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Drafting/Architectural Software?

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A request for recommendations for another application:  A drafting/architectural application for home/personal use.

I have used 3D Home Architect for a number of years, but it has been bounced around from developer to developer so many times that at this point "upgrades" seem sometimes to be just a name change to indicate new ownership.

Back around version 4 or 5 the program came from Broderbund. That lasted for two or three versions and then it became a part of Punch Software, a maker of more professional drafting applications.  Then to a company that might have been affiliated with Punch that called itself 3D Home Architect, and now it has moved again.

Oftentimes that software is sold without the mailing list and I have to search around after a couple years to see who has it!  And support is a group with a whole new large learning curve each time it moves. I used to be able to get help from one support tech who moderated one of the various forums that hosted 3DHA at one time or another, but he moved into a position last year that does not allow him to do this anymore.  (I can still get some help from him on the sly now and then, but very sparsely).

I mostly use it for projects within my house and property, but it is a 100+ year old monster and most of the building/architectural elements in it are very much different from these contained in the various catalogs of elements that can be used with these drafting programs.  The latest version of 3DHA seems to have made it a much longer process to modify elements to make them match what is in this old house. So I am hoping to find something that is more amanable to such customization.

Most of the stuff I have looked at the last week or two make a jump from the approximate cost of about $70 or $80 for 3DHA Deluxe Suites to several hundred - or even a few thousand for what is mostly professional-grade software.  I can't quite do that, plus that is much more than I need!

Thanks for any help and advice.


Some time ago I've also tried some older version of 3D Home Architect, but abandoned it for Google SketchUp. Just finished the complete draft and even realized it. If you're not looking for a real professional software, this one is easy to learn and use, and it's freeware.

If you need a realistic rendering you could even try Kerkythea renderer, discussed recently at freewaregenius.

I think you're looking for something a (good?) bit different and
I dont know anything about this one myself but just thought I'd throw it out there -
it was recommended in the comments to
#Dirk Says:
February 10th, 2008 at 11:54 am

‘Free2design’ is a good and completely free AutoCAD clone…
free2Design 2006.2

Hey, I'll take a look - you never know!

Thanks Tom!

It's just that 3D Home Architect has bounced around from Broderbund to Punch to Encore and now to yet another company. They start releasing "new" versions with different numbers than what I have and I purchase the "upgrade" and find out it's the same version I had two years ago...  Got my money back but it is getting crazy with this software!

It gets the job done, but barely. I'm hoping to step up a notch or two - not to a $4,000 AutoCAD program, but something a little more polished and quicker than 3DHA.


Hi J-Mac,

I can give you a professional's view as the architect and CAD manager I am  8)
Have no experience with 3DHA so cannot help you with that.

If you're determined to let go of 3DHA salvage everything you can first. Try to export your documents, drawings, models, details and construction parts libraries. Anything that you might want to reuse. It's usually better to export data from within the program that created it than later trying to import it on another program that claims to understand it. To this end your best bet is .DWG format. Although it is a closed proprietary format it's usually a better bridge for data than say .DXF which is open and standard.

As yksyks first told you SketchUp is the way to go. It's very well put together, very intuitive. Responds very satisfactory to professional requirements but is equally accessible to curious DIY user types. It has already gathered a strong user base which makes help and content and add-ons readily available. And because it has Google to back it up you can be sure that it won't disappear from one day to the other or be gobbled up by Autodesk as so many good ones have. SketchUp is genuinely good and I think many small practices will adopt it.

Forget about AutoCAD. It saddens me to say this because I'm sort of an ACAD nerd and proud of it  :-[ . I'm 37y.o. and have 20 of experience with it. I know nearly every aspect of the program and have earned at least as much money from this self taught knowledge than from my architectural work. I say AutoCAD is on its way out. AutoDesk's REVIT will take its place on big architectural/construction firms. Autodesk won't say it and will milk the ACAD cow until it dries up. ACAD had its time but now the paradigm is changing from the virtual drawing board or the virtual 3D look-alike model. Nowadays the focus is on assembling a virtual building/database/model that not only looks like or helps build the real thing but is built like, functions like and helps the real thing function well beyond its construction. REVIT is what I'll learn next.


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