After some agonizing months with the home design package I bought, I settled on this two-step process:
- Design the floor plan using Microsoft Visio Professional's floor plan template. It's easy to make changes and the floor plan is what changes most frequently - and it's relatively easy to make changes. Besides, Visio supports "layers" so you can add electrical stuff and radiant in-floor heating layout and plumbing, etc.
- Once you're comfortable with the floorplan, fire up your 3D home software - I used "Punch Home Design" but based on my research all ~$100 packages have the same capabilities (and quirks). The most agonizing thing for me (which maybe has been resolved, who knows) was doing any kind of redesign, even as simple as moving a wall...it worked fine for a while, but quickly the model became "unstable".
Don't get me wrong - spending all these hours on sweating over how to put the design into the 3D modeling software was definitely worth it. I learned a lot from it and would go the same route again. I'd just brace myself for at least 3 iterations, i.e., starting from scratch in the 3D home design software for at least 3 times. You'll get faster, too.
If you have thoughts on or experience with 3D Home Design Software, use the comments feature below.