Softplan once again proves why it's still one of the most popular architectural CAD programs among builders with its latest release, Version 13.

One of the high points on a list of more than 400 improvements is a “Building Options” feature that lets builders show customers a 3-D model of how different options look.

Builders can show up to 100 options for each drawing. So if a customer wanted a deck, the builder could show the customer how the deck would look against the back of the house with dozens of different window styles.

“It's great for showing any kind of special feature,” says Gerald Gardner, a SoftPlan sales consultant. “Builders can use it to show chandeliers, electrical systems, bonus rooms, or even all the fiber optics for a digital home.”

Other features in Version 13 worth noting:

  • Sunlight information. By setting the city, date, and time, builders can track the path of the sun on the house. Builders working on teardowns in old neighborhoods where residents complain about the shadows new homes cast can now present planning boards with studies that detail the sun's impact over the course of a day or year.
  • Added automation. New for Version 13 is the ability to automatically set both interior and exterior dimensions. The software also automatically updates elevations, cross-sections, and -3-D renderings as a drawing is developed.
  • Automatic cabinets. Home builders will like the ability to show a customer what the wall cabinets look like. Builders can bring up cabinets by dragging the cursor along the wall and right clicking.
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