18 Best Architecture software in 2022: architecture design programs free and paid versions

Architecture design programs frre and paid versions Software

Intro

Building design software are not just architect programs that help you choose the design of the facade. They make it possible to visually plan the entire site, decorate the adjacent territory, and develop an interior environment. Architecture software has become indispensable in today’s digital world. Architectural drawing software allows architects to simply and easily create their designs, and edit, delete and add them as they see fit.

Architectural software comes in a wide variety and makes it easy to design houses. Here we look at the best architect software in 2022 on the market and include some additional options worth considering. Read this architecture design software review and find the solution you require. The information is relevant for 2022.

Top of architectural design software

NamePriceLevelOSLast version
Chief Architect$199/month. Free trialFor professionalsWindows, macOS2022
Home DesignerFrom $129/version. Free trialFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2022
3ds Max$1,700/year. Free trialFor professionalsWindows2022
Revit$2,545/year. Free trialFor professionalsWindows2022
AutoCAD$1,775/year. Free trialFor professionalsWindows, macOS2022
Civil 3D$2,550/year. Free trialFor professionalsWindows, macOS2022
ArchiCADFrom $240/ month. Free for students, educators, researchers, and schoolsFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2022
CedreoFreeFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2022
SketchUpFrom €109/year.
Free version
For professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2021
SolidWorksFrom $1,295/yearFor professionalsWindows2022
CorelCAD$699/full version. Free trialFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2021
VectorWorks$153/month. Free trialFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2022
Rhino€995/licenseFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS, Linux2021
MicroStation$1,995/yearFor professionalsWindows2022
All Plan ArchitectureFrom €394/monthFor professionalsWindows, macOS2022
CATIA$4,500/year. Free version for studentsFor professionalsWindows, Unix2020
FreeCADFreeFor beginners and professionalsWindows, macOS, Linux2022
Photoshop$20.99/month. Free trialFor professionals and amateursWindows, macOS2022

Best architecture design software in detail

1. Chief Architect

Chief architect logo software

Price: $199 per month, with a free trial

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, macOS

Chief Architect is a professional building (residential and administrative), landscape, and interior design software with powerful 3D visualization tools and CAD functionality. Chief Architect is a powerful design system that concentrates functions for virtual building design and searches for architectural solutions, interior design, preparation of detailed drawings, and preparation of design/construction/cost estimates. The architecture program offers powerful 3D visualization tools along with CAD elements.

The cost of the Chief Architect depends on the version of the program. Chief Architect in 2022 offers two versions – Chief Architect Premier ($2,995) and Chief Architect Interiors ($2,195). You can subscribe to the program – for $199 per month (both versions). You can also download Chief Architect for free per Student License. Chief Architect X13 is now available. The release of the Chief Architect X14 version is scheduled for the end of May 2022. For normal operation, the application requires a sufficiently powerful computer.  

Chief Architect is a professional building designing program, that also allows designing engineering systems – power supply, ventilation, pipelines, heating, etc. One of the advantages of the Chief Architect software is the ability to the surrounding area. Users have access to tools for landscape planning and virtual improvement of the land plot adjacent to the building by arranging all kinds of small architectural forms, vegetation, fences, etc.

A lot of 3D objects used in interior design are built into the program from the very beginning – furniture, engineering structures, decorations, etc. There are also tools for creating your objects with the ability to apply a variety of textures to them. Any 3D objects you create can be added to the library and then used in other projects.

As the project progresses, the Chief Architect program keeps a record of everything that was used in the design/design of buildings/premises. At any time, the user can view the list of used building materials, search for them, get acquainted with the characteristics, etc. Work in the Chief Architect application is carried out using layers, each of which can have its purpose and at the same time be part of the same project. For example, one layer is used for designing an electrical system, another for interior design, a third for building drawings, and so on. Follow the link and download Chief Architect software.

Pros:

  • Huge complexity of the model
  • Very accurate model data
  • Great architecture software for macOS
  • Ease of learning.

Cons:

  • Involves a complex, multistep process that makes it difficult to use
  • Bad layout process
  • It is not easy to create and modify complex geometry.

2. Home Designer

Home Designer by Chief Architect

Price: From $129 per version, with a free trial

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS

Home Designer is a professional program for creating your design project, you can decorate your room without any problems. Home Designer by Chief Architect Software made easy for DIY. The program has built-in tools responsible for planning and modeling, and you can create both interior and exterior. In your hands will be the tools that professional designers use to design a house or remodel.

The rich functionality of the Home Designer Software allows you to cope with any task: choose floors, and wallpapers, arrange furniture, create a drawing, carry out accurate calculations, plan, and get a 3D drawing as an output. The Home Designer app will allow you to customize the look and layout of the roof, work with stairs, windows, doors, all the furniture in the house, bathroom, kitchen, windows, doors, and much more.

Chief Architect Home Designer has an extensive 3D library with many interior items, thousands of materials, and paints. You can create your designs in both 2D and 3D. The 2D floor plans provide detailed information about the layout and dimensions of the rooms, while the 3D floor plans provide realistic visualizations, including virtual tours, so you can familiarize yourself with your project before it is built. There is also an example gallery with ready-made 3D rendering examples made in the Home Designer program.

Home Designer Software by Chief Architect offers three DIY software products – Suite, Architectural, and Pro. Its professional line of architectural software offers products for complete residential design. All Home Designer products are compatible with the Chief Architect line of professional architectural products. You can download Chief Architect Home Designer for free in torrent. Free Home Designer software is available with a trial version.

  1. Home Designer Suite by Chief Architect is the most popular home design software for DIY. Chief Architect Home Designer Suite 2022 offers intuitive design and smart construction tools for home projects. 
  2. Chief Architect Home Designer Pro is a professional home design software for serious DIY enthusiasts. Home Designer Pro 2022 offers advanced design tools for creating detailed construction drawings.
  3. And Home Designer Architectural is a powerful home design software for home lovers. Home Designer Architectural 2022 offers smart construction tools to create 3D models, scalable plans, and facades for home projects.

Pros:

  • No plugins needed
  • You have several types of drawings at your fingertips.
  • Switching between architectural facades and design visualization.

Cons:

  • Does not interact well with some other programs
  • Home designer for free may be limited
  • Less technical version than the original Chief Architect.

3. 3ds Max

3ds max logo

Price: $1,700 per year, with a free 30-day trial

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows

Architecture software programs by Autodesk are among the most popular for a reason. One of the best programs for 3D modeling, animation and visualization in design is 3ds Max. Autodesk 3ds Max is a powerful tool for environment design, lighting, and materials calculations and presentations. This is professional architecture software that has an extensive flexible toolkit for creating projects of various shapes and complexity with full control of artistic intent.

The program’s advanced tools provide the architect and designer with numerous modeling and visualization options to create high-quality photorealistic images. To create the exterior and interior, you can use special 3ds Max objects, which are called architectural and are in the categories: walls, vegetation, railings, windows, doors, and stairs. Learn about 3ds Max as 3D rendering software.

Pros:

  • Modeling and animation
  • Support for AutoCAD files
  • Powerful plugins.

Cons:

  • Quite a challenging curriculum
  • The computer must be really powerful.

4. Revit

Revit logo image

Price: $2,545 per year, with a free trial

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows

As part of a whole new generation of Autodesk products designed specifically for architectural studios that work on complex projects and need BIM (Building Information Modeling), Revit allows you not only to design and model a building, but also to coordinate the work of several engineers working on the same scheme.

Designers using this construction design software work with objects, not with a vector between two points, and this allows them to work quickly and confidently. However, even though they both use a command-line interface, it doesn’t feel like AutoCAD. And for those who come from this discipline, it can be difficult to transition at first. Once they overcome the steep learning curve, Revit can offer a competitive advantage over those using traditional architectural design programs.

Pros:

  • High-performance tool
  • Smart connection of objects.

Cons:

  • Windows only
  • Slight duplication of AutoCAD commands
  • It can be too difficult for beginners.

5. AutoCAD

Autocad

Price: $1,775 per year, with a free trial

Level: for professionals

OS: Windows, macOS

AutoCAD is a modern and one of the best architectural CAD software for creating drawings and 3D models. That architecture designing program  is the most accurate and productive thanks to specialized functions aimed at creating projects for mechanical engineering, architecture, electrical engineering and other areas. Autodesk AutoCAD 2D/3D CAD includes all the tools you need to create stunning designs in no time in any industry, streamlining collaboration with innovative productivity tools.

For architects, AutoCAD is mainly used as a 2D drawing tool for creating floor plans, elevations, and sections. The architecture drawing software speeds up the drawing process with pre-made objects such as walls, doors and windows that behave like real-world objects. It is also worth remembering another version of AutoCAD – AutoCAD Architecture – a specialized application based on AutoCAD, created for the needs of architectural design.

Learn more about CAD software.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive set of tools
  • Effective Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Integration with Autodesk
  • User interface flexibility.

Cons:

  • Relatively complex learning process.

6. Civil 3D

Civil 3d

Price: $2,550 per year, with a free trial

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, macOS

Autodesk Civil 3D is based on Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology and has built-in features for drafting, design, and construction documentation. As one of the best architecture design software, Civil 3D provides features for working with a variety of infrastructure projects, including railroads, highways and highways, land management, airports, drainage systems, storm and domestic sewers, and infrastructure facilities. If you are looking for free construction drawing software, Civil 3D also offers a trial.

The main feature of the 3D architecture software is a dynamic design model, which allows you to quickly and without errors make changes to the project at any stage of design. You can use Civil 3D in combination with other Autodesk software products. After modeling InfraWorks projects, then you can move on to detailed design and model analysis in Civil 3D. Integration of design projects for infrastructure facilities is also available. Civil 3D is also a good architect software for mac.

Pros:

  • Command line interface
  • Universal approach.

Cons:

  • Intermittent stability issues
  • Cloud not well supported.

7. ArchiCAD

Archicad

Price: From $240 per month. Free for students, educators, researchers, and schools 

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS

Graphisoft ArchiCAD is created as a software for architect design and provides automatic generation of drawings and a single database of three-dimensional objects during their modeling. Any necessary information can be extracted from the created database: detailed drawings of floor plans, sections, facades, architectural and design drawings of units and fragments, cost estimates, specifications of windows, doors and finishing materials. Considered the best architecture blueprints software.

The ArchiCAD program provides quick access to various areas of the designed building. When presenting a project, you can demonstrate both drawings and specifications, as well as virtual rooms. Such architectural CAD programs as ArchiCAD allows to evaluate the illumination of future premises at different points in time, plan the location of rooms, furniture, etc. If you are wondering which is better ArchiCAD vs Chief Architect, you have to study all their features to choose the one most suitable for you. Besides, this architecture software has free version for students.

Pros:

  • Customized object setup
  • Best CAD software for architecture
  • The natural interconnection of all parts of the project
  • The program is intuitive and has a friendly interface
  • Good opportunities for group work.

Cons:

  • Insufficient number of parametric GDL objects that are included in the program by default
  • Some extensions never update properly
  • High cost of the licensed version.

8. Cedreo

Cedreo logo

Price: Free

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS

Cedreo is an online software for architecture designed for builders, remodelers, landscapers, architects and home designers. This quick and easy-to-use architect software allows building and renovation professionals to create floor plans, customize the interior and exterior home décor with a wide selection of furniture and materials, add landscaping, and create photorealistic images.

Cedreo is the best SketchUp alternative for professionals who need better design suggestions in half the time. Cedreo is a free architectural design software with features specially designed to make house drawing easier. You can also use Cedreo as Interior rendering software.

Pros:

  • Easy and fast solution
  • Realistic 3D renderings
  • Intuitive interface
  • Remodeling tools for all types of projects
  • Best free architecture software on this list.

Cons:

  • Unable to load editable DWG model, IFC, or step-by-step design
  • Some elements are not very flexible to edit.

9. SketchUp

Sketchup logo

Price: From €109 per year, there are free versions for personal use and training

Level: For professionals, amateurs and beginners

OS: Windows, macOS

Originally a Google-backed project, SketchUp is now owned and developed by Trimble, which releases a new version at least once a year. As a starting point for those getting started with 3D modeling, SketchUp is as simple as architectural CAD software can be. After a few lessons, designers can quickly create complex geometric shapes with this easy architecture software

The free edition has made SketchUp very popular, creating a large and active community of SketchUp users willing to help the inexperienced. Users have also contributed to the creation of an extensive library of objects, which is a huge resource of ready-made parts that can be used in any project. It may not be suitable for designing an entire building, but it has a good deal of architecture design tools for quickly prototyping a project while it’s still at the concept stage. This software for architects also offers a free trial, although it has limited features.

Pros:

  • Free version for home use
  • Very easy to learn.

Cons:

  • No built-in rendering
  • Not a collaboration tool.

10. SolidWorks

Solidworks logo

Price: From $1,295 per year

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows

SolidWorks is a solid modeling application. SolidWorks Premium is a good option for 3D sketchers who need CAD architecture software for detailed design. The program comes with extensive design features that allow you to create 2D drawings and 3D models. The building drawings software also supports document management (with version control) to create a repository of up-to-date projects.

The construction design software includes powerful rendering features that allow users to see photorealistic renderings of the parts they have created. Other tools in SolidWorks’ extensive arsenal include PDM packages and a range of electrical solutions that make it easy to create accurate schematics and schematic data.

Pros:

  • A wide set of tools for 3D modeling
  • Exhaustive resources of the supplier.

Cons:

  • Contains errors and is subject to failures
  • The software is incompatible with any operating software except Windows.

11. CorelCAD

Corel cad

Price: $699, with a free trial

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, macOS

CorelCAD is a utility with the most complete set of CAD tools for creating and editing graphic drawings, as well as for 3D/2D design. The simple, intuitive interface of this software for building design is easy to learn and focused on fast, productive work. There is a practical Properties Palette, with which you can change various attributes of objects and their size.

With CorelCAD, you can easily create professional CAD drawings. CorelCAD provides compatibility and interchange with many graphics and building design programs and also supports DWG and DXF file versions. Customizable 2D and 3D design tools help you accurately translate ideas into drawings and models. This architectural design program includes the tools needed for the complex modeling of three-dimensional figures. You can also use this architect software for free.

Pros:

  • Ability to download CorelCAD free
  • SAD tool package
  • Functions of 3D and 2D modeling, design
  • Compatibility with the most common OS
  • The presence of intellectual options
  • Joint work with comments and annotations.

Cons:

  • Distribution is conditionally paid
  • There are compatibility issues with AutoCAD.

12. VectorWorks

Vectorworks logo

Price: $153 per month, with a free trial

Level: For professionals and amateurs 

OS: Windows, macOS

Contrary to popular belief, BIM is much more than 3D design. BIM is the development process of a construction project. It includes project planning up to construction, operation and maintenance including all stages and processes. Vectorworks is one of such programs for architecture, that includes several versions that may suit architects as well as landscape architects. 

When comparing Vectorworks to Revit, the most appropriate comparable product would be Vectorworks Architect. Vectorworks Landmark is designed for architectural landscape design and GIS planning. And Vectorworks Fundamentals offers users the ability to sketch product designs, build models, and analyze them. One of the benefits is that you can use this building designing software for free.

Pros:

  • The ability to integrate this tool with other CAD solutions
  • Tools for creating high-quality graphics.

Cons:

  • Requires complex learning
  • The tool can work slowly on computers with a RAM of less than 4 GB.

13. Rhino

Rhino logo image

Price: €995 per license

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

Most CAD applications for architecture work great with straight lines and not so great with curves. Rhino was designed from the ground up to work with curved lines, meshes, and highly complex NURBS surfaces, such as human facial features or the smooth curves of a supercar.

For architectural design, Rhino can easily model complex intersections of curved roofing or any part of a structure that is not inherently straight. As an architectural drafting software, Rhino is not a dedicated tool. Instead, it uses add-ons and the Grasshopper visual programming system, which allows it to be adapted to specific tasks. This makes Rhino a very flexible tool that can be customized to automate complex modeling and detailing for projects that need it. Unusually for architecture CAD software, you are not forced to upgrade to the next version, and the cost of an upgrade is usually half that of a new license.

Pros:

  • Very powerful model editor
  • Plugins and scripts
  • Third Party Services.

Cons:

  • BIM functionality is an add-on.

14. MicroStation

Micro station logo

Price: $1,995 per year

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows

MicroStation is an architecture and design software used by many because it provides a stable interface for work. MicroStation is an unsurpassed information modeling environment developed taking into account the requirements of architects, engineers, builders, and operating organizations. It is ideal for designing objects of all types of infrastructure and can be used both as a software application and as a platform for a wide range of specialized Bentley software applications and other software manufacturers.

The use of MicroStation as a construction drawing software provides the relationship between 3D and 2D design data, obtaining relevant documentation in the form of accurate drawings, photorealistic images, and videos, and the ability to analyze can quickly model real processes. In addition, the possibility of combining engineering data and geometry from various software applications and file formats provides users with unhindered work with the entire design group.

Pros:

  • Compatibility with other formats
  • Accurate 2D and 3D printing
  • Wide range of modeling tools.

Cons:

  • The user interface is not very intuitive and user-friendly
  • In some functions, it loses AutoCAD.

15. All Plan Architecture

Allplan architecture

Price: From €394 per month

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, macOS

Allplan Architecture is a versatile BIM design tool for architects with advanced CAD features. Its main advantage is reliability at every stage of design. That is one of the best 3d architecture software that allows you to create a virtual building, and then bring the project to life on the construction site. All errors and inaccuracies are detected at an early stage of design, which significantly speeds up construction and reduces costs.

Allplan Architecture BIM for Architects delivers the highest modeling accuracy, production drawings and building material spreadsheets, and photorealistic renderings.

Pros:

  • The program links all sections of design very well (architecture, engineering, etc.)
  • A huge number of libraries and a constant addition to them
  • Ability to create your elements and libraries
  • Excellent 3D visualization capabilities.

Cons:

  • Lack of educational literature
  • Somewhat confusing system for saving projects.

16. CATIA

Catia logotype

Price: $4,500 per year. Free version for students

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, Unix

CATIA is an architectural CAD software from the French company Dassault Systèmes. Originally conceived for the precise modeling of military vehicles, CATIA easily handles complex architectural tasks and creates finely detailed models. While many architecture CAD programs added collaboration and security-controlled distribution later, CATIA had it from the start. More recently, it has extended these coordination functions to include cloud computing functionality.

Pros:

  • Huge complexity of the model
  • Very accurate model data
  • Ease of learning.

Cons:

  • It takes a long time to learn, it’s hard to get used to
  • Very expensive.

17. FreeCAD

Freecad

Price: Free

Level: For beginners and professionals 

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

FreeCAD has features such as 3D parametric modeling, robot modeling, 2D drawing and sketching, and a renderer for creating high-quality 3D images. The free architectural CAD software is suitable for a wide range of applications in the manufacturing and mechanical engineering industries. However, construction companies can also use it to create floor plans or 3D models of buildings. FreeCAD is an open-source solution that is free to download for use on platforms such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. Learn more about Free CAD software.

Pros:

  • Free architecture software for Mac and Windows
  • The tool is lightweight and works on most systems, even with low RAM, without crashing.

Cons:

  • Some modules may become outdated if there are no updates
  • Challenging learning curve.

18. Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop logo

Price: $20.99 per month, with a 7-days free trial

Level: For professionals and amateurs 

OS: Windows, macOS

This is the best bitmap editing program. You can create beautiful effects, improve renderings (post-production), combine images, create architectural collages, post-digital drawings, abstract drawings, edit plans, sections and facades, create layouts, presentations and diagrams. 

Photoshop also has drawing and architectural design tools. Typically, drawings are used in the editor for subsequent modeling. To do this, an existing drawing is loaded for subsequent editing. You can make a drawing from the very beginning. For example, you can make a floor plan.

Pros:

  • Advanced functionality for image editing
  • User interface customization
  • Extensions and plugins to further increase the available tools.

Cons:

  • Subscription to the program is quite expensive
  • Not all computers can correctly install the editor due to its large volume
  • The program is difficult to learn for a novice user.

Conclusion

Architectural drawing programs are an indispensable working tool for architects and designers. Many exist today, both computer and online architects’ software help them do their work faster and better than before. Furthermore, with the help of numerous functions and a user-friendly interface, anyone can engage in virtual construction, realizing the dream of a unique building with an original facade and convenient layout. In this article, we have followed you through the top architecture software in 2022. If you are looking for the best architecture computer programs, you will find the required solution here. Any of these solutions will let you deal with the challenge of visualizing your ideas! You can also learn about Architecture rendering software.

FAQ

Which software is best for architectural design?

In our top of the best architectural design software, we emphasized such architect programs as Chief Architect, Home Designer, 3ds Max, architecture market leaders AutoCAD and ArchiCAD, etc. Look for detailed information on each of these solutions above in our article. Order our Architecture rendering services and see real results.

What is the easiest architecture software to use?

If you are looking for the best architecture software for beginners – Civil 3D, Cedreo, CorelCAD, ArchiCAD. However, they might require a little experience with 3D modeling and architecture to be used successfully.

Is AutoCAD Architecture free?

AutoCAD Architecture is Autodesk’s development specifically for architects and building designers. The program was created on the basis of conventional AutoCAD. It doesn’t have a free version.

What design software do architects use? 

It is best to choose architectural software by the level: for beginners or professionals. Students and aspiring architects most often use 3ds Max, SketchUp, and ArchiCAD as these programs are very flexible, easy to use, and offer free versions. Professionals and more advanced users also prefer these programs, but also use market leaders such as AutoCAD.

Author of Applet 3D articles. In passion about art, so writing about design, architecture, the animation is a great chance to enjoy my work. Rule of life - set little goals but achieve big results.

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