Design Your Own Home. (Evaluation)
by Steve Hudson
For many years, I've dreamed of designing my own house, and I've covered an untold number of sheets of paper with sketches and plans. But the effort made one thing abundantly clear. I'm no architect, and it shows.
Then I discovered the Design Your Own Home software from Oregon-based Abracadata. Its three modules (Architecture, Interiors, and Landscape) brought my PC into the picture. Ah . . . Just the thing for a would-be Frank Lloyd Wright like me!
The DYOH modules are, in essence, a set of specialized CAD programs with reasonable price tags and gentle learning curves. At the heart of each one is an intuitive, Windows-like user interface with pull-down menus. Each module offers a variety of appropriate tools for creating and labeling your designs; a mouse is highly recommended for DYOH.
One key to successful PC-based design is the ability to create and export layers, and this is easily done in the DYOH modules. For instance, you can create a floor plan in DYOH Architecture with separate overlays showing wiring and plumbing. You can then import the basic plan into DYOH Interiors to lay out furniture and plan the decor. Finally, you can use DYOH Landscape to plan the plantings and gardens. It's straightforward, and it's fun!
Although each module is a stand-alone package, many users will want to start by designing a floor plan and elevations (side views) with DYOH Architecture. Features such as automatic scaling and snap-to-grid speed the process, and a library of predrawn architectural symbols (stairs, doors, and so on) eliminates tedious detail drawing. You can modify a built-in sample plan, work with a plan from one of the optional libraries, or (like me) start from scratch and design your own. Plan size can range from one page wide by one page high (a single screen) to eight pages wide by eight pages high.
With the floor plan done, DYOH Interiors helps you design the interior and arrange the furniture. You have control over color, texture, and even simulated wallpaper patterns. Interiors also offers a library of common furnishings, which you can move anywhere you want. Finished with your arrangement? Check it out from four different sides and from above. Don't like it? Just click on the offending piece of furniture and drag it somewhere else. At last--a way to move sofas without working up a sweat!
Finally, DYOH Landscape helps you plan the plantings around the structure you've designed. The program automatically generates four side views from your top-view drawing. You can also preview the landscape at different seasons and even at different ages (helpful for seeing how your landscaping will look once it's "grown out"). The program includes a basic library of plant types, although you may want to add one of five optional regional plant libraries, too. DYOH Landscape even prepares a shopping list for you to take to the local nursery.
As you might expect, the DYOH packages are not quite so gutsy as their full-blown CAD cousins. But neither are they as expensive or as complex. You'll master any of them in just a couple of hours, and you'll be turning out the plans for your dream house in no time at all.