Ratings: Ease of Use, Performance: 22/25, Look & Feel: 23/25, Features & Software 25/25, How much I enjoy 24/25
Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Deluxe is so easy and simple to use that designing your own dream home can become a reality. Home Designer Deluxe is from Chief Architect, the creators of professional architectural software.
Home Designer Deluxe is very easy to use even if you have not used this kind of software before. The package comes with a simple and easy to use tutorial and manual to help you learn the program screens and what you need to do to start on your own home design. You can use the tutorial in the manual or you can use the accompanying CD’s to take you through step by step in building your home design or just designing a blue print for a remodeling project or room addition.
The CD tutorial will show you all the various screens and tools within the program and help you understand your way through all the steps. The guide will take you chapter by chapter through building your walls and foundation as well as adding floors and a roof onto your house. It will help you to add interior walls, change the wall coverings or colors, floor and ceiling materials and adding doors and windows.
Home Designer Deluxe helps you add furniture, fixtures and almost everything else you could place into your home, even pets. This program comes with everything including the kitchen sink, actually over a dozen of them. The library contains not only building materials but furniture, fixtures, appliances and more. You can even download more free content from the Chief Architect website for updated and additional content.
There are libraries of files that have basic floor, wall, and other surface materials and coverings to create your own unique style and atmosphere. Stone, tile, wallpaper, varying wood types and many more types of materials are available for you to choose from for changing any surface of any part of your house.
You can install fixtures, electrical outlets and plumbing using the same tools for the entire program. You can even add furniture, plants, and other small decorations and interior additions to create a homey and lived in appearance to better show you your home and how you can make it look realistic and livable.
I understand these types of programs and how difficult some can be for people to understand, Home Designer Deluxe is great and very easy to use. The tutorial is very easy to follow as they show you exactly how to do the things they are talking about on actual screens of your program. You can have the tutorial open and running while you are working in the program at the same time. Simply open the Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Deluxe to a new plan and then start the tutorial in a separate window.
Switch between the tutorial and the program to do what they are saying so you know exactly what they are talking about to create your own home design. When you want to perform the operation they are discussing in the movie of the tutorial simply pause the movie and switch to the program using the taskbar pages to switch easily between the program and the tutorial.
You can quickly be designing your home in a matter of minutes using the tutorial. I have had this program for a couple of weeks and have done a pretty good job of designing a quick floor plan of my own dream home. I have played around with things like stairs and seen how easily the program automatically adds the open area between floors.
Once you have made the regular walls and rooms you can have a lot of fun adding different types of doors, wall coverings, flooring and many other parts of the home to create a nice and very realistic home design. The Home Designer Deluxe comes complete with industry leading samples like Armstrong linoleum and Benjamin Moore paints.
Cabinets, doors, furniture and fixtures all come in a wide variety of styles to fit a wide range of personal tastes for you to get a good idea of what you want for a home set up. Many of the samples and designs used in the libraries are from actual companies that currently sell these designs and styles of doors, materials and just about everything in the program. When dreaming over your home it is one thing to see a floor plan but it is another to see the furniture and appliances in the rooms to give you a better idea of size and what can fit in each room.
Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Deluxe shows you quickly and easily how your home will look using simple 3D tools that show you the house in a simple camera view at any place you wish to place a camera. You can use the walkthrough recorder to record a walkthrough of the finished home so you have a better idea of what the house will look like but this tool does take a bit of time to use.
It is simple to use, you just place a camera where you like and set a file to record and then record a few seconds of your walkthrough. You move the camera with keyboard keys or the mouse and then place a new camera to capture a different area of your home or design and continue this record and move process to record your full walkthrough. The program even coverts the native file format to a regular AVI format for just about any media player to be able to play on. Once you’ve converted to the AVI format you can watch the walkthrough on any computer with a media player such as Windows Media Player.
The program does a very good job to help you with all the aspects of home design and architecture by automatically designing many of the parts of the home for you. Roofs, electrical fixtures, foundations as well as things like the automatic stairwell placement make designing your home simple.
When you have everything in place that you want you can simply print out the blueprint or save it to a CD or file and take it to your construction company to see if they can build it. Many companies will use this as a very good first drawing of your home.
I have encountered many companies on the internet that use this companies programs for their own blueprints and Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Deluxe is compatible with the other Chief Architect programs. If a company is using the Chief Architect program they have a good portion of the work done for them using this program. But do not think they will use your blue print as the final blueprint they will go by. They have to have a very detailed and accurate drawing that is certified by an actual architect so they may just use this as a good reference to get the dimensions of rooms and placement of objects you want.
The program comes with a materials list to give you a very rough list of all the materials you will need for your job. The list will include not only the lumber and other construction materials but the furniture and fixtures you included in your design. You can display the list using a filter to add or not show various groupings of items such as furniture, fixtures or lumber.
Things like nails, fasteners and other small construction items will not be added as this is not an actual list of what the house will only need. This is an estimate that will serve as a rough guide for building your house and it can give you a rough idea for cost. You can use the internet and a trip to a local home improvement or lumber yard to get costs of items to get a good idea of the cost of materials for your home. A rough cost for materials though, not an actual estimate as costs will vary by location and quality as well as individual company who you hire or where you purchase the material and hardware.
The program does other nice and simple construction blue prints like deck design including footings and other areas in detail so you can see how things like walls and roof jointing are constructed and the detail that go into them. The Home Designer Deluxe gives you complete electrical blue prints after you add connecting electrical lines to each outlet or fixture in that circuit.
If you don’t know anything about electrical connections and outlet wiring you can easily use the Auto Place Outlets to add outlets in rooms and the program places exactly what types are needed where. If any outlets are on outside walls the program automatically adds that they need to be waterproof ones and for outlets in kitchens or bathrooms it automatically adds the appropriate GFCI protected ones.
This is not going to be an exact blueprint that is totally useable for a construction company as the program cannot take every situation into account and because many people using this program do not know all the ins and outs of home construction. Suffice it to say that Chief Architect and Better Homes and Gardens has given a lot of consideration into the program and made it as easy and yet as thorough as possible for the price.
You can also use the Home Designer Deluxe for room additions and construction remodeling. If you’re local building codes require a blue print before you do a job the Home Designer Deluxe may suffice for an accurate enough blue print for your remodeling job. You can also do some very creative work with the program.
I did a neat job of creating an emergency escape plan for my wife’s day care to show an emergency route for her room to evacuate in an emergency. My wife brought me a blue print like drawing of the old emergency route with the floor plan of her building and lines the kids and adults are supposed to take to get out of the building. I scanned the image and scaled it to size using one wall of the outside of the building as a guide.
I then used the image as a backdrop to create the walls and doorways of the building and added the text and routes using the updated information with some changes to the building from the prior plan. It worked great and was very simple to create, I did the whole plan in about an hour without having to measure all the walls of the building or other things that a CAD drawing program would have me do.
Chief Architect has made a very easy to use and simple to understand program that can help you to design your own home. No need to hire an architect or designer to create your own floor plans when you can give the architect a very good floor plan and blue print of exactly what you want in your home. If you have the idea in your head you can easily and quickly get it on paper. Or you can use the hundreds of pre made designs to give you a start on your own floor plans.
Draw four walls, add a roof and a foundation, plop down some furniture, add the necessary fixtures and Home Designer Deluxe will give you a house for your effort. It is almost that simple but extremely fun as well. You can have fun designing and dreaming about what can go into your new home or have fun designing that addition or restoration.
The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Deluxe software program does a lot for your money and is very well worth it. For the budding architect in all of us I highly recommend the Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Deluxe.