Pros / You get helpful wizards to create kitchens, bathrooms, decks and landscape options.
Cons / You must pay for phone support.
Verdict / This home design software has a learning curve to master its capabilities, but you can use its numerous designer tools and help wizards to create a professional-quality home interior and exterior.
Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design 8 gives you all the tools you need to build plans for your dream house. This software allows you to plan, customize and furnish rooms to your specific needs, wants and desires. It may take a few times through the process to learn, but it’s worth the effort to design your home the way you want. It’s our top overall choice for home design software.
Home & Floor Plan Design
Like all programs that are this large and involved, it’s going to take you a while to become familiar with all its tools and features. To help you get started, Virtual Architect offers room building wizards for kitchens, bathrooms, decks, sheds and more to give you a feel on how the program works.
The most powerful wizard this program offers is the House Builder Wizard. This walks you through the entire home design process step-by-step. You start out by choosing your foundation type, then move on to the general house shape and garage placement, then onto how large you want your home and end with choosing which materials you want to use during construction. The program then generates a basic plan that you can customize to your liking. It’s a very powerful tool to help you complete the initial steps.
Additionally, the program comes preloaded with 11 home sample designs for several types of homes. You can load a complete plan for a beach home, condo, farm house, industrial loft, lake home, pool house and more. These plans are a great jumping off point for your own designs; you can use the preloaded plans for inspiration, practice or even just customize them into your own creation.
These plans are highly detailed including such things as furniture, flooring, materials and paint. They also include landscaping features. However, as good as these plans are, the selection is sparse compared with other home design software we reviewed. The most sample plans we saw in a program was over 1,000 in Total 3D Landscape & Deck Premium.
Further on the learning front, this program helps you learn every tool it has. When you open any tool a “Tutor” pops up in a separate window. This instructs you on exactly what the tool does and how to use it. This tutor can be easily turned off, but it’s great for beginners to learn and for veteran users to hone their skills and become acquainted with new tools.
Another useful tool is the ability to import existing blueprints and floor plans. You can load an existing image of a blueprint that fits your needs. Using this tool, you can trace the walls and install windows and doors. You can also trace features from different plans and merge them together until you get the plan you want.
The program’s cost estimator helps you budget for the changes you make to your home. This feature keeps track of all the materials you need for your remodel, plus it gives you a reasonably accurate figure for the total cost of the materials you will need.
Once you’ve completed your design, you can export the file to an architect or to a contractor in a DXF file, which is a CAD software format. CAD (computer aided design) is used by professionals in engineering, architecture and other fields.
Interior & Room Design
This home design software is exceptional for remodeling your kitchen and bathrooms. The generous object library provides an abundance of home pieces like sinks, showers, cabinets, furniture, light fixtures, benches and much more for you to experiment with as you work to customize and beautify your home. You also get a substantial selection of floor materials, different types of countertops, paint colors and fabrics, and brand name furniture and appliances.
You can also create curved walls as well as the traditional straight variety, and you can remodel sections of your existing house or the whole thing. The bathroom and kitchen wizards aid you in designing these rooms to your specification with step-by-step instructions.
Landscape & Garden Design
This software contains tools that help adapt your design to the topography and unique geographic features of your plot. It comes with a remarkable selection of plants that far exceeds the other home design programs we reviewed. There are thousands of options for trees, shrubs, flowers and more.
You get a plant encyclopedia that informs you about the water and light needs for various plants and a calendar outlining times for pruning, fertilizing, spraying and more. In addition, you can view your yard and garden in different seasonal views and see what the vegetation will look like over the years as it matures.
You can also find outdoor accessories, including fountains, waterfalls and barbecues. This software comes with a deck builder wizard that makes preparing a deck easy, and you can create such things as sheds, outer buildings, gazebos and other additional structures on your property. You can also design fencing, sidewalks, outdoor lighting, sprinkler systems and other things that will enhance your property.
The video tutorials on this website are quite helpful and can guide you through numerous design processes as well as answer many questions you might have. Should you encounter any problems with this floor plan software, there is a short FAQs section on the manufacturer's website. There is an option for telephone support, but unfortunately, you must pay a fee to use it.
Even if you are a beginner at designing a home, with a bit of effort you can create a stunning house and landscape using the numerous and helpful features and tools presented by Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design. The 3D views, the ability to export a top-quality design to an architect or contractor, the well-stocked plant library and the overall flexibility of this home design software make it an exceptional choice.
Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick