Glossary September 25, 2021
Updated 18 January 2024 by James Ocean

Top 35 3D Architecture Software. Best Architect Software Programs

Table of Contents

Introduction

While architecture is an ancient job, it has been chiefly dominated by written and drawn documents. Fortunately, technological evolution overthrew the pen and paper method of labor since the entire batch of architecture-related documents can now be created and modified digitally.

Since architectural development is a fairly complicated process that encompasses multiple different stages of modeling, it has a massive number of software solutions available on the market for different purposes and end goals. As such, choosing the correct one becomes a burden for a lot of people.

Luckily enough, we’ve prepared a list of the top 35 3D architecture-related software that includes many different branches and subroutes of architecture as a whole.

Benefits of architecture software

Architecture design software was a major contributor to how the entire sphere transformed in recent years, allowing for bigger, better and more detailed projects to be created and managed with ease. Here are some of the more prominent benefits of architect software:

  • Higher drawing accuracy when compared with traditional drawing methods;
  • Ability to create and replicate 3D drawings with relative ease;
  • Easier data sharing as a whole and greatly simplified data usage;
  • Drawings are significantly harder to damage or destroy when they are in digital form;
  • Digitalization is also why accessibility is now higher, and data storage as a process is less complicated.

At the same time, it would be fair to mention several issues that architecture software has as a technology, and most of these issues are also borderline impossible to fix, too – so all you can do is get used to them:

  • Expensive purchase/maintaining costs for the software itself;
  • A lot of the disadvantages of a computer as a technology – susceptibility to virus attacks and hacks, as well as general issues such as software instability, hardware crashes, etc.;
  •  Architect software is often rather hard to learn and get used to.

CAD software turned out to be a massive help for architects all over the world, offering a lot of benefits to its users – be it in terms of easier communication, better collaboration between an architect and other participants in a project, faster and more efficient drawing in general, as well as better presentation of the future results to the clients.

BIM and CAD

One important matter that needs to be remembered before choosing is the difference between BIM and CAD – since BIM and CAD solutions are the ones that make up the majority of our software list. While CAD solutions are used to create accurate representations of ideas and designs of detailed 3D models and renderings, BIM is used to fill those models with various information, such as HVAC, wiring, plumbing, material costs, and so on.

BIM is often a connection between the construction process and CAD since it makes the most of the accuracy of computer-aided design and applies it to real-life dimensions and specifications.

BIM is capable of performing a multitude of functions that are not necessarily architecture-related as well. Another way to understand what BIM is would be to look at it as a workflow that helps teams with project visualization and an issue-solving solution, to a degree.

Now that the introduction is done and over with, it’s time to move towards another topic – choosing the correct architecture software for your specific situation.

How to choose the best architecture software?

The process of figuring out a specific software for your needs can be somewhat problematic since the market for these kinds of software is massive, and it is rather difficult to predict which features you will need in your future work as an architect. Choosing your own software is often considered one of the first major decisions of any architect.

At the same time, it is important not to get lured in by software with the most reviews or the most positive rating in general – since it can lack specific features that only you would need in your work, or it can just be a solution that is way too expensive for you to maintain payments for.

There are several different factors you must remember when choosing a specific architectural solution for yourself, and each of these has two or more questions you have to ask yourself to figure out your final choice. In the list below, we have seven different factors:

  • Industry standards

Of course, one of the biggest deciding factors is the software that other experts in the same field are using. This segment also includes what is popular in your specific region or your studying environment, what is popular with large enterprises and what software is currently in high demand.

Another interesting point that needs to be clarified here is the level of support and explanation available for a particular solution. It is not that unusual to see a very popular software that has little to no educational materials available, so this particular question is something that every potential client needs to research beforehand.

  • Personal preference

Your past experiences with specific software can also be a large deciding factor, especially if you have already found a piece of software that you are comfortable working with. The same statement also works in a completely different way – maybe your current solution has specific features or design choices that you do not want to have in an architecture software.

It is borderline necessary for a company in need of an architecture software (or any other enterprise-level software, for that matter) to figure out what do they want the software for. The overall wealth of features would be useless for you if the solution in question is not suitable for your specific use case. Here are a few examples of questions that may help with figuring out what you may need from an architecture solution:

  • What problem do you want to solve with this software? Is there a solution you are currently using for the same purpose? What are the problems of that solution specifically?
  • How much cooperation is necessary for this particular task? Do you have to communicate with other team members on a regular basis or is it optional?
  • What is your own profession or occupation? What area of the architecture industry you are working in? Are you working in a team or as an individual?
  • Difficulty in working with the software

Being a rather sophisticated piece of software that is difficult to learn from the get-go is a norm for the architectural software industry, even though a few examples of software are relatively easy to get into. Software such as SketchUp can be rather simple for beginners and can provide enough information for the user to be ready for some of the more complicated architectural platforms.

It would be important to remember that simplicity does not equal lack of quality, this statement works in plenty of industries – including the architecture software industry. However, having a clear understanding of your own skills in terms of architecture software is useful when choosing the software in question, so that there are no additional inconveniences with your future software based solely on it being too difficult for you to work with.

  • Your current hardware

Another common variable for architecture computer programs as a whole is its demand for powerful hardware. It is heavily recommended to learn the software’s recommended specifications before purchasing it since many architectural programs tend to be extremely demanding on this front.

This is also where you may arrive to an important choice between an on-site software and a cloud-based solution. The former is usually more versatile and offers more features on average, but it is also completely dependent on your current hardware’s performance. The latter is often not as feature-rich, but compensates for it by being more versatile and costing less up-front (no need to purchase expensive hardware).

There is also the problem of “perpetual licenses” that often result in users purchasing a subscription anyway (to receive customer support and regular feature updates). This particular tactic is far from being consumer-friendly, but there are plenty of solutions that still do so anyway, especially when it comes to enterprise-level software.

  • The software’s capabilities

The overall architecture design software market is extremely large, including many different software variations, different features, and so on. It can be a tool mainly used to create concepts, or it can be used for an actual design, it can have presentation capabilities, it can have the capability to render actual objects, and so on. These parameters are just examples of many different sides of architectural software, and this topic must be thoroughly inspected before committing to actual software purchases.

A good way to approach this particular topic is to separate all of the features that you want from an architecture solution in two categories – “nice to have” and “must have”. That way, you would have a lot more understanding on what specific features you have to look for, and what is not strictly necessary for day-to-day work and not worth investing in. Reviewing the capabilities of your current architecture software may also reveal some features you are looking for.

  • The price of the software

It is important to remember that while this particular market of architecture software programs has both paid and free products, it does not mean that paid products are always better than free ones. Additionally, the price of architectural software does not always directly correlate with how good or versatile the software is.

There are also plenty of solutions that offer tiered pricing of sorts – hiding specific features behind a higher paywall than the standard package. As such, thorough research on topic is highly recommended.

  • What this particular software is compatible with

Since the market is rather large, compatibility should be one of the biggest deciding factors for any architect. Architects rarely work independently, and many projects imply collaboration between different architects and other professionals in the field.

As such, compatibility is extremely important when choosing architectural software for yourself since your software will be a detriment to the entire project’s efficiency if it lacks compatibility options. This is why we are presenting our massive list of best architecture computer programs, adding a detailed explanation of each software’s capabilities.

35 best 3D architecture software

  1. FreeCAD

freecad landing page

FreeCAD is a 3D architecture software that has been designed around parametric modeling, and it can be used to design any buildings in three dimensions. There’s also a modular architecture that allows for expanding the software’s functionality by adding specialized modules. One of these modules allows for the full range of BIM capabilities.

FreeCAD can also work with objects that are not regular geometrical shapes, which allows for much more creative freedom when it comes to 3D modeling. Add to it the fact that it’s free and has an open-source code – and it’s clear to see how FreeCAD moves towards becoming a staple entry point with no additional cost.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.3/5 stars based on 138 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius7.5/10 stars based on 8 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 stars based on 57 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Cross-platform capabilities, available for practically any OS out there
  • A massive benefit of it being a free solution
  • Versatility – can be useful for architects, engineers, designers, constructors, etc.

Shortcomings:

  • Interface as a whole can be unintuitive
  • A steep learning curve
  • Working with large project files may cause crashes or system slowdowns

Pricing:

  • FreeCAD is, as the name suggests, completely free and open-source.

Customer reviews:

  • Michael K. – “Love it. I used Pro/ENGINEER in the early 90’s and it was such a wonderful leap over AutoCAD but hugely expensive. I used my outdated copy of AutoCAD for years until I discovered FreeCAD 5 or 6 years ago. Initially it was a steep learning curve but with the abundance of videos on YouTube and perseverance I am now quite adept at using it. I have designed/built a semi-automatic machine for my production and have several 3D printed tools used in that machine. FreeCAD has been a Godsend for developing and evaluating my ideas and I would definitely recommend it if you are a small business with minimal or no budget for expensive CAD software.
  • Matthew H. – “I’ve only been using FreeCAD for a short time, so I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve seen that this is a great software and I donated to its development because of that. The community that uses FreeCAD is always helpful and the resources available for learning are plentiful. I feel like more was available for this than some other professional products simply because of the wide community adopment.
  • Rubén E. – “I usually work with non-very complicated designs and I am used to created them from the typical 2D sketches, but I can highlight some features I like and the ones that helped me more: it is possible to import an STL file (a mesh) and convert it to a solid, which you can work with later (very useful if you want to modify any design found on the Internet); there are many plugins that help to improve FreeCAD, i.e. I use KiCadStepUp tool to import a KiCad PCB easily and be able to see the entire design with it’s electronic part, which includes every electronic component.
  1. SketchUp

sketchup landing page

SketchUp is widely known as a popular architectural drawing software, and it can be used in many different ways. Its main selling point is a vast library of extensions that allow you to customize the abilities of SketchUp, tailoring it to your tastes. Technically speaking, this enables SketchUp to provide BIM-like features for just a fraction of a full-fledged BIM software’s cost.

Additionally, SketchUp can offer multiple drawing styles (from photorealistic renders to promotional graphics) and several rendering engines (as extensions). This allows the software to take advantage of everything SketchUp’s extension library has to offer.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 957 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 895 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • A massive library of 3D objects
  • User-friendly interface
  • Extremely versatile set of modeling tools
  • Collaboration capabilities with the help of Trimble Connect

Shortcomings:

  • Little to no basic tutorials about the software’s general capabilities
  • No native support for importing or exporting when it comes to most of 3D CAD/BIM solutions on the market
  • Functionality can be extended with the help of plugins, most of which are not free
  • Not a complete BIM solution, relies a lot on plugins that rarely work together if at all

Pricing:

  • SketchUp can offer four different pricing tiers:
    • “Free” is the most basic set of features for all users
    • “Go” $119 per year –  is a rather minor extension of the free version without the limitations on 3D models and cloud storage capacity
    • “Pro”$299 per year –  is a more serious approach to the topic, with a desktop application, design insights, 2D documentation, and an entire warehouse of extensions
    • “Studio” $699 per year – is a Windows-only tier with real-time photorealistic visualization, easy file importing from Revit, and many other features

Customer reviews:

  • Prince B. – “SketchUp enables me to create 3D models of spaces, helping me to plan and visualize room layouts, furniture placement, lighting, and material choices. It aids in communicating design ideas to clients and streamlining the design process.
  • Chanaka A. – “Currently SketchUp is the best software for 3D modelling which is equipped with loads of features which are unavailable in alternative software. And requiring low performance while working very smooth is great. Some complications will occur if you do complex designs but for general purposes this is the best. Can be used even by a beginner without facing issues.
  • Vikash K. – “I think this is one of the most basic 3d software you can use. Learning it is so easy that you can start building in it just after an hour of learning.And the results you can get from these are in par with the leading 3d modelling software. If you need rendered views of your project its a very good software.
  1. Revizto

revizto landing page

Revizto is a multifunctional collaboration platform that offers a unified source of BIM information for different parts of a project team. Its amazing 3D tracking allows project team members to identify various issues in both 3D and 2D and includes addressing clash groups, among other features.
It also provides the ability to access data from almost anywhere, the opportunity to explore models using VR, the ability to integrate into several other popular BIM systems, and supports the majority of existing CAD software via plugins – Revit, AutoCAD, Tekla, and Vectorworks, to name a few.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.3/5 stars based on 31 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 stars based on 21 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Specific clashes or issues can be personally assigned to workers/departments
  • Centralized information access and an extensive collaboration-forward toolset
  • Extensive issue tracking capabilities
  • A long list of integrations with different CAD/BIM platforms and solutions

Shortcomings:

  • Setting up data filtering could be easier
  • The software may slow down with larger projects
  • Reporting features are not particularly customizable
  • The overall user interface is vastly different from most solutions on the market, and it may take some time getting used to after switching from Navisworks or a similar solution

Pricing:

  • Revizto does not have any pricing information available in public, the only way to obtain such information is to request a quote from the company in question and/or schedule a demo of that same solution.

Customer reviews:

  • Steven B. – “We are now only using this software for as-built purposes and we are trying to enforce it that the subs sign in to be able to do shop drawing changes that come in from out in the field. We want our superintendents more involved in the coordination process and this is how we plan to get them in there.
  • seiya o. – “fast, easy, and accurate visual coordination at ease by using Revizto. We were able to have our client provide positive feedback. customer service was great. I especially thank to rep for all the help that he provided in the early days of Revizto.
  • Bill M. – “Our project collaboration efficiency increased, as did our quality and confidence with our designs as a result of the “single source of truth” approach that Revizto provides.
  1. TAD

tad landing page

TAD is a somewhat unique approach to BIM architectural software for several reasons. For one, it is extremely old by current world standards, and it’s also said to be made exclusively for architects. TAD’s creators claim that other architecture computer programs on the market are more about engineering and less about architecture in the first place.

This is why TAD can be used to create a building’s concept, without the need for unnecessary details about actually creating one in the first place. TAD incorporates many different designing elements from scratch and gives a holistic solution for all of your architectural needs.

Key features:

  • Flexible design system
  • Numerous addons to extend functionality
  • Powerful design preview capabilities
  • Impressively small file sizes

Pricing:

  • TAD is completely free and only requires Discord community registration for the download option to become available.
  1. Concept3D

concept3d landing page

Concept3D is a comprehensive software platform that provides 3D renderings of interactive maps and VR-enabled tours. At its core, it is a multifunctional architecture planning software that offers wayfinding, virtual engagement, accessibility customization, and advanced data integration. Concept3D’s team is also extremely responsive and helpful, providing support to its clients at a moment’s notice if the need arises.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 38 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 86 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Extensive customization capabilities
  • Customer support throughout and after the onboarding is incredibly helpful
  • Map updates are quick and easy to perform

Shortcomings:

  • CMS may feel somewhat dated, and is not particularly intuitive
  • Module-like structure of the solution can make it more difficult to figure out what modules you have access to right now
  • Reusing pins in different categories could be easier and more convenient

Pricing:

  • There is no public pricing data available on the official Concept3D website, the only way to obtain such information is to request a quote directly from the service in question.

Customer reviews:

  • Bart P. – “My university has been a Concept3D customer for about eight years. With the help of their support team, we have achieved our goal of presenting an informative interactive experience in which prospective students can “visit” the campus from wherever they are. The illustrated map shows that classic design of our campus buildings. Panoramic photos show the natural beauty of the campus and highlight some attributes of special interest. For example, prospective students can use this tool to tour the interior of student residence halls.
  • Jason T. – “The account management team at Concept3D was extremely helpful to us during the implementation process. They visited our campus for several days to walk our implementation team and numerous University stakeholders through the steps necessary to get our interactive map up and running. They helped us to develop a plan that allowed us to launch the product at 21 Penn State campuses. Even now that the product has been live for more than a year, Concept3D continues to be very receptive to our questions, needs and suggestions.
  • Jason C. – “Concept3D was awesome with our initial implementation and setting up our map to make sure our map was as accurate and realistic as possible. Since then, they’ve helped us evolve our map with new features and tools to make it a great tool for both wayfinding and general marketing.
  1. Lumion

lumion landing page

Lumion is a dedicated piece of software for architects that offers mainly visualization and 3D rendering as its main features. It claims to have compatibility with models from multiple different modeling systems, such as Revit, 3DS Max, Rhino, and ArchiCAD, and offers stylish effects, realistic models, and a multitude of materials/objects from the built-in content library. One of the most significant selling points of Lumion is the ability to work with it without architectural skills as a prerequisite, which allows everyone to start creating panoramas and images in no time.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 143 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 stars based on 79 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • The overall structure of the solution is similar to how a gaming engine works, making it easier to navigate for someone familiar with how navigation in video games works
  • Render quality is astounding
  • Revit files are easy to import and work with

Shortcomings:

  • Object rotating is not as easy as with SketchUp or AutoCAD due to the lack of “snapping” mechanism
  • High-resolution 3D models make the solution a lot slower than usual
  • High system requirements for a device that can run Lumion smoothly

Pricing:

  • Lumion can offer two different pricing plans for its customers
    • “Standard” – €54.08 per month, can offer limited rendering effects, ⅓ of the content library, and access to all of the current and future updates of the software
    • “Pro” – €108.25 per month, a complete Lumion feature set with full rendering capabilities, full content library, and many other capabilities

Customer reviews:

  • Chanaka A. – “If you are expecting a high-quality, fast rendering for the designs, Lumion is the option you should choose. It’s faster and has many preloaded elements which will aid in designing a perfect simulation. But you got to have a device with high performance to use Lumion and Lumion works only on Windows operating system.
  • James L. – “For fast renderings, especially early on, Lumion is great. Additionally, the plants and trees render fantastically. The only downside is the potentially cartoonish nature of the final product. We have found that some materials do this more than others, but it’s hard to know which will work without a lot of wasted time doing test renders.
  • Ziggi W. – “I get the job done extremely quick. With no previous 3D experience I was able to learn Lumion in the matter of hours and it generated first income in the matter of days. We had a project with 3D elements in it and with extremely short deadline . I don’t know of any other software that would allow us to make it done so fast (both thinking about how easy it was to start using and rendering times of complicated structures). I love the “what you see I what you get” aspect of it, and that you see it in real-time, without wasting time to pre-render things.
  1. MicroStation

microstation landing page

Going for a more universal approach, MicroStation from Bentley is a software package that combines the work of engineers and architects within a single environment, which allows teams to be faster and more efficient than ever before. As a modeling software, it enables users to generate almost any geometric shape possible and even re-shape existing models by modifying the dimension values – which makes reusing models that much easier to work with.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.3/5 stars based on 170 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius9.2/10 stars based on 22 customer reviews
  • G24.0/5 stars based on 294 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Makes it easy to integrate new components with the existing ones within the same project
  • Surprisingly low hardware requirements as minimal requirements for the solution
  • Supports a multitude of file formats

Shortcomings:

  • Highly complex models slow the solution down by a lot
  • Graphics quality leaves a lot to be desired
  • Difficult to work with large files

Pricing:

  • Bentley MicroStation comes in a single 12-month subscription license that costs €2,702, which includes different data type integrations, collaboration on designs, modeling capabilities, plenty of design options, centralized access to many deliverables, and 3 redeemable “keys” (training credits from Virtuosity).

Customer reviews:

  • Faisal A. – “I have been working on traffic engineering design and details development. this software is powerful and save me a lot of time. I can work on multiple DGN files without the need to open and close each file every time. once someone get experienced with it, one person production can equal to 3 person production. it saved me a lot of time. I use it with FDOT SS4 and it make plans productions a breeze with all the cell libraries and ready to use features.
  • Arturo S. – “MicroStation, a powerful CAD software, provides effective solutions to design and modelling challenges in architecture, engineering, and construction. With its versatile suite of tools, users can streamline infrastructure planning, create accurate designs for roads and bridges, and efficiently annotate drawings. The software’s interoperability facilitates seamless data exchange and collaboration. Parametric modelling enables quick design modifications while preserving intent, increasing productivity. MicroStation’s visualisation tools offer realistic representations for effective communication and decision-making. These benefits, including increased productivity, enhanced accuracy, improved collaboration, and immersive visualisation, make MicroStation a valuable asset in achieving successful project outcomes.
  • Aditya M. – “MicroStation has been a lifesaver for me for Road Projects. I had used AutoCAD for Raod Design and it was very tedious work. MicroStation is easy with Complex Road Alignment, Vertical and Horizontal alignment, cross-section development, Profile Design, and quantity survey. Your single model design can all of it. It reduces the use of other software and programs.
  1. CATIA

catia landing page

CATIA is a popular software created by Dassault Systèmes to create incredibly accurate and complex models of almost anything in the world. It is widely used in many different sectors, not just architecture but aerospace, high tech, automotive, etc. Additionally, CATIA offers a practical collaborative environment via the cloud version of its software.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 208 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.2/10 stars based on 43 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 stars based on 233 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • A tool with great versatility in the hands of someone who knows how to work with it
  • Convenient and detailed model visualization capabilities
  • Can be integrated with plenty of other CAD/PLM tools

Shortcomings:

  • Takes a long time for an average user to get used to the interface and the logic behind it
  • Requires high-end hardware to work properly
  • Some features seem unnecessary in the context of a CAD solution

Pricing:

  • CATIA as a solution includes plenty of different modules and parts, and the only official way to obtain information about its pricing is to contact 3DEXPERIENCE’s sales team and request a personalized quote.

Customer reviews:

  • Koutarou K. – “In terms of user satisfaction, much focus was made on reducing the need for rendering and animation function characteristics. The mouse cursor is used as an extra visual reason, and each function will provide simple rendering results. Changing the drop-down menu creates a stunning aesthetic, and the set animations are customizable.
  • Charlotte W. – “One of the biggest advantages of CATIA is its ability to create detailed and accurate 3D models. The wide range of modeling tools available makes it easy to create complex and detailed models, which is crucial for the design of automated systems. CATIA can be tailored to specific industry and business needs, making it a highly versatile tool that can be used in a wide variety of applications. CATIA’s ability to work with other software in the Dassault Systèmes suite is also a great advantage, as it integrates with other automation software products.
  • Ismail n. – “Catia is a powerful 3D design software for engineering, manufacturing, and architecture. It is powerful enough to be used in a variety of industries and has many features that make it a great choice for professionals. The user interface is intuitive and easy to use, so users can quickly jump in and start designing. The visualization capabilities are top-notch, allowing users to create realistic images of their designs. Overall, Catia is an excellent choice for those looking for a robust design software.
  1. Cedreo

cedreo landing page

Cedreo is a 3D design software that targets multiple specific groups of people – real estate agents, interior decorators, remodelers, contractors, and so on. It offers a relatively simple but effective UI, allowing even inexperienced people to create concepts and designs quickly. Each concept includes floor plans, 3D renderings for both interior and exterior, and so on.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.4/5 stars based on 39 customer reviews
  • G24.8/5 stars based on 4 customer reviews

Key features:

  • Floor plan creation in 2D and 3D
  • Streamlined sales processes and lower pre-sale phase costs
  • Photorealistic 3D renders
  • Saves external design costs in many ways

Pricing:

  • Cedreo has four different pricing plans available
    • “Free” is €0, limited to one project, one user, five renders, and limited furnishing/materials
    • “Personal” – €69 per project per user, a basic paid choice that has 1 project, 1 user, 20 renders per project, watermarked renders, and blueprint downloads
    • “Pro” – €69 per month billed annually, the best option for a single professional designer, can offer no-watermark renders, unlimited objects for furnishing and materials, 40 renders per month, and unlimited projects
    • “Enterprise” – €89 per user per month billed annually, a full-scale solution for teams or companies with priority support, permission management, project sharing, 80 renders per user per month, blueprint downloading, and more

Customer reviews:

  • Keerhan M. – “I am using Cedreo as a graphical tool to communicate with my clients and my team, as well as a way to produce simple drawings, without having to go to the architect.
  • Maria T. – “Cedreo has been amazing customer service wise. Whether or not is was a support issue, adding additional artwork, or just general account questions they are always responsive and timely. They really make sure you are apart of the team and that your feedback is heard. Their instructional videos are very helpful when it comes to learning the programming as well.
  • Alexander W. – “Cedreo’s ease of use caused me to start my business and that is what I use right now. It is expensive and somewhat clumsy, so I am looking at other softwares to continue my business.
  1. Shapespark

shapespark landing page

Shapespark is a relatively case-specific architect software that allows you to create interactive web walkthroughs based on architectural 3D models. It is fairly simple to work with, and you can even configure the materials and lighting of the tour beforehand. After that, each of your virtual tours can be easily shared with anyone else, be it partners, clients, or someone else entirely.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.4/5 stars based on 8 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 stars based on 9 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Easy access to the design process and a variation of convenient tools for different purposes
  • User-friendly interface
  • Does not require a high-end device to work properly

Shortcomings:

  • Lighting system needs a number of improvements to be made
  • Slows down after the prolonged usage period
  • Relatively high price

Pricing:

  • Shapespark’s subscription fees can be split in four different categories based on different pricing plans
    • “Starter” – €26 per month billed annually, includes 3 online hosting slots, web site embedding feature, cloud editor, and more
    • “Standard” – €45 per month billed annually, adds video meetings, personal logos, no watermarks, and 25 hosting slots
    • “Plus” – €89 per month billed annually, includes team management capabilities, Javascript/HTML customization, viewer API access, custom domain, etc.
    • “Premium” – €223 per month billed annually, can be self-hosted on personal server, adds custom video meeting avatars, 150 hosting slots, and so on

Customer reviews:

  • Jay J. – “Overall this has been a great experience. I look forward to Shapespark adding additional features in the future. With the current pandemic this is a really great piece of tech to have for showing architectural environments.
  • Felipe R. – “Shapespark is making sharing ideas much easier and more interesting for our clients. The new resourse of online meetings was also a great innovation.
  • Partha Protim P. – “It is one of the best architectural walkthrough softwares currently in the market. Anyone can turn a 3D model into an interactive architectural walkthrough.
  • Felipe R. – “Shapespark is making sharing ideas much easier and more interesting for our clients. The new resourse of online meetings was also a great innovation.
  1. AutoCAD Architecture

autocad architecture landing page

AutoCAD is one of the oldest examples of 3D architecture software on the market, and it has many different products for specific use cases or professions. As an example, AutoCAD Architecture offers sketching, 2D drafting, rendering, and other features. It’s also Revit-compatible and collaboration-friendly. AutoCAD allows you to mix solid, surface, and mesh modeling equipment to create realistic plans and models, and you can also do the same with two-dimensional plans.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 272 customer reviews
  • G24.3/5 stars based on 240 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • A wide range of features and tools for different needs and goals
  • Ability to swap between 2D and 3D representation or to even use both of them
  • Can be connected with other solutions to further expand its capabilities

Shortcomings:

  • The overall complexity of the solution can be somewhat overwhelming at first
  • 3D visual experience can be somewhat challenging
  • The price for the solution is well above the market average

Pricing:

  • AutoCAD Architecture is originally a toolset that is a part of the basic AutoCAD offering. AutoCAD, on the other hand, has two different approaches in terms of its pricing model.
  • The first one is a basic subscription that can be paid for on a monthly basis, yearly basis, or every three years:
    • $245 per month
    • $1,955 per year
    • $5,865 per three years
  • The second one implies accessing AutoCAD as a part of Autodesk Flex program – a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for a number of Autodesk services. AutoCAD’s Flex cost is 7 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
  • It is also possible to purchase a custom amount of tokens, depending on the needs of a specific company – and tokens themselves have an expiration period of 1 year after the purchase.

Customer reviews:

  • Robert A. – “Initially, it was really difficult to help a customer appreciate how his or her project will look like and it took more time to put together sketches in a way that customers can understand. However, with this software, it has become easy to interact with customers about designs they may have in mind. with the help of this software, customers get a better idea as to how their intending projects will look like when finally executed.
  • samuel k. – “AutoCAD Architecture’s ability to create detailed 3D models, which allows architects to visualize and manipulate their designs in three dimensions. The software’s compatibility with BIM and its collaboration tools also make it an attractive option for building professionals who need to manage and track changes to building models and data throughout the design process.However, as I mentioned earlier, AutoCAD Architecture can come with certain challenges, including a steep learning curve, resource-intensive requirements, and technical issues. Nonetheless, overall, AutoCAD Architecture is a powerful and popular software in the architecture and building industry, and many professionals rely on it for their design and documentation needs.
  • Chanaka A. – “Created by the pioneers in CAD Autodesk, AutoCAD Architecture is designed for creating 2D and 3D modeling purposes. This serves its purpose as an architecture software with many specific tools and features to effectively create a design. And this needs a powerful device to run and will have some issues with compatibility and sudden crashing. But overall this serves its purpose, fast, effective, and precise in creating a design.
  1. SoftPlan

softplan landing page

SoftPlan is another example of home design software initially created to replace the traditional means of designing a building or a different structure. It offers accurate construction documents, fully editable objects, and more. One of the most significant selling points of SoftPlan is its ease of use so that anyone can start using the software with no previous experience in the architectural field at all. It can also be used as a BIM model to draw MEP plans, material lists, elevations, etc.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 15 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 stars based on 20 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Quick design process with different tools
  • High degree of customizability for construction plans
  • 3D visualization capabilities

Shortcomings:

  • Support for older versions of the software seems lackluster
  • A number of minor glitches in the software
  • Only available for US and Canada so far

Pricing:

  • SoftPlan’s licensing model is fairly simple – there is a single subscription price of $145 per month that is applicable to all new users that have started using SoftPlan since 2022.
  • Users that did have the solution before that have somewhat different price applied to them
    • $59 per month for SoftPlan+, a subscription service that includes customer support and content updates for SoftPlan
    • Additional modules could also be purchased separately for SoftPlan 2020 or older, such as SoftList ($795) or SoftPlan reView ($395)
    • All of them are included in the newer SoftPlan versions since the 2022 version of the solution

Customer reviews:

  • David B. – “Very easy to use 2D. 3D is somewhat difficult. Customer support is not good. Overall very happy with the software. I am a registered architect practicing for last 30 years in large and small offices. I now own my own office and use SoftPLAN.
  • Michael C. – “Softplan has made creating construction documents a breeze and very professional looking. We do high end residential and light commercial, and it has never failed us. It encourages us to put more detail into the drawings to allow us to save time later when we generate sections and interior elevations with accurate detail. My workers are so proud of what they create thanks to Softplan.
  • Aditya M. – “I have used SoftPlan for house design purposes. It is very useful for preliminary design as UI is very easy. However it can not do engineering analysis to validate your design. So its basically used for making pretty pictures.
  1. Bluebeam Revu

bluebeam revu landing page

Bluebeam Revu is an architecture planning software that is well-known in many document-intensive industries, providing improved communication, less time wasted on menial tasks, and generally digitized workflows. It allows for heightened collaboration and project efficiency and streamlines important document-related processes via easier sharing of various details about construction documents, such as bookmarks, metadata, hyperlinks, images, etc.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 923 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.7/10 stars based on 325 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 stars based on 402 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Extremely efficient markup tools
  • Studio collaboration capabilities are very convenient
  • Can mark different layers when working with CAD files

Shortcomings:

  • Support for past perpetual licenses was dropped rather recently
  • Scrolling through long reports is not exactly easy or convenient
  • User-defined shortcuts cannot be created

Pricing:

  • Bluebeam Revu’s pricing is split into three different tiers
    • “Basics” – $240 per year per user, a basic set of features such as PDF creation/editing, limited collaboration capabilities, digital signatures, area/length measurements, etc.
    • “Core” – $300 per year per user, adds specialty markups to PDFs, can perform batch comparisons, supports AECO plugin, improves Studio collaboration, and more
    • “Complete” – $400 per year per user, an entire feature set of Revu, with Dynamic Fill, advanced measurement tools, advanced markup reporting, scripting commands, and so on

Customer reviews:

  • Allison M. – “Bluebeam Revu proved to be even more an essential tool during the pandemic when the team was remote. During that time clients and consultants became more familiar with it’s functions and now we are able to save money and time by reducing in person meetings.
  • Susan R. – “Its more than a PDF viewer or an annotation tool. I can do takeoff any project efficiently for estimates with all the assorted program tools. It is the best platform for Constructability Reviews through studio sessions that allows all team players to collaborate with each other to avoid conflict between each engineering discipline.
  • John Alejandro J. – “During my internship in the pharmaceutical product development and research department at the University, I had the opportunity to use Bluebeam Revu for managing laboratory renovation projects. The software played a crucial role in streamlining document management and review processes. We utilized the markup and annotation tools to collaborate on laboratory design plans, specifications, and equipment layouts. The ability to track changes, add comments, and share annotated documents significantly improved communication and reduced errors. Bluebeam Revu’s intuitive interface and powerful PDF-based features provided us with a comprehensive platform for effective project documentation management.
  1. Space Designer 3D

space designer 3d landing page

As the name suggests, Space Designer 3D is an architectural space-planning platform that offers visualization for clients’ projects. Each project generates its inventory of products, dimensions, quantities, and so on. The app works as a modular platform, allowing for extensions, custom catalogs, tools and interfaces, and more. Accessibility is another massive advantage of Space Designer 3D, offering a user-friendly UI and an extremely low entry threshold.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 27 customer reviews
  • G23.7/5 stars based on 3 customer reviews

Key features:

  • Fully customizable product catalog
  • Easy access to design and rendering tools
  • User-friendly interface with plenty of modifications for the space-planning process
  • Automatic inventory list generation for every project

Pricing:

  • There are three pricing tiers to Space Designer 3D
    • “Casual” – €9.99 per month per project, with only one profile, with no projects included in the package (every single project is paid for separately), as well as a standard design catalog, basic technical assistance, limited export features, and so on
    • “Regular” – €59 per month, has extended design catalog, up to 10 projects at once, 5 levels for each project,can perform area calculations, render in Full HD, export into PDF or Autocad, and more
    • “Business” is only available based on a personalized quote, removes all limitations of levels, versions, area calculations, exporting, while also giving API access, website integration, various design features, etc.

Customer reviews:

  • Ben F. – “I came across this software in my search to plan and build several pieces of wooden furniture. There was a slight learning curve but within an hour I was building the pieces with to scale lumber sizes. I was able to then explode the models and calculate buy and cut lists for the project. I was struggling with conceptualizing the structures using analog media. This software allowed me to not only build accurately but find and improve structural issue areas in the designs. Great software for my use.
  • Raj J. – “I used this to design out a VR arcade we are building on hollywood blvd. Overall a good product. Wish there was a little more in the way of People and “retail” scenery. Would be nice if it would pair with Samsung VR and we could use it to walk around. Download the file and navigate.
  • Joy K. – “I used this to try and map out the remodel of our house. I’ve been working with illustration programs for years, and but I found this program too difficult and clunky to work with. Just getting the walls drawn was a challenge, and the selection of cabinetry options was way too minimal. Of the few styles offered, none of them offered the same shapes or dimensions, so I couldn’t even come close to depicting the kitchen layout we have in mind. I finally got tired of struggling with it and gave up.
  1. Edificius

edificius landing page

Edificius presents itself as a user-friendly but capable BIM software that can help you address design aspects and keep up with the recent changes within a project.  Edificius allows you to work on a project from start to finish using a single solution – from conceptual designs to construction maintenance documentation. It allows you to take both the time and the cost of your project completely into your own hands.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.2/5 stars based on 6 customer reviews
  • G24.7/5 stars based on 4 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Outstanding performance when it comes to complex projects
  • User-friendly interface
  • AI rendering and real-time rendering capabilities

Shortcomings:

  • Accessing necessary features may not be as quick as it could be
  • Difficult to work with non-standard parts/objects
  • Cannot share models in cloud storage

Pricing:

  • Edificius can be purchased either as a separate solution or in a bundle, its price as a separate solution is as follows:
    • €49 per month
    • €34 per month if paid for a year in advance
    • €30 per month if paid for two years in advance
    • €27 per month if paid for three years in advance

Customer reviews:

  • Roderick L. – “This software allows for efficient rendering and presentation. It’s worth a shot.
  • Verified Reviewer – “I think it’s a good software, it can be integrate with other softwares like Primus, Thermus, etc. to make your business faster. I think it can grow up in the next future to be a solid platform.
  • pippo21 p.– “This software is easy to understand graphically explanatory in architecture, structure, construction, bill of quantities, rendering, video, quantity takes off, schedule of timing and etc..
  1. VectorWorks Architect

vectorworks landing page

Another example of an all-in-one architect software is Vectorworks, although this one is more well-known among Mac users. Vectorworks offers you a list of comprehensive tools that help you work on your project from start to finish – from early concepts to the presentation of a finished product. The versatility of this solution is extremely high, and many different professions can find what they need in it – architects, engineers, managers, and more. As a BIM solution, Vectorworks also offers the ability to analyze your information and run “what if” scenarios at all times.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.4/5 stars based on 48 customer reviews
  • G24.3/5 stars based on 110 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Accurate rendering capabilities
  • User-friendly experience, a relatively easy solution to learn
  • One of the best options for smaller or middle-sized architect projects

Shortcomings:

  • Newer file formats may not be compatible with older software versions due to missing features
  • Limited collaboration (BIM) capabilities
  • Tends to slow down with larger project files

Pricing:

  • Vectorworks Architect uses a worldwide network of global distributors to deliver its products across the globe. Unfortunately, that means there is little to no public information available about the pricing of Vectorworks Architect, but it should differ quite a lot depending on the location.

Customer reviews:

  • Imadur Rozan S. – “VectorWork is now supported with many 3rd party rendering software like lumion for the live sync rendering by installing the plugin for even better result, so whenever you make a changes, the render will follow up. And when it comes to choosing BIM softwares, especially if you’re new to it, the VectorWorks is the good choice to start for learning BIM due to their support and very complete yet detailed tutorials given on their official website. VectorWorks is mile ahead from other BIM softwares when it comes to landscape, 3D modelling and 2D details.
  • Rob G. – “We have been using the software over 20 years without hardly any issues! We can still open files from 1994!!!!!! We look at other softwares to make sure we are keeping up. When we factor in money, easy answer…..VectorWorks! We are a full BIM FIRM and VECTORWORKS does everything we need.
  • Adam J. – “This effective and intuitive CAD platform enables me to produce architectural drawings for clients with ease. I can produce incredibly detailed construction drawings that are both readable and informative and enable contractors, clients and any other 3rd party to understand exactly what is being proposed or changed.”
  1. Chief Architect

chief architect landing page

Chief Architect is a CAD solution designed specifically for architects. It can help with many different operations but specializes in using automated building tools for construction design creation, including kitchens, baths, remodeling efforts, or something else. As a software, Chief Architect is more geared towards residential design, allowing it to automatically create floor plans, render them in a 360-degree panorama, and more. The app’s user-friendly interface considerably simplifies the work process when using Chief Architect, and it can also be used to share 3D models with other parties – be it subcontractors, homeowners, and more.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.4/5 stars based on 66 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 stars based on 18 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • One of the more versatile architect solutions on the market with many features
  • Multiple architectural styles to choose from
  • Reasonable rendering quality

Shortcomings:

  • Some specific tasks could be made more responsive and user-friendly, be it raising/lowering floors, creating attic spaces, etc.
  • Strict project file size upload limitations
  • Troubleshooting specific problems could be somewhat difficult due to the lack of community participation in forums and similar

Pricing:

  • Chief Architect Premier is the main offering of Chief Architect, it can be purchased for $199 per month, with the ability to save 16% when purchasing the same solution for a year in advance.
  • Customers that already have an active Chief Architect Premier subscription can save up to 35% on additional licenses, dropping the price per license down to $1,295 per year (with no monthly payment option).
  • Users of legacy versions of Chief Architect can also take advantage of a 50% discount for the first year of the subscription, dropping the price down to $995.

Customer reviews:

  • Stephen Olawale j. – “i have had to crash lot of residential design proposal, chief architect have being productive, giving me a good presentable 3D model, within a short time was amazing, I really don’t have to put in some details, it generate them graphically automatically.i have recommended this app. to a friend to avoid delay of presentation.
  • Todd S. – “I have been using Chief Architect since 2015. Before that I used AutoCAD for over 20 years. I’ve also used REVIT and Sketchup, but for what I do, which is Residential Design and Remodels, this program proved to be the most versatile. There is somewhat of a learning curve the first 6 months, but impressive when it comes to showing clients who have a difficult time envisioning 3D from 2D drawings. The customer support is really A+. They usually can figure out any problem I’m having or will consider a “work around” option that may still get me the desired effect.
  • Dixon P. – “With Chief Architect, the system does most of the work for you so you can focus on the floorplan and even in the placement of objects in the rooms, the walkthrough view is also excellent for showing a client the finished project so there is buy-in for the proposed construction or remodel. Landscaping is also easy as the Cadastral can be transferred into the plan allowing for accuracy in placing building on lot
  1. Solidworks

solidworks landing page

Solidworks presents a comprehensive CAD toolkit that attempts to balance being overly complicated and easy to use. While it is more of a general 3D modeling tool, it is also useful for architects in many different ways. Another one of its advantages is the price, which is relatively low for the market it works in. It is worth noting that there is a learning curve when it comes to working with Solidworks. It’s not extremely steep, but it’s still there nonetheless.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 18 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.3/10 stars based on 374 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 stars based on 518 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Great for performing simulations with different material parameters
  • One of the best solutions on the market when it comes to 3D/2D environment management
  • A large number of different tools to work with

Shortcomings:

  • Complex license management system
  • Substantial demands on a customer’s hardware
  • Some of the more specific tools are difficult to understand or work with

Pricing:

  • Solidworks 3D CAD solution is the industry-leading software presented by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, it includes three different offers
    • “Standard Offer” includes 3D Creator, 3DEXPERIENCE Solidworks Standard, 3DSwymer, and Collaborative Industry Innovator
    • “Professional Offer” adds 3D Creator to the package and changes 3DEXPERIENCE Solidworks version from Standard to Professional
    • “Premium Offer” also modifies the 3DEXPERIENCE Solidworks version to Simulation Designer, while also adding the Premium version of that same solution
  • Unfortunately, none of these offers include public pricing, the only way to obtain such information is to request a quote from the company

Customer reviews:

  • Mohammad M. – “Overall, I”m very satisfied with the software’s capabilities to help our team in developing a real-world solution to our construction problem.
  • Farhan H. – “It’s been great to use personally and train other designer on it. There are always so many ways to do the same thing however it’s great to be able to experiment on the software and work out the best way to model a project from initial proposals to finalised designs.
  • Piotr P. – “I was using SolidWorks for almost 2 years in my jobs. It is decent CAD software. It has numerous functionalities, most of which are in the top bar of the app. It is extremely easy to find the feature if you know what are you looking for. Previews are clear and customizable as well as almost every part of the software. Annotations, views, drawing rules, components, etc. everything is adjustable to a company’s needs. The price is quite reasonable – it’s like a medium cost in the market. Also, users can select from a variety of licenses, if they meet the conditions (e.g. being a student, start-up, etc.), which can greatly lower the costs. On the other hand, there are some bugs in SolidWorks e.g. I encountered one during screw creation with a user-defined thread. Nothing critical, with an easy workaround, but yet it annoys. Also, the design feels a little outdated and cumbersome – but I guess it depends on the user. The last thing is – SolidWorks is complex. It is a huge software with multiple functionalities that are not always intuitive or easy to use, so if the user didn’t have training or previous CAD experience – it may be difficult to get familiar with it. All in all, I enjoyed SolidWorks. It was rather smooth with a lot of functionalities that make work easy, quick, and enjoyable. Despite minor bugs and complex construction, it is still affordable and powerful CAD software.
  1. Revit

revit landing page

Revit is another popular example of architecture software programs created by Autodesk. This one offers comprehensive rendering, modeling, and construction features, combined with a collaborative aspect of it all. This particular aspect allows the entire team to be aware of any changes or design updates of a project in question. Revit is also AutoCAD-compatible and offers both 2D and 3D modeling toolsets, among many other useful features.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 382 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.7/10 stars based on 190 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 794 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Detailed model creation capabilities
  • A massive number of integrations with other solutions and information types
  • The versatility of the solution as a whole
  • Praise-worthy customer support

Shortcomings:

  • Higher than average system requirements for the PC version of the software
  • Version compatibility only works one way – upgrading older models is possible, but downgrading existing models is not, which can be a problem with some of the more complicated models that are not updated as often as the rest
  • The solution is not particularly user-friendly and has a rather high entry threshold
  • Limited automation capabilities

Pricing:

  • Revit can offer two different approaches in terms of its pricing model.
  • The first one is a basic subscription that can be paid for on a monthly basis, yearly basis, or every three years:
    • $350 per month
    • $2,805 per year
    • $8,415 per three years
  • The second one implies accessing Revit as a part of Autodesk Flex program – a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for a number of Autodesk services. Revit’s Flex cost is 10 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
    • It is also possible to purchase a custom amount of tokens, depending on the needs of a specific company – and tokens themselves have an expiration period of 1 year after the purchase.

Customer reviews:

  • Nayeemullah I. – “Revit is a powerful tool for building design and construction, but its complexity and cost may make it less suitable for individual users or smaller firms. Its collaborative capabilities and advanced visualization tools can be particularly useful for larger, more complex projects.
  • Prince B. – “Revit facilitates better collaboration between all stakeholders involved in a building project. The use of it’s visualization and rendering capabilities helps to understand the design intent and also communicate ideas more effectively.
  • Danielli S. – “My internal workflow is more fluid after a while working with Revit, I have ease and agility in building the architectural and furniture models. The graphic result that I achieve with the software has become the identity of my project presentations.
  1. ActCAD

actcad landing page

ActCAD is professional CAD software that offers 3D and 2D modeling capabilities, among other features. It can be used by a variety of professions and occupations, from students and technical consultants to architects, civil engineers, exterior/interior designers, and more. It’s relatively easy to use, and it has a very user-friendly interface, which allows for a much easier transition from AutoCAD and similar software appliances.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.2/5 stars based on 207 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.8/10 stars based on 4 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 49 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Interface is very similar to AutoCAD
  • Perpetual licensing and multiple licensing models to choose from
  • Relatively cheap when compared with market averages

Shortcomings:

  • Licensing models may be confusing and somewhat restricting when using multiple different devices within the same license
  • Some add-ons create application crashes when used
  • There is not that many advanced features, which makes ActCAD seem more of a beginner’s software than its competitors

Pricing:

  • ActCAD’s licenses are all perpetual and there are multiple ways to obtain them
    • “Key Based License” is a licensing model based on unique serial numbers
    • “Dongle Based License” is a licensing model that relies on physical USB Dongles to act as installation/activation keys for the software
    • “Network Floating License” is a licensing model that could be used in Local Area Networks, can either be activated using USB dongles or license keys
    • “Live License” is a cloud-based licensing model working with ActCAD Cloud License Server to activate up to 5 computers per single license
    • “CAD OEM License” represents IntelliCAD core engine sold with the help of resellers
  • No official pricing is available on the ActCAD website for any of these licensing models

Customer reviews:

  • Germán R. – “At least for the kind of work I do, It’s a cheap-good solution. Simply put, you get the job done with it. It’s easy to use (if you are already familiar with AutoCAD) and you can generate a proffesional product using the program without paying too much. The best part is, you don’t have to pay a subscription.
  • Ujval D. – “I am associated with manufacturing industries from last fre years and were used other applications to draft but act cad is cost effective alternative and effective to save space in system. I have adapted actcad for my routine job and there is no cons i have observed for using. I already have recommended same to few of our partners companies and hoping they will also love to use as I do.
  • Gary H. – “My overall experience has been good. I do which that ACTCAD could maybe break out of the box a little and not try so much of being the same as other known or most used programs as much as finding something that makes this stand out from others. I think it would be nice to have a #D software that you could accomplish better rendering capabilities than another with better graphics and ease of use. I believe this would be a game changer, and also capable of “VR” Virtual Reality type design capabilities and you could call it Virtual Design Mode.
  1. Rhino

rhino landing page

While the majority of CAD applications are tailored to deal specifically with straight lines and shapes, Rhino was designed as a tool to work on curved lines from the get-go. This allows Rhino to be that much easier in modeling something unnaturally curved, like a supercar, a human’s face, or some intricate piece of a building design. Rhino can work on complex non-straight shapes and lines in building design with surprising ease. It can also be customized to anyone’s liking with the add-ins system that allows Rhino to be task-specific and somewhat customizable for specific purposes.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 82 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius9.0/10 stars based on 46 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 stars based on 179 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Perpetual licenses
  • Relatively easy to learn
  • High versatility in both 2D design and 3D modeling

Shortcomings:

  • More detailed models may cause the solution to slow down drastically
  • Interface as a whole looks somewhat dated
  • No native rendering engine with good quality

Pricing:

  • Rhino3D’s pricing model is fairly simple – a perpetual license for the software costs $995 for either Windows or Mac version, there are no maintenance fees, and both newer versions and customer support are included in the package
  • It should also be possible to upgrade an older version of the software for $595 per user

Customer reviews:

  • Ilgaz K. – “It’s an amazing 3d Drawing app that with version 7 consists of Nodes (grasshopper) and procedural design). Rhinos render is pretty and easy to use. Overall this program is worth every penny however it needs some time and build to be worth to use it on Industrial Enginering actively(over Solidworks).
  • Norddine R. – “It’s a great experience , i’ve learnt a lot about it like how to use parametric design & merge it with industrial objects for example chairs , sneakers so far and so on . The software is wonderful thats why i keep cheering it.
  • Gal Z. – “The logic of the program and the way its organized is super helpful. Rhino allows me to create objects in multiple ways but there are too many issues that force me to switch programs constantly so as to be able to fully define my objects without errors.
  1. Tekla Structures

tekla structures landing page

Tekla Structures (former Tekla BIMsight) is a construction software for BIM purposes that creates and manages three-dimensional models for various use cases. Tekla Structures can be used not only by architects, but also by engineers, fabricators, contractors, suppliers, etc. Additionally, Tekla is web-based, making it more versatile and mobile than the majority of the market. It offers an abundance of features, including but not exclusive to quantity takeoff, concrete modeling, construction layout, etc.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 33 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 63 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Easy way to visualize different ideas and structures
  • User-friendly interface
  • A variety of plugins to enhance functionality

Shortcomings:

  • Struggles with larger project models
  • Incapable of opening more than one model at a time
  • Not the most efficient tool on the market

Pricing:

  • While there is no public information about Tekla Structures’ pricing available on the official website, there is plenty to learn about Tekla’s licensing models and subscription plans
  • Different subscription plans are
    • “Carbon” is a great option for basic collaboration purposes that can do little to no actual model modification
    • “Graphite” is a design documentation/modeling solution that also includes previous features
    • “Diamond” is a high-tech product information and detailing tool, on top of all the previous features
  • There are also three different approaches to licensing
    • Standard license is a user-based model that can be activated to one device at a  time, can change users 4 times a year, and can only be used in the country of the licensing contract
    • Worldwide license is self-explanatory – a license that can be used from any location in the world
    • Flex license removes the limitation on the number of user assignments

Customer reviews:

  • Fabián Q. – “This software takes me step by step throughout the construction process helping to program each task with precision, efficiency and reliability. There can be no other result than optimal quality and significant savings of resources and time.
  • Richard F. – “My overall experience with concrete contractors is great considering I am on one of my best friends growing up as father has owned a concrete plan for about 1520 years now and myAnd my best friend is the vice president of our company so I’ve learned a lot and I’ve also had lots of experience and mainly good experience with concrete contractors
  • Verified Reviewer – “For the areas of the software that i have learned to use, it benefits me greatly. The time it takes to do the same work in a 2D software such as AutoCad is unbelievable. A simple beam/column setup or handrail for a set of stairs can be done in minutes rather than hours or days. Plus, the ability to export machine files such as NC1 and DXF has increased the speed of our shop.
  1. Tinkercad

tinkercad landing page

Tinkercad is another example of a completely free 3D modeling tool that is mostly aimed at beginners in architectural design. Most of the time, Tinkercad is used to improve your skills – developing the knowledge about more complex modeling techniques, among other things. And since it’s free, there’s no excuse not to use it in the first place; it’s basically a free sandbox that you can improve your skillset in.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 45 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius9.4/10 stars based on 11 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 102 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • It’s completely free
  • Its simplicity is very attractive for many non-professional users
  • Can also scale up to be more detailed and professional when necessary

Shortcomings:

  • There are plenty of limitations, from the inability to create circles to the lack of the assembly feature
  • Object placement could be more detailed than it is now
  • A good Internet connection is a requirement for consistent user experience

Pricing:

  • Tinkercad is a completely free web app that was created with the goal of introducing people to Autodesk’s interface and modeling capabilities

Customer reviews:

  • Avijit D. – “During this pandemic situation, with this tool i am able to show others how to use arduino circuits and use them, without providing them the real time hardware. They are loving the way of studying it. and also for my projects i did a simulation program that impressed the teachers.
  • Verified Reviewer – “I have commercial software that is fairly expensive and will produce highly detailed and far more intricate models than you can with Tinkercad. But, unless it is highly detailed and requires exacting specifications, I’ll bang it out on Tinkercad. Heck, I have a 3D printed model of my 3 story home. Each floor and the roof sections are seperate allowing you to open it up and see each floor. That model includes the stairwell, stairs and handrails with balasters for the stairs and open loft on the 3rd floor. The exposed wooden beams, vaulted ceilings, and even the huge front deck are all included, right down to the wood stove in the living room.
  • Karee S. – “Overall, it works and I’ve had a good experience with it. I think for elementary students more needs to be streamlined and simplified before I fell comfortable using it with my younger kids in my STEM classroom. I enjoy that it is a great free resource and think it is great exposure to CAD design but can cause frustration with how to toggle around different tools and such.
  1. Enscape

enscape landing page

A slightly different approach to rendering and visualization is Enscape. The main difference between Enscape and other architecture software programs is that this one is not a full-fledged application but a plugin that can be attached to most of the popular design/CAD software, such as SketchUp, ArchiCAD, Revit, Rhino, and more. It is an extremely popular and easy way to turn regular 3D models into experiences, be it via a virtual tour or even with the use of virtual reality. Enscape integrates design processes and visualization into one single entity, empowering workflows and generating enchanting visuals – all of it helps Enscape to remain one of the best 3D architecture software providers on the market.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 39 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 stars based on 47 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • User-friendly solution
  • Not particularly demanding in terms of hardware specifications
  • Works with most popular CAD/BIM solutions on the market

Shortcomings:

  • Customization options are somewhat limited
  • The overall cost of the plugin may be a problem for smaller businesses
  • Some of the materials are not particularly detailed

Pricing:

  • Enscape has three different pricing tiers by technicality, even though only two of them are actual different subscription tiers
    • “Free” tier is arguably not even a tier at all, it is a different name for the 14-day free trial that must turn into an active paid subscription for it to continue working after these two weeks
    • “Fixed-Seat” – €74.90 per month per user (becomes much cheaper if paid for an entire year in advance, down to €39.90 per month), a license bound to a single computer, offers free upgrades, expert support, and all of the Enscape features
    • “Floating” – €72.90 per month per license, a single license can be used on multiple computers, can only billed yearly and includes everything that the Fixed-Seat license can offer

Customer reviews:

  • Sid K. – “With Enscpe, we can make our 3D CAD models look life-like as the quality of rending form this software is near realistic. It is also very quick and easy to integrate with other design software to make full use of its features.
  • laylee n. – “since im the only 3d architect in my firm , and i work with civil and mechanic engineers its really important for me to be able to present a physical outcome on my imaginations and Enscape helps me do that considering the fast rendering process . to be more informal , enscape help me make big changes in a short time to show to people how has low sense on visualization .
  • Alison L. – “In general, Enscape has made rendering infinitely easier than it was previously. We use to live in a world where we were unable to show all clients 3D images due to scale and duration of projects. After implementing Enscape into our daily work flow there is no reason we cant walk through the entirety of the building with every client. This has shown us huge improvements in client engagement and satisfaction. Working on education projects, Enscape has allowed us to quickly produce images and video to create an overwhelming sense of excitement among school students and staff!
  1. PlusSpec

plusspec landing page

PlusSpec is another example of multifunctional 3D BIM software primarily used for designing, estimating, and building projects. It is highly affordable, packs many useful features, and has little to no knowledge required to start working with it. It allows users to create both 3D models and 2D drawings, it can identify errors in floor plans; it allows for freedom and flexibility that is unavailable with traditional designing methods.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.8/5 stars based on 4 customer reviews

Key features:

  • Easy to work with
  • Improves upon the features of SketchUp
  • Supports 3D walkthroughs for better design readability
  • Capable of associating prices with most objects in a model

Pricing:

  • PlusSpec has a fairly simple pricing model – PlusSpec Pro can be purchased either as a monthly or an annual subscription
    • “PlusSpec Pro Freedom Plan” – $100 for a monthly subscription
    • “PlusSpec Pro Annual” – $870 for an annual subscription
  • Both subscriptions offer the same complete feature set and include a 7-day free trial
  1. Chaos V-Ray

Chaos V-Ray is another great example of a software that is not technically a software in the first place – it is a 3D rendering plugin that can be installed to all major 3D CAD solutions, including 3ds Max, Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, and more. It is a great way to create high-quality renders with many cutting-edge features such as real-time ray tracing. It is a highly popular plugin in many industries, not only architecture, but also visual effects, advertising, and more.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.8/5 stars based on 19 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 87 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Plenty of useful features for various 3D rendering use cases
  • Impressive customer support
  • Easy to assign different materials or textures to models

Shortcomings:

  • Extremely demanding in terms of computer hardware
  • Built-in libraries can be somewhat limited
  • Most effects take a while to apply

Pricing:

  • There are three main pricing tiers of V-Ray that could be purchased for commercial use
    • “Solo” – €69.90 per month per single fixed computer, includes all V-Ray integrations, customer support, and access to the Chaos Cosmos content library
    • “Premium” – €104.90 per month with a floating license, expands upon the previous offering by adding Chaos Vantage (real-time ray tracing), Chaos Scans (photorealistic material library), Chaos Player (fast and smooth playback for high-quality image sequences), and Chaos Phoenix (simulated oceans, fire, smoke, etc.)
    • “Enterprise” – €44.90 per month per floating license, mirrors the entire feature set of the previous version, but can only be purchased in a bundle of at least 5 licenses at once (or more)

Customer reviews:

  • Shubhi J. – “Overall its was good while sometimes it takes a toll on you figuring out the perfect settings for the render.
  • Lindsay W. – “With vray, I have the ability to create realistic renderings for clients all over the world. The quality and value that vray gives my renderings is unmatched.
  • Favio R. – “We have created our best renders with v-ray and we have used it with all of our modelling software which is great because it does not limit us on that.
  • Sofia B. – “Overall I recommend it, it is very difficult to use at first, but when you get used to it gives very good results
  1. ArchiCAD

archicad landing page

ArchiCAD by GRAPHISOFT is considered the first BIM software for architects, and it has been on the top of its game ever since. ArchiCAD is a professional BIM solution from one of the best 3D architecture software providers on the market, offering intuitive design, automated documentation processes, accurate information management features, and more. It is widely used to combine the efforts of engineers and architects by allowing for easier collaboration and by introducing an improved workflow for it all. Other features that ArchiCAD can offer are graphics overriding, data modeling, attribute management, and many more.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 250 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.8/10 stars based on 23 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 stars based on 225 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Vast modeling capabilities and toolsets
  • User-friendly navigation between different tools
  • Can be helpful for the entire project duration, from design to construction
  • Supports both 3D and 2D project viewing

Shortcomings:

  • Layout drawing updates are not instantaneous and may take a long time to implement
  • 2D drawing capabilities are limited
  • Object library would benefit from being more customizable
  • Detailing tool is tedious and not flexible

Pricing:

  • ArchiCAD offers three different licensing options – a commercial subscription-based license, a one-year renewable free educational license, and a fully-functional 30-day trial license.
  • ArchiCAD’s commercial license can be purchased in three different forms:
    • ArchiCAD$225+ per month (before tax) – a basic version of ArchiCAD
    • ArchiCAD Solo$200+ per month (before tax) – a limited version of ArchiCAD with most of its sharing features turned off
    • ArchiCAD Collaborate$225+ per month (before tax) – a combination of ArchiCAD and BIMcloud

Customer reviews:

  • Sadaf G. – “As an Architect, I have been able to use ArchiCAD for conceptual designs, detailed drafting, interior layouts as well as generating high-quality elevations, sections and 3D views for all my projects, including presentation drawings. In fact, 3D modelling and rendering have been made simple thanks to ArchiCAD. Visualization, (placing cameras) and gathering documentation are also uncomplicated. Rendering tools are useful and there is no need to get extra plug-ins for performing the same tasks that can be done within the software itself. I consider ArchiCAD to be better than its counterparts, e.g. Revit mainly because it is uncomplicated to use, with the same functionality at an economical investment.
  • Tim S. – “Excellent. Clarity over hand drafting. ease of changing any elements to the client’s or our own wishes. Creating modules like kitchen or bathroom layouts and popping them in wherever needed, often with fewer modifications. Exploring complex spatial configurations.
  • Krzysztof K. – “I met Archicad during my studies, I was and still am impressed by the possibilities of this program, which is still being developed. In my work, I use it to visualize interiors as they would look after renovation or home staging, it is possible because there is a large database of libraries of objects such as windows, doors, furniture, etc. This allows clients to make better decisions. I also use it to create dimensioned floor plans in 2 and 3D options. Before the meeting, customers review the plans and more specifically interested people come to the meetings, which saves everyone time.
  1. Bricscad BIM

bricscad bim landing page

Bricscad BIM is supposed to be a major contributor to saving time in building design. It is a great solution for virtual building creation, with all the intricacies and little details that make each building unique. Bricscad combines the accuracy of your regular CAD software with the power of free-form modeling. It also uses Artificial Intelligence to help its users with more efficient detail recreation in their models.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 17 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 stars based on 125 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Supports both Linux and Windows devices
  • Can host hundreds of third-party utilities if necessary
  • Interface resembles AutoCAD a lot, making it easier for some people to start using the solution

Shortcomings:

  • Linux performance is not on par with how the Windows version operates
  • Layout customization is quite limited
  • Autosaving produces stuttering and may take a while to complete each time depending on the project size

Pricing:

  • BricsCAD BIM is one of several offerings that Bricsys provides.
  • It can be purchased for several different time periods, and all of the prices are before tax:
    • $1,010 for a year
    • $2,725 for three years
    • $1,890 for a perpetual license

Customer reviews:

  • Laurel L. – “BricsCad BIM enables building information modeling from design to documentation. This concept added to the features of BricsCad ultimate leads to excellent results.
  • Mohammad M. – “I’m very satisfied with what BricsCAD has to offer in terms of features & overall user experience. It’s an extremely cost-effective CAD utility that’s proven to be easy to learn & use for creating 2D (& 3D) drafts. Furthermore, I’ve noticed how relatively smaller DWG files are when saving a drawing via BricsCAD compared to other CAD programs I’ve used in the past which ultimately contributes to saving storage on my local disk drives.
  • Ammon N. – “I learned CAD in a more popular and different, but similar application. BricsCAD works in a similar way and has almost all of the same features that I liked about the other software.
  1. All Plan

all plan landing page

This architecture planning software might seem somewhat limited at first since it only works with Windows, but don’t let that dissuade you – it is a versatile bundle of features developed by the company Nemetschek with the intent to produce a flexible tool for different levels of projects. It can work with both 3D and 2D designs of variable difficulty while also being capable of working on topography, conception, drawings, and so on.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra3.2/5 stars based on 4 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 stars based on 25 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • A range of features and capabilities allows the solution to be flexible and applicable to many use cases
  • Impressive scalability of the solution makes it useful for both a single-man crew and for an entire team of architects
  • The solution’s interface is easy to work with and is not particularly overwhelming for newcomers

Shortcomings:

  • Some of the more specific features are still missing after decades of being on the market (daylight calculations, for example)
  • The lack of innovation makes it not the most compelling choice on the BIM market
  • Solution slows down a lot with larger, more complex projects

Pricing:

  • There is no public pricing information available on the official Allplan website, the only way to obtain such information is to request a personalized quote
  1. 3DS Max

3ds max landing page

3D Studio Max (or 3DS Max) is one more example of CAD-related software developed and provided by Autodesk. While it is true that 3DS Max has several similarities with AutoCAD, the former is more common in the video games industry thanks to its pre-visualization capabilities. Additionally, this software is great for general architectural needs, and its popularity makes it easy to find helpful courses online that teach how to use this software for free.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 91 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.5/10 stars based on 29 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 stars based on 271 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Easy collaboration and integration between disciplines
  • Plenty of useful features such as 2D pan zoom snap or 3D animation capabilities
  • Great rendering quality

Shortcomings:

  • Keeping up with price changes is a challenge
  • High hardware requirements, large size of the software itself
  • Long rendering times

Pricing:

  • 3DS Max can offer two different approaches in terms of its pricing model.
  • The first one is a basic subscription that can be paid for on a monthly basis, yearly basis, or every three years:
    • $235 per month
    • $1,875 per year
    • $5,625 per three years
  • The second one implies accessing 3DS Max as a part of Autodesk Flex program – a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for a number of Autodesk services. 3DS Max’s Flex cost is 6 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
    • It is also possible to purchase a custom amount of tokens, depending on the needs of a specific company – and tokens themselves have an expiration period of 1 year after the purchase.

Customer reviews:

  • Roldan A. – “It was a good experience. 3DS Max was the very first software I have used. During that time there is not much tutorial found in YouTube, so I have to figure out things on my own. But, yes, it was very much doable. Persistence is key to learning. You cannot be lazy in reading documentations. But with todays copious amount of learning videos and institutions, it shouldn’t be easy to learn 3DS Max. Persistence and time are keys to learning. It takes time and persistence as 3DS Max is not an easy software to learn.
  • Adnaan E. – “3ds Max is an incredibly powerful 3D modeling and animation software that is industry-leading. It provides users with a wide range of tools and features to help create complex 3D models and animations. While the learning curve may be a bit steep and the price tag may be a bit high, it is an excellent choice for professionals who need a powerful and feature-rich 3D modeling and animation software.
  • Lindsay W. – “I love the flexibility of 3ds Max. Whether it’s architectural or character design, this program can render great results. I currently use this program for architectural modeling, but there are many times where I enjoy the ability to custom design something very unique within the same program.
  1. Esri ArcGIS CityEngine

arcgis cityengine landing page

Offering two separate versions of its product for different skill levels, ArcGIS CityEngine is a powerful visualization and 3D production tool that can easily create detailed buildings with strong communities around them. This architecture planning software is great for not only architects but also urban planners and the entertainment industry as a whole, capable of rendering and sharing realistic cityscapes. These renders can help with figuring out what structures are feasible to build in the first place before the construction process begins, making it an invaluable tool for almost any project out there.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 482 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius9.2/10 stars based on 131 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 stars based on 22 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Easy city development with designing and planning using highly detailed 3D models
  • The speed of 2D drafting/editing is impressive and very convenient
  • General tool versatility and flexibility

Shortcomings:

  • A steep learning curve with an interface that is far from intuitive
  • The solution itself is relatively expensive
  • Mass rendering can slow down even the most powerful systems

Pricing:

  • ArcGIS CityEngine can be purchased as a single-use license, as an online subscription, or as a perpetual license with 12 months of maintenance included. Unfortunately, none of these options have a public pricing associated with them, meaning that the only option to obtain pricing information is to contact ArcGIS directly and request a personalized quote.

Customer reviews:

  • Dave F. – “Our field crews and engineering staff couldn’t function without it. Out utilities assets with all of their attributes are on our digital maps. On it we document structures attributes, condition over time, maintenance schedules, and even hyperlink photo and video inspections to each asset. Invaluable information no further away than a click of a button, no matter where in our world that you are!
  • Noam B. – “Despite its drawbacks, ArcGIS is an incredibly powerful GIS software that is packed with features and is perfect for both experienced GIS professionals and newcomers alike. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy to use and its expansive library of tools and features make it an invaluable tool for anyone working with geographic data.
  • Maxwell M. – “I always use ArcGIS for several business applications. I have used it to understand and visualize demographics for a better understanding of my market. I have also used it for suitability analysis for different applications for my businesses. I have used it to designate optimal routes for plying. Generally, ArcGIS has been so helpful in my businesses.
  1. Floorplanner

floorplanner landing page

Floorplanner may lack the scope of your traditional architectural CAD-like software, but it is still a great tool for aspiring architects interested in interior design. It is a great solution that combines user-friendliness and effectiveness in a single package. Additionally, it is cloud-based software, meaning it is easier to play around with various ideas for furniture, decoration, walls, floorings, and more. The software has a library of different objects and can also export every project into a commonly known PDF format, making it a great choice for various collaboration efforts.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.2/5 stars based on 25 customer reviews

Key features:

  • Ease of use with access to different walls, windows, doors, etc.
  • Simple measurements system
  • General solution speed
  • User-friendly interface with drag-and-drop features

Pricing:

  • Floorplanner’s pricing model is somewhat complicated and includes six different pricing tiers in two groups
  • Individual pricing covers three plans that are only suitable for singular specialists
    • “Basic” is a free solution with full editing functionality, full asset library, and basic exporting capabilities
    • “Plus” – $5 per user per month, removes limitation on the number of favorite items, allows for image exporting without timelock, and provides 4 credits per month
    • “Pro” – $29 per user per month, can offer custom templates, Roomtype sets, custom Roomstyles, and other features (+29 credits per month)
  • Pricing for companies only covers versions that are suitable for teams or companies, and not individuals
    • “Team” – $59 per month, up to 10 users with Pro status, as well as user management capabilities, reporting, and 59 credits
    • “Business” – $179 per month, up to 100 users with Pro status, includes custom 3D assets, branded environments, and 199 credits
    • “Enterprise” – $599 per month, no limitation on the number of Pro users, can offer API access, volume discounts for credit bundles, SSO support, and more (+799 credits)
  • Credits are used to promote specific accounts to higher levels to unlock more features, such as high-quality exports. All projects start at Level 1 for Individual plans and at Level 2 for Company plans

Customer reviews:

  • Giorgi D. – “I made my future home project with it and it looks great! Yes this is not CAD and most probably you will not be able to make final project for constructing, but least and not last you can play with design, choose shapes and structure, try materials, plan layouts and make calculations. You can do almost everything for the first steps of your project. I am really excited and satisfied with this product!
  • JR Nonato II F. – “We used Floorplanner to prepare for moving homes — it helped us to visualize the space and make sure that our stuff would fit. Definitely more convenient than literally moving furniture all around the apartment just to find a fit.
  • Shannon M. – “Will be using this for a new home construction website and I really think the viewers will love seeing the plans in 3D, it will help them understand more what the layout of the house it.
  1. Civil 3D

civil 3d landing page

Autodesk might be one of the most well-known companies in the field of architectural software since they provide so many different CAD software variations. This particular example is Civil 3D, a software offering more than just your classic CAD features. As the name suggests, Civil 3D emphasizes civil engineering as a whole, which is why this software is capable of generating 3D models of environments and designs while also being capable of synchronizing with BIm workflows for better collaboration, design-driven documentation, and more. As with many other software products offered by Autodesk, Civil 3D works best when combined with other products of the same company – Revit, AutoCAD, 3DS Max, etc.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 stars based on 35 customer reviews
  • G24.3/5 stars based on 283 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Extremely accurate surface creation capabilities
  • Renderings can be performed in either 3D or 2D and both are surprisingly fast
  • Allows for the creation of personal object libraries
  • Compatible with different data formats

Shortcomings:

  • High hardware specification requirements for a desktop application
  • Working with bigger projects is difficult
  • Learning all of the features is a long and difficult process

Pricing:

  • Civil 3D can offer two different approaches in terms of its pricing model.
  • The first one is a basic subscription that can be paid for on a monthly basis, yearly basis, or every three years:
    • $335 per month
    • $2,680 per year
    • $8,040 per three years
  • The second one implies accessing Civil 3D as a part of Autodesk Flex program – a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for a number of Autodesk services. Civil 3D’s Flex cost is 9 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
    • It is also possible to purchase a custom amount of tokens, depending on the needs of a specific company – and tokens themselves have an expiration period of 1 year after the purchase.

Customer reviews:

  • Kalitt M. – “Overall my experience with the software has been positive, I have used it for over 3 years and it has helped me to accomplish my work duties and tasks. It is a very complete and comprehensive software, you can always keep learning about it.
  • Joseph E. – “In most cases, I utilize Autodesk Civil 3D for pipeline and structure design because of its accuracy and streamlined design process. Designing pipelines can be complicated and very time-consuming. Hence, I was glad that Civil 3D came to my aid as most of these minor pipeline details cannot be properly done on Autocad.
  • Condrae R. – “Civil 3D is used daily to create design drawings and analyze survey data to inform our design decisions. It is also used for volume calculations and shapefile generation. It is overall an great piece of software to use and is value for money.
  1. ZWCAD

zwcad landing page

ZWCAD provides a more traditional take on a classic CAD interface aimed mostly at beginners in the field. It offers standard CAD capabilities, support for DXF/DWG file formats, and multiple additional tools such as QR code conversion, barcode scanning, smart select, and more. ZWCAD is a 2D/3D drafting tool that can work with several different image formats; it can attach annotations, manipulate groups of blocks, use tables, and more. Other software features include object isolation, file compare, match property, etc.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 13 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 stars based on 51 customer reviews

Advantages:

  • Impressive scalability
  • Affordable price and perpetual licensing
  • Interface similar to AutoCAD
  • Performance higher than in most competitors

Shortcomings:

  • Large projects slow down the software
  • Some 3D formats are not supported (STP, WRL, STL, etc.)
  • Initial onboarding may be complicated due to the lack of documentation
  • Some features have to be toggled ON before being used, which may not be the most convenient options for specific users

Pricing:

  • ZWCAD has three different pricing tiers
    • “Standard” – $899 per license, a basic set of features with full DWG compatibility, 2D drafting/design, API access, etc.
    • “Professional” – $1,199 per license, combines all previous features with 3D visualization APIs (ZRX, .NET, VBA)
    • “MFG” – $1,499 per license, a “Pro” version with mechanical toolsets and a library of mechanical tools (ISO/GB/DIN)
  • All ZWCAD licenses are perpetual, and it is possible to upgrade legacy versions of solutions for an additional price

Customer reviews:

  • Kavita P. – “We are very happy with using ZWCAD for all our drawing and drafting needs. It is one of the best alternatives to AutoCAD and somehow it doesn’t even slow down the machine (like how AutoCAD does). The only drawback – lack of a viewer.
  • blake s. – “Great modeling software that allows you the ability to review structures in wireframe and flat space to allow transparency of your project depending on the situation and what you’re trying to communicate to your team. It tends to lag up my computer a bit but that may be due to my computing specs. Freezing of the program through complex and intricate modeling is really the only downside here, but I’m running a 970 nvidia and processor so I’m not sure why I’m experiencing these issues, I’ll follow up with customer support.
  1. CAD Cabin

cad cabin landing page

Another variation of a classic CAD software package formula on this list of the best architecture software programs is CAD Cabin. It has on-premise CAD capabilities for different architect levels, from beginner to expert, as well as a drag-and-drop environment, several pre-installed visualization options, as well as a host of both basic and advanced tools to make sure that every architect can make use of the program in some way or another. This software can work with 3D and 2D environments, including cross-sections, floor plans, and other parts of the home design. It also has vast integration capabilities, virtual walkthroughs, and support for multiple file formats. It is updated frequently to ensure that all of the software’s guidelines, specifications and resources are as up-to-date as possible.

Key features:

  • A variety of features and solutions for home design purposes
  • Project visualization in 3D
  • Impressive technical support at hand

Pricing:

  • There are three different versions of the CAD Cabin 3D Architect software
    • “Basic version” – £89 for a basic perpetual license of 3D Architect, with 2D floor plan designer, floor plan conversion, virtual tours, object libraries, roof designer, etc.
    • “Expert version” – £149 for a perpetual license that includes scalable and versatile home designer software with a myriad of house design features
    • “Pro version” – £299 for the complete 3D Architect offering with plenty of tips and objects to work with in different fields of home design and architecture

Conclusion

As you can see, the architecture software market is vast and varied, and it often gets combined with the BIM software market, CAD market, and so on. It is difficult to showcase the true scope of this market since every little niche or use case would have several competing software examples, at the very least.

For example, Autodesk CAD is usually a go-to choice for creating and managing 2D drafts, while another Autodesk creation – Revit – is a classic software for BIM tasks. At the same time, many people use SketchUp for general 3D modeling operations, and Adobe Photoshop is famous worldwide as #1 image editing software. Here are a few more examples of software that many consider the best for a specific purpose:

  • Revizto – collaboration and clash detection in BIM environment;
  • Lumion – for architectural animation;
  • InDesign – presentation and information organization;
  • Corona Render –  architectural rendering;
  • ArchiCAD – integration of 3D and 2D.

Of course, these solutions are not for everyone, especially in a field as massive as architecture, but they may serve as a good starting point for architects to figure out what would fit your specific case the most.

While the abundance of choices might seem overwhelming at first, we hope that this list will help you pick yourself the best 3D architecture software for your specific use case.

Why you can trust us

At Revizto, the team is committed to providing an objective view of various information, including products and technologies. They employ expert insights, product data, and strategic methodologies to create informative market overviews, ensuring visitors have access to comprehensive information for making informed decisions. Their materials encompass various factors like pricing, customer reviews, unique features, and more. The review process is conducted with a detailed methodology led by James Ocean, the BIM/VDC Specialist at Revizto.

James Ocean, as the Head of BIMspiration, plays a crucial role in supporting and educating the internal team and clients. He guides them on how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, reduce costs, and successfully complete projects of all types.

 


About the author
James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

Technically Reviewed by Aleksandr Yeghiazaryan
Aleksandr Yeghiazaryan

Aleksandr Yeghiazaryan is the Product Marketing Manager at Revizto, a cloud-based collaboration software platform designed for Building Information Modeling (BIM) collaboration. Founded in 2008, Revizto’s software technologies have been utilized by various organizations, including the City of Barcelona and the Organizing Committee for the XXII Olympic Winter Games.

Alex began his marketing career in 2017 at PUBLIQ, where he was responsible for managing content marketing campaigns globally. In 2021, he joined Revizto as a Marketing Content Leader and was later promoted to the role of BIM/AEC Tech Evangelist. Since 2024, he has been overseeing all of Revizto’s web content, ensuring that it aligns with the latest trends in AEC, complies with local BIM regulations, and more. Notably, Alex is also Revizto Certified, underscoring his expertise in the platform.

Alex is an alumnus of Quantum College, where he earned a degree in Mathematics. He was the winner of the British English Olympics in 2014 and has played a significant role in organizing and participating in six European Youth Parliament events. Besides his professional achievements, Alex is a skilled pianist and occasionally holds concerts.

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Revizto
World Trade Center Lausanne Avenue de Gratta-Paille 2 1018 Lausanne, Switzerland
+41 21 588 0125
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