PROS / Tools like the roof wizard make this program easy to use.
CONS / There is only one sample house plan and limited object availability.
VERDICT / Despite a pared-down feature package, DreamPlan is a solid choice for novice designers, with tools that make creating designs from scratch relatively straightforward.
Although DreamPlan has not been around as long as Punch design software or Home Designer, it has made its presence known in the home design industry and is a solid program. It is extremely easy to use, but it provides limited options for sample plans, objects and fixtures. However, when it comes to creating your own designs, it has nice tools, like background grids and a roof wizard, that make it a good choice for novice designers.
Perhaps the best feature of this software is its usability. Many programs require that you edit in 2D view and then convert the design to 3D, but this program lets you draw walls and add objects in 3D view. The 3D view includes grid lines placed over the lawn area of your yard. This is the only program we looked at that does this. This allows you to draw a wall or a room against a 3D grid background, which makes it easier to see if it is the right size or fits within the framework of your space.
One limitation of the program is it doesn't let you grab a plan and drag it to a location on the screen to position it for the best view. Instead, you have to expand the image using the zoom tool in the bottom corner of the screen. This takes getting used to, but it isn’t that difficult to use. The bigger problem regarding plans is the program only has one sample house plan. However, it does let you import floor plans and trace your own. This requires a slight learning curve, but you can create your own plans without much problem.
This home remodel software has some helpful tools for creating your own plans, like the roof wizard. Once you decide where you want to draw in a roof, this tool automatically connects the corners based on the endpoints you provide. This is much easier than it is with programs that create the roof for you and have you make edits, like cutting away sections that overhang. With this program, once you have the roof in place, you can click on it and change the pitch in certain areas or add things like crossed gables or eaves to customize your design. The only reason the roof feature falls short of a perfect score is that you have to draw a separate section of roof when the house isn’t perfectly symmetrical.
Another area where this software falls short is the small number of objects, plants and fixtures in the library. We counted a total of 65 objects and six plants. The electrical and plumbing fixtures are limited to track lighting and antique foot bathtubs. Unfortunately, this program doesn’t allow you to import objects from third-party sites, but DreamPlan has expansion packages available that you can download for free. However, when we attempted to download an expansion package, we kept encountering errors. We reached out to the developer, NCH Software, and it was good about working with us to figure out the problem, but to this point we still haven’t been able to download the expansion libraries.
NCH has FAQs and video tutorials on its site to answer questions you have while using the software. Customer support is available via phone, but you have to pay extra for this service. You can also reach the company via email to get answers to your questions or concerns.
DreamPlan is solid home designer software that is very easy to use, with helpful tools like the roof wizard and background grids to give you perspective when drawing a 3D design. While there is limited availability of objects and home plans, creating your own is relatively straightforward. Its simpler feature package prevents it from competing with the best home design software, but it's a fair choice for a program that doesn’t require a steep learning curve.