Sure, I have a few (dozen) hand drawn sketches with the basic ideas of our home. They're nothing spectacular, and certainly not even detailed enough to be actual building plans. In a pinch, we might be able to build with them by eye-balling things and playing fast and loose. Nope, sorry, not playing fast and loose with the main cabin... we played that game already with our shaky tent platform!!!
I'm amazed at the plethora of truly wonderful and advanced consumer home design software on the market today. And I should know there are a plethora of them and what features they offer because I've researched a ton of them and taken a few for trial runs. They are absolutely great, allowing 3D renders for virtual walkthroughs and automatic elevation drawings, etc etc. Many even come with whole libraries of materials and furnishings so you can see your home well before you build it. Many of them are very reasonably priced.
So what's got me all cranky? Only the top-of-the-line professional suites or full-on CAD programs will truly handle round structures, building with round post and beam, building with straw bales or other monolithic walls, reciprocating roofs structures, and all the alternative electrical and plumbing we're doing since we're off grid. ARG!!! Seems the consumer suites are really only good for boxes with stick framing. I'm not taking out a mortgage just to buy the software to design my home and draft blueprints and elevations... I'm not a pro and don't want to be!
Sure, I can find a free program to MODEL my house in 3D, but it doesn't have any of the dimensioning tools and I'd have to custom model (or import) any materials or furnishings I wanted. Too much time and effort, and I still couldn't pull a materials and cut-list from it. I can find a couple of cheap 2D design programs to LAYOUT my circular floorplans, but they don't offer automated elevation drawings or any framing other than stick-built (even circular house uses "square" beam and stud layout instead of radial).
So, it looks like I'm going to have to dig out my drafting board and tools to do it all by hand, or Santa is going to have to bring me a $2k+ CAD program.
One thing I have found to work wonders when trying to design for unusual spaces is life size mockup. This way you can actually experience if the space will be adequate.
Your doing a reciprocating roof? Wash can tell you that was one of my favorite ideas! lol
Good CAD programs really are expensive.
I used an older version of Designer to make all of my drawings for our Cabin. (see "Building a cabin in the mountains")in the Forestry Forum. I'll send you a copy by email if you think you can use it. Orthographic can be used to draw anything...just not in 3D.
This is good information to find out now for us since we are toying with the idea of building our own house which would have similar off-grid components. At first I thought you said $52k for the cost of the program which makes $2k look better. Until I think about actually spending that much.
There is always the back door way to get software: review it. For example, contact one of the subsistence magazines--there are several, I'm sure--and ask if they would be interested in an article evaluating design software with their particular market (homesteaders) in mind. I imagine you can find one to bite, but if you don't your blog alone may be sufficient to get a software maker interested. With that in the bag, contact several software makers across a range of prices: low, middle and high end, explain your assignment and ask for a copy of their software to review.
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