Chief Architect Premier versus Home Designer Pro

chief architect training Nov 13, 2017

I often get asked which Chief Architect program is better for drawing plans:  Home Designer Pro or the more expensive Chief Architect Premier?  Here’s my take on both.

Home Pro vs Chief Architect Premier

For users on a tight budget, Home Pro is an excellent choice for getting started in 2D and 3D CAD. But beware, the Home Pro version doesn’t offer the advanced features found in Chief Architect Premier.

Fortunately, both Home Pro and Premier are compatible with each other and have the ability to share files. I work with many homeowners and contractors who use Home Designer Pro.

What It Will Cost You

A full license for Chief Architect is priced at $2,695 with a one-year Software and Support Assurance (SSA) program. I highly recommend the annual SSA, because you get access to training videos, library items, unlimited support, and available upgrades. I definitely recommend budgeting $445 for SSA every year.

Home Designer Pro is basically a scaled-down version of Chief Architect for only $495. It’s an excellent option for those on a budget or who only need basic (but excellent) 2D and 3D drawing tools. The SSA option is not available for the Pro version.

Home Designer Pro 2015 Offers…

  • Some rendering types (no raytrace)
  • 18 x 24 maximum layout size and one layout page at a time per plan (this would drive me nuts)
  • Maximum of three floors
  • Some cabinet options
  • Some roof options for curved roofs, custom gutters, and exposed rafters
  • Some simple layer tools  (these are like a ‘Moped’ compared to Chief’s ‘Ferrari’ layer tools)
  • 2000 landscape plans
  • Limited Manufacturer Catalogs
  • Runs in 32 and 64 Bit.

Chief Architect Premier Offers…

  • Excellent Raytracing (I do all my rendering with this)
  • Insert and exchange floors
  • Files compatible with Free viewer tool
  • Better room labeling capabilities
  • Accurate floor and ceiling layout capabilities
  • Raised floor platforms
  • Polyline tools (I use these a lot)
  • Auto polygon room tool
  • Double-wall capability for walls, windows, or doors
  • Better wall alignment per floor tools
  • Steel framing
  • Walls can be put on different layers
  • Counter edge molding tool
  • Stacked molding line tools
  • Tons of cabinet options, panels, feet, moldings, etc.
  • Architectural block capabilities
  • NKBA standards for drawing
  • Mulled windows and doors
  • Custom muntin tools
  • Roof options for curved roofs, custom gutters, and exposed rafters
  • Auto dormer tools
  • Setting stair defaults
  • Custom newels and blasters
  • Better mono slab controls
  • Auto slabs in crawl spaces
  • Many, many  framing options
  • Change and save framing detail on per wall basis
  • 3D slab and primitive tools
  • CAD details and ability to add CAD block to libraries
  • Multiple copy or reflect tools
  • Fantastic layer tools
  • Many dimensional tool options
  • GPS text files and DWG can be imported
  • Road and sidewalk tools
  • 4000 landscape plans
  • 3D Plants
  • Many material definition options for better rendering
  • Symbol creation tools
  • Tons of Manufacturer Catalogs
  • Layer Sets
  • Annotation sets
  • Rich text tool, like a word processor
  • Three very nice blueprint fonts
  • Custom labeling macros
  • Many import and export options
  • 3D export
  • Runs in 64 bit
  • Customized hotkeys
  • Free plan viewer for read-only Chief plan and layout files Available Software and Support Assurance (SSA) program is available

Key Points to Consider

If money is an issue, start with Home Designer Pro, because you can get a $500 Rebate toward a Premium purchase. You can get started and won’t lose money on an upgrade.

If you need only basic plans and 3D models, Pro will work perfectly for you. If you draw a lot of plans, definitely get Chief Premium; you won’t be sorry.

If you do only interiors, baths, and kitchens – consider getting Chief Interiors. Chief is the least expensive option in the marketplace for what it can do; it’s really a very powerful tool.

Chief’s annual $495 Software and Support Assurance (SSA) program is the best value and least expensive of all major competitors. You’ll get upgrades, access to at least one new library per month, unlimited technical support, and access to all training videos. It’s a very good value.

To Your Success,

Dan Baumann