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Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior review



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Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior
  • Grand Designs 3D Renovation & Interior


Our Score:


Grand Designs is a much admired TV program in this office. We all appreciate good design and admire the craftsmanship, ingenuity, and hard work of the people that are involved in making these dream homes. So, when we were offered the chance to take a look at a Grand Designs branded 3D CAD application with which to design ones own dream abode, we jumped at the chance.

Published by Eleco Visualisation Software and based on its fully fledged Arcon 3D Architect software, Grand Designs 3D is available in three different versions. There's the full blown Self Build & Development version which costs nearly £200, the somewhat knobbled Kitchen & Bathroom version available for £25, or the Renovation & Interior version we're looking at today that costs £50.

The limitations of the Kitchen & Bathroom version are fairly self-explanatory but the differences between the other two versions are more subtle. Essentially it boils down to the £200 version adding more options for adding custom features (walls, windows, doors, roofs, etc.) to ensure your design is entirely accurate to the final product and also having more potential for integration with a professional design workflow. That is, things like the ability to import models, more export options, and planning application-quality drawing output.

For the budding amateur just looking to mock up some ideas, though, the only thing you'll probably miss from the full package is it lets you view both the 2D layout and 3D model simultaneously.

As you'd expect, then, Grand Designs 3D lets you build up 3D models of your dream project by first laying out the structure in 2D. The interface is very much what you see is what you get so building up a simple structure is as quick as outlining a few walls, adding a floor or two and topping it off with a roof.

If you want to go back and change something it's a simple case of flipping back to construction mode, selecting the piece you'd like to move and dragging it to a new location. This is one area where the program's less than intuitive interface does cause problems though, as it took me ages to work out how to delete a roof so I could change the underlying wall structure. And before you tell me to read the manual - something so simple shouldn't require that.

Once you've laid out your main structure you can start filling your house with all the lovely furniture you'd like. Unfortunately the list of items is a little limited - there are no free standing baths for the bathroom, for instance - but there's enough so that you can quickly and easily get an idea of the sort of space you're going to be working with.

This was another area that seemed strangely unintuitive, though, as again I couldn't for the life of me work out how to delete items in 2D mode so instead had to resort to walking through in 3D view and selecting and deleting items of furniture that way.

As well as letting you design your dream house, Grand Designs 3D also enables you to plan out your garden and do some basic landscaping with ponds, parasols, and pavements all available to finish the look.


April 22, 2009, 5:35 am

Hmm, interesting. Personally, I don't see much use for this to the average DIYer (well, at least not this version). Surely it'd much easier - not to mention cheaper - to jot a few things down on some paper? If you want something that dresses it up and renders fancy lighting (not that it looks particularly fancy anyway) then you might as well play The Sims. The whole thing stinks of a rushed, half-assed commercial cash-in.

Having said that, it does sound like the full version would be of benefit to more serious types, not that I can speak from any experience.


April 22, 2009, 5:43 am

Could it be, the rare software review?

You guys really need to review more software!


April 22, 2009, 2:26 pm

@smc8788, I'm not sure it might be useful, if you have a designers head but are not a trained housing designer, then passing your creations over to him to finish to make sure it has all current housing regulations etc, could save a lot of time & money.


April 22, 2009, 2:38 pm

Precisely, Keith. Being able to flesh out your ideas and demonstrate them, to an architect or builder or just to yourself so you can fully visualise them, is pretty invaluable.


April 22, 2009, 3:00 pm

Could I use this version to design my living room : ie render what it would look like to have a 42" plasma on a pull out wall mount, and larger 5.1 speakers but 'hidden' by sitting on purpose made bookshelves, and a cabinet designed to house/hide all my AV gear?

If I could show my wife a convincing rendered mock-up I could speed this project along, and start ordering some decent AV kit!


April 22, 2009, 3:09 pm

Given that you see so many Macs in Grand Designs, its very disappointing that they didn't go for a Mac version of this or some similar software. At best it seems a poorly considered cash-in, when people can get the free version of SketchUp for both platforms. As someone who runs an architectural practice, I welcome Clients giving me 3d sketches - the rest I'd rather sort myself rather than having to undo what they think they've done - building structures and building regulations are complicated - buying a piece of software doesn't overcome that!


April 22, 2009, 3:23 pm

Aye, SketchUp is a brilliant piece of free software. I use it on occasion for a bit of case modding.

I suppose I can see the use in throwing down some ideas to see what they might look like, but I doubt its usefulness as a serious design tool. I'm sure there must be better options out there for that kind of thing; this just seems like a highly simplified piece of software with rather limited options for people that don't want to pay out for a fully fledged design program. But then I could be wrong - I haven't even used it after all!


January 15, 2011, 5:06 pm

Agree with the above. I am a qualified Architect and yes I can see how the client could find this piece of software useful in generating initial designs to begin to understand the spaces but I would say that any building project so much more involved than a piece of 'Grand Designs' software. Relying too heavily on something like this to see you though the statutory regulations and contractual issues is a real danger without professional expertise.

Also agree that SketchUp would be a much better option (and free)for any budding home-builder. This is a great piece of software, again with its own limitations, and I would imagine from reading this review give the user a greater freedom to design.

rapid prototype

February 17, 2014, 6:49 pm

Thanks for sharing...

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