Sun, 04 Oct 2009 Home & Landscape Design Studio for Mac 14.1 review
3-D program aimed at home owners who want to design or remodel a home
- Manufacturer: Punch! Software
- Pros: QuickStart features; impressive renderings with little time and effort; template library includes pre-designed rooms.
- Cons: Entering existing plans and creating more detailed models can be time consuming and frustrating; Green tips are not detailed enough.
- Min specs: Mac OS X 10.4.11 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Universal.
- Price: $150 (around £94), upgrade from Home Design Studio for Mac, $20
- Star rating:
There is a new cost estimation tool for H&LDS. Estimator will help you determine the construction cost of your creation using a spreadsheet that is broken into sections such as foundation, flooring, and landscaping. Each section automatically shows the items and material quantities from your project that H&LDS has calculated for you. The catch is, you have to provide your own unit costs. For instance, if you have added a concrete patio, you will have to find out and fill in the cost per cubic yard of concrete in your area, including labor and delivery.
Also new is a Framing Editor that allows you to design your framing elements such as beams, floor joists, roof joists, and more. Note that no contractor will commence a construction project without a design executed by a certified engineer or architect. However, the H&LDS framing 3-D view automatically shows you what your house framing might look like, and is very cool.
Home & Landscape Design Studio is definitely a fun program and can engage users in the excitement of designing. The tutorial videos are extremely useful for learning new tools. Keep the inch-and-a-half thick user’s guide handy, though, as you will run into situations that are difficult to solve through intuition alone. For example, creating a multiple story house is a snap but adding a staircase and cutting away the upper story floor will prove much more difficult. Once you get comfortable with the basics and start having fun, you will soon run into frustrations as you try to make your model more detailed and more dimensionally accurate.
Home & Landscape Design Studio users will likely fall into two categories: They’re designing a new dream house or dream landscape or remodeling an existing house or landscape. If you are starting from scratch and are willing to stay within the limits of the QuickStart features, the provided object libraries, and the auto-generated features, you can get astounding 3-D rendered views of your creation with a minimum of effort and time, especially when compared to more expensive and complex professional CAD and drawing programs.
However, if you are drawing an existing home plan into the software, be prepared to spend a great deal of time tweaking walls, doors, and windows to get them to the correct size and positions. Specifying exact wall sizes requires a special wall tool. Changing the size of a wall and placing it exactly where you want can be challenging. Angled walls and other non-standard wall features are difficult to replicate in the software.
Home & Landscape Design Studio is marketed as a way for you to design your own home, and Punch! even includes a way to send your plans to a printing service where you can pay for prints. It also provides a way to contact contractors through a Web site referral service. The problem is that your drawings will not be exact enough to build from, or even to get a building permit.
The drawings will lack information needed to satisfy local building codes and show construction methods necessary for producing construction documents. You would still need to employ a professional architect or designer for that. However, your drawings will be an excellent way to communicate your ideas to such professionals.