(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 17--Can CAD -- computer aided design -- be that easy? After reporting on musician Don Harriss using a software program to successfully design his Ashland house, I decided to test one myself.
I can read blueprints, but I can't create them. I can walk through a room and know if it flows, but I can't design a room to do that. And I can name roof styles, but I haven't spent time considering the necessary supports to keep them in place.
Despite my limitations, two hours after downloading the Chief Architect Home Designer Architecture software ($199) into my computer, I had a solid plan for a make-believe master bedroom addition on an 1927 English Tudor.
With the program's guidance, I felt confident I didn't forget anything important. It automatically filled in framing, foundations and other details, depending on the dimensions.
A running tally of materials gave me a cost estimate too. Insert a casement window rather than vinyl and watch the bottom line jump.
When I got stuck, I scrolled through thousands of sample plans and dragged and dropped in products, from appliances to fixtures. A custom cabinet section let me create a bottom shelf for a dog bed.
When I wanted to play, I clicked to change colors, the position of a tub and counter top materials.
The 3D dollhouse view then let me take a virtual walk through. At first, my space was too large and my bed looked like it was sitting in an airplane hangar. I scaled it down and started putting up walls.
When I noticed I had a few too many doors clustered around the bathroom and walk-in-closet, in a few clicks doors became solid walls. Again, for fun and added visual interest, I made the wall that separated an office from the headboard of the bed two feet short of reaching the ceiling.
Various levels of Chief Architect software are made for DIY homeowners and professionals. The basic one can map out a remodel or a ground-up house, kitchen and bath or landscaping, decks and patios.
-- Janet Eastman
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