Visual Home Planning: Product Lineup

Visual Home Planning: Product Lineup

Maxwell Ryan
Jun 2, 2004

Paper and pencil look awful good after awhile. When I visit clients I take measurements and draw a floor plan back at my office. To help streamline this process and try to get a scale drawing that can be emailed and easily edited on the train or anywhere, I have been looking into computer solutions. Here is the complete list of top solutions:

Visio - $199 at Microsoft Visio
Review: Part of the Microsoft Monopoly.
Visio will do the birds-eye layout trick. Limited if you want to do 3d stuff. Julius
Simple, easy to use, nice interface, free trial version. Maxwell

Visual Home 3D - free -
Review: I believe this program is good for making 3d renditions for your floor plan. I haven't used it though so I don't know how cool it is or isn't. Julius

3D Home Architect - $99 - ">Broderbund
Review: Puts many of the same resources within reach of do-it-yourselfers, allowing them to make plans with near-professional precision. Lets Windows users create in meticulous detail new walls, wings, gardens and gazebos.
For newcomers to home design, the detail may seem overwhelming. Mark Glassman

See My Design Layout - free -
Review: Cheesy. Maxwell

Arrange A Room - free -
Review: This is more fun, more interactive, and offers you more variety than See My Design. Jackie

My Virtual Home - free -
Review: Not yet available so hard to tell. A friend is doing 3d modeling of the furniture, so hopefully it will be more aesthetically pleasing than See My Design. Pippa

Sketch-Up - $475 -
Review: Good for basic, rectilinear volumes (like apts.)and comes with generic furniture/building components with a growing user forum for more custom items. Best part is it took me about 30 minutes to learn the program and generate photo-real images. Regan

Pencil and Paper
Review: Its cheaper, quicker, easier (I'm assuming you know how to use paper, pencil, measuring tape, ruler or scale, and a little math.) and can be used for other things when you're done. Paper and pencil is intuitive and has less VOC's. Rob

And the winner is??? I would say that unless you do this for a living, I remain skeptical of all of the programs and still prefer pencil and paper. If you want to use the computer for simple stuff, however, I would go with 3D Home architect or Visio for room layouts, etc. It is a shame that no one makes a really simple birds eye view program that is super cheap...something that almost has the qualities of the video game Pong for rearranging furniture and walls. Something you could play with on your cell phone as you sit on the subway and rearrange your apartment on the way home. MGR

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