CUSTOMIZING ROOM AND HOME DESIGNS
Article provided by: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection
Some big-box retailers have websites featuring on-line software that allows visitors to change the color of a wall or pattern on the floor with a click of a mouse. But what about software that allows a homeowner to change not only the color of the wall, but where the wall is installed in the first place?
Several companies now offer free software downloads that make it easy for homeowners to design a dream house and use their design as a visual when working with a builder or architect. These products are especially useful for people who have difficulty imagining a tired kitchen as a remodeled great room, for example.
The programs range in ease of operation, but many function using the drag-and-drop option. Some also contain vital construction information, such as the proper placement of support beams, plumbing and electrical wiring.
Google SketchUp offers a free tool that allows users to design and create a room or an entire home, and post the home on the website to share it with other users. In addition, the design can be plugged into Google Maps to see how it would look in a particular neighborhood.
DesignWorkshop Lite is another free design software package, allowing users to construct 3D interior and exterior designs. Users remark that DesignWorkshop Lite does have a learning curve but comes with a tutorial.
Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G) also offers an inexpensive software product for under $50 that has designers and homeowners praising its virtues. Not only can a user create a 2D or 3D designs, the product will automatically provide dimensions for plans, and estimate the costs before the first trip to the building supply store. Over 1,000 cabinet combinations are available to choose from, allowing the user to customize cabinets by changing style, colors, doors, drawers, countertops, hinges, handles and pulls.
In most home design software programs, landscaping is not overlooked. In the BH&G program, for example over 500 botanically accurate flowers, trees, and shrubs are available for virtual planting. Automatic terrain perimeter tools will work with any yard dimensions, allowing for the inclusion of gardens, pathways, ponds, pool and deck.
When considering home design software, the products are endless, so consulting on-line reviews can be helpful. Products that will be most useful will come with free demos and online tutorials, sample home design plans and built-in templates.
Users should have access to libraries of appliances and furnishings, and have the ability to quickly change finishes, wall colors and flooring styles.
Cost estimating functions should also be included, generating spreadsheets that calculate building supplies, down to the amount of lumber or concrete needed. (These features may only be available at a higher cost). Any software purchased should also come with a guarantee and return policy.
Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection’s Monthly Tip, June 2012 | Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee