Best 3d tools for home design?

Just curious if anyone can suggest an intuitive tool or two for visualizing some home renovation ideas (moving exterior doors/windows, interior walls, building separate structures, etc) and landscaping? I’ve found quite a few options online but not sure which are reputable.

Thanks in advance.

I’m no expert, but it looks like lots of people use SketchUp. There’s a free web-based version. Fine Homebuilding has some DVDs on how to use it. There are probably YouTube videos too.

And you might not like this idea, but I think you should also consider building simple models from cardboard. You can use ordinary corrugated cardboard, but chipboard and foamcore are also options. It takes time, but it gives you an understanding of a building that’s hard to get from a computer screen. You can even investigate things like how window placement will affect sightlines, or how much sunlight it will get at various times during the day. It doesn’t have to be pretty. (I studied architecture as an undergrad, but never practiced it, thank god.)

Good luck!

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I just had another idea. You could use Lego! You’d have to make sure you settle on a scale (e.g., one 2x2 brick is six inches wide, or one foot or whatever.) You can just set your structures on a big sheet of paper. You can also mix it with other materials like cardboard, drinking straws, popsicle sticks, etc. I believe you can create temporary bonds with white glue. Soak in warm water to make it release.

I’ll second the vote for SketchUp. I’m an architect by trade and use it both professionally and personally. Almost all my home projects get planned out in SU and a lot of my woodworking ones go through SketchUp as well. Also, if you’re precise enough, you can lay out all the lumber for your projects and use the fantastic cutlist calculator here in order to optimize board purchasing and minimize waste.

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