FloorPlan 3D, a more sophisticated tool than many of its 3D-planning rivals, covers both interior and exterior design. While the packaging seems to imply that professional builders and site managers will gain the most from planning, costing and virtually rendering dwellings to be built from scratch, FloorPlan will be at least as useful for the DIYer keen to sketch out an extension.

Designing a room from scratch, let alone an entire residence, can be pretty daunting if you've little experience of draughtsmanship and are new to CAD (computer-aided design). So it's fortunate that FloorPlan comes with a clear and detailed reference manual that walks you through each and every stage of the process. There are guided tutorials based around working templates as well as diagrams and instructions showing you the basics of selecting the right tools.

Indeed, FloorPlan has far more than simple building blocks to offer. Drill down into its submenus and you will discover options to pick staircases or roof tiles to match the overall style of your home.

The program will let you view your construction as a Plan drawing, in Orthogonal view or in Perspective mode, and you can set the Camera to show you which parts of the building will catch the sun, and where you'll need extra insulation. The expense of each item is added to a database - exportable to Excel - so you can cost out your design. Once you've rendered your architectural fantasy, you can post it online as a VRML (virtual reality modelling language) file.

IMSI FloorPlan 3D : Specs

  • 166MHz Pentium processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 100MB hard disk space
  • 166MHz Pentium processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 100MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

For its price, FloorPlan 3D is a mighty impressive design tool. It's been put together in such a way that its myriad options won't scare off layout novices, but it won't restrict those who know their way around construction issues and need to visualise every aspect of a build before forking out for bricks and mortar.

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