An Interior Designer's Guide to Home Designer Pro vs. Chief Architect Interiors

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
— Warren Buffett

So here’s the big question, one that I counsel Interior Designers on regularly, and I mean 2-3 time per week… minimum. Between Chief Architect and Home Designer which version (of the seven) is right for you and why? Well my immediate response is; what do your projects look like and what do you hope to get out of the software?

Computer Specs & Requirements

The two versions that I promote the most for Interior Designers are Home Designer Pro and Chief Architect Interiors. Both are amazing options, but both have their limitations and upgrade abilities. If realistic renderings are your priority, then Chief Architect Interiors is worth it, but be sure that your computer meets the minimum requirements. Keep in mind that the more complex your model, the more ‘juice’ it’s going to need to process.

While the minimum, will allow you to ‘run’ the software, it really won’t help you produce the renderings most of us are hoping for. So before making the investment for one of these powerhouse modelers, make sure you have the workhorse that’ll suffice. As a reference, I’ve also loaded a screenshot of my current computer spec’s. Its a refurbished MacPro that I purchased a little over a year ago, and while I love the computer there are some things that I really missed the ball on. The first being hard drive space, I made the mistake of planning to rely on the iCloud to store my files, whelp I didn’t consider that the files are still going to take up space on my drive… oh and Chief Architect and Home Designer .plan files need to be located on your hard drive. The working files will have a hard time processing the renderings if its working over board trying to constantly connect and find them. I also wish I’d thought about my processor, I made sure to get the most recent available when I purchased my Dell XPS 15 a few months ago.

Making sure that you have more than the minimum may seem unnecessary when you’re looking at the final price tag for these upgrades, but take into account the time you’ll be spending on the machine. Having a laggy computer can cost you more money due to slower turn around and wait time as it processes your work, then if you just bit the bullet from the start. DEFINITELY WORTH INVESTING AND DOING YOUR HOMEWORK.

Home Designer Pro- $500

Now, for my Interior Designers that are brand new to Building Information Modeling (BIM), but are looking for the ability to do beautiful renderings, along with Construction Drawings with a ‘Layout’ file, and a smaller price tag… I point them in the direction of Home Designer Pro. Its the perfect option for an Interior Designer who specializes in Kitchens and Bathrooms, especially if you have experience with 2020. Similar to its upgrade, Chief Architect Interiors, HD Pro cuts out what most ID’s don’t need, such as HVAC, Structural (ie. foundation/basement, framing, and terrain wall) modeling. For those that do, I would recommend Chief Architect Premiere.

Designers who primarily specialize in textiles, soft furnishings, and/or staging, Home Designer has the ability to edit and add materials so it really easy to make your model showcase your design. Unlike the Chief Architect Softwares, however, Home Designer asks you from the start what style you’d like to set for your project. I screen shot then for you to review, but don’t worry, you can always update the molding and cabinet profiles in the Default Settings later.

All the rendering options available in Home Designer Pro are also available in Chief Architect Interiors (plus more). Each of the styles can be tweaked slightly using the ‘Rendering Technique Options’ at the bottom of the ‘Rendering Techniques’ menu.

Chief Architect Interiors

Material Texture Property Settings in Chief Architect Interiors

This version is great for the Interior Designer looking for a rendering and CAD software that can really develop some beautifully realistic renderings. I’ve made sure to show these three additional styles in the set of images to the right. Chief Architect Interiors ability to Ray Trace is a major upgrade, but knowing how to edit these materials and set them up is just as important.

No matter which version you’re using, as an Interior Designer, the finishes you choose hold centerstage… they’re also the reason you’re sitting at your computer (or on your phone or ipad) reading this right now. You want the time you send modeling, designing, and finally rendering these decisive selections to pay off with a clear image and concept that your clients will immediately fall in love with. If you’re interested in learning and comparing exactly what the differences are between Home Designer and Chief Architect, you can check out their websites. Then, I recommend jumping on a call with me where I can really council you on the best option for your business and budget.

Oh, and one last thing. When you purchase either option make sure to sign up for the SSA program. The catalogs, support, and upgrades are worth every penny.

Home Designer Pro Interior Style Options

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