One of the biggest complaints about home design software is that it’s hard to use, that the render is not what was expected or that it simply does not give the creative output an architect or designer wants. We have compiled a list of the top architectural, home design software voted in 2009. We have selected these because of their ease of use (not to a layman however) and the simplicity to make the transition to any of these design programs. With a majority of these new users can start with quick-start predesigned rooms or specify their own space. Landscaping and deck-design software is also included.

1. PUNCH! HOME & LANDSCAPE DESIGN

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Punch! Software has long made home and landscape design software for everyone from new do-it-yourselfers to professional home builders and architects. Punch! Home & Landscape Design, with nexGen technology, strikes a perfect balance between ease of use and professional design features.

With its unique interface, design templates, vast library of quality 3D objects, and the most extensive tool set available in affordable home design software, Punch! Home & Landscape Design is the all-in-one solution for simple remodeling jobs to complete renovations. You can spend thousands of dollars and precious time fleshing out your ideas with a professional architect, interior and landscape designer, or you can do it all yourself — and have fun with it — with Punch! Home & Landscape Design.

Standout Home Design Features:

  • Easy drag and drop room-by-room building with QuickStart
  • Large furniture and fixture library
  • 2D and 3D design and views
  • Easy 3D navigation
  • Automatic Roof Generation
  • Power Tools allow custom 3D object design
  • Print materials lists and estimate costs with Power Tools
  • Landscape design software included

Home & Landscape Design is a great tool for experienced and new users alike, but “prosumers” and contractors may need more professional grade solutions. For the pro user, Punch! Home & Landscape Design Suite offers everything in the basic package reviewed here, but adds more deck and landscaping design options, and brand name interior décor and trim from Sherwin Williams, Enviroglas, Beuchel, Daltile and more. If that’s not enough, in the design suite you can import 3D objects (furniture, cabinets, fixtures, etc.) directly from Google’s online library. It’s a great deal, giving you thousands more options for $50 more.

For the professional contractor, Punch! also offers Home & Landscape Design Professional, a dependable tool that contractors have relied on for years to aid and impress customers with smart, unique designs.

Punch! also has home and landscape design software for Mac users, in Home & Landscape Design Studio.

2. HOME DESIGNER SUITE 9.0

If our rankings were based on eye candy alone, Home Designer Suite 9.0 would outrank its competitors by a long shot. All of the objects and images are in such exquisite detail that it enables you to get a very realistic view of your designs. It has multiple easy-to-use features that make this product ideal for novice home designers that need a simple way to design a home, or get an estimate on how their remodeling desires could come into play.

Home Designer Suite 9.0 was created by Chief Architect. This version of the software is an all-in-one product that is perfect for those who want to design homes, decks and landscapes. Your designs will be validated against standard building principles. If you need a more advanced software, Chief Architect has many other products to suit your needs, such as Architectural Home Designer.

Aesthetic Appeal:
Prepare to be dazzled by Home Designer Suite 9.0 as you navigate through the interface to create your projects. The graphics are so detailed that you feel as if you have entered another world when you access the 3D views. The interface is simple and easy with all of the most common tools right at your fingertips. The editable home plans are beautiful, as well as the furniture, appliances, and fixtures in the object library. If you do not find the objects that appeal to you, you may download new object libraries from the web, from game room set-ups to the finest kitchen furnishings, Home Designer Suite 9.0 won’t let you down.

3. INSTANT ARCHITECT

Instant Architect by IMSI Design is an inexpensive, no-frills home design software product that’s easy to learn, and offers a solid set of home design features.

The main reason Instant Architect didn’t receive a higher ranking was its lack of sample house plans, and a few other features. If you want more advanced functionality, like the ability to import your own designs and symbols, and landscape and deck design, try IMSI’s TurboFLOORPLAN Home & Landscape Pro, which is a great all-in-one package.

Aesthetic Appeal:
Instant Architect’s interface is clean and simple, and the way tools are grouped makes it easy to build a home. The 3D models for furniture, appliances, and the like don’t quite rival that of our other top ranked home design software, but they’re realistic enough to make your designs come to life. Bottom line: You can easily get the job done, with a reasonable idea of what the end result will be.
Features & Tools:
Instant Architect has a great house builder wizard that guides you through the process of setting up a basic home, from the foundation up. It literally takes about a minute to build a home and then customize to your liking.

The object library, or catalog, has 3D models for appliances, furniture, fixtures, and lighting, but what really set it apart was the ability to edit object properties: You can edit the appearance, dimensions, and even enter the manufacturer and price information, to aid in creating a budget. In fact, we really liked how we could double-click and edit just about any object in real-time.