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Design software for tradespeople working on building projects

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Design tools can help bring plans to life for your employees and your customers. As well as providing a vision for the project, they can reduce potentially damaging mistakes and help you avoid misunderstandings...

What are design tools?

You may have a clear idea about what you want to achieve with a project, but can you be 100% confident that your customer or staff are on the same page?

Design tools can benefit your business in a few ways:

  • You can provide your customer with an outline of the planned work.
  • Detailed 2D floor plans or technical drawings enable you to demonstrate the big picture and specific dimensions.
  • Drawings with dimensions can also help you when it comes to working out materials you will need.
  • Detailed 3D renders give your customers a feel for how improvement to their property might look and feel. They can create more of an impact than 2D plans.
  • Branded drawings can make your business look more professional and help you stand out from the competition.
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How design tools work

  • Design software is relatively straightforward to use. Many of the software packages here come packaged with templates that can simplify the design process. This reduces the time you need to take to design them.
  • Once you’ve created your design, you can download the file and share it with customers, colleagues and other trades.
  • The packages here are all cloud-based, meaning you’ll need an internet connection to use them.
  • Design tools are available as one-off purchases and on a monthly subscription basis. Before you buy software outright, check to see if future updates are available and if they are free.

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  • SmartDraw is a cloud programme that is ideal for creating quick and accurate 2D floor plans.
  • The package comes with ready-made floor plan templates that can help you rapidly create models. Templates include individual rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens, whole houses, gardens and even commercial buildings.
  • SmartDraw has a highly visual drag-and-drop interface that makes it simple to use.
  • You can share drawings with customers, clients, employees and other trades using standards formats such as PDF.
  • You can trial SmartDraw for free, and a single user license costs around £7 per month.


  • Sketchup is a 3D modeller that lets you create sophisticated models. They can be used to aid construction and engage clients.
  • The web-based platform is simple to use and is a lot of fun, although you’ll have to get used to the interface which can be frustrating for beginners.
  • You can use Sketchup for free.


  • Floorplanner is a cloud-based programme that allows you to create both 2D and 3D floor plans.
  • You can enter your dimensions manually or drag-and-drop to create floor plans that are 100% accurate.
  • There’s a library containing over 150,000 everyday items, such as windows, sofas and baths that can make the process of creating designs much quicker.
  • Once you’ve created your design in 2D, you can switch to 3D at the click of a button. You’ll get a detailed model that you can share with clients and customers.
  • The basic package starts at around £4 a month, with pro and business packages costing more.

Professional design packages

  • If you work with architects, you’ll have come across professional design packages such as AutoCAD.
  • These specialist packages enable you to create highly detailed models.
  • The complexity of the software comes at a cost, with prices starting at £234 per user, per month.
  • Architects using these packages will have had years of experience.
  • For the vast majority of builders, these packages will be far more than you’ll regularly need to use, and you'll have a steep learning curve.

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