Create 3-D Renderings with Top Remodeling Software

A Comparison of Three Home Design Programs

3d rendering of building done by software
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Computer-aided programs help remodelers visualize projects during the conceptual stages. This design software is one of the most popular tools in the industry as 3-D images enable clients to visualize what the project will look like when completed. Three of the most common software programs include SketchUp, Chief Architect, and SoftPlan.​

SketchUp

This design software is a user-friendly application that will help you learn to create 3D models of houses, decks, home additions and woodworking projects.

It's free to download (though paid versions are available too), and it's a must-have if you are starting a remodeling design business.

SketchUp allows you to design with accuracy, add details, textures, and glass to your models and place your finished models on Google Earth. It's a great way to discover 3D modeling because the process is so easy - just put lines together and the program will guide you to creating the 3D model. The software allows you to export pages as PDFs, images and CAD files, print hard copies and share your designs by posting them to the 3D Warehouse.

SketchUp basic tools:

  • Modify and draw different types of geometrical figures.
  • Calculate area, length, and dimension.
  • Protractor, tape measure, layers and section slice; offset function and intersection.

SketchUp features:

  • Draw, modify, measure, rotate and scale geometry.
  • Place section slices to view and work on model interiors.
  • Add pre-made textures to your models or create new ones.
  • Add pre-made components like trees, cars, doors and windows and people to your models, or create new components.
  • Soften and smooth faces.
  • Cast real-time shadows for any location on earth.
  • Simulate movie camera placements.
  • Perform walk-through.
  • Create presentation tours.
  • Import 2D images (.jpg, .png, .tif, .tga, .bmp) and 3D models (.3ds, .dem, .ddf, .dwg, .dxf, .skp).
  • Export your models to Google Earth.
  • Export 2D images of your models (.jpg, .bmp, .png, .tif).

Chief Architect

Chief Architect Software is a publisher of 3D Architectural home design software recommended for architects, engineers and construction companies. This remodeling design software uses technology to create 3D renderings easier and faster than traditional CAD software.

For professionals, the company publishes the Chief Architect software product line and for the consumer DIY home design market, the company publishes Home Designer product line. Both product lines are compatible, allowing professionals and homeowners to interact.

Chief Architect can be used effectively in residential, commercial, institutional and hospitality industries. The program is so powerful and robust that it offers over 1,500 home plans and more than 4,000 individual items accessible in their library.

Chief Architect design software does not require as much computer experience as other comparable programs as it is very intuitive. For beginners, there are excellent training tools and videos. The customer support is excellent and most of the time problems are immediately solved through their technical support department.

Chief Architect features:

  • Create 2D and 3D rendering images.
  • Prepare materials list.
  • Create material take-offs.
  • Prepare cost estimated.
  • The code checks Analysis.
  • Animated walk-throughs.
  • Analysis of interference.
  • Calculate square feet and linear feet.
  • Align and distribute objects.
  • Prepare wall elevation views.
  • Define multiple dimension styles.
  • Automatically re-build deck framing.
  • Create center swing double-doors.
  • Create an opening between two rooms or draw half walls.

Remodeling Design Software: SoftPlan

This design software draws with scaled components, walls, joists, beams, etc., rather than with lines representing items. SoftPlan understands technical and commonly used building terms like walls and footings, and it is ideal for extensions, renovations, kitchen/bathroom, decking, and pergola construction.

The program allows you to create a 3D virtual tour of your project during the design stage so clients can review what it will look like finished.

SoftPlan features:

  • Create full 3D image rendering with light sources, reflections, and shadows.
  • Present realistic images including object placement.
  • View 3D images from any angle inside or out.
  • Simulate sun’s shadow effects for better designing.
  • Complete house design with materials and images.
  • View, print (with permission) and comment on the drawing.
  • Create a detailed estimate of materials, including labor and waste.
  • A "Picture-torial Estimating System" replaces a tabular input system.
  • Generate a footprint of the building on the site with Site Plan mode.
  • Voice-activated control software.
  • Generate contour lines and indicate services like power, telephone, water, etc. along with contours and building setbacks.