Grand Designs 3D from Eleco Visualisation Software is a computer program that allows users to represent their interior design ideas in all their 2D or 3D glory. Based on the hit Channel 4 programme Grand Designs, it can turn even the most uninspired individual into a budding Kevin McCloud.
The software comes in three packages which offer different functionality and specifications depending on your budget and the scope of your project:
Self Build & Development, the most advanced version, enables you to design a complete home project, including multiple buildings and exterior spaces. This version is the premium edition and does not come cheap; costing just under £200.
Renovation & Interior edition is the second product in the range and is the one reviewed here. Priced slightly under £50, I imagine this product would be the one the majority of DIY users would go for.
Finally the Kitchen & Bathroom package, which includes an easy to use interface for beginners, and can be used straight out of the box. The price is £25.
Although I have a fair amount of experience using computers and computer software, I do not have any experience using CAD (Computer Aided Design) packages. This for me was a great opportunity to have a play and design my ideal home.
Design a room using Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior.
This edition has more features than theKitchen & Bathroom edition. Some of the extra features include swapping between 2D and 3D models, landscaping the garden and being able to export to 2D DXF for commercial architectural packages.
The premium package as expected has a lot more features than both previous editions. With extra export options and the function to complete a drawing fit for a planning application, you could argue that the Self Build & Development package would be more suitable for a professional rather than a DIYer, who possibly would not utilise all the functions.
When you construct your house or room you will need to put in the furniture. There is no need to spend hours designing a sofa or cupboard because this is all included within the software. In fact, with 4,800 objects to choose from, you should have no problem finding your desired item. You can also search the textures library for adding floors and walls. Find the texture you want from over 1,300 and drag and drop it into your home.
There is also some premade 3D projects of properties featured in the TV programme Grand Designs. These projects allow you to get the feel and scale of the professional projects that others have completed.
Once you have load up the software you are greeted by a welcome menu. The menu has seven different options:
- ‘Do not show this screen next time’ stops the welcome menu appearing when you start the software. A lot of users prefer this when they feel comfortable enough with the software.
- ‘Create New Project’ takes you to a default 2D plan.
- ‘Open Grand Designs 3D Project’ lets you view readymade projects from the Grand Designs TV programme.
- ‘View Tutorial Videos’ allows you to access the help videos on the DVD-ROM.
- ‘View Help File’ takes you to an online help menu.
- ‘View Grand Designs 3D Trade Secrets’ opens a PDF file with tips and advice for planning different rooms in your home.
- ‘Explore Grand Designs 3D on the web’ takes you to the 3D Architect homepage.
I found the software was easy to grasp, starting in 2D view I put in the walls, this was very easy to do. It was a matter of clicking the wall tool, selecting the type of wall I wanted (straight or curved), picking a point I wanted the wall to start and where I wanted it to finish. Adding a door is just as easy, select the door tool, pick the type of door you require (I.e. Interior door, exterior door) and place it where you want. The same is applied for adding windows.
To see what my room looks like in 3D, all I needed to do was click the ‘Design mode’ button. To go back to the 2D mode and make a change, just click the ‘Construction mode’ button and continue. So simple.
If you decide you want to visualise your entire house with multiple rooms and floors, then it is no more complicated then adding the original room. You can easily add a roof from the options available, do basic landscaping and add your garden and garden furniture from the extensive database included with the software.
Grand Designs 3D really excels here, nobody has to fear about not having previous experience using this software or any CAD software. A 64 page ‘Getting started guide’ full with clear step by step instructions and colour pictures for various tasks is included.
If that is not enough you can view 14 tutorial videos that are included on the DVD-ROM. These tutorials are also accessible online for anyone who wants to take a look. However don’t think because these detailed guides are included the software is hard to use or complicated, it is really quite easy to pick up.
As far as software packages go this is light, installing onto my computer quickly. The system requirements are for a Windows XP/Vista operating system and 1GB free hard drive space. This is pretty standard for any PC user and will install comfortably on an old machine without being too demanding. I am however surprised they have not made this software compatible for use on Mac OS.
Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior is perfect for any DIYer who would like to visualise their home before they go to work. I would not recommend this edition to a professional, but that is why the Self Build & Development edition was launched.
For me the key attribute is the simplicity and ease of use. Spending 4 hours or more learning how to use a piece of software is something that would and has put me off buying CAD packages. This software can be picked up and used instantly.