What Software Do Architects Use to Draw Plans?

Ever wondered about the software that architects use to draw plans? Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out the software and tools used by the pros. In this article, we’ll talk about the most common software architects use to create their plans and blueprints. 

Architects often used CAD software to draw plans. This could be AutoCAD or Sketchup, or one of many others. Architects are looking for fast, updated software that will complete their tasks with the least amount of hassle. 

Below, we’ll talk about the features architects are looking for, as well as the types of software they use for daily tasks. 

Let’s jump into it.  

3 Top Software for Architects 

Let’s look at a few common software choices for architects. Depending on how the architect works, they may use relatively simple, inexpensive software, or they may need access to the most advanced features, along with full integration. 

Software architects use: 

  • Chief Architect 
  • ArchiCAD
  • Revit

As we look at these below, you’ll get a good idea of what architects are looking for. 

Chief Architect: Architect Software

Chief Architect Software

Chief Architect is a software tool that’s specifically targeted at home design, be it interior design, exterior design, or creating an entire construction blueprint. For those who want to design and sell home blueprints, this is great software. It offers the ability for 3D modeling and to add details and photorealism. 

Best for: This software is for those who want to design homes specifically. While many types of architecture software are aimed at designing parks and industrial buildings or offices, Chief Architect is made for residential homes. This is professional-grade software, and they do offer a free trial, so it will work for pros and beginners. Let’s talk a little about the price. 

Price/free trial: This is a professional service with a full suite of functions, and the price comes in around $199 per month. However, they do have a trial version that allows users to get an idea of how the software will work. Let’s talk about some key features. 

Key Features: Simple to place 3D objects and many automated features that allow for a faster, sleeker design process. They offer features such as automatic foundation generation and easy alternating between crawl spaces or full basements – very detail oriented, down to the studs, ensuring you know where every nail will go. 

User Experience: Streamlined to make it easy to convert files from the design phase to the visualization phase, allowing designers to show their ideas to clients. 

Pros and Cons: Fully encompassing architecture software for those who want to design and plan a residential home. Will take some time to learn, but they offer free trials and a satisfaction guarantee. 

ArchiCAD: Architect Software

AutoCAD Software

This software is specifically designed for architecture. Aimed at giving professionals the ability to easily and efficiently design great buildings, ArchiCAD is a common software for architects of all levels, from beginner to pro. This software allows for easy design and visualization of the project. 

Best for: Beginners and advanced people who need architecture software that can grow with them. This software is professional grade, but it’s known for being easier to pick up than other software. Also, this software will scale to the needs of the user – either for designing large buildings or simple projects. 

Price/free trial: For specific pricing, you’ll have to call and talk to the sales team. They will listen to your needs and offer you the best quote. However, they do offer a 30-day free trial, giving you plenty of time to test out the features to determine if this is the software for you. Let’s take a moment to talk about those features. 

Key Features: First, ArchiCAD is a feature of Graphisoft, which is a company that offers multiple types of software for different building and construction tasks. This broad scope makes them a prime candidate for integration with other members of the design and construction team. They have a community that allows an individual user to become a member and ask questions when issues arise. 

User Experience: ArchiCAD is known to be one of the more user-friendly software for architecture. They easily allow you to design the project while also being able to render it and show it to a client. Their software allows for a simple collaboration, and they keep the documentation streamlined, so you don’t need to worry about all the backend stuff. 

Pros and Cons: ArchiCAD offers some great features for the beginner and pros alike. If you’re interested in intuitive software that’s industry proven, then it’s worth it to take a look at ArchiCAD. Yes, it will take a little time to learn, but that’s how most things work. 

Revit: Architect Software

Revit software

Revit is an Autodesk product that’s designed for architects, engineers, and construction. It is directed at 3D modeling, using intuitive software and features to allow for smooth collaborations. 

Best for: This software is best for professional architects who are working on serious projects, such as buildings and bridges. This software has built-in engineering features that will tell people how the structure may behave in the real world. For those who want to add a 3D component to their architecture design, Revit is a good choice. 

Price/free trial: For an accurate price, you’ll need to contact the sales team. They will be able to assess the features you need, as well as the scope of your project. They don’t offer price listings on their website (though some areas list the price at around $2500.00 per year). However, they do offer a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied within the first 30 days, this allows users to ensure that Revit is right for them. 

Key Features: Easy design features that allow the user to shift between floor plans, 2D and 3D modeling, and rendering. They also allow for more in-depth analysis, such as the cost of the project and the overall life of the project. Further, Revit offers renderings that give designers a real feel for how the structure will look, with photo-realistic images and 3D interaction. 

User Experience: The ability to collaborate seamlessly with other designers and architects makes Revit particularly suited for group projects, or where multiple disciplines need to work together, for example, the architect and the engineers, or the engineers and the construction managers. 

Pros and Cons: This is a great tool for those who need 3D capability in their designs. Because it has so many features, there will be a bit of a learning curve, so this probably isn’t the software for absolute beginners. Also, though they don’t share clear prices, this will likely be a more expensive option. 

Now, let’s talk about some of the tips and tricks for ensuring you get the right software. 

Tips for Finding Good Architect Software 

When you go to buy a house, you probably consider many things. For example, you probably think about budget, you probably think about location, and you also will look to ensure the home has all the features you need. 

In the same way, you must consider similar things when it comes to software. With these “smaller things” it’s easy to overlook key features, causing many people to purchase too soon, not realizing how much of a pain it can be to use the wrong software for your job. 

Below, we’ll talk about some strategies you can use to ensure you find the best architecture software for you. 

Here’s how to find the best software for architects: 

  • Ask other professionals. If you can, look around and try to talk to some industry professionals. While it’s great to try to research these things yourself, there is nothing that replaces the review of hands-on experience – and not just someone who has tested things but who has used these tools for years and years. These people are uniquely equipped to give the most specific advice. 
  • Look at your budget. After talking to a professional and establishing your needs, it’s wise to look at your own personal budget and see what fits. While considering the finances, be sure to consider quality and functionality. The right balance of features will give you the best experience. 

Now, let’s go over some final words. 

Final Words on Finding the Best Architecture Software 

Architects use various types of software to design and plan. They may use 3D-capable software, or they might use 2D software for drafting and drawing plans. As you might expect, there are many different types of architecture, so there are many different types of computer-aided design tools. 

Some types of architect software will be made for residential buildings, such as Chief Architecture, and some will be made for more general projects, such as Revit. If you’re curious, you can see this video on three different types of software. 

To find the best architecture software for you, be sure to ask professionals in the industry about their experience. Also, take advantage of free trials. Not only are free trials a great way to get a feel for the product, but they will also give you a good idea of customer support.