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Old 08-13-2008, 09:47 PM   #1
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Good home construction software

I'm about to build my house (never built anything before), and I'm looking for good software to design everything.

I've tried Google Sketch-Up, which is a good general 3d design program, but it's tedious to draw each component from scratch, and there are no physics features, like calculating loads.

My web searching turned up Punch as the most popular, but either I'm missing something, or it just pretends to be for professionals - I couldn't find a way to work with individual components, like a basic 2x4, only large abstract units like "wall" and "roof", almost as if it was for interior decorating or other layman purpose.

I want to be able to create a detailed design, from footings, piers, slabs, and foundation walls, up through mudsill, framed walls, posts, girders, floor joists, roof joists, rafters, ridge board, and sheathing - enough to know exactly what to buy and where it goes, like blueprints.

Any suggestions?


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Old 08-14-2008, 05:59 AM   #2
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Learning to use a CAD program takes a lot of training and practice.


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Old 08-14-2008, 06:17 AM   #3
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I can tell you that Punch pro platinum will draw pretty pictures, IF you have plenty of patience. It will NOT provide any technical construction info and is a pain in the @$$ to learn to use.
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Old 08-14-2008, 08:42 AM   #4
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Those programs will draw pictures but won't help with methods, materials, engineering, or anything else.

This is why architects exist. If there were a program that would do all that, they wouldn't be needed as much.
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:08 AM   #5
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Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer is made by Chief Architect.

Chief pro version is very powerful, Ive used it. It is not quite Revit (probably the most popular professional Architects program) but is a about $2k (plus if you buy the training cds). There are several others in the $1500 range, some more geared towards estimating, Chiefs strong points I feel are rendering and ray tracing.

That bring said, Home Designer can do framing, material lists and estimates. I used this version previous to Chief Pro. It was pretty powerful for the price. I got frustrated trying to fudge some complicated roofs that it wouldnt quite do correctly. Being an engineer, this was not acceptable to me. Ive never used Punch but I know others that have and I have seen work done on it. From that, I would say Home Designer is more powerful, but who knows.

I have been using CAD programs for 20 years and it still takes time to learn a new program. Just when you think you're getting good, a new project comes along that needs a function you've never used. You have to be a good problem solver and like challenges or you'll get no where. Learning the software can become a project in itself. Would you get more mileage from a vocational class or a good framing book? Maybe also buying the IBC books?

good luck
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:53 AM   #6
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Although I can use a few different CAD programs, I'm not that proficient at it. So I hired a draftsman to help me with the drawings of my house. For me this was well worth the $500.00 since we got a lot of details and I got my moneys worth in the time he spent on it.


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