respects.

I have no experience with CAD software but have had to do with complicted software elsewhere (software development environments) and have lots of time so I believe I should be able to master the software at some point.

My question is as follows:

With the more expensive program can I save enough on the services of the architect to justify the higher price.

Construction would be owner builder, slab on grade, surface bonded CMUs possibly autoclaved airated concrete blocks. Can the more expensive software draw blueprints and make materials lists for this type of construction?

What would you suggest?

Last edited by oar; 11-25-2006 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 11-25-2006, 04:44 PM   #2
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Location: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota - Latitude 45.057 Longitude -93.074
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design software

If you are doing a "design it yourself" and "build it yourself" home, do not use a computer program. Spend your time, money and efforts on learning about construction instead of looking for something to give you a theoretical solution that YOU will have to bring to completion.

By considering masonry, you have selected a residential building system that is the most universal for the developed world. Only the U.S. and Canada find this system universal in the big picture. Unfortunately, it is so simple and basic, that people do not need programs, so few are available. Those that are available are very far oof the deep end and too complictated. The structural design of the walls is almost too simple to be concerned with.

Depending where you are, slab on grade can be cheap and easy, or it can be a long term problem irregardless of the structure above.

With a good sructure, roofs are easily designed for any area, and the design can usually be provided by the material supplier(s).

The actual construction of the walls will require a good understanding of the electrical and mechanical elements if YOU are going to build it rather than put it in and cover it.

Surface bonding is a very localized, idealized method of construction and is usually not used in many areas. AAC (autoclaved aerated concrete) units are good for some climates, but the material cost is higher than for other materials that offer more energy efficient systems.

The bottom line is - if you plan to design it yourself, you should understand the building materials before selecting a system. The computer software is a "crutch" to make the presentation easier for the ultimate builder to understand. your results are only as good as what you put in.

You may be better off finding a good designer that understands that use of the type of materials you prefer.

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Old 11-25-2006, 06:17 PM   #3
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design software


I do plan to learn about masonry.
I am leaning toward the cheaper program for basic visualization only.

Once I have the basic design figured out I'll let an architect do the rest.
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Old 11-26-2006, 09:06 AM   #4
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Location: Nanoose Bay Vancouver Island BC
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design software

I have been using IMSI Floorplan programs for years now and love it. User friendly, has virtual walk throughs, Renderd veiws and even Photo Realistic veiws. check it out http://www.imsisoft.com/prodinfo.asp?t=1&mcid=391&cid=
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:59 AM   #5
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design software

The best and easiest is SketchUp which is free from Google or you can buy the full version at www.sketchup.com or use the demo trial version til it dies.
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:55 PM   #6
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design software

Thanks for the replies.

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