Tag Archives: Chief Architect

Chief Architect X8: New Step-by-Step Training Book

Residential Design Using Chief Architect X8

Terry Munson has come out with yet another useful guidebook for those who want to learn to use Chief Architect X8, the most recent version of the great Chief Architect Premiere professional 3D modeling software.  This is the software I have been using in my 3D rendering and home visualization work since 2007.  I and many others have found Terry’s books extremely helpful in getting the most out of a complex piece of software, so I’m happy to publicize his latest version.

Here’s what the new book has to offer (in Terry’s words):


Residential Design Using Chief Architect X8 book

Terry Munson’s latest step-by-step guide, available on Amazon.com

First off, I want to thank all of you that have continued to buy my books, year after year. Because of your patronage, I have continued to write the Chief Architect Step By Step Learning Books. This began with Chief Architect X3 and has continued to X8. I have also written 3 advanced books and a roof book, all still available for sale.

“Residential Design Using Chief Architect X8” is now available for sale!  This is the latest addition to the Chief Architect Step By Step Learning Books. What can I say? After countless hours of research and writing, I believe this is my best work yet! Not only does this book include all of the new tools and enhancements of Chief Architect X8, it also includes a different home design project than that used in any of my previous books.  Unfortunately, the price for the book is going up, slightly. Sorry about that, but its the same old story you’ve heard before, costs go up, so price has to go up. But read on to see the extra value you will be getting with the DVD that is included with each book.

Residential Design Using Chief Architect X8 DVD

Chief Architect X8 Workbook and a New Study Guide Included

I have really loaded this DVD. It now includes the X8 Workbook (a $40 value), and a new Study Guide (easily a $40 value). The Workbook has been rewritten and includes additional projects. The Workbook not only solidifies the user’s ability to use Chief Architect proficiently but also presents new tools and concepts through numerous step by step projects. I wrote the Study Guide because of several requests from teachers who teach Chief Architect. They wanted a more condensed version of my main book in order for their students to learn more quickly due to time restraints. So the Study Guide takes you quickly through laying out a floor plan, adding floors, adding a roof and decks, and touches a little on interior design.

Residential Design Using Chief Architect X8 project example

A Great Value for 3 Books in One

Even though you will now get “Residential Design Using Chief Architect X8” plus the workbook, plus the Study Guide, the price is only $74.95! But hurry! Only a limited number of books were published in the first printing. The price will need to go up for future printings of the book.


You can learn more about all of Terry Munson’s Chief Architect Step By Step Tutorial Learning Books at www.chiefapprentice.com.


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3D renderings from an architect?

IS IT REASONABLE TO EXPECT AN ARCHITECT TO PROVIDE COMPUTER RENDERINGS OF REMODEL IDEAS?

confused-image

Recently, I received an inquiry from a reader asking whether it was reasonable to expect architects to provide computer renderings of remodel ideas. My short answer is… yes and no.

Let’s walk through this important question from the perspectives of everyone involved.

The Client

When you’re the client, you are handing over large quantities of your money and time to an individual to perform a professional service for you: design a living space that fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your tastes. Let’s stop for a moment. Notice how the word “you” or “your” was used seven times in the preceding sentence. That’s because YOU are the single most important individual in this project. You are the paying customer.

A reputable architect will pride him or herself on meeting your needs. In order to best understand your vision, a good architect appreciates as much client input as possible. The more precise you can be in describing your lifestyle, tastes, and budget, the better an architect can design a space that meets your needs.

Once your architect develops a design for you, it’s up to them to make sure you thoroughly understand that vision. If you don’t, you must say so. Not everyone has spatial visualization skills and the ability to see a vision from a blueprint or CAD drawing. If a 3D rendering will help you better understand exactly what you can expect for your enormous investment, then it is absolutely reasonable to expect an architect to help you secure a 3D computer rendering of the remodel ideas.  If they don’t provide this service themselves, they should at least be able to point you to someone who can provide it.

It is also reasonable to expect architects to work with 3D renderings that you obtain from a third party if they do not provide the rendering as a part of their own service.

The Architect

To make sure I clearly understood the architects’ perspective on this issue, I asked for opinions in an architecture-related group on LinkedIn that I’m a member of. Answers were fairly polarized, and seemed to depend on whether the architect was using a 3D type of software like Chief Architect to create their plans versus using more traditional 2D CAD or hand-drawn plans.

One architect said, “With software that works in 3D, the 3D views are not a large cost to me. I am able to create most 3D visuals with the click of a button. These are not idealized renderings. They are enough to get the ideas across when 2D can’t. I can and do raise my base fee. I market this as my advanced approach to doing business. And since it is included, I am not as quickly seen by clients as ‘nickel and diming’ them for every little thing (their words, not mine).”

Another designer commented, “I include 3D renderings in all my plans. I don’t see why you can’t. It tells the whole story of the project and basically it is already there for the most part. So why not include them!? As far as prints [blueprints and line elevations], I usually give 2-3 sets with my price and more at their expense.”

Others were open-minded about working with 3D renderings but didn’t feel any responsibility to provide them. This is an honest and fair position, as it is not yet standard practice for architects to use software that creates 3D renderings, so to provide them for clients means an additional cost in time, money, and scope for the architect. The legal interpretation of today’s reasonable ‘Standard of Care’ for architects does not require the use of 3D.

However, 3D technology will continue to have an effect on the architectural industry’s definition of a reasonable ‘standard of care’ for architects when working with clients. As more clients request 3D renderings and gravitate to those architects who do provide them, I believe that there will eventually be a paradigm shift in standard accepted practices. Remember, at one point blueprints and CAD drawings were not considered standard practice, but today all architects factor these into their general rates.  However, it is probably NOT reasonable at this point to expect to receive 3D renderings at no additional cost, since the architect or designer incurs extra costs for creating them.

The 3D Renderer

3D renderings are excellent tools for communicating ideas, as well as a smart project cost containment strategy for both clients and architects. Until the accepted paradigm makes providing 3D renderings a standard architectural practice, clients will often need to take the initiative to ask for them. If you don’t see it spelled out in your contract, the safest bet is to assume it is NOT part of the package the architect is offering.

But if your architect doesn’t do 3D, that doesn’t mean you need to go without renderings! Ask your architect if he or she would consider contracting these out, or ask for recommendations so you can find and work directly with a specialized 3D rendering service provider yourself.  A good 3D renderer should be able to create a 3D model and high-quality renderings from the standard plans or blueprints prepared by any architect.

If the price your architect quotes you for providing 3D renderings seems prohibitively high, even for such a valuable service, you are certainly free to shop around for a better price.  Just remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”  As with so many things, the cheapest price isn’t usually the best choice.

blindfold-guyIn my experience, many clients swear that their investment in obtaining 3D renderings is the best money they spent on the whole project, in terms of time and money saved and headaches averted. I’ve never heard anyone say,

“3D renderings? Oh, no thanks—I prefer to be completely surprised when I’m spending thousands of dollars!”

IN SUMMARY

Remember, a good architect will want to create a positive experience with you. Don’t hesitate to ask about 3D renderings. Your architect will appreciate you being up front with your concerns so that he or she can address them before you move too deeply into a project. This clear communication is a recipe for peace-of-mind and a successful outcome for everyone.


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“Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5”

 Posted by Kathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook
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New Chief Architect X5 training book

I just received word from author Terry Munson that his newest Chief Architect book, “Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5,” is now available.  Here’s Terry’s description of the book:


image of chief architect X5 book cover

This much-awaited book is finally available. Why did it take so long? Because it has been rewritten and revamped.  

At the request of readers, the book now includes a comprehensive index. A new Quick Start chapter has been added, which quickly shows the power of Chief Architect X5 while the reader creates a vacation cabin plan. A Workbook is included where you can practice and enhance the skills taught throughout the book. All the new features added to version X5 are highlighted throughout the book.

The biggest feature, however, is the beautiful and modern 2-story with basement residence that the reader will design/draw from start to finish throughout the book. Anyone would be proud to own such a home. You will see how easy it is to make your dream a possibility using Chief Architect X5’s 3D home design software.  

Coverage Includes: 

  • Finding your way around the Chief Architect X5 interface
  • Managing your drawing projects
  • Creating the building shell
  • Developing and working with stairs, roofs, decks, and cabinets
  • Adding a stepped foundation and applying a monolithic slab to the garage
  • Adding electrical and lighting
  • Creating a site plan and developing the terrain
  • Creating working drawings
  • Creating color renderings for design presentations
  • Exploring your model in real time using walkthroughs and orbiting tools
  • Learn how to effectively use layers, layer sets, annotation sets, and text styles
  • Developing schedules
  • Dimensioning and text
  • Learn the new functions added to X5, including roof ridge caps, progressive ray tracing, running dimensions, walkthrough path, auto NKBA elevation dimensions, and much more

The book, which includes a DVD containing a color PDF of the entire book (great for searching on your computer), the Workbook, and all of the necessary working files, sells for $49.95.

If you’ve seen any of Terry’s previous books (this is his FIFTH!), you know how clear, detailed, and easy to follow his writing style is.  Even a seasoned Chief Architect user like me learned many new and helpful things from Terry’s  X4 book — I keep it next to my desk as a handy reference.


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What’s new in Chief Architect X5

By CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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new version of chief architect x5 to be released soon

image of Chief Architect X5 software product coverChief Architect has just posted a video peek at the new features that will be available in the upcoming X5 Premier version, which they expect to release in Fall 2012.

http://www.chiefarchitect.com/products/whats-new-x5.html

Some of the new or improved features in Chief Architect X5 include:

  • shadow boards and ridge caps (finally!)
  • greater customization of railings
  • auto corner boards and quoins
  • new auto dimension tools and options
  • plan display of door and window casings
  • complex cabinet door configurations
  • automatic catalog  updates
  • PDF file import
  • callout labels for cameras
  • progressive raytracing and better control of raytrace settings
  • improved walkthrough tools, including keyframes.

The upgrade to X5 is automatic for anyone with Chief Architect’s SSA support package.

Chief Architect has been my modeling software of choice for the past 5 years, and this looks like a nice set of improvements and new features.  

UPDATE 8/15/2012:  X5 Beta was released to current SSA subscribers today.  check your digital locker if you’re a Chief Architect subscriber.


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3D Home Visualization

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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“Visualize Your Home Improvement Project in 3D”

photo of audience wearing 3D glasses - "The amazing miracle of 3D home visualization!"This is the title of a seminar on 3D home visualization that I’ll be giving this weekend at the Rochester Home Builders Association 2012 Home & Garden Show.

I’m truly excited to be giving a seminar at the show.  I feel that homeowners are just beginning to glimpse the value that 3D home visualization can bring to their home improvement projects, so I appreciate the chance to share even more information with them about the potential of this technology — in addition to chatting with interested folks who stop by the CastleView 3D booth, of course.

Basic topics I’ll cover in my talk include:

  • What 3D technology is — and what it isn’t
  • Some current uses of 3D technology for home building, remodeling, renovation, and redecorating
  • Specific examples from projects I’ve worked on with my clients, with lots of before-and-after images
  • A real-time demonstration of how 3D home visualization works, using Chief Architect X4 software
  • An overview of currently available options for using 3D visualization technology, from using simple DIY software packages (such as Chief Architect’s Home Designer Essentials) to working with specialty firms like CastleView 3D

I’m really looking forward to sharing my passion for 3D visualization with people at the seminar, as well as answering their questions and hearing about their home improvement projects.

When I wrote about last year’s show, I said:

Next year I plan to be an exhibitor myself, so I’ll be able to talk with people directly and get them excited about the benefits of “seeing it before you build it” with 3D visualization!

And here I am!

This promises to be a great show — in addition to all the seminars, exhibits, and garden displays, there will be culinary demonstrations (looking at this list makes my mouth water!), plus wine tastings from a variety of Finger Lakes wineries.  Can’t beat that!

Show info:

  • Saturday 3/24, 10 am – 7 pm
  • Sunday 3/25, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Rochester Riverside Convention Center
  • Admission is $8 (but save $2 with this coupon)
  • CastleView 3D will be exhibiting in Booth #815

If you’re in the Rochester, New York, area this weekend, I hope to see you at my seminar (1:30 pm on both Saturday and Sunday), or stop by the CastleView 3D booth #815 to say hi.

UPDATE:  If you weren’t able to make it to the Home Show and would like to know more about 3D home visualization, leave me a note in the Comments section below, or contact me through the CastleView 3D website.


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“Learning Chief Architect X4 Step by Step”

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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Start the New Year off right:  Learn something!

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Chief Architect software user and author Terry Munson.  Terry’s latest book for Chief Architect, “Learning Chief Architect X4 Step by Step,” has recently been published and is available at www.chiefapprentice.com/Downloads.html.


Terry says:

Learning Chief Architect X4 Step by StepMy first book, Learning Chief Architect Step by Step, was based on Chief Architect X3. I then decided to write a new book focusing on the more recent version, X4 [released in July 2011], so that all the new features and enhancements could be included. So I now have two books for CA out, all in one year!  And I’ve almost finished a third book, Becoming a Chief Architect X4 Expert Step by Step, which I hope to publish by March 2012.

My intent with these books was to provide myself with readily available reference material on how to use the different tools and functions of Chief Architect software.  I kept forgetting how to do certain processes and was always spending time searching for answers in Chief’s help materials.  I’m a draftsman, not a writer, but as I got more and more into writing the book, I realized that others might appreciate something like this as well, which gave me even more incentive to keep writing.

The book is a step-by-step tutorial that takes the user from setting up defaults and templates to actually designing a house from start to finish. The user will draw a floor plan for a 2-story house, add cabinets, fixtures, appliances, stairs, roof, dormers, floor and ceiling platforms, foundation, site plan, terrain features, and whatever else is necessary for a complete home design. The book takes the user from setting up construction documents to presenting the model in 3D. They work with materials, trim and moldings, etc. It is a complete and comprehensive book for beginning and intermediate level users.

Material for the book came from various sources, such as Architectural Design Presentations (by Donald A. Totter), Working with Chief Architect (by Star Training Institute), CA’s reference manual and training videos, as well as from my own experience with using the software for the past 7 years.

After a frustrating search for a publisher, I decided to self-publish the book through Gorham Printing. The books are very high quality print (black and white), with a very secure binding — good quality work.

The softcover book comes with a CD that contains a PDF of the book (in full color), and includes the files needed for the exercises.  Both books are also available in e-book format. One nice thing about the e-book is that I was able to price it much lower than the softcover book.

When the first book became available, I got a rush of orders and was pretty excited. I got nothing but positive feedback for the book. Then Chief Architect’s academic dealer, Debbie Gray of Gray Technologies, called me.  She sounded even more excited than I was about the book. She told me that it was just what the academic market — high school and college teachers — needed to teach CA to their home design and drafting classes.  Because of her efforts, my book is now used in home design classes throughout the U.S. She also got me hooked up with CA’s authorized academic dealers, who are marketing the book.

I created a website, www.chiefapprentice.com, to help market the books, and plan to add an affiliate program as another method of marketing.  This is a very selective market, so it’s important to get the word out that these books are available.  If you have questions about the book, you can contact me directly at (253) 852-4022 or terrymunson2@msn.com.


Thanks, Terry. If you’re a Chief Architect user or student, I strongly encourage you to visit Terry’s website, www.chiefapprentice.com, to buy his book, and please spread the word to any other Chief users you know. If you’re already familiar with Terry’s books, please leave a review here in the Comments to assist others who are searching for help with learning Chief Architect.


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Time-lapse video demo of 3D architectural modeling

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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An example of 3D architectural modeling “in action”

Today I’m sharing a cool video made by one of my “virtual colleagues,” Rod Kervin of Kervin Home Design in Courtenay, British Columbia.  Rod shared his video on Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum, and I thought it might be interesting to an even broader audience.

In the video, created using Debut Video capture software, you can watch Rod model an entire house in only 12 minutes — instead of the 82 minutes it actually took (and Rod is a very seasoned Chief user).  It’s a great opportunity to watch the process of designing a home using Chief Architect, whether you’re considering purchasing the software or simply curious about the design process.

Rod had this to say about the value of the video for him personally:

One thing that this time lapse does is reveal to me where I am taking a lot of time to get a simple thing done. The roof is one example, where I drew the roof over the back patio several times before getting it right….  This is also one of my favorite designs to play with. I am trying my best to keep to simple form in my designs, and this is an example of that effort.

Doug Park, Principal Software Architect at Chief Architect, also found Rod’s video valuable, and shared this comment on Chieftalk:

I found this to be interesting to watch as it helps me to understand how someone works. I could see this as a tool to show us how you work so that we can learn how to better design the program and perhaps how to improve our training…  This particular type of video is fast enough that I can see in minutes what would otherwise take hours.

Thanks, Rod, for giving us all a useful glimpse into the process of 3D architectural modeling by sharing your cool time-lapse video.


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Had enough turkey yet?

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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A 3D modeling project halfway around the world

In honor of American Thanksgiving last Thursday (the one day of the year when an estimated 88% of U.S. households are eating roast turkey, the traditional Thanksgiving meal), today I’m featuring some 3D modeling work I did for a client in Turkey.

This client is a builder, specializing in designing and building elegant villas on the coast of Turkey.  He had floorplans for his new project in Bodrum, and had already commissioned a few exterior renders.  But he needed some virtual interior decorating to show off the interiors.  He hired CastleView 3D to do the interior modeling only, since he preferred to do his own renders.

But of course, once the interiors were modeled, they looked so beautiful and inviting that I couldn’t resist generating a few renders.  Here are a couple of them.  The views out the windows are photos of the actual views from the house!

3D Modeling and Rendering of Kitchen/Dining Area of Turkish Villa

The image above is a kitchen with bar, dining area, and breakfast nook, decorated in a modern style but with classic Mediterranean touches.  (The wonderful “Sputnik” chandeliers were modeled for me by my friend and virtual colleague, Bryce Engstrom.)

3D Modeling and Rendering of a Tower Bedroom in a Turkish Villa

This image is a tower bedroom overlooking the Mediterranean.  Ne kadar güzel!  (Google Translate tells me that that’s Turkish for “how beautiful!”)  I can just imagine curling up on that round bed in the tower to read and gaze out at the amazing view.

3D Modeling and Rendering of a Tower Bedroom in a Turkish Villa

I also modeled and “decorated” a marble entry hall with inlaid floors, and a cinema room.  You can see my client’s renders of those rooms, plus the exterior renders and his versions of the rooms shown above, here.

Here’s the website’s description of this particular villa:

Mesa Construction has selected a 4 hectares land in a bay where the most luxury villas of Yalikavak are located…  From this land there is a wonderful view of the bay of Yalikavak and nature is really beautiful. Mesa Construction will build a luxury villa inspired by french style “belles demeures”, equipped with all american comfort (central air conditioning, smart home system, jacuzzi, elevator, …) but also full of the turkish charm. A unique combination to fully enjoy Bodrum’s life!

As of this posting, I believe this villa is still for sale, so hurry up and make an offer if it appeals to you!  You’d better believe I’d buy it myself if I could.

This was a great 3D modeling project to work on, even more amazing because it involved collaborating with someone literally on the other side of the globe.  It’s my fantasy that someday I’ll get to visit Turkey and see some of these beautiful villas in person.


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My virtual water cooler — Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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In praise of Chieftalk

When you run a solo shop and spend most of your day working alone in a home office, the work may be stimulating but the workday can get a bit lonely.  Although my husband will talk my ear off about pickleball and baseball, he has absolutely no interest in discussing the uses and relative merits of slabs vs. soffits vs. polylines.  In fact, I’d be stunned if I found out that he even knew what those terms meant (in relation to 3D modeling, anyhow)!

But luckily, when I was just starting out in this business some years ago, I found a wonderful resource provided by the Chief Architect company for users of its software:  the ChiefTalk users forum.  There is also a similar resource for users of CA’s consumer-level “Home Designer” products, called HomeTalk.  I actually started out on HomeTalk when I was still using Home Designer Pro, and “graduated” to ChiefTalk a few months later when I upgraded to the professional level software.

I’ve visited a lot of user forums over the years, and I’ve never found any that are both useful and friendly to the degree that ChiefTalk and HomeTalk are.  I learned quickly that some core users are apparently ALWAYS online, willing to answer questions about how to use the software or to help solve problems (which are almost always attributable to user error, of course). These folks rarely get impatient, no matter how many times a question may have been asked before.  Although they might respond with “Have you tried searching the archives?” or “What version of the software are you using?” or “We can help you better if you attach an image or plan,” once a new user understands the forum etiquette and protocol, they are always generous with their time and expertise.

what the heck happened? image - my first question on the Chieftalk forum

Image from one of my first “What the heck happened here?” posts on Chieftalk

As my skill level grew, I stopped asking so many questions and found I was able to start giving back by providing occasional answers and advice in my area of expertise, rendering and raytracing.  By then, the ChiefTalk regulars felt like friends — people I looked forward to interacting with on a regular basis.  We joke around and get silly sometimes, occasionally have heated arguments and discussions, but ultimately get along just fine most of the time.  There is actually a separate sub-forum called “Chatroom” on ChiefTalk (and another one called “Way Off Topic,” accessible via secret password only) for discussions outside the typical software Q&A realm.  We’ve shared important life events like weddings and new babies with each other through pictures.  Some of us have ventured off in different directions, learning together and sharing our successes and failures in constructive ways.

So Lew, Allen, David, Louis, Kay, Bryce, Wendy, Pat, Jintu, Jonathan, Chris, Scott, Pam, and all the rest — even though I’ve never actually met any of you IRL, after all these years you definitely feel like my friends and colleagues.  I’m indebted to each one of you for generously sharing not only your knowledge and expertise, but other important parts of who you are.

I encourage everyone to check out ChiefTalk, if you’re a Chief Architect user — or whatever user forum seems most appropriate for your interests — and work hard to create your own group of  “virtual water cooler” buddies.


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Remodel, or move?

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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I was contacted recently by someone looking for 3D modeling and rendering services.  He and his girlfriend had lived in their home for 13 years, and had done a number of upgrades to it.  But they were at a point where the home’s floorplan configuration wasn’t working for them anymore.  They wanted a larger family room and deck, an expanded first-floor master bedroom, bath, and walk-in closet, and a new main entry.  They were debating between undertaking yet another major remodel/addition project versus selling and moving to a different house.

Proposed remodel floorplan drawn up by architect

Proposed remodel floorplan drawn up by architect

Proposed remodel elevations drawn by architect

Proposed remodel elevations drawn by architect

They had already consulted with an architect about their remodeling options, and he had done some nice drawings for them.  But the clients were having trouble visualizing the changes from what the architect had drawn up (a floorplan and two exterior elevations).  They asked the architect for 3D images, “like the ones we see on HGTV,” but the architect refused, saying he just didn’t do those. So they  did an internet search and found my website.

Working from the architect’s drawings, plus photos of the current house, I was able to model the house in Chief Architect and produce some basic renderings of what the proposed modifications might look like.

Their place is an old farmhouse that has already been remodeled and added on to a number of times in its 100+ years, so there are numerous roof pitches and floor levels to contend with (always something of a modeling challenge).  But I think the final images capture the essence of what the remodeled spaces would look like.  Here are a few examples:

Front view with new entry

Front view with new entry

New entryway looking up

New entryway looking up

New family room looking towards kitchen and entryway

New family room looking towards kitchen and entryway

New bedroom with bath and walk-in closet

New bedroom with bath and walk-in closet

I haven’t yet heard whether this family has decided to go ahead with the remodel, or move to a new home.  But at least with these 3D images in hand, they have more information to use while considering their decision.

One final note:  The images I provided for this client are not high-end, photorealistic raytraces.  These are just simple 3d renders to show the basic layout of the plans — sufficient for this stage of their decision-making.  Detailed raytraces are more appropriate for the later stages of project planning, when trying to make decisions about final finishes, lighting, and decor.


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