Architectural Software

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Old 07-22-04, 09:56 PM
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Architectural Software

I am planning a major addition to my home (about 150k) and am looking for some 3d modeling software that I can layout my current home and then add a 2nd story and a large bonus room. Landscaping would be nice also. I am willing to spend some money but don't need to produce professional architectual drawings. I will still be hiring an architect. I am also very proficeint with software since I am a software consultant for the manufacturing industry. I have reviewed SoftCAD but was looking for other opinions.

Thanks,
SurfCityUSA

Huntington Beach, CA
 
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Old 07-26-04, 09:00 AM
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SurfCityUSA,

So with all that you said, what are you wanting to do?

If you are wanting some design software, there is cheap stuff available to purchase.

If you are going to hire an architect, which is spendy, then why buy any software at all?

There is no software that is going to tell you all the codes and what is right or wrong - this takes a professional designer or architect. When you hire them, they work with you as a team in designing what you are wanting to acheive - one on one.

So as I asked, what are you wanting to do?
 
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Old 07-28-04, 09:28 AM
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As I said. I will be hiring an architect to do the actual plans, but I have ideas in my head that I want to play with before get the architect involved. Why would I spend the money to have him give me his "standard" designs that he has done a dozen times in the last year because I don't know what I want? Or why spend the time having him ask me what I like and then revising it many times? They charge by the hour mostly, don't they? I seldom hire contractors of anykind to do work on my home. But when I do, I like to have 90% of his questions answered firm in advance so there are no surprises.

Since I put out this email, I saw the some home design software by Punch Software at Sam's Club for $68 that appears to have all the features I need. For $68 vs $800 or so for SoftCAD, I can get this and toss it if I don't like it.

Thanks for the feedback.

SurfCityUSA
Huntington Beach, CA
 
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Old 07-28-04, 01:43 PM
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SurfCityUSA,

It appears that misinformation runs all over! When one is not knowledgable enough in the areas of residential construction, trying to save money, they always lose. Don't take that wrong as many "assume" things without looking into all aspects of what needs to be done and what one should be paying and not.

Why would I spend the money to have him give me his "standard" designs that he has done a dozen times in the last year because I don't know what I want?
For one, there is no "standard” design - each project has its own character, each home is not built the same and what the customer desires is not the same as the neighbor down the street. If it were that easy, there would be no need for contractors, designers or architects. Seen any addition plan books that would fit your home, every home? They don't exist. Every plan out there that shows a great addition may look great but more times than not, cannot be implemented into a home due to structural issues, setbacks, current floor layouts, mechanical upgrades, budget (which the surprise may hit you at the end if someone doesn't guide you through the process). You can't just assume that everything is the same on every home. If any designer/architect pushes "his standard design" on you, show them the door!

Or why spend the time having him ask me what I like and then revising it many times?
For one, if you knew enough about construction, materials used, why to do things per the "current building codes" within your area then no need to ask anymore these questions. As you well know selling software and having the ability to use it, to it fullest potential is not an hour or 2 learning curve. These inexpensive programs help expand the imagination from conceptual to more a visual. It takes time to learn the software but then, it's just a "tool". The user should and must have more knowledge than just having the desire to draw. I expect to ask the client questions, this is a "team effort". Not always does the client fill you in on everything even if they say I have been thinking about this for 2 years. I had one client and when they said they had been thinking about the project for a long time, 1 hour of questions just shocked them. They hadn't thought of everything. A professional will assist in this. That is partly what you pay for! I expect to provide the client with designs, I expect the client to review the designs and make changes, and I expect to redraw - Maximum 2 times. Does everyone else do this? NO Should the client expect it? Yes! Should the client be informed of construction costs for all the add-ins they want, during each phase, to avoid going over their budget? YES Does it increase the overall Design/Drafting cost? Not always. My thought is, you live there, I won't, you need to be sure of every detail before investing lots of money and finding you forgot something, might not be in code compliance, might be too expensive to build or there is a need for a change. "Rule of thumb - change one thing and two other things will change - Guaranteed!" A sincere and true professional, working on your behalf will save you lots of money, not waste it.

They charge by the hour mostly, don't they?
Like most things, you need to be aware of what is out there and how a firm (even a one man shop) may charge. I charge a flat rate, others charge an hourly or by phase. Architects may charge any of these means depending on what the project entails. You worry about hourly, I would too. I don't want to pay someone hourly when I have no idea how long it will take and they, as well as I will not tell any approximate as you will determine that. I like to know the amount I am paying, for what and what do I get. Some think that if it is done on a computer, that a click here and click there you are done. Dream on! So for those that are in the dream world and I say $60 per hour that looks great versus $100 or $150 per hour doesn't it. The question is what does this really get you? If I say an average addition takes 80 - 120 hours and me say that will be $60 per hour, you may think twice about the fee. If I say $2500 - $4500 that is below an hourly fee. The key is what you get. What is the process? This you must discuss with your architect/designer to determine who provides the most, the best for the overall cost. So you can pay 2 - 5% flat fee of projected cost through a designer or 5- 15% through an architect. The fees will vary but this a good representation per this Midwest. Either choice is good but only you have to decide the best way for you. This is where no shortcuts should be done - we are talking about your investment - your equity and poor choices can lead to disaster.

According to the articles and reviews I have read and there are 3 that I have used, almost all the home design software offered is either hard to use, slow and cumbersome, full of bugs and glitches, or all of the above. many users posting to sites such as Amazon.com and Epinions felt there was too long a learning curve to use them.

Part of the problem is that many have high expecations when they buy the software but once loaded, were disappointed in the amount of time it would take to cover the basics, such as learning to use the software and making a floor plan. Their comments emphasize the fact that home design software is not as easy to use as you would expect; it doesn't have the instant rewards of, say, game software. That doesn't mean working with these products can't be fun, but it does mean a novice user with little computer graphics or design experience will need to dedicate lots of energy to master these tools. Notwithstanding these complaints, other users and most professional reviewers say these programs, despite their faults, are indeed learnable by the average consumer.

Problem is that many budget software programs are not accurate. I have taken a clients design with dimensions and returned them just to say that they are off from inches to feet. How can that be, you ask. It is simple, you get what you pay for. Just because a box says it can do this or that, isn't the whole truth. Read the disclaimers in small print on the package.

The you read customer reviews like this,
“After reading the reviews here I thought I was in for a real treat. To my disappointment, after I installed the software (which was painful to say the least) the product constantly crashed and was very unstable. Drawing walls is a joke. There is absolutely no accuracy in design. To create a nice image crashed my computer at every turn. Hope the rest of you have better luck than I did”
“I was looking for a software that would let me create a good design of my new house. I am not an architect and I am not interested in details such as plumbing, electrical, framing etc. I just wanted to create the walls, add the doors windows, furniture, stairs, roof, etc.”

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 08-03-04, 09:49 AM
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Just a note about how architects / designers commonly price their services.

Generally there are 3 ways:

1) Hourly - you pay a price per hour for their services.

2) Fixed price - you pay a fixed price for their services

3) Price per square foot - you pay a price, for example $4.00, per square foot of space they design for you

4) Percentage of construction cost - you pay a percentage, for example 10%, of the construction cost.

Now, you can see each of these has it's limits. Any of these can be modified by setting a maximum price - for example, it's common to do an hourly, per square foot or percentage of construction cost price with a maximum. Of course, the architect or designer has to protect themselves too, for example, if you contract to do roughly 1000 square feet, with a per square foot price of $2 with a maximum price of $2500, and then you decide you want to do 10,000 square feet, they are justified in billing you more.

For smaller projects (like most renovations) it is common to pay an upcharge because the designer / architect's fixed costs are the same for smaller projects versus larger.

I think a lot of people are worried that if they pay an architect / designer hourly that they have no impetus to do the project quickly. In my experience, that's not true, because the architect / designer has other projects to work on, and limited time. It's not in their best interest to overcharge you either, because then you're bad advertising for them.
 
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Old 08-16-04, 12:32 PM
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For non-professionals (and even some professionals), the leading home design software is Punch! (I did not put the exclamation point, unfortunately it is part of the name). Your local computer store (and Costco) probably carries Punch! Pro Platinum, which is very popular. At around a hundred dollars, it costs hundreds less than 3D professional design suites, so I don't complain about its shortcomings, which in my opinion are few considering its affordability.

As a software professional, you will have no trouble learning the software, and will probably have your preliminary design input completed in a few hours. It has all the features you said you wanted, plus some more, including cost calculators. You will end up doing most of your architect's design work, at significant savings. Of course, you will still need to pay for the structural engineering (most architects aren't structural engineers, so make sure that gets done, especially in CA) and architectural drawings acceptable to the building department.

Most of all, you will have fun doing the design yourself and viewing the results in 3D.
 
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Old 08-18-04, 03:10 PM
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Hey SurfCityUSA...

I don't mean to hijack this thread by any means but I was just browsing this site trying to find excatly what you were looking for...
Have you had any luck with the software you found?

Thanks!
 
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Old 08-24-04, 12:07 AM
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Razz, Ridelikehell,
I wound up buying the Punch Pro Platinum at Sam's Club for $68 just before you posted your comment on Punch. For only $68, I could not pass up trying it out. So far so, good. Seems pretty easy to use although I am having a little trouble moving through the 3d. It seems hard to control. Of course, I guess I should read the help first. LOL.

thanks to all replys

surfcityusa
 
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Old 09-13-04, 03:16 PM
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Punch! question

SurfCityUSA,
I am planning to pull off my wood siding and replace with cultured stone. Does Punch! make a drawing that will allow me to get a permit from the city? How about for a wall that separates the front yard from the side yard?
 
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Old 09-14-04, 06:45 AM
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Talking

UMMMMMM.......software doesn't get you permits. designing something to building code and doing the proper paperwork gets you permits.

1) replacing siding w/stone - first check with zoning & the building department to see if it is allowed in your area. if so, you probably don't even have to submit drawings. if you do, then you submit drawings (that you could do on the computer) to show what your ideas are. Then you get a permit.

2) wall seperating two yards - generally, this is a fence and would fall under
fence restrictions. again, the building department can help you with getting a permit. often fences are easier than building projects, and so are a fairly easy permit to get, requiring only your survey (to show that the fence is on your property) and a plan drawing showing where the fence goes.

best!
 
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Old 09-14-04, 10:52 AM
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Thanks for insight

Thanks for your reply. I am usually a little long winded on this forum but in this case I left out the fact that I didn't expect the software to get me a permit. I have been told by my HOA that we need to submit a drawing to the city and then to them to approve the changes. I don't expect a fight, but I want the drawing to help get me the siding and wall I want. So I want to know if something cheap and easy like Punch! (haven't bought it yet) is worth my time and money. Would it help at the city desk?
 

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Old 09-14-04, 05:53 PM
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Tyger52,.

As Trance said in #1, you can draw some lines but it takes more than that to get them to consider it. In #2, it is an issue of knowing what the City requires and fulfilling those requirements. You need a site survey and sometimes the mortgage survey is not sufficient. Check with the City on both counts. Trance has it right on the money!

If you are wanting some design software, there is cheap stuff available to purchase. Punch is ok for designing but beyond that, the words, experience is not within that software or any software that would produce what is required for submission for permit application. Accuracy and dimensions, meeting Code compliance and Structural requirements is all required.

If you are going to hire an architect, which is spendy, then why buy any software at all?

If you have a General Contractor who needs drawings to get some idea of costs or to firm up cost estimates, hire a designer or architect.

There is no software that is going to tell you all the codes and what is right or wrong - this takes a professional designer or architect. When you hire them, they work with you as a team in designing what you are wanting to acheive - one on one.

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 09-17-04, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Aleshire
If you are going to hire an architect, which is spendy, then why buy any software at all?
If you want to do your own design and floor plan, and turn it over to the architect for drawing and execution, software is a great tool for producing a visual arena for your project, and more effective and satisfying than sketches and verbal descriptions. Of course, it can't ensure construction code compliance, but can in many cases produce drawings (illustrations) of sufficient detail and accuracy for some types of permit applications.
 
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Old 06-24-05, 02:32 PM
tthai
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Any Puch software users in San Diego, CA?

I just bought Puch Home AS18. I'm not an architect and agree that no software can replace a professional architect. However, it's a good tool to visualize your imagination. Anyway, i find the software hard for a beginner like me and would like to know if there is any experience user in the area i'm living. I'd love to get together for a quick basis tour of the software one evening and dinner will be on me. Thanks
 
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Old 06-24-05, 02:54 PM
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tthai,

It would be best to contact Punch and see about any Chat Forums that would help you. Try this;

http://forums.punchsoftware.com/

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 07-02-05, 08:35 PM
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SurfCityUSA,

I may be a little late but I am a fan of Broderbunds Home Architect 3d. It is the baby cad version of chief architect. For the homeowner who does not want to learn an entire piece of software it is easy and has a great library of windows, doors, exterior materials and colors. It is not meant to be submittal drawing quality but to get your ideas on paper quickly and easily it is the best software at a reasonable price. Ebay $9.95. With 2-3 hours you can complete a floor plan. The program then generates roof and foundation plans, then you can generate 3d from there. You can import a jpeg picture of your lot and then place the 3d right onto the lot. When you do a walk thru in the house you wuill see the appropiate pieces of the background through the windows.

When you talk about full cad versions there are so many. I personally use autocad and datacad. Both pricey with larger learning curves but both definately worth the money. I am also a fan of chief architect. All are completly different in how they think and how they operate.

I hope this is of some help to those looking into an affordable simple sketch tool.

Brian Garrison
General Contractor/Professional Building Designer
 
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