|Click one of the links at the left to jump directly into the help pages.|
These pages provide help using the software package "3D Home Architect". We are suggesting you use the older version 3 deluxe. Until a superior low-cost home design program comes along, this is the program we are using for our PlanHelp template files. The program can be purchased inexpensively from Ebay. You can also do a Google search if the offer in the link is gone. Note that later versions are NOT compatible with our ver. 3 files (later versions of 3D Home Architect are not recommended.) Note, these template files and much of this tutorial also applies to the Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer (version 6 & 7) program.
3D Home Architect (3DHA) is an inexpensive yet easy to use home design software package. It runs on Windows (you may need to pause your anti-virus program to install it) and on a MAC running any version of a virtualized PC (Bootcamp, Parallels). You can use this program to design a building from scratch (within certain restrictions) or modify a developed plan. If you can download a plan template of a stock house plan you are considering, the program will help you get a feel for the sizes of rooms and allow you to make changes that may better fit your needs or site. From the plan view you can grab and drag an eyeball to see interior or exterior perspectives of the building. When used with a structurally detailed standard plan (such as These) the user can modify interior layouts (non-structural walls), move windows and doors around, design or redesign kitchen and baths, change colors of walls, floors and ceiling, and try out different furniture arrangements. The program also produces usable electrical and plumbnig layouts and an outline materials list. Printouts from the program can be pasted into permit ready paper drawings to detail your custom modifications.
Note that 3DHA and our template files do not contain all the details and structural information of the paper plans. You cannot expect to build a house or get a permit with just the printouts from this program. That said, here is a tutorial on using these programs to produce scaled building elevations and cross sections. These are often needed for building permits.
This Help Guide is meant to be an aid but will not detail all elements of the program. There is much that can be built in reality but not of it can be accurately modeled in any low cost CAD program.
Users should be familiar with the basic use of the program before attempting the "advanced" techniques linked at the left. There is very good help on the CD that comes with the program. Be sure you fully explore this. In addition there is a helpful FAQs page HERE on the old Broderbund site that lists common questions people have about installing and using the software. We also have a free Quick Guide you can download.
PLEASE NOTE: We are not a support site for an orphaned software product. That said, we can try to help you understand how to use such a program to design a simple building. Since our plans are meant to be shared, please send us a copy of your files when your design is complete. This lets people use your template as a start for their own customizations (just as you probably did). This is the idea of "open source" plans and is a way for all of us to evolve designs.
Go to PlanHelp.com - for more information on using downloadable files for a custom home design.
Go to CountryPlans.com - the free forum to ask questions about building.