Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

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Escape Velocity
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:05 am

Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by Escape Velocity » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:36 pm

Hi Folks,

We are planning to tear down a 3-season cottage and build a year-round home in its place. We have a site engineer working the state and town approvals based on a presumed foundation size and garage size. This would be the first house we have built new (in the past we have bought used and remodeled when necessary).

We now want to start "designing" the house and garage, but would prefer (if the learning curve is not too steep) to do it on a computer rather than a piece of graph paper, as that would let us iterate with the builder, as well as help us visualize (hopefully) in both 2D (top down) and 3D (elevation views) what the structures and interiors would look like. We only want to use our existing Apple computers or iPads if we do this ourselves, as that's what we are most comfortable with.

When we spoke to our future builder, he didn't seem to indicate this was one of the services he would provide. He could sub it out if needed; at the same time, he is comfortable working off of a DIY design and iterating with us based on his suggestions (and we are comfortable with that too).

So our questions:

1) We've designed a finished basement using graph paper in the past. We currently have a preliminary idea of where we want the rooms and layouts. Is this new house design something that an average person can/should do by themselves?
2) If so, are there programs or apps that you have experience with that you would recommend for the DIY'r (that run on Apple gear)? Worst case we do have a Windows emulator, but we'd really prefer not to run that.
3) Any place you would recommend looking for sample designs/floorplans to get additional ideas or suggestions?
4) Or alternatively, do you think we need to seek out an architect or other 3rd party for this effort?

To be clear, we feel comfortable with computers, but are not experienced with any 3D CAD tools. So we're looking for feedback/recommendations how best to proceed on a clean-slate new house design.

Ready for incoming ;-) ... thanks in advance!

EV-

sawhorse
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by sawhorse » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:23 am

Chief Architect is great. I'm not sure if they have a Mac version, but I'd be surprised if they don't. It's worth it to get the professional version if you're serious about controlling all the aspects of the construction. If you're just looking for superficial design and not nitty gritty like electrical wiring and stuff, the more basic version(s) might be okay. There may be an offer to upgrade in which you're credited for the price you paid for the basic version.

I got an academic version that was very affordable. The regular license is probably quite expensive.
Last edited by sawhorse on Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

sawhorse
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by sawhorse » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:33 am

Here's a website that talks about the various software available.

https://www.b4ubuild.com/site/links/cad ... -software/

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PrettyCoolWorkshop
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by PrettyCoolWorkshop » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:07 am

Sketchup (formerly a google product, now from the smaller software company Trimble) is a great CAD tool that is easy to use. Probably has an easier learning curve than anything else out there.

It is not specifically focused on architecture, but plenty of people use it for that purpose. Very versatile.

https://www.sketchup.com/
Be greedy and fearful. All the time.

FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:09 am

I recommend the 3rd party because designing and CAD drafting are distinct skill sets. Energy put into drawing your house on a computer will rob you of the time you need to make important design decisions and coordinate with contractors. Sure, Sketchup is easy enough to learn. However, to make a quality model of the type you see in home improvement shows is no small feat.

I don't think you have to go with an architect. Computer drafters are a dime a dozen, but finding a good one can be tricky. You can check Craigslist or reach out to a community college with a CAD program. When you find a drafter,he or she can draw your design. The drafter should be able to provide plans, elevations, renderings, sun studies (where the sunny and shady parts are), and perhaps some animations and "walk throughs".

I use the term "design" a bit loosely. Depending on how much you appreciate good design, you might find value in an architect and interior designer.

Regarding your question about sample designs and floorplans, Sketchup actually has a 3D Warehouse, and it has houses you can download. I'm not sure if anybody can see these or if you need to buy Sketchup Pro first. You might also have luck searching designs through Google or Pinterest.

Edited to replace "cottages" with "houses" in the last paragraph.

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Escape Velocity
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by Escape Velocity » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:14 pm

Hi folks, OP here.

Thanks for those recommendations and suggestions so far. Already a variety of opinions. I will check these all out and welcome others as well.

I would also be interested in anyone's personal experience with this situation, how they approached it, what they found worked or did not work, etc. Success stories and horror stories are both informative.

Thanks, and please keep suggestions/experiences coming!

EV-

crg11
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by crg11 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:27 pm

I haven’t tried any of these, but I’ve been mulling looking for an iPad app for this purpose too.

Just saw this App Store story that shares some options: https://itunes.apple.com/us/story/id1409875792

trirod
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Re: Home Design CAD program for Mac or iPad

Post by trirod » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:55 pm

I've been using Sketchup to do some drawings for a bathroom remodeling project. I'm not sure I believe those that say it's easy to learn, but then again my 3D spatial sense is not the best (I recall getting a 37% in a technical drawing exam while earning my engineering degree). However after doing some online training, it's starting to become easier to use and I think it's going to be great for what I need. Not sure I would want to use it for an entire house design, but plenty of people do use it for that purpose.

It is free and there's a lot of support online for it, so definitely worth a try. Just be prepared to invest at least 8 or 10 hours learning the basics of how to use it.

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