Go mobile, 3-D and paperless or go home

by rheselbarth@solagroup.com

In the not-too-distant future, it will be expected that engineers have instant access to a home’s construction documents, that an architect or designer can modify these documents anywhere at any time, that takeoff and material lists can be generated at any moment, that 3D images are available for anyone including the homeowner to view, and that all of this is done using cloud technology. And if you’re not using a tablet device to do all this, you and your rolled-up drawings behind the seat of your pickup truck might be left in the dust. To get a handle on these advancements and expectations, Residential Design + Build spoke to several manufacturers of design software. Following are their thoughts, in alphabetical order by manufacturer name, on design software today and in the future.

 

Autodesk

What are the hot trends in the design software market?

“One of the most impactful trends in the design software market today is the use of cloud computing in Building Information Models and processes,” says Joy Stark, industry marketing manager, architecture solutions. “In an increasingly mobile world, the use of the cloud enables designers, architects and engineers to access design information and program functionality from anywhere. At Autodesk, our customers rely on the cloud’s infinite computing power to improve collaboration with project stakeholders, and conduct heavy tasks like rendering and analysis.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“Autodesk Building Design Suite 2013. Autodesk recently released its newest portfolio of design software in a suite format. Suites provide customers across a wide range of industries with the tools they need to design, visualize and simulate their ideas to help win more business. For example, Building Design Suite 2013 complements the BIM process to help the users design, analyze, visualize and build better buildings. We recognize the importance of interoperability in our software,” Stark says.

 

Where are design software trends going?

“BIM/Ongoing maintenance of buildings. Fewer and fewer architecture and engineering firms are designing 2D; in the future, 3D models will prevail,” Stark says. “The opportunities for leveraging the data in the 3D models are limitless. Design software development will increasingly take advantage of the cloud to manage design data, and facilitate collaboration, analysis and visualization. The capabilities provided by the “virtual construction” of building projects will expand to ensure greater communication amongst dispersed project teams and help keep all parties on-time and on-budget.”

 

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Chief Architect

What are the hottest trends in the design software market?

“What we see at Chief Architect is the importance of providing clients with a 3D image of their new home project,” says Scott Harris, vice president. “If a client can visualize how the project will look, they are much more likely to move forward. Most designers find that clients have a general idea of what they want, but typically cannot visualize how the finished project will look; design software provides this tool for professionals.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“Chief Architect offers a professional line of software for full residential and interior design. We also provide a line of products for the DIY market. It’s a great relationship because so many home owners are using the Chief Architect Home Designer products; clients can send their design ideas to the professional for the required details needed for construction,” Harris says.

 

Where are design software trends going? What’s next?

“You can expect more clients will be using software themselves especially now that home design software is widely available for mobile and tablets,” Harris continues. “In fact, Chief Architect is making a free iPad version available to the DIY market. The continued importance of having software for 3D visualization is really a key factor in growing a professional home design or remodeling business.”

 

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Graphisoft

What are the hot trends in the design software market?

“The design software market cannot ignore the trends pushing for design freedom within technology that supports independent and free exchange of data between designers, engineers, owners and builders,” says Yanni Alexakis, product manager, Graphisoft North America. “Software developers may announce new and exciting features, but if they create obstacles to the ability to be creative within the design process, they are not useful. We see Open BIM becoming a more widely adopted trend in the industry – because it allows each party to select their best tool for the job – which logically can produce the best final outcome.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“ArchiCAD allows architects, designers and builders to create and collaborate. Graphisoft answers the need for design tools that facilitate LEED certification, Passive House and energy efficient design with EcoDesigner,” Alexakis says. “EcoDesigner helps architects plan elements of a building in consideration of variables that impact energy use and consumption.”

 

Where are design software trends going? What’s next?

“We see the trend moving toward cloud-based services, products and applications, where the cloud is the ‘safe haven’ for data access. Broad acceptance and use of official standards such as IFC will become more prevalent, and to facilitate that BIM will be codified and required as a deliverable by most permit issuing agencies. All these trends must be accompanied by a robust data production and exchange system that can be used throughout the lifecycle of the building for maintenance, energy performance and asset management,” Alexakis says.

 

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MiTek

What are the hot trends in the design software market?

“A major push right now is to ‘take the skilled labor off the site’ by using CAD software to ‘package’ the structural framework at the component manufacturing facility,” says Greg Renner, vice president, marketing. “That way, precision-engineered/precision-manufactured roof trusses, floor trusses and wall panels are delivered to the site, where they can be assembled quickly, with much lower field labor costs and less on-site decision-making.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“Today we want to make sure builders, architects, and engineers are aware of the industry-leading capabilities of the Sapphire Suite, an extremely rich 3D CAD design platform. We actually offer builders, architects and engineers a free ‘viewer’ tool. It’s called Sapphire Viewer, which is a MiTek software product designed for the builder, architect or engineer to collaborate in real time on house plans with their component manufacturer using the Sapphire Structure module. Through this collaboration, in a digital pre-building process, the Buildability of the structure is ensured. With Buildability, the builder can rest assured that the structure can in fact be built as drawn,” Renner says.

 

Where are design software trends going? What’s next?

“Design trends are all moving toward integrating data-rich, back-office CAD systems with 3D images that are integral to the builder’s sales and option-selection efforts, e.g. his 3D options selection system, fly-throughs and his website. It’s now entirely possible for the 3D image presented on a builder’s public website to be the same 3D CAD file that is used to model trusses and wall panels,” Renner concludes.

 

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ProKitchen Software

What are the hot trends in the design software market?

“We see several important trends in the home design software market: 1. Ever more close integration of the point of sale design software market, including software used for residential and interior design, with ERP pricing systems of big distribution chains and manufacturing companies,” says Chris Midgley, vice president, marketing and sales. “2. The quality of 3D presentation has been improving with an unbelievable speed aided by the ever more powerful computer devices. Now ProKitchen’s 3D renderings show photo-realistic shadows, material highlighting, reflections, speckles, and even light rays; and, 3. Personalized computing devices such as smart phones and computing tablets are playing an important role for modern consumers. ProKitchen Software expects a significant portion of design tasks be performed using these devices. Already now, a new class of Apps appears which provide the mean for designers to sketch an outline of a room or a house, and even to create a design of a modest size.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“ProKitchen Software released a series of smart phone/tables solutions such as iProK3D and for both Apple’s devices and Android based devices. With these apps, the customers can receive interior designs and make the final decisions with respect to the color and material choices for their interior designs. We released multiple design- ERP (pricing systems) integrations for ProKitchen with such cabinet manufacturers as Wellborn, Medallion, Huntwood, Jim Bishop and many others,” Midgley says.

 

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Softplan Systems

What are the hot trends in the design software market?

“Builders, architects, remodelers and designers are using design software to work smarter and focus on their client’s needs,” says John Jones, vice president. “Users of design software are getting savvier and clients are more discerning. Users are focusing on creating professional looking 3D renderings to show to their clients. And they’re using the materials list to get faster, more accurate bids to their clients.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“SoftPlan’s latest release, SoftPlan 2012, gives users more intuitive access to their design. A new interface, enhanced real time 3D, and expanded libraries featuring manufacturers’ content ensure that users put their best foot forward when presenting designs to clients. As always, SoftPlan gives users the ability to create impeccable construction documents. But now SoftPlan integrates the design more than ever before, you can import content from Google Sketchup, and automatically generate REScheck energy reports, and more,” Jones says.

 

Where are design software trends going? What’s next?

“With the way technology is transitioning, it seems the next logical design software trend will be to allow users to view and modify the design anywhere, anytime. SoftPlan sees a future where the designer creates a house plan and simultaneously, the engineers can critique the design or modify electrical layouts, tradesmen can see changes instantly, and the clients can see their home come together,” Jones says.

 

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VisionREZ

What are the hot trends in the design software market?

“One trend I have seen is sharing the BIM model with engineering,” says Richard Boothman, AEC Consultant. “The architectural designer creates a home, shares and collaborates with engineering to improve the original design, or to just populate it with accurate materials for construction and also for takeoff data. Now, not only do you have a rich and accurate set of documents for field construction professionals to use, you get the byproduct of an accurate material list that mitigates waste, theft, weather ruining a shipment, and you can do a Just In Time delivery schedule to make sure a pile of material isn’t lying around on site for weeks.”

 

What’s the latest design software product you offer?

“What AmeriCAD/ITW Building Components Groups offers is Instinct, which is the ITW brand of BIM. Instinct Components and Instinct Enabled Partners and Products can use the same data in their processes and software solutions. It starts with VisionREZ for the residential BIM design package and our Options Manager. You can use the same tools to accurately frame the model either in house or at your structural engineer’s office,” Boothman says.

 

Where are design software trends going? What’s next?

“With all of the great electronic data sets in-house, how do you deliver them to the field? Print them out in a rolled-up set of docs that end up in the back seat of a truck? Don’t do it. Invest in field tablets or iPads. Autodesk Design Review, AutoCAD WS, and PlanGrid are great cloud-based solutions that can provide most of this data to the field where it gets put together,” Boothman says.

 

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Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser has added more than 30 features to its Javelin design software that simplify data input, expand design capabilities and enable wider sharing of output results. The enhancements allow users to design wood structural frames even faster and more efficiently—specifying products and tracking vertical loads from ridge to foundation. Circle XXX on inquiry card

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