Designing your own floor plans

Floor plan Smith St

Having a go at designing a floor plan is a lot of fun. It’s also a good way to start thinking about your requirements before you engage a professional designer.  While I encourage DYI in the case of floor plans, it is important to get professional input. Floor plans are surprisingly complex and hard to get working well. Once you start  construction, you’re locked in. You’ll be living with any short coming in your floor plan for a very long time.

Getting going

Hand draw flor plan for a master bedroom and ensuite

Start with sketching ideas using a pen and paper. It’s fast and a good way to stimulate the creative part of your brain. Only move to the computer when you have something that looks workable. Using a computer too early kills creative thought and wastes time.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you develop your floor plans:

  • Work out where north is and consider how you want use sunlight in your house
  • Keep room shapes simple – avoid odd shapes or lots of small in and out walls
  • Think about circulation and how you move between spaces – avoid long corridors and ‘dead spaces’
  • Draw in furniture – it gives an easy reference for judging room sizes and shows how a room might be used
  • Include some wall space the living areas – things like the TV, pictures and some furniture need to be placed against walls

Get input from other to improve your plans

As you work share your ideas and ask others to give you feedback. It helps the feedback process if your drawings include; room labels, dimensions and sizes, a north arrow, notes and annotations.

Floor plan software

Most of the following software is free to get started with. Some require a subscription to access the full range of services and libraries. Generally, they have similar interfaces and follow a standard process of; draw in the walls, add doors and windows, then add fittings and furniture. You can then view your plans in 3D. I’m not going to review each in detail. Let me know in the comments which ones you use and any recommendations.

A word of caution with the included libraries. These are usually for consumers in the USA or Europe. You may not be able to find the products in Australia and fixtures may not match common local sizes.

Try to pick a tool that lets you export plans, preferably as a ‘dwg’ file. This will enable a designer to easily import your basic floor plan into their CAD software. Which should save time when it comes to drafting your home plans.

Home Styler
Supports exports to “dwg” flies

Smart draw – floor plan designer
You can download the software which is useful if you have bandwidth issues – the catch is it is $9.95 a month.

Ikea room planer
Only useful if you want to design around Ikea products – has some hardware and browser limitations

Planner 5d
You need to buy subscription to access more then a very limited library

HomeByMe
Easy to use but the 3D view looks a bit dated – the add on service could be useful