Chief Architect Home Designer Software Tricks
The Basement Ideas products - Basement Ideas CD, DVD, download and the print version - each contain a lot of information devoted to the subject of designing a living space in your basement. Here are some more “pearls of wisdom” that you need whether you plan on doing the work yourself or just in the role of a planner.
I have been using the professional version of the Chief Architect software for many years now. My software has some features that are not available with the version(s) sold on the Basement Ideas website. As these features are very useful I have created workarounds that will make it possible for you to make material calculations and allow others to better understand your plan.
Knowing the different Wall types
In the plan files posted on the Project Planner pages and the image to the right you’ll notice differences in how the walls are drawn with my version as compared to your ability with your version. If you'd like to create walls just like mine, then purchase the professional version. And here's another little secret. With the professional version, all of the plan files I've uploaded to the Project Planner pages will be editable by you. In other words, with that version if you found a plan that was very near your own and downloaded it to your computer, you would be able to alter that plan as needed.
The red and blue walls represent exterior walls that are framed and insulated.
The turquoise walls are interior walls with drywall on the main room side only. The studs are exposed on the backside bordering an unfinished space.
Purple walls are interior walls that have drywall on both sides.
Yellow walls are concrete or block walls. No finishing work to be done.
In the Chief Architect software these various wall types are referred to as “layers.” These particular “layers” or types were created by me in my professional version. Again, this is one of the features I have - and you don’t. Hence this article to show you how the workarounds are to be used by you with your version.
I created these layers to indicate to my prospective clients my intentions as to how we would finish the basement. What walls would go where - and how so. It is also very helpful to the subcontractors who actually do the work.
Further, when I calculate materials for my projects the software will tell me the total running length of each wall type. For example in the spreadsheet image, you’ll note from the plan above there are 113 linear feet of Exterior Drywall 1 side, 74 linear feet of drywall with 2 sides and so on. I use this information as a basis to figure out how much to order for the many products I will be using.
With that being said, here is the workaround you will use in your designs. If you follow this guide exactly, you will know very thoroughly just how much to purchase providing the measurements you took are correct.
In your Chief Architect Home Designer software (Essentials and Suite versions) use the following wall types to create interior and exterior walls.
This wall layer will be used to replace the red and blue walls that I created.
8” Concrete stem wall
This wall layer will be used where I have the yellow walls.
This will equate to my purple walls
This will equate to my turquoise colored walls.
If you have a laptop computer it works well to install the software on it. This way you can be in the basement while designing. It’ll help eliminate any errors from omission. You wouldn’t want to come up with this great design only to find out that a post was missed and be forced to reconfigure everything.
Start your design with the outside perimeter walls. As soon as you have these walls completed save your drawing. Save it again after every few changes. This is a good habit to get into. If the computer loses power, locks up or some other catastrophe happens you’ll not have to restart from scratch. And trust me on this one, I speak from experience.
If you have two or more different floor plans in mind, draw all the components that will remain the same for all the layouts first. This would include the perimeter walls, stairs and furnace room. Re-save the work at this point. Continue working and when the next time comes to save your drawing use a slightly different name. For example, add the number “2” to the existing save name for the 2nd version. When you complete this drawing go back to the first saved drawing and complete it without having to start from the beginning.