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on May 17, 2006
I have long been a fan of 3D Home Architect and have used my old version to design a dozen units of housing, usually on my own but with a professional architect's assistance on a few.

This month I sat down to redesign my kitchen and, seeing that the copyright date on my old software (version 3) was 1999, was inspired to try out the newly released 3D HDS8. My experience with the new product has been frustrating, disappointing, and time-consuming.

I feel sympathy for the software developers: they have clearly worked very hard to add a lot of features, and have increased the "power" of this tool to enable the user to make it "do what I mean". To their credit, the limitations of version 3 have pretty much been eliminated: if you have the patience you can model virtually any 3D object within the design space. However, their marketing bosses have castrated the end result: sure it's fun to play with a eunuch, but what's the point if it can't generate offspring?

It seems that this product has been demoted from top-of-the-line to a second tier. It seems that if you want the fully-enabled progeny of this software development team, you will have to fork over $600 for a big-brother product that is marketed through different channels under a different name. My sympathy for the developers: their reputation will be dependent on consumer reaction to this mainstream product.

The good news: what you get with this product is essentially a designer's "video game" that allows you to create beautiful on-screen images. There are a number of ways to render your product on screen, most of which were present in version 3 but there are some extensions to these features that make version 8 superior.

The bad news: once you've taken the time to create a perfect on-screen rendition of your project (a major time sink, it's as addicting as a video game--with every feature including the kitchen sink thrown in, the temptation to add detail is irresistable), there is no way to "create blueprint-style plans to print or email" as promised on the product's box. Also, code bloat has slowed everything down: version 3 worked well on a Pentium 600MHz with 256Mb, version 8 requires a computer that hasn't been invented yet.

Two of my favorite features of version 3 have been ripped out: the ability to darken wall lines when printing, and the ability to view horizontal cross sections in 3D view (the latter is replaced by a whiz-bang but useless 2D vertical section view). This product gives you no printing options whatsoever; all you can do is print whatever's on the screen in 150, 300 or 600 dpi.

Without the ability to print, I can't use this product to communicate anything other than fancy 3D pictures of the interior.

Unfortunately, I can't revert to version 3 either: there is no import/export utility for data files. So I will have to find another program for future products, this one isn't what I was hoping for.

Developers, take note: in version 9, PLEASE add real blueprint printing capability. I need to take these drawings down to the city building department once in a while. The ones I got in version 3 were amateurish but serviceable. Version 8 cannot be used to generate drawings, period.
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on December 5, 2006
I bought this application almost two weeks ago. I already had a rough design for my blue prints from another program. I am still trying to imput all the measurements. This program is jerky. Precise measurements are almost impossible. For example. When I tried putting the corner tub unit in. it would either go pass the wall, stop before touching the wall. If it finally touched the wall it would flip so the entrance was facing the wrong direction. Pretty much the only way to align items is to zoom in as much as you can, Even then it is almost impossible. All the bells and whistle, like being able to fly through the house for a visaul representation are not worth getting. You almost have no control in the way they designed the movement options. The only way this program should be marketed is free-ware. It absolutely SUCKS!!!!
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on January 1, 2007
I tried to use this program to visualize some proposed renovations to my home - and gave up in frustration before I could even enter the existing first floor. This program lives in some weird fantasy world where kitchen cabinets only come in a few allowable sizes, windows are all custom made, stairs decide their own rise rate, and pocket doors are never placed in walls with other intersecting walls (to name a few). I'll be starting from scratch with another software package... What a huge waste of time.
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on December 30, 2006
I was hoping to use this product to help me remodel my 87 year old home. It looked great and had "lots of extras", but there is almost too much detail, for example you cannot just draw a wall, you have to choose what type of material it is made out of and how thick it is. There is so much detail that it seems more like a high end CAD program than something for a basic home design program. That would be good if it had some of the features of a high end CAD program... like blueprints, or output to a plotter, but it does not. The "cool" features that make this a "flashy" program are such a pain to try to get to work correctly they render themselves worthless, because they are so cumbersome to use. For the price I am very disappointed. It is like paying for a Mercedes Benz and ending up with a car that look good, but has a hamster for an engine and only drives forward and only turns to the left so you spend so much time trying to figure out how to get where you want to be, you end up walking. I'm going back to a pencil, a ruler and graph paper.
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on July 26, 2007
I have used 3D Home Architect v3 somewhat painfully but successfully in designing extensions to my house 7 years ago. Now I need to redesign my kitchen, so I said to myself: why not reuse my old plans in the latest version of this software? Well after some research in the web I found out that this software has no past and no future. Starting with V5 all designs with prior versions are not compatible and cannot be opened with newer versions. And starting with V9, all designs with previous versions are incompatible once again! Why you ask? Well, it seems that this software package has changed hands several times (from Broderbund, to Cadsoft, to Punch and Encore), and everytime this happened the old name remained but the old customers were abandoned; so you see what I mean by no past and no future. It appears that Cadsoft now makes a product called "Envisioneer" that will open 3DHDv8 files; however, this product costs about 1k!
I am so disgusted with this history of crass disregard for the customer that I am going to try the Better Home and Gardens product.
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on June 4, 2007
I'm not a designer by any stretch of the imagination, nor have I ever used fancy CAD programs. My fiance is an architect, and I've always watched in amazement while he conjures up plans from out of the blue but (let's face it) had no idea when they meant.

I used this program as a hobby to visualize my dream home - or really, homes. I have so many that it's hard to pick! It was a little difficult to use this program, mostly because it required so many details, but the final product was EXACTLY what I had envisioned!

I can't comment on the blueprints or anything outside of the computer, because I can't afford to build this home just yet.. or possibly ever :( .. so there was no need to print out blueprints or show them to my fiance, but it was a lot of fun to "build" my homes on this program!
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on May 30, 2008
I've been using this product and versions of it's predecessors for quite a few years now. One thing I will say right away is that learning this for a newbie can take a little time. It can be fun, but it is difficult to take a space that is already in existence and build it with the program. As a person with CAD and design experience, I can say this is something I would use just for fun.

My biggest problems are the limitations of what you can create. Often my houses end up looking too much alike. Not to say you can't make a good variety of home designs; its just difficult or impossible to take what is in my head and build it with this program. Some of this is just because the different finishes are nice, but don't fit the interior design schemes I would like to create. I also have problems with the program randomly freezing, causing me to loose my work. It seems to happen in spurts. I also could not get the program to work on my husband's computer at all, and his is newer than mine.

All that being said, I have spent many hours creating homes and their interiors. I do like using the kitchen builder and playing with the landscaping tools, though they have their limitations too.
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on February 19, 2009

***TIP ***

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