This is not a comprehensive floor planning software review, but it will give you an idea about how floor planners create floor plans.
Adobe Illustrator. This is how I create floor plans. With even the most rudimentary Illustrator skills, you can draw floor plans with Illustrator. Almost any version of this product will do. I scan my graph paper sketch, import this into a new Illustrator document and begin tracing it using the great set of tools Illustrator provides. I created a library of symbols that I drag on to floor plan. Things like doors, windows, stove, sink, bath. The initial drawing of the walls takes a few minutes. Dressing the plan with windows, doors, fittings, dimensions and colour takes a little bit more time.
Learning Illustrator could take you a bit of time. Linda.com offers excellent training videos and resources. But the great thing about Illustrator is that you can draw anything, anyhow. Some clients want their floor plans done in a particular style, with certain areas coloured or fittings shown in a stylized manner. Not all software will allow you to create the final floor plan drawing exactly how you or your client want it. Illustrator is limitless.
Other software that supposedly makes drawing plans easier than Illustrator include:
However, all these programs can do a lot more than the average floor planner for real estate could need. Perhaps it’s worth considering the next option.
Let’s say you’ve got your sketch and you don’t want to draw it on the desktop. Well you don’t have to. Google “ people and places that will do it for you, for a fee.
There are loads of services available. Most offering a 24 hour turnaround. You send them your graph paper sketch and they send you a finished digital drawing in the format you require. I have tried floorplanet.com and I was happy with their service.
Some iFloorPlan users use online floor planning tools such as Floorplanner www.floorplanner.com or Metropix www.metropix.co.uk. These allow you to floor plan a property without buying any software. All you need is time to learn how to do it. I found the learning curve slow. I wasn’t always happy with the symbols used to show where fittings such as a stove, fridge, bath etc, but once you have spent a bit of time with them, you’ll have a pretty cheap and easy option for creating floor plans. You could also try Gliffy.com, a great online drawing tool.
A couple of recent innovation appear promising. MagicPlan, an app available from the App store, uses your iPhone or iPad to create plans. It’s a lot of fun, using the camera, to capture each corner of a room but I don’t see it working too well for the sort of floor plans we do for our clients. MagicPlan does however interface with floorplanner.com so you could add details and finesse the drawing later in floorplanner.
Another app worth a mention is Orthograph. http://www.orthograph.net/
This software looks interesting. Imagine visiting a property and after doing your photography, you pull out your iPad and create a floor plan right there. Perhaps you would edit it later on a desktop, but the main drawing work is done. A very different concept to drawing it once on graph paper and again on the desktop.
For the iPad, it is “The 1st drawing app to support Leica DISTO E7500 (D510) distance meter natively”. That is, using BlueTooth, it can read measurements made with your Leica DISTO E7500i (D510), if you have one or can afford one at around $US600.00.
The attraction to the tablet approach is the possibility of endless ‘virtual graph paper’. Actual graph paper obviously has limits and working around this can be quite a creative challenge. Properties come in all shapes and sizes. Properties that are longer or wider in metres than the graph paper has 1cm squares you need to start thinking!
Another app for the iPad worth a look is called Floorplans app.
http://www.floorplansapp.com/ This app, available from the AppStore really looks good. It is a pleasure to use and you can generate floor plans pretty quickly. Floorplan actually seems to have been built with floor planners in mind. That is, until you start to use it. The extensive library of symbols is great but it soon starts to get tedious finding the right symbols. For example, mapping out the kitchen bench is agonizing. You are forced to use a corner bench, then a bit of ‘work space’ and join them all together. Resizing a right angle bench to fit the kitchen you are trying to draw doesn’t work too well either. One thing to make this App a success would be a freehand drawing tool.