What to look for in construction design software

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Construction design software is a necessity in today’s digital landscape, giving industry professionals an easier way to create blueprints and drawings of new designs.

With construction design software, you can visualize different design possibilities, create professional presentations, better assess risks, and make more informed decisions.

However, the construction design software market is overflowing with options—what works for one company might not be ideal for yours. In this article, we’ll discuss five of the best construction design software on the market, including their features, costs, ease of use, and more.

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1. AutoCAD: Best overall construction design software

Construction professionals worldwide have used AutoCAD construction design software since the ‘80s for 2D and 3D drafting. Many in the industry consider AutoCAD to be the best construction drafting software to create blueprints for everything from residential homes to large-scale commercial projects.

AutoCAD comes with a comprehensive toolkit with thousands of objects, styles, etc. to help architects and project managers speed up the drawing process. In addition, it allows you to export designs to other applications like Adobe Illustrator.

The biggest downsides are the software’s steep learning curve and high PC requirements. AutoCAD is also quite pricey at $235 monthly or $1,185 annually.

2. FreeCAD: Best free construction design software

FreeCAD is a free and open-source 3D construction design software. While it doesn’t have all of the features of the other options on this list, it’s a great choice for those just starting out with 3D modeling who don’t have the resources to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars upfront.

The software does offer a decent amount of customization along with 3D visualization, sketching, and rendering tools. FreeCAD also offers an array of training materials to help you get started using it.

While FreeCAD is completely free and offers a lot of design capabilities, the interface is known to be complicated and clunky—it’s not as easy to jump in and start using as other paid options.

Read more: Five benefits of inspection reporting software

3. Vectorworks: Best construction design software without a subscription

Vectorworks Architect is a 2D drawing and 3D CAD construction design software that offers fast rendering speeds, easy-to-use features, and high drawing efficiency. Vectorworks is great for designers who need to create data-rich models and construction managers who need to view all of their models and drawings in one place.

This construction design software offers a lot of customizable options and is an all-in-one solution for drafting, annotating, and 2D, 3D, and BIM modelling. However, with all of its capabilities, working in Vectorworks can feel a little crowded.

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The company does offer a monthly subscription starting at $153 per month, but you can also buy the software once for $3,045 and use it for life, making it a great option for those construction professionals that don’t want to budget for another subscription each month.

4. SketchUp: Best simple construction design software

With all of the complex construction design software available, we get a lot of people asking, “What is an easy-to-use design software for construction?” The answer will always be SketchUp. With this software, you can easily create and edit models using its “Push and Pull” tool for both 2D and 3D drawings.

The first impression that SketchUp gives is that it’s too easy to use, leaving first-timers wondering if they can build models with any real complexity. While it’s not as packed full of features as other options like Vectorworks or AutoCAD, it is indeed a fully functioning construction design software made for professionals in the industry.

SketchUp offers a completely free plan along with three levels of subscriptions ranging from $119 to $699 annually that offer additional features, making even the most expensive version more affordable than many other options.

Further reading: 5 Reasons why you need construction management software

5. CAD Pro: Best affordable construction design software

CAD Pro is the best cost-effective construction design software for professionals. With BIM, 2D, and 3D modelling, this software is often used to create blueprints and drawings for home renovations, landscaping, mechanical drafts, and commercial buildings.

It also has some interactive features, allowing you to add audio recordings, photos, and more to your drawings. CAD Pro is quite user-friendly and has built-in resources that offer customized views, auto-shape and dimension tools, fill patterns, and photo plugins.

The newest edition of CAD Pro is available for a one-time purchase of $99.95, making it the most affordable construction design software for those who don’t want to worry about subscriptions or high upfront costs.

Your construction software should do more

LetsBuild For Construction Scheduling

Design is only one step in the construction process—what’s your software doing for you during the rest of the project?

The right construction management software can complement your construction design software to ensure your project runs smoothly from start to finish. From project planning and scheduling to communication, progress tracking, and more, digitizing your construction processes is the key to success in the industry.

Learn more about how digitizing your construction practices can improve efficiency in your organization and schedule your free demo of LetsBuild—see how the right construction software can improve your communication and productivity on the job site.