Lately I’ve been trying really hard to find a good piece of home design software. I want to visualize how different parts of our house would look with different colors of paint, new flooring, or whatever – without actually spending the money to find out.

There appear to be three major software packages out there all competing for a slice of the ‘CAD for Dummies’ pie, and over the past month I’ve tried them all: Punch Home Design Architectural Series 3000, Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 6.0, and Broderbund’s Home Architect Design Suite.

Better Homes and Gardens wins, hands-down.

Punch sucks because you can’t import your own colors or textures to apply to walls – you’re limited to what they ship with the program. Broderbund’s software is a train wreck, and it’s actually just a mutated version of an earlier version of the BHG software, re-made poorly by a different company.

I only have one real issue with the BHG Home Designer suite. The problem is that the first floor of my house doesn’t really have the traditional square-shaped rooms that most homes have. There are walls of varying sizes, and one wall even has an opening in it. unfortunately the $99 BHG Suite can’t handle something that complex. You have to spend another $400 for the ‘professional’ version of BHG Home Designer software before you’ll have the tools you need to really create a modern home.

And wouldn’t you know it, only the scaled-down $99 version is available on the p2p networks. There is no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to spend $500 on a piece of software unless it greets me by name and does all the work for me.

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