Here's what builders need to know about VectorWorks Architect Version 12, the latest release from Nemetschek North America: 3-D modeling requires much less manual work, the design objects are easier to manipulate, and the rendering features let builders make more-realistic presentations.

Dan Monaghan, the company's director of marketing, says VectorWorks 12 is perfect for custom home builders looking to build that showpiece home. He outlines the features that builders will find most interesting:

Automatic section drawings. In the past, if a builder wanted to swap out a wall type, he would have had to redraw the entire section of the house. Now, he can make the change, and it's automatically reflected in the section view. Since there's much less manual work involved, the updated software lets builders start taking better advantage of the benefits of designing on a computer.

New and improved design tools. Version 12 has improved the design tools for walls, doors, windows, stairs, cabinets, and furniture. The new software lets builders design complex staircases, for example. Instead of stairs with just a single component, builders have access to software tools that let them draw stairs that are straight, round, skewed, or any combination of flights and platforms.

Better renderings. One improvement includes volumetric lighting, which lets builders create renderings that show streams of light in a room. Another feature, called “radiosity,” mimics lighting energy in real-world situations. Radiosity lets builders show how a beam of light from the ceiling hits the floor and then bounces onto a wall or back to the ceiling.

Version 12 started shipping in October 2005. The software costs $1,395 per seat license for the basic product; $1,795 with RenderWorks, Nemetschek's rendering software. Visit for more information.