Home plans you customize - Modify standard stock plans
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Home | Sample Articles | Using Template files for a customize . . .

Using Template files for a customized home plan.

Template plans let you customize many of the paper home plans available at our sister site, CountryPlans.com. Using a simple home design program such as...

3D Home Architect ver. 3 (about $12) - NOTE: Runs on Windows XP but not Windows 7. Do not get a later version - files are NOT compatible.)

Better Homes & Gardens (version 6 or above - about $35) Runs on Windows XP & 7.

With either of these Windows PC programs you can download and open the plan templates; then rearranging walls, change the room layouts, enlarge or move windows and doors, and redo a kitchen or bathroom. You can test your layouts with interior or exterior 3D views. These floor plans can be printed to scale (1/4"=1') and pasted back into the paper plans.

Note: Template files do not have the construction details or structural information of the paper plans. They are NOT complete CAD files. However, the program can export floor plans in a format that can be read by most CAD programs.

You can download the appropriate template file from the PlanHelp Download Library.

For help with these programs see our 3D Home Architect Tutorial, or you can download this 6 page PDF file - a Quick Guide to using the 3DHA program. The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer program works much the same way (and is an evolution of the 3DHA program). You can also edit the printouts produced by these programs. See How to Edit Template Printouts.

NOTE: While these are PC only programs, they run well on Intel Macs with Bootcamp or Parallels installed.

Step by step download instructions: (this assumes you are logged in as a member):

1. Find the file you want to use in the Download Library and click the "Click here to start download". When you click it you get an open or save window.

2. You want to save the file onto your own computer. This is a compressed file in zip format. Save it in a folder called "My Plans" or on the desktop so you can find it easily from the design program.

3. After the zip file is saved, it will give you a download complete message and usually allows you to "open" the zip file. (This assumes you have a zip file utility installed, most computers do.)

4. When you click open you will see three or four files all starting with a filename such as "20x34-2s" and with different file extensions (PL0 = basement, PL1=Main floor, etc.). You have to extract (unzip) these files to be able to use them. It is a good idea to make a new subdirectory (under My Plans) for each project or version of your house so the files are easier to find. Browse to this location and then extract the zip files there.

5. After the files are extracted, start your design program. Click File, Open and then browse to the directory where you just unzipped the files. You will see just the file with the PL1 extension. That is the one you open and usually the only one you need to deal with. It will open and write all the other files as needed for the various floors.

6. Once the file is open you can "Save As" under a new name as you try out different options. You can now move walls, redo windows and doors, drop in furniture to try out the rooms and make other changes to the template plans. Grab the camera or eyeball and click and drag to see a 3d view of your work.

7. When you print out the modified plan print it to the same scale as the drawing in the paper plans (usually 1/4" = 1'-0). You can also paste just parts (say a new window layout) onto your plans and they will print properly when copied.

If your computer doesn't have a zip utility try 7-zip: http://www.7-zip.org/. It's free.

Also, most of the plan details and site tools in the Download library are PDF files. This allows them to be printed to scale so they are compatible with your paper plans. They do not need a design program to open.

Here is a search of Downloads you can print out.

If your computer has lost the ability to read these Portable Document Format files - go to Free PDF Reader and install the latest Acrobat Reader.

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