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Home Designer Pro software review

Home Designer Pro is ideal for professional use, though the cost and steep learning curve are likely to scare beginners away.

Home Designer Pro review: image of web page for software
(Image: © Chief Architect)

Our Verdict

Home Designer Pro is the ultimate software for reimagining your home, with extensive tools to remodel the exterior, interior, and landscape around your home. This is best suited to professionals or experienced users, as it is not as intuitive to use as other programs, and comes at an eye-watering cost.

For

  • Extensive tools
  • Many options for landscaping and customizing to a very fine degree

Against

  • Extremely expensive
  • Takes time to get used to

Home Designer Pro is an extremely detailed program, with extensive tools ready for creating a realistic, detailed plan for your dream home. Well suited to professionals, it even has features such as cost estimators built-in for extra convenience. It can also produce construction drawings, meaning there’s every chance you can bring the exact designs you create in this software to life in the future. 

Unlike free programs or web browser designing platforms, Home Designer Pro is a more in-depth option, with the ability to get to the finest degree of detail. Like many of the best home design software programs, it also has excellent options when it comes to viewpoints, rendering, and even 3D walkthroughs, so you can feel like you’re actually within your virtual house. 

Home Designer Pro review: Installation and interface  

Home Designer Pro is developed by the Chief Architect brand and is used by builders, designers, architects, and home users alike. It can be downloaded from their website, with the option to either rent the software or buy it outright. If you decide to go for the rental option, then you’ll own the software after 12 months and be entitled to free upgrades throughout the process. 

There is a free trial option available, which lasts for 30 days, which is a good route to go down before you splash the (serious) amount of cash needed for the full version. Regardless of whether you try before you buy or just dive in, you’ll be sent a key code in order to download the software and start from there. 

Once the software itself opens up, the user will be met with a blank page. This is likely to be daunting for any beginners to software of this type, especially since there’s also a lot of buttons to explore initially. Unlike rival programs such as HomeStyler, there’s no tutorial to whizz you through these first stages, and the process of learning how to navigate the site is left down to the user. The interface itself is made up of a busy-looking navigation bar at the top, and a further sidebar on the right-hand side that allows you to zoom in and out of your design. 

Home Designer Pro review: image of 2D plans

(Image credit: Chief Architect)

Home Designer Pro: 2D mode and room design  

As with many home design software, the default mode for designing in Home Designer Pro is a 2D birdseye angle, though there is the option to toggle between 2D and 3D modes at all times. There’s also the option to view your home in a ‘Dollshouse view’, which we found to be the most helpful option, as it gives a cross-section of both the exterior and interior of your building. 

Once you’ve made sense of the initial design tools, and created walls and a floor, then you can choose to get as technical as you like with the details. The software has fully editable framing, including the ability to modify joists, rafters, trusses, beams, and more; as well as letting you pick between steel, lumber, and other engineered materials for your build. These intricate details are evidence of how Home Designer Pro is well suited to professionals, though they might be a little overwhelming to a casual user.

As we mentioned before, there’s no guide that automatically opens within the initial stages of this software, although there are a few ways to make the process easier if you’re feeling lost. That includes selecting a template for a roof rather than designing one yourself, and putting automatic ceilings in place if you need them. You can also seek out the Space Planning Assistant on the software, which will help you create exactly how many floors, bedrooms, and bathrooms you’d like, and give you a rough 2D plan. We’d strongly recommend this route to anyone starting out with this sort of software. 

Home Designer Pro review: image of plans

(Image credit: Chief Architect)

Another thing to note about the room design process is that Home Designer Pro immediately starts to create a cost sheet of the materials used in your plans. This doesn’t incorporate the cost of labor, but is a very handy tool for those undertaking jobs professionally, providing a ballpark figure that could be quoted to clients.

Moving on to interiors, Home Designer Pro groups the furniture that you can input into your home into sets, so you can find all the things you’d like to insert in one go. Throughout the program, you can also select any object with a right-click and make extensive customizations to these pieces of furniture. The library available for furniture is vast, with thousands of options for branded pieces, so that you can follow up your designs by purchasing the exact same thing in reality.

The level of detail to both the furniture and features in Home Designer Pro is seriously impressive; you can choose the curvature of your staircases or the distance between stepping stones in a pond if you want to. It’s the level of excellence you should expect for software that costs this much, though at $495, it’s difficult to see many occasional users making the commitment. One consolation of the high cost of Home Designer Pro is the fact that you get to experience one of the best landscape design software programs at the same time. You can create lowered regions in your virtual backyard, change the slope of hills and even insert plants and watch how they would grow, all for the same price.

One important thing to note is that despite there being a lack of instructions within the program itself, there are plenty of training videos on the Home Designer Pro website or on YouTube, which you can take at your own pace. Watching these videos will no doubt help with the steep learning curve of using Home Designer Pro.

Home Designer Pro review: 3D views and rendering 

As well as varied 3D viewpoints, Home Designer Pro offers an excellent opportunity for walkthrough videos, so you can imagine being in your dream home. These walkthroughs allow you to see how the transition from one room to the next will be, as well as how lighting will make a difference to your rooms.

You can render your designs in Home Designer Pro to an extremely fine degree - with images that are crisp and lifelike. The quality of the images created in this software is reflective of just how much money this software costs, with excruciating attention to detail. 

As well as rendering, Home Designer Pro gives options for creating scaled construction documents, which can be printed to any size needed. This is yet another feature that makes this particular software perfect for those undertaking professional projects. 

Home Designer Pro review: image of 3D kitchen plans

(Image credit: Chief Architect)

Home Designer Pro review: User reviews 

Home Designer Pro, as well as being available from the Chief Architect website, can also be purchased via Amazon. It has a rating of 4 stars out of 5, gathered from 24 user reviews. 

Impressed users commented on the helpfulness of the tutorial videos, with one user commenting that it is a “good program for someone that can use it every day”. There was also a review from a user using the software in a professional capacity, who commented that the cost generators were a useful tool, saving a “great deal of time and money”, with the program giving “unlimited flexibility”. 

Another user who was less happy with their purchase commented that it was “not for the technologically challenged”, and that without the ability to use the software it would be “pretty useless”.

Home Designer Pro review: image of rendered home

(Image credit: Chief Architect)

Should you buy Home Designer Pro? 

There’s no doubt that Home Designer Pro is one of the most visually stunning and detailed design programs available to purchase, with an exhaustive number of options for making plans for renovations. It would be difficult to find fault with the abilities of this program, with the power to create magnificent-looking homes. It’s also extremely practical for professionals, with cost estimating sheets and the ability to choose the materials for construction down to the finest degree. 

Despite its faultless performance across interiors, exteriors, and landscaping, Home Designer Pro does fall down slightly when it comes to the ability to intuitively use it. There’s a lot to take on board at once, and unless you’re a professional, it’s likely you’ll need to seek out videos and wizards yourself to use it to its full potential. There’s also an extremely high price to take into consideration, meaning that we would strongly recommend making the most of the free trial available to check your ability with using the software before you spend the cash. If you need something more affordable, check out our DreamPlan Home Designer review, which can help you create plans quickly and with more assistance. 

Molly Cleary

Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book.