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3.3 out of 5 stars91
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2010
Hoping to upgrade my design software to one that is Windows 7 compatible, I looked forward to seeing what over 7 years of development from my last 3D Floorplan software would bring. I can't believe it could be this bad. Admittedly, I'm trying to recreate an existing house design rather than designing from scratch. But this was nearly impossible. Features that should have made it easier either don't work as advertised or not at all.
After half a day's work, I had barely got in a the walls of the plan. When I came to retrieve the plan the next day, walls had disappeared at random. My backup copies also showed walls missing but different walls! Exasperating!
Icons are ludicrously small on my screen making choosing doors, windows or other objects an effort of fine mouse control. I tried for ages to rotate an object without finding a way in the 2D mode. I could sometimes do so in the 3D view but not easily. The Help was useless. Suggesting options that simply weren't in the toolbar.
To try and change a wall, for example requires a major effort. In my previous software I could simply drag the whole side of a room or even house to increase the size while showing the measurements. Trying to get measurements of rooms was an effort.
Snap! Don't get me started. No matter what option I chose out of the plethora in the options, 'Snap' insisted on staying on. Meaning walls could not be fine tuned to exact measurements.
Am I going to persist? I've tried designing something from scratch. Plain annoying. I've tried starting with one of the pre-made designs; Frustrating! I've tried to watch one of the tutorials, which have more in common with Monty Python's 'How to Play the Flute' than serious training.
So when I have more time and nothing serious I need to achieve, I'll give it a few hours more. But seriously, I got my complete plan done in Powerpoint in less time than it took to get a toilet to rotate in this package.
This product needs serious consumer testing and feedback.
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on 27 March 2011
This tool has the makings of something good, but it is incredibly difficult to use. I have spent hours trying to find out how to do the simplest of things. For example, I want to draw a wall 4 metres long. I can't find anything that allows me to specify its length. The help file suggests using a combination of keys, but that just doesn't work.
If you are not prepared to spend literally DAYS to work out how to use the product, forget it.
Post Script: After writing this review, I tried the equivalent product from Chief Architect. It's more expensive but I had very few problems getting to grips with it. I recommend dipping a little deeper into your pocket and getting the more expensive item because it will save you hours of frustration.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Oh wow, it's a long time since I used a CAD package. You've got one chance to instal it due to the anti- piracy protection (although there is a try it out option). It says it is based on Arcon software, and I wonder if the Arcon 3D Interior Designer (PC) is a similar product - not being an expert in home CAD. Anyway, in it's play stages it's a fairly intuitive product- click on the icon to the side and drag and drop. Resizing seems easier through dialog boxes. I quickly created a strange columned hallway, and angled stairway, a glass door, two windows...Ok so the balcony icon produced something that looked more like a horse trough, but maybe I was supposed to add decking. Just toggle with F12 to produce a 3D view- wow- all those hours cursing my pens producing isometric drawings in Ancient History class- sometimes computers are fun.

I'm having trouble finding the right button to decorate the walls and shove furniture in the corridor by my columned hall- there are an awful lot of icons to pick from!

One warning- make sure you have the sound turned down or you get the jangly theme tune from the TV programme.

As a toy it does impress. I think it could prove a moderately useful design product for amateurs, and I could certainly while away the cold winter evenings with this software.
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Looking at the other reviews, opinions on this are clearly divided. It's not especially cheap, but I feel it's actually an ok product. The single machine licence is a nuisance, but I found it easy to use and very comprehensive, as long as you are clear about what you want and know how to go about it. It's not for doodling, it is intended for serious re-modelling and renovation. Sure, the professionals have much better products and are expert with them , so if you just want to pay someone to do the work for you, there is little point in buying it. If you want to do all or some of it yourself, I think it is very useful and not hard to learn. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you're great at sitting down and reading a 100 page manual before diving into something then you may find it a bit easier but both myself and my mum (whom I got it for) really struggled with this product.

The interface is awkard to use and the learning curve is very very steep for someone who's just looking for a tinker around for fun. It also seems to only allow one computer install so if you upgrade your pc, chances are you'll not be able to use this software again as its already used its one licence activation. Not good.

However it does seem that if you get the hang of it, there's lots to do, but search me if I could get to grips with it!
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on 4 May 2012
I spent a while looking at the options for this type of software. Reading previous reviews, I went for this package. The price was excellent and it seemed to be favored by quite a few users.

However! When finally I got to use it... I came across a bug that reverted the plan several stages after saving (saving for a second time in the same session instance). The fix is to close the application, load it up again and pick up where you left off. You have to do this each time you saved for a second time.

I posted a response on the support forum, but had nothing back. Another person had the same problem - but the solution seemed to delete some of the design and start over... That's not a solution in my book.

The usability is suspect - creating wall lengths and positioning was just way too time consuming and quickly becomes frustrating. Surely it can be that difficult to draw a line and move it!

I had to give this up. Life is too short to use bad language at a laptop in the late evenings. So I bought Home Designer Architectural 2012 Chief Architect Architectural Designer 2012 (PC). I pretty much did the full house plan with this in the time it took me to do half the ground floor in Grand Design 3D (before the bug kicked in).

Home Designer Architectural is more expensive, but worth it! Sorry, Grand Design 3D - software I can't use at all has to get is 1 star.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Another Arcon 3D architect tool, and this is a standalone project [you don't need Grand Designs Self Build and Development]. Unlike it's bigger cousin 'Self Build and Development', this package is simply to give you a look and feel of remodelling the inside of your house, so it's not suitable for say a 'Self-builder intending to submit their own planning application' [whereas Arcon's 'Grand Designs Self Build and Development' and '3D architect' are]. Renovation and interior comes with 1,300 textures and 4,800 objects [compared to 7,200 objects for Self Build and 3,300 for 3D bathroom and Kitchen]. Plus it also works with split level buildings and loft coversions. The software runs on XP or Vista, and it's output looks good, either as plans or 3D virtual reconstructions. The software comes with an Arcon printed 'getting started manual'. The package aims to offer remodelling, extending and [garden] landscaping to create your dream home. See Arcons website for details of all the Grand Design and Architect 3D packages.

The software is fairly easy to install and use, but it's no pushover and is probably just a bit too much effort for a single project every 10 years [i.e. for your own home when just replacing a few existing units and repainting the walls], but it would suite a techie self employed builder, their spouse helping with the business, or a handyman with a few projects on [say mum and dad's home as well]. It's also suitable for those who find this type of Sims software fun as well as functional. The only problem really is that the units are generic and not belonging to any exact range of designs and sizes. So the plans and 3D models are fine for a look and feel, which would help the customer and household members assess it, but it's not so easy for the nitty gritty exact planning required for serious renovation. But the softwares reasonably easy to use for those familiar with the likes of Adobe Photoshop or Serif PagePlus DTP.

So overall a good design package for getting the look and feel of remodelling your home, but only buy it if you think the steepish learning for the software would be useful in the future [i.e. you will return to this software again and again, either for work or for play]. That said the high cost of a serious renovation in the home makes the price of software as cheap as this pretty irrelevent. Overall any user could rate this software 1* or 5* depending on their interest, PC abilities, and needs. Grand Designs is based on the award winning Channel 4 upmarket home improvement and renovation TV program, and if you are familar with that series this software might be even more appealing [as themes from the show run though the designs on offer].
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Grand Designs was fine for visualising the rearranging of some of our rooms and walls - we got a better sense of the ideas we had and what would work. We decided on our Grand Design and then got a firm to do it for us. Again GD helped explain our ideas rather better than mere words - picture 1000 words thing. It can potentially save you a lot of money... It's a bit quirky in parts but then most software is. Overall very useful.
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on 21 July 2011
Probably the worst software I have ever used, The video tutorials are poor, the HELP menu's are useless and the software flaky. Even when you can work out the logic,selecting an item is very hit and miss. Limited right click menu's and the usual logic/actions used in most software just don't apply. Extremely frustrating to use.
I wish I could get a refund as I wont use it.
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on 2 January 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loaded this onto my PC upstairs, and then decided it might be easier to have it on my laptop - but it wouldn't let me. It has a single licence, so once it's been loaded up, that's it.

The program has a familiar interface: it looks very Windows-like with tool bars and drop down menus. The icons, however, are very small: for example, there are a lot of different doors and windows to choose from but they are hard to see from the icons and I ended up with random choices because I was fed up with peering and squinting!

You can choose to create your own home plan from scratch, which is easy enough using click and drag. You choose a type of wall, click on it and drag it into place, then stretch it to the desired length and click to fix. Then you add more walls, further floors etc. until you have created a 2D plan of your home.
I created a plan of my home as it currently is, and then copied it intending to use the 2nd plan to design the changes I wanted (I'm putting in a 2nd bathroom upstairs and changing doorways downstairs). This is when I ran into some problems: some walls refused to be moved or changed and odd shapes began to appear in the walls I currently had...

But neverthless, using the little manual supplied (there is also comprehensive online help), I was able to make a good plan of my home and design the changes - and relatively quickly. It was very satisfying and I could quickly see what was going to work (in real life) and what wouldn't.

The 'Grand Designs' element was a bit lost on me, other than it was interesting to see other homes and designs. I guess it could offer inspiration, but I was clear about what I wanted.

There are good number of useful designs to choose from if you don't want to design your own from scratch, and obviously these can offer inspiration and ideas if you need help.

I especially liked the little 3D plan that you can have displayed as you work on a 2D plan. It helps to get a clear idea of the final house/renovation/ and stopped me making a number of mistakes!

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who is serious about designing their own renovation. It's not something that you'll want to use if you're just playing around with ideas - it's time consuming and relatively complicated, as you would expect. For playing with ideas you'd do better with pencil and graph paper, and turn to this when you're ready for some serious designing.

If you want to produce professional looking scaled plans that will actually work and that you can give to a builder to work from, or use for a planning application - then this is the best programme I've personally ever tried (and believe me, I've tried a few that were RUBBISH!)

This one is pretty good.
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