(above, my first try! and at the time: I HATED computers)
A few years ago, before I used any computers to design houses, a husband and wife came to me and unfurled two drawings. One was a floor plan of a house that they wanted to build. The second was a nice watercolor of the exterior facade.
I stared at both drawings and asked: "What would you like me to do for you as you already have a floor plan and an exterior design?"
The husband responded that he had created the floor plan with a computer program and that the wife had created the watercolor facade. He was an auto dealer, she was an artist.
My jaw dropped to the floor. I couldn't speak...
Again, I asked, why did they need me at this point?
The husband replied sheepishly that although they liked the floor plan it didn't quite fit the setbacks of their lot. I could use the watercolor as a reference point. (the drawing at right is one of mine, hand sketched and computer colored)
I looked closely at the plans and noticed they were single sheets of copy paper taped together. The first and second floors were exactly to scale and had doors, windows, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, columns, etc. indicated. The sheets had been plotted on a home printer.
Excited, I immediately bought the software program and tried working with it. I thought to myself: "If this person, a complete non-architect, could draw up a perfectly scaled floorplan, so could I!"
But I hated it. After about 45 minutes I couldn't get the hang of 'drawing' with a mouse with my right hand (I am left handed) and staring at a blank screen while clicking on small button commands to operate the software. I put everything back in the box.
But I went on with this commission and redrew those plans by hand on a scaled site to make fit and the elevation I drew by hand as well.
A few months later I received a commission to design a 14,000 SF home. The owner was a rocket scientist. Literally. His office was only a few minutes from mine. We communicated completely via email after our initial face to face meeting.
He sent me, a few days later, a single line drawing of his ideal house. I stared at it and thought again: "This person has never drawn a set of house plans and here he is using a simple free CAD program that just draws lines."
I proceeded to recreate the plan to scale by hand and after several days presented it and the client was pleased. A few more days passed and he contacted me to ask to add two feet through the width of the house to make the central corridor wider...
I was about to commit hari kari... It involved erasing half the plan to do this. Several brainless hours of electric eraser work.
Frustrated, I took out the house design software, created the floor plan with the wider hallway and received an approval to move forward. It is the exact plan shown at the top of this blog.
I have never looked back. In fact, I use the same method to design houses to this day: I create the floorplans on CAD and draw the elevations and interiors by hand. The whole set is then given to an AUTOCAD draftsperson for final drawings. The floor planning on CAD saves a huge amount of time in the creation and constant revision of the floor plans. See below a photo of the house I first drew up in CAD. It was featured in Good Morning America. Here is the video link. (NEW higher resolution). All photos here.
What was this software? At the time you could go to Best Buy and purchase the software for about $65. It has been improved for the layperson in the last few years and now available as Home Designer Essentials. I have this for 2017 and there is a free 2018 upgrade.
Over the last 20 years, I have tried various other similar programs but have stuck to this one. I highly recommend it. I have the professional version that does many other things but for simple floor planning by a consumer, this is easy to learn and use. You can find used copies on Ebay or buy a new one here for $99 that does so much more than the floor plans you will have hours and hours of fun... more fun than I care to learn though!!
Get it if you wish to:
- Replicate an existing house for remodeling, furniture placement, etc.
- To add a deck, driveway or pool and see how much space you have on your property.
- Create any number of new house plans, real or fantastical.
- Realtors can measure existing houses and recreate the exact plan to scale for marketing.
This consumer software now is so sophisticated that you can create 3D exterior and interior renderings, show furniture and accessories in 3D, colors, etc. There are step by step instructions and video tutorials.
For floor planning with a few clicks you can create to scale your own home, a new home, garage, gazebo, anything. Adding windows and doors and resizing is a breeze. Plop in a cabinet and then sink. Show appliances in a kitchen. Draw up a basement layout, etc. Then click to see in 3D. Amazing. Easy to use. There is even a trial download.