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7 Examples of Architectural Design Software for Your Construction Project

An architect using architectural design software to show a rendering to a business owner.

Using these programs helps show your contractors how you want the finished product to look.

Key Takeaways:

  • Architectural design programs make the creation process easier
  • Numerous options are available depending on your needs
  • Each software has different features, pros, and cons
  • Hiring a full-service contractor eliminates the need to self-design

Architectural design software allows business owners and architects to create and view realistic representations of their buildings before beginning construction. They can create a layout from scratch or renovate an existing property using these programs, allowing them to see how it will look upon completion. 

Users can develop interactive blueprints to scale using architectural design programs and adjust them as the project evolves. The result is an accurate design image before the construction phase begins.

These programs include planning tools and extensive libraries of images and design elements, so you don’t have to draw the structure from scratch. Of course, the designer is free to create new components using the draw tool.

Some business owners might look to play around with this software independently before hiring a design team or construction contractor. They might also want to learn how these tools work before speaking with an architect. Here’s a look at seven examples of architectural design software on the market today.

1. AutoCAD

Even if you’ve never worked with an architect, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of AutoCAD. This program is one of the leading architectural tools on the market and remains popular because of its compatibility with most other software the industry uses. 

AutoCAD allows for the development and creation of designs and standard documentation, and you can even experiment with layers and line weights as the project progresses. If you work with a professional architect at any point during your project, they will likely use AutoCAD.

2. SketchUp Pro

SketchUp has free and paid versions, so you can choose the best option depending on your desired elements. The free version is only available via your web browser but offers features like construction documentation, schematic design, interior models, landscapes, and 2D and 3D project creation.

The paid version, SketchUp Pro, takes things to another level with its library of pre-designed features and virtual reality design viewing. The overall presentation of a project designed with SketchUp Pro is far more polished than the free version, too. Its ability to incorporate terrain modeling helps when integrating landscaping into the design.

3. TurboCAD

TurboCAD is similar to AutoCAD, although many feel it’s more intuitive for beginners. This feature could make the program viable for business owners looking to create a vision to pass on to their architect or construction company in the future. 

The great thing about TurboCAD is that it also has advanced tools a professional developer can use, and it’s compatible with AutoCAD using its integrated setup wizard. TurboCAD has a complete software suite available, making it usable during every part of the design process.

4. Revit

Revit is a leading building information modeling software that is useful for designers, construction companies, architects, and General Contractors. The program allows teams to collaborate on every aspect of the design and create 3D building models from scratch, sharing documentation along the way. 

Revit offers key features such as its 3D visualizations, automatic floor plan, section and elevation updates, and parametric modeling. All building elements created using Revit are interdependent and update automatically, so designers and planners can change the design without redrawing each component.

5. FloorPlanner

FloorPlanner allows for 2D and 3D architectural design, and its drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to use. The program also has a drawing tool, photorealistic rendering, interactive floor plans, and a furniture image library for putting the finishing touches on your project.

This software has free and paid versions, but the free version offers limited functionality and only supports one design project at a time. The full product version creates professional, polished designs ready for presentation, helping you get what you want from your construction project.

6. Adobe Substance 3D

Adobe is a well-known brand, and its suite of architectural design software is a reliable option as you take your business to the next level. Substance 3D allows you to integrate specific materials and textures into your design and is compatible with other applications like Revit. 

Users are given access to additional apps like Source and Alchemist with their software suite, which makes Substance 3D a more diverse option than many others on the market. This software might be overkill if you only want to design your restaurant’s interior, but its endless possibilities make it incredibly useful for professional designers. 

7. Rhino

Rhino is a program that allows architects to create concepts using curved lines. It’s typically used when designing windows, roofs, and other elements that require the integration of curved lines into the design. If your roof or windows need a specific configuration, there’s a good chance your architect will use Rhino.

Although Rhino is a basic program for creating curved features, users can add other plugins to the software to increase its functionality. These additions allow for complex modeling and automated detailing, turning this simple program into something designers can use throughout the project.

Your design project

Whether creating a new building from scratch or renovating an existing one, developing the perfect design is an essential part of the process. You might be tempted to utilize some of these architectural design software options to show your builders what you want, streamlining the construction process. 

You don’t necessarily need to learn how to use any of these programs, though, because you can hire a full-service construction firm to help you realize your vision. Using your vision, a full-service contractor will use at least one of these design programs, ensuring you have the ideal building for your business. 

RPC General Contractors is a one-stop construction firm that helps independent owners create their vision through the conceptualization, project planning, and execution stages. Our team will handle your entire design process, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing and using design software. Contact RPC General Contractors for more information on our commercial construction services.


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