House Design SFW?

Michael Torrie torriem at
Mon Feb 23 11:28:03 MST 2015

On 02/22/2015 10:24 PM, Dan Egli wrote:
> With all the various open source software out there, not to mention
> commercial options, I was wondering if anyone had come across a good
> software for laying out a floor plan for a house? I suppose I could even
> use a CAD program or something like that if necessary, but really that's
> getting into more details than I want at the moment. All I'm looking for is
> a program that will let me place rooms as objects on a drawing pad, move
> them, resize them, etc... And since I'm not very familiar with using CAD it
> would have a steep learning curve. Obviously I'd prefer Linux software, but
> failing that, something that runs under Wine would be just fine. And Open
> Source is obviously preferred, although commercial is usable if it's not
> too expensive (i.e. < $75). I remember one program that would fit the bill
> nicely, but I don't recall it's name and I doubt it's even made anymore
> since it was published by Broderbund (I think) around 15-20 years ago.
> Any suggestions are welcome. If you know the program's URL, please mention
> that, too. Thank you, all!

My brother does all manner of building designing on Sketchup (now owned
by Trimble).  He uses the free version.  Already built one house that
was designed completely in Sketchup, and doing some remodeling and
extensions on another house after extensive modeling in Sketchup (and it
worked out just as we modeled it.  We sent the printouts to a firm to
have the walls, floors, and roof engineered, and then the builder went
at it.  He really liked what Sketchup could do.  Said it was actually
quite a bit clearer for him to follow the Sketchup printouts than the
blueprints the architecture firms often provide.  Using section planes
you can do flat floor plans, and also 3-d cutaway views.  Often times
when working with architects and engineers, things get lost of
misunderstood with all the people involved, so often the blueprints are
just wrong in some areas.

Sketchup was primarily designed as an architecture tool, so it doesn't
do things like material estimates, or any sort of engineering of walls,
floors, or roof trusses like many house design apps do.  But that's what
the engineering firms would have to do anyway even if you already did
things in your own app (at least in my jurisdiction). Nor does it do
anything with electrical or plumbing.  But if you already have a bit of
an understanding of how houses are built (standard wall widths etc), it
will work very well.  There's also a huge library of things like
couches, stoves, cabinets, tables, chairs that you can access online and
place in your model.

Windows or Mac only, but Sketchup runs reasonably well under Wine, but
is not so happy with 3-d compositing window systems like Compiz.  I've
used it on my Linux box to do some basic modelling and designing.

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