Features and Specifications
As would be expected from a Chief Architect product, the Home Designer Suite version promises a lot of advanced functionality and delivers on that promise. Some of the features that users enjoy include:
- Sun and shadow control: See what different areas will look like based on sun position, time of year, and other time-related factors.
- Absolute vs. relative height values: As you edit an object, you can specify whether you want heights to adjust according to the position in the plan or relative to other objects or locations in the plan.
- Single wall paint/material editing: Select one wall to edit instead of having to change the entire room’s color or wall texture.
- 3D camera and mouse manipulation: This is an excellent tool for getting exact angles and real-time visualization of designs.
- Edit and save library objects: Change library objects according to your specifications and then save those items in the library for future use.
- Eyedropper: Pick a color, material, or texture from one area and copy paste it onto another object or area with one click.
- Manipulate the sample room designs: This is great because it gives inexperienced designers a springboard to work off of but still allows you to personalize the space to your specific tastes.
The software also allows you to import room designs, set up bumping parameters (so the software tells you when you are trying to place an object too close to a wall, cabinet, or other structural element), and turn on cabinet face item locking.
Possibly the most impressive feature of all though is the 3D rendering of your design. While most brands have this option, Home Designer Suite takes it a step beyond with quality and precision visualization that is hard to find in this market, making it the best home design software for this feature.
Ease of Use
It won’t take more than a few minutes to install and set up this software. Unfortunately, that’s where the ease of use ends, or at least initially. The learning curve here is steeper and more involved than most home design software options. That’s because Home Designer Suite uses a slightly different approach than the average drag and drop action you might be used to. It’s an object-focused designer, rather than a concept-focused one, so you’re working with objects instead of individual lines and dimensions.
In some ways, this is much easier because there aren’t thousands of corners, angles, lines, and walls to manipulate, though it does take some getting used to initially. Some people love this builder, while others feel it lacks the fluidity of a drag and drop software.
Drawbacks and Limitations
While not inherently a drawback, the many preparatory steps before you get into the actual designing can be a little annoying for anyone not professionally aware of these necessities. The software will prompt you to choose a house style, framing defaults, and exterior siding, among other steps, before you can begin designing your room. These details are crucial for accuracy and dimensions, but a newcomer to the field might be frustrated by not being able to just dive right in.
And as mentioned in the Ease of Use section, the longer process of learning how to use the Home Designer Suite software might be considered a drawback for someone looking for a fast and simple point and click home design tool.
The Home Designer Suite runs $99.99 and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee like all Chief Architect products, though on Amazon, you can find it for $79.99. The price is about average for what you are getting. If you only need interior designing, though, you can opt for the cheaper Home Designer Interior software.
Home Designer Suite has a huge database of FAQs for users to browse which is filled with solutions to issues other users have come across while using the software. There is also a chat forum for you to ask questions and discuss issues with other Home Designer Suite users.
Home Designer Suite also has a tremendous network of both online and mobile training videos, and even offers classroom and webinar training sessions. There is also phone and email customer support.
Home Designer Suite is an excellent option, one of the best home design software options available today. It may take a little longer to learn the ropes, but with all the material, video tutorials, FAQ database questions, and support options available, there is no question you might that you can’t easily find an answer to. With so many features to work with and a great 3D rendering, this software comes highly recommended if you want to design your own house.