Bring out your inner architect

While we’ll never want to replace them, we can certainly help the discussion by using property design software to get the conversation started.

What kind of design software do you need for your project?

There are several types of design software available, and the best one depends on the type of project you are envisioning. The ideal software suites include all the tools you need to create a full house plan from the foundation up on a computer running Windows or Mac.

Most of these programs include advanced tools for designing your lawn and garden so the outside of your home is as spectacular as the inside. These floor plan creators are also great for designing additions to an existing property or sketching your ideas for a major renovation. Still, you can find each of these sets of specialized tools in niche design programs.

For example, if you just hope to recreate an idea you saw on a popular home renovation show, you probably don’t need a full software suite. For these types of projects, use interior design software to help you prepare to knock out a wall or simply rearrange your furniture.

Similarly, deck design programs are good for creating exterior additions to your property. These types of tools are included with home design suites but are also typically included as part of landscaping design software.

How much does home designer software cost?

Some home design software can be downloaded free or for as little as $20, and low-cost programs are great for basic indoor layouts. A full-bodied program can cost you up to $500 but is well worth the price tag if you want detailed control and are designing your entire property, or portfolio.

What should you look for in home design software?

Any software will have reviews available online, so look for good ratings on ease of use and ability to navigate the program.  Also look for access to support and other help tools such as video tutorials, as well as the following key features.

2D & 3D Views
Ideally target 3D design software. This means you can see your finished dream home in both 2D, which is flat and looks like a blueprint, and 3D, which has textures and colours to give you an idea of what the final product will look like.

Look for programs that let you design in 3D using drag-and-drop features, with the ability to automatically convert your plan into a 2D blueprint with dimensions included. This is opposite from most programs, which require the structural building aspects to be completed in the 2D view.

Some programs feature that lets you view the 2D and 3D plans simultaneously. As you place features and objects into your 2D design, you can see them automatically render in the 3D view. This cuts down on floating objects, a result of building in 2D that places objects high in your design rather than flush to the ground, which you can only see in a 3D view. This feature also lets you quickly check that everything is balanced.

Object libraries
Some apps have thousands of items and include several styles of tables and windows of various lengths. Others have basic objects, such as windows and doors, that can be added and then modified to your desired dimensions, though you can’t customize how they look.

Programs with more objects in their libraries make it easier to set up and envision your finished design as the items serve as more than just basic placeholders. These programs typically include more decorative items – such as vases – that you can place on tables as well as robust window treatment options.

Most programs allow you to subsidize their libraries with thousands more objects by importing items from popular third-party websites. SketchUp and Trimble 3D Warehouse are the most commonly used, and they have thousands of objects you can import for free.

As part of the object library, 3D design software often includes landscape objects. As with the total object library, we counted each plant in every program’s plant library. Typically, the more objects in the plant library, the more options you have to make your gardens look exactly how you envision.

Import plans and tracing features
Another fun feature is a floor plan tracer. With this tool you can open a picture of a property, a sample floor plan or a blueprint and trace the aspects you like and want to keep in your own home. This is a great way to mesh a lot of ideas into one house plan. It is also valuable if you have your existing property’s plans and hope to design an addition. Using the trace tool, you can easily extend a wall and create another space that is proportional with the measurements and layout of your current home.

Landscape tools
Designing your yard is just as important as creating your building. In addition to a healthy plant library, look for other outdoor objects, such as barbeques and outdoor furniture, to help create a beautiful oasis. Some programs have garden templates that make it easy to envision and create your landscapes.

In addition to plants, topography tools are used to recreate hills and dips that are natural to your block, and they can help you picture what your lawn will look like if you bring in more dirt to build it up. Typically, though, you probably won’t want to use these tools too much and leave topography planning to the professionals.

You can also use deck and fence designer tools, which work much like room-building features – you can connect a deck to your home and set an exterior door as an easy access point. The same texture and material custom design tools used to update your home can create a deck that is aesthetically pleasing and complements the property’s exterior.

The wrap up

Home design programs are fun tools for creating your dream property. While you may still need a professional to create the final blueprints, floor design software is a great tool to help you get your vision down and share it. It is especially easy if you choose a program that saves your final plans as a DXF or DWG file which is compatible with professional CAD software.

In no particular order, see below for a range of different software selections.

Planner5d –

Sketchup –

Smartdraw –

Roomsketcher –

Home Designer Software –




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Crave Property Advisory is a unique property strategy and buyers agent service. As the only independent and unbiased advisory that can help you use any property strategy Australia-wide, Crave’s services extend to home, investment and commercial property.  A highly client focused organization, Crave developed the Modular Investing System (MI System) to provide clients with the ability to use a tailored mix of strategies and efficiently build profitable portfolios that create lifetime income. 

Debra Beck-Mewing is the CEO of Crave Property Advisory, and has more than 20 years’ experience in property investing, Australia-wide. She has used a range of strategies to build her property portfolio including renovating, granny flats, sub-division and development. Debra is skilled in identifying development opportunities, and sourcing properties that have multiple uses and multiple exit strategies. She is a Qualified Property Investment Advisor, licensed real estate agent and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business.

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Disclaimer – This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice.  We strongly recommend you seek your own professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances.

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