tiffany_niederlecopley

Easiest program for whole house floor planning?

Tiffany Niederle Copley
September 18, 2019

I’m realllllly not tech savvy, what’s the easiest program to use?

Comments (73)

  • doc5md

    If you are trying to just get something out of your head, I think paper and pencil is always best. If you are trying to figure out furniture layout etc on an existing layout, I like making scale cutouts of the furniture and using paper and pencil too.

    If you are trying to visualize something in 3D with ceiling heights and window placement etc, then a computer can be helpful.

    I've watched probably half a dozen sketch up tutorials. I've used it a few times, usually because I read again that someone thinks it is easy. I figure maybe I just didn't try it enough. Nope, I don't think there is anything easy or intuitive about it at all. Just my 2c.

  • shead

    @doc5md, I feel the same way about Sketchup! I thought it was just me and I'm fairly computer saavy. Every single time I open it up, I close it back down after 1.2 minutes because I have no idea what is even going on with it.....lol! Glad it's not just me!



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  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    The biggest problem I have with the programs I have tried is that they all seem to be set up to pull or draw the lines but it’s almost impossible to get them to the exact correct measurements and they connect when I don’t want them to connect and stuff. I wish there was one I could just enter measurements, it draws the block and I stick the blocks together!

  • D E

    Tiffany have you already tried SketchUp?

  • Architectrunnerguy

    "The biggest problem I have with the programs I have tried is that they all seem to be set up to pull or draw the lines but it’s almost impossible to get them to the exact correct measurements and they connect when I don’t want them to connect and stuff."

    That's the biggest problem with conceptualizing with a computer. Data has to be entered. With the hand in command of a pencil there's no need to worry about the length of a line or the slope of a roof. Just draw what looks right to the eye.

    For example in my sketch I posted above the pitch of the roof is just by eye. I'm not sidetracked by having to enter coordinates or other data. There's no "exact correct measurements" in that entire drawing.

    And when I'm doing it in front of a client where I do most of my conceptualizing 'live', we're not huddled over some screen. The drawing is in the middle of all of us and the client can easily draw just as easily as I can. In some meetings the client commands the pen just as much as I do!! And over the years I've gotten very good at drawing upside down elevations!!


  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    The "program" mentioned immediately above seems easiest to me.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    It probably works equally as well on elevations.

  • BT

    > I have tried is that they all seem to be set up to pull or draw the lines but it’s almost impossible to get them to the exact correct measurements


    LOL Every software in the world has the way to do this.

    -In ChiefArchitect or HomeDesigner products you select the object, click on temporary dimension and enter the exact amount. Or while drawing the wall hit tab key and software will ask you to enter the length.

    -Nearly identical process in RevIt (also a LOT more complicated software). You select temporary dimension, click on a value and change it.

    -Softplan you type the size 10' followed arrow key.


    It is really, really quick to create and adjust the digital model. This get's you in trouble when you created too many details, too many objects, kitchen, cabinets, curtains, framing, etc. prior to finalizing the exterior look.

  • Robbin Capers

    I used TurboFloorPlan. A bit of a learning curve but not bad. It's really great to be able to virtually walk through your design. With the constraints we had and a bit of inspiration our house almost designed itself. I worked with an engineer first to understand basic requirements (we have wind, snow, and seismic issues in our area). By the time I worked with an actual architect it was all but finished and she complimented me on the simple, elegant design.

    It is possible to design your own house if you have a strong understanding of your own needs and the site characteristics, and value efficiency and functionality and aren't taken in by every trendy bell and whistle.

  • Lori Wagerman_Walker

    shead, once again, you're my spirit animal. I can not get SketchUp.


    OP, I know it's pretty remedial, but I used basic shapes in Publisher/Paint to take my sketches to the digital level (basically a bubble diagram kind of too) so I could kind of "pick up" a square & think about where I needed it to flow to the next. I also used that for furniture placement & basic cabinet brainstorms. You can tell it to make a 3x5 square or whatever you want.


    I used an online 3D program it was free for 30 days but I can not find the one I used now. It was pretty basic, but gave me what I needed for the non construction brain of my DH to get what I was seeing in my head, along with what dad & I were putting on paper...or random cocktail napkins. :) lol

  • shead

    @Lori Wagerman_Walker, well, it's good to know I'm in good company :0) I have a visceral reaction every time I open it up. Graph paper, a ruler, and a good sharp pencil are very therapeutic :)

  • cpartist

    @doc5md, I feel the same way about Sketchup! I thought it was just me and I'm fairly computer saavy. Every single time I open it up, I close it back down after 1.2 minutes because I have no idea what is even going on with it.....lol! Glad it's not just me!

    I use photoshop (not elements) almost daily and for the life of me, I can't figure out Sketchup either! So no, it's not just you.

  • shead

    Photoshop is soooo much easier than Sketchup. I use it a ton for lots of various things!

  • D E

    Tiffany,


    here is a plan created in 10 minutes. Newbie at the vid capture thing - I just downloaded it today so it doesnt show my drop downs. If there is interest I will create more vids.


    I show how to change dimensions pretty easily. You have to use the tape measure to create a line where you want to be and simply move the wall there.


    https://youtu.be/SVS7mPAQwXc


    if you have any questions, please feel free to ask here or send a pm


  • K H

    I used magicplan an app on the iPad. It’s pretty easy to use and will flip to 3-d view. This is only to visualize interior rooms it does not have exterior elements.

  • dsnine

    OP I see you’re trying to do some basic dimensions and ideas. Get thee some good 1/4 inch graph paper, a ruler, architect’s scale, and maybe even some architectural/interior design stencils for more realistic dimensions of your average toilet, 6 ft round table, side chair, window casing, etc.


    You will go so much farther with those with so much less learning curve than software. Even my hubby, who does structural fun for a living and remodel as a reluctant hobby, is always quick to do a paper or whiteboard charette and then grab some graph paper. And he can manage Revit, Risa, BIM, and Autocad in his sleep :)

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects

    If there's a program out there that could design for me, I want it!

  • Architectrunnerguy

    ^^^^ That's right. No little dialog box pops up with "Have you thought about a shed roof here" with a little arrow pointing to that part of the model.

    In that regard, I was going to send this along later to Tiffany since it appears she wants to "tinker" with home design but I'll do it now. And not a thing in the world wrong with tinkering. As another forumite observed a while back "Is it wrong for amateurs to tinker with home design? So only those that can paint like Rembrandt should pick up a paint brush?".

    Some good reading as to what's behind home design. I don't agree with everything everyone says here but you can take what you want and leave the rest like most of us do:

    https://www.amazon.com/Patterns-Home-Essentials-Enduring-Design/dp/156158696X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237287284&sr=1-1#reader Great book on what goes into some essential part of the home

    https://www.amazon.com/Home-Design-Transforming-Your-House/dp/1561586188/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237287008&sr=1-8 Same as above

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1423603214?ie=UTF8&tag=notsobighouse-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1423603214 Every house want to be welcoming

    https://www.amazon.com/Get-Your-House-Right-Architectural/dp/1402736282/ref=pd_sim_b_3 About the details

    https://www.amazon.com/Not-So-Big-House-Blueprint/dp/1600850472/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237287008&sr=1-2 Not just about small houses

    https://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Language-Buildings-Construction-Environmental/dp/0195019199/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=a+pattern+language&qid=1569001440&s=gateway&sr=8-1&x=15&y=22 Kinda heavy but you may find useful. The first book I listed focuses on 10 of these patterns.

    Ok, you have your homework. Test on Monday!!

  • D E

    A Pattern Language can be borrowed online for free here

    https://archive.org/details/patternlanguage00chri

    and I highly recommend it, But I disagree with the "cascade of roofs" pattern

    Not so big house can be borrowed here

    https://archive.org/details/notsobighouseblu00susa

    I have this book - found it useless.

    I HIGHLY recommend The Honest House

    https://archive.org/details/honesthousepres00adamgoog/page/n7

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    THE HONEST HOUSE??!?!?!??!

    D E, I have just fallen off my chair. I get so enthralled with the images and drawings of the architecture I forget to read it. I have a first addition that I have owned for over 35 years.

  • D E

    well get up off the floor lol. it's one of the best books I've read. I like where the author of the foreword says "houses are Inexpressively ugly"! and that was 1914. we've been steeped in ugly for over a century and don't even know it

  • Cindy

    I play with sketch up, but I doubt it's the easiest (maybe the most flexible though). There's definitely a steep learning curve. I basically built a scale model of our existing house which is my sand box for all projects.


    Personally, I enjoy designing, so I also use it to build pretend houses. I built dollhouses when I was a kid, and sketch up takes up way less space!


    Anyway, a quick aside on all the "call an architect" - there's nothing wrong with using a program before contacting an architect (at least as long as you don't get too emotionally attached to your ideas - you have to stay open to input).


    I spent three years doing mock ups of all sorts of crazy ideas for an expansion. Since I have a hard time visualizing what a 2D layout will look like in 3D, or how a change here will affect a space over there, this was super helpful. Then we took my least crazy idea to a general contractor. That led to me going back to the drawing board to downsize significantly (turns out there were even less crazy ideas). Then that went back to the general, who said it was more feasible. Then we went to our architect and our interior designer to get feed back (which I could then add to my model and see in 3D) and finally have it formally drawn up.


    My interior designer was busy rendering our bathroom elevations with me yesterday and she was using CAD. I have to admit, I was envious- it looked even cooler than Sketch up. My architect is old school- he still draws by hand.

  • D E

    " I was envious- it looked even cooler than Sketch up"


    get the -free-twilight render plugin for sketchup and open up a new world of awesome.




  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    Ok, I’m drawing with pencil lol. Question- the floor space on the second story is smaller than that of the first. I want to include the outline of the first floor for possibility of expansion. How do I draw the lines for the first floor on the second floor drawing to indicate what it is?

  • D E

    you can use dashed lines

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Oh come on...! The first floor plan is where you draw things on the first floor.


    The second floor plan is where you draw things on the second floor.


    Not vice versa. Not dashed lines.


    Another consumer mistake. And another error by Debbie.

  • D E

    she wants to show the second floor OUTLINE on the first floor.


    nice try ,

    lol.

    You had to reach for that one

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    No....


    She said she wanted to show the outline of the first floor bathroom in the second floor plan...which makes little sense.


    This is an example of why your "know it all" attitude reduces your credibility.

  • D E

    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    "No....

    She said she wanted to show the outline of the first floor bathroom in the second floor plan...which makes little sense.

    This is an example of why your "know it all" attitude reduces your credibility"


    please advise where it says she wanted to show a bathroom.

    old age I tell you

  • shead

    Back to your corners, both of you!

    @Virgil, Cindy (not the OP) was discussing the bathroom but Tiffany (the OP) was not. I can easily see the confusion because of the length of Cindy's post.

    DE, I'm sure Virgil has forgotten more in his X number of years than you'll ever know in your lifetime.

  • PRO
    PPF.

    Question- the floor space on the second story is smaller than that of the first. I want to include the outline of the first floor for possibility of expansion. How do I draw the lines for the first floor on the second floor drawing to indicate what it is?

    I'm not sure what you are asking about, or how the lines will be used. Maybe your question is about alignment -- aligning your drawing floor to floor, or line style -- dashed etc.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Perhaps a drafting class or a book on drafting would be in order, if you wish to tackle this yourself. How much spare time do you have on your hands?

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Well...now that the dust has settled...


    To indicate the line of the exterior walls of the first floor on the second floor plan drawing, simply show a double line for the exterior stud wall (using the proper thickness), and located at the proper distance and configuration related to the second floor plan.


    A note and arrow should be used to explain the notation of the first floor exterior wall.

  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    I feel it’s important to show the first floor outer walls in the second floor drawing because we would have the option of increasing the floor space to those limits. I’m drawing the floor plan as it is so I can better visualize my options and what I’d like

  • doc5md

    I think the tracing paper idea is a good one here. Draw first floor exterior on graph paper and then use tracing paper for the layout of the interior spaces on each floor.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    The only way to expand the second floor to match the first floor is with a two story house.

    In that case you should start with the concept of a two story house.

    A one story or story and a half house can never have all of the upper level equal the lower level because of the roof pitch and partial height walls or pony walls along the house perimeter.

    Start with the concept which matches your needs.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    When are you going to draw the building section?

  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    Virgil- the house is already built. There are options like dormers, or even tearing off the top and taking the walls straight. I’m not sure it’s actually a story and a half? The ceiling isn’t a simple V, the slope is only on the outer part of the room

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    That's a good start for your own use, but to accurately plan out changes or additions to the structure, more accurate drawings should be prepared by a professional that show such things as wall thicknesses.

  • lafdr

    Draw the first floor with marks (color or dashed lines, or simply a colored dot on the 4 corners of each) showing where the second story fits on top of it. On the second floor drawing, just draw the second story. The second story should fit on top of the first floor drawing, if that makes sense.

    It may be easier to build a 2 story addition onto the house than expand the second floor, if more square footage is desired.

    Taking out existing walls can be complicated with support beams, needing to match floors where the walls were. But it is of course possible.

    There is no reason to show every first floor wall on the second floor drawing.


    Obviously :) by the time you are ready to build you will have a set of plans drawn up with all proper codes, notations, engineering and sections. There is no reason you or I would know how to do those aspects at this early planning stage of the game. Some posters like to have ongoing discussions with themselves on posts.

    lafdr

  • live_wire_oak

    If you want to make a 1 1/2 story home into a true 2 story home, you might as well plan a tear down and new construction. By the time you move out for a year, then rip off everything above the first floor to build, do your downstairs rearrangement gut, and get the inevitable water damage that you get from ripping off your roof for an extended period, you could buy an entirely completely new to you house.

    Huge renovations like this do not “make money”. That is propaganda to get you to spend money. They lose money. The do make the home nicer to live in at that additional expense to you. But they do not add value above their cost to do. It’s never spend $10gain, $10. More like spend $10, lose $4. People do their math wrong all the time on this, and tend to only want to count original sales cost and eventual sales price. They forget market appreciation would have happened regardless. They don’t do the math for the lost opportunity cost for that 200K to make you money as an investment. And they don’t count the interest costs of the house note or the 200K loan.

  • BT

    I have ChiefArchitect product and few others. None produce construction type drawings out of the box. If you are thinking of cutting an architect or drafting person good luck with that. If you can not afford an architect or a designer ... less advisable, but there are places you can hire an architect from China specializing in US residential for like $.10/sq ft.


    If you want to do this yourself... You have to do sections, details, engineering, support, set the elevation.


    Nice part of CA products we can 3D walk the structure. See how dormers or roof cuts impact the rooms on the inside., see and make changes to windows and how windows location impact inside or outside rooms. I can place and designate HVAC and verify a fit. Design a kitchen, shrink or expand the building.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Hmmmm....apparently sentence structure is not an integral part of your word processor...

  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    Virgil- No need to be rude. It’s not helpful

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Thank you, Tiffany. Not trying to be rude at all. Sentence structure, spelling and grammar are all important.

    Especially grammar who is getting older and doesn't get around very well.

  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    Live wire oak, I’m not attached to the idea of doing anything with the second floor, I was looking at different options. If what you said is the case, then it probably would not be a good option for us. As far as the make money aspect, I’m not really worried about return on investment since we would likely be staying here at least 12 years Until my daughter finishes school, and probably longer than that since we plan to have another one in the next couple of years. So that’ll probably be close to 20 years in one place. It seems worth the money to make it a place that I want to be for that long

  • BT

    Not everyone is English native speaker, some languages encourage / prefer more complex language constructs and English (Roman) simplify rule does not apply.

  • Tiffany Niederle Copley

    None of those apply to me, but I’m also not sure where I said anything that’s hard to understand. Even if I did, “ i’m sorry can you clarify this?” Would be a much more polite response

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