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Simple CAD/Design tool for pre-planning

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭ adocholiday

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for a recommendation for a CAD or design tool that's "easy to use" for doing some pre-planning designs. We just want to see what's technically possible to do with the house before we go engaging an architect.

    The tool doesn't need to be comprehensive or full featured. As long as I can draw some floor plans with measurements and also view it in a 3d render I'd be happy enough. There are a load out there that seem suitable (planner5d, sweet home 3d, sketchup), but they vary wildly in price and functionality. Just wondering if someone could point me in the right direction.


  • I think you need to consider the amount of time it’ll take you to learn how to use the free programs. I’m a 3D designer and I can tell you even with the most expensive software 3D design and rendering packages it takes a lot of time and practice. (Years).

  • Yeah I understand that and it's why I'm looking for something less CAD and more snap-on type stuff. Like for example if you look at sweet home 3D they have a grid that you just drag a wall object onto and make it the length and width that you like. It's very simple but effective. The problem is that it's missing features like roof objects etc.

    Planner 5D is similar and has roof objects but had other limitations I don't like. Definitely don't need to be a CAD expert to use those tools on a basic level at least. I'd be happy to stick with Planner 5D but was just wondering if other people had experience with alternatives I could check out.

  • I would recommend SketchUp for your needs, start with the free version, mess around, then sign up for 30 free trial and explore the SketchUp tuts Paul Smiths are the best I've seen, (I have No Affiliation with when you're comfortable, then download the 30 day SU pro, the only real difference is for importing exporting and access to Layout, which is presentation tool for plans and drawings, this should be enough to get a good look at your ideas. Best of Luck

  • Ya I'd agree with stevie and SketchUp. It's probably the simplest and easiest to learn for the level of detail you require.

  • Hi, I wrote the original book on the subject that you're talking about (listed on and Amazon) and will be publishing an updated version September 2018.

    I'm based in Ireland and I provide bespoke training to anyone whether layperson, architect, engineer or multinational corp.

    If you'd like to know more my website is here.

    Also here's a video I made on the subject

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