Custom Residential Homes Designed
with Chief Architect Home Design Software

Last Update: April 11, 2010

The following two homes were designed using Chief Architect software.  Chief Architect has two lines of home design software products the Chief Architect Professional line and the Chief Architect Consumer line.  Most professionals builders, architects or designers use the Professional line while home enthusiasts use the Consumer line known as Home Designer.

If you’re a home owner like me, don’t be afraid to design your own home. You might find you have more control of the details; however, also know when you’re over your head and hire a professional!!  The great thing about the home design software by Chief Architect is you can use the Home Designer version at an affordable price ($50 to $500) and then either upgrade to the higher end versions as you need the features - and/or - send the plan to be finished by a professional home designer. Professionals can read the plan file so you don’t have to start from scratch.  Below are two homes designed with Chief Architect in Coeur d'Alene / Hayden Lake, Idaho.  The Hayden Lake  home is currently being documented on a step-by-step process.  Projected finish date ~ summer 2010.


The Hayden Lake Home Design
2009/2010 - Residential Home Construction Project Diary

The process of residential construction on 'The Hayden Lake' project - the home was owner designed using Chief Architect software.  I had planned to run the general contracting; but, as I began to get bids and spoke to contractors - I realized that with their buying power and experience it simply made sense to hire a professional builder. The other consideration is that a builder knows the subcontractors AND they will use them on future jobs.  If I hire a subcontractor directly, they know I would not hire them on a future job; therefore, I likely would not have the same respect and performance on the job.  My cost goal in using a builder is to pay for their fee by getting better bids from the subcontractors.  Also keep in mind, if you need bank financing for a construction loan, you will almost be guaranteed to be turned down by the bank if you don’t have building credentials - so yet another reason to hire a professional builder / developer.

The bid process I went through was very helpful in generating my budget prior to starting the project.  If you are thinking of building your own house, here’s a budget template I used.  Construction began October 2009 with Ginno Construction; the projected finish is likely late summer 2010 - we’ll see.   Stay tuned; as I’m posting more as the project continues....


House Plan & 3D House Renderings
All the images below are renderings from the Chief Architect design software - click to view a larger image

These are the 'final' plans for the permits and construction. I probably have a few hundred hours into drawing the plans since we bought the lot started designing, redesigning over-and-over until we sold our other house. However, I'm glad it took a while since many changes came about as we toured open houses and decided what was really important for our house.  I liked designing the house myself since I could be involved and make the specific changes and then visualize them in 3D.  If I would have used an outside architect or home designer, I suppose I would have run up the bill or just would not have invested the money in making all the changes

This rendering above is the rear of the home. Rendered with Chief Architect as the higher quality 'raytrace' image that show reflections shadows, and radiosity

I modeled all the terrain for the design. Chief Architect works pretty well as modeling the terrain. You can also set the north pointer as well as the latitude and longitude; and time of day to get accurate sun information to best position your home on the lot. In my case this was very important to avoid the heat gain on the rear of the home, so I rotated it further to the south. This is a very helpful feature when modeling your home with home design software

Similar view; but from the south side.  It’s nice to visualization the house and the terrain.  Since our survey data was available from the survey firm electronically (.DWG)- I imported that data and was able to generate the 3D information for the sloped lot

This rendering is an artistic rendering called 'Technical Illustration'. Chief Architect also supports watercolor and line drawing - nice views for the artistic conceptual view.

This is a 'Glass House' rendering. Kind of nice to see thru surfaces. All the rendering views work like filters. You can quickly toggle thru them

Chief Architect software includes several camera filters that you can use for various views; This is the watercolor view

 Rear Elevation.  The Elevation camera is linked to the design model - any time you make change - e.g., move a window the model updates

  Side View Elevation with supporting renderings

The Doll House or Overview 3D house view is an excellent tool for visualizing the floor layout and for space planning

House Location / Pre-Construction

Lake View from Dock

Dock looking up to lot

Looking up the lot

Looking down to Hayden Lake

Winter - across the lake to the lot
House Terrain & Site Work / Foundation

Oct. 5 - Tree removal

Construction trailer

Driveway view

Track Hoe

Excavating on a 38 degree slope. The excavator had 40 yrs. of experience - good thing with the slope and the rocks

Lower foundation. The excavation and retaining walls are not an area you can cut back on unfortunately.

Fresh Ideas for our backyard grilling!

Lower Foundation wall - will be covered by dirt once the retaining wall is in place.

Lower Foundation wall.

View toward the lake

This wall will be 22’, serves as a retaining wall and foundation wall.  Footings are 6’6” wide x 14” thick - $$

View from the driveway

Stairs from the driveway

View from the driveway

View from the driveway

Oct. 31 rear foundation view

Rear foundation view

The Dock on a sunny October day

Rear foundation view

Rear foundation view

Side foundation view

Side foundation view

Side foundation view

Nov. 2 - Concrete Day

Concrete Day - Crew

Concrete Pump Truck

80 yards in this pour

Job Supervisor

Concrete creates a lot of pressure with the 80 yard pour - good to have the forms hold

Boom to Pump the Concrete

Nov. 8 - Raining. Wall is 22’ high.

On Nov. 4 & 5 forms were removed

Lower View of Foundation

Top View. Next: waterproofing, backfill, garage foundation

Looking to the South

Foundation Plan - Details for the Concrete Layout

Nov. 14 - Basement gets rock fill

22 Dump Trucks / 308 cu. yards of fill for the basement and crawl space

They lowered a Bobcat and Mini-Track hoe to fill the basement - followed by a compactor

Basement & Crawl Space - ready for rough plumbing, then concrete

Nov. 21 - Building the Lower Rock Retaining Wall - moving the material down

The excavator has to move material several times to get to the back of the house

This is the beginning of the Lower Rock Retaining Wall

Lower Rock Retaining Wall

Lower Rock Retaining Wall

Lower Rock Retaining Wall

Lower Rock Retaining Wall - 4’ to go

Basement slab

Dec. 1 - Garage Footings

Garage Footings ~38 yards

Dec. 5 -Garage will be ‘floated’ above the ground on piers

Garage Foundation Walls, 20 degrees ...

The Garage Foundation is the last of the major concrete

Rebar is drilled and epoxied into the existing wall concrete wall

View from the top down

View from the bottom up
House Framing - SheetRock - Siding

Dec. 16 - House Framing begins!

Dec. 24 - Floor for the second level

Framing moves forward, slooowly

Dec. 25 - Christmas Day 2009

Dec. 25 - Christmas Day 2009

Section Detail of the House

Jan. 3, 2010 - 2nd floor framing

Jan. 13 - Lower wall garage framing

Beams for the garage subfloor

Joists for the garage subfloor. 1.25” of sheathing then 4” of concrete will be applied on top.

Jan. 18-22 - Main Floor Framing

Garage/House Wall

Garage/House Wall

Gable Wall. To prevent the walls from ‘splaying’ there’s a 16’ threaded rod that runs the length of the wall in between the upper and lower windows.

Detail on the Gable Wall

Gable Wall as they use the wall jacks to raise the wall

Beams for the garage subfloor

Front Entry area

The angled wall forms the exterior for the kitchen

Evening Overview

From across the lake

Jan. 30 -Prepare for the iron columns

2 sizes of columns: 25’ and 41’

Setting the two smaller columns went pretty fast w/o problems

41’ column / 3,000 lbs

Roof framing begins to take shape

Building the Vault for the Great Room

Section Detail of the Vaulted Ceiling. Using the "Back Clipped Section Tool" you can create a slice of the Detail needed

Roof Framing Plan

3D Software Rendering of the Roof - it is quite helpful to see how the roof framing goes together

Glass House view of the Roof Framing

House Framing nears completion

Front Entry - a retaining wall will be built, then compacted fill

Rear Framing view

An 80 ton crane set the 41 foot columns - the 60 ton crane could not reach

View from the middle floor

Deck access from the middle floor

Some of beams combined with the metal truss weighed ~900 lbs. They were set w/o a crane....

Covered Deck - decorative truss

Vault for the Great Room


Office w/ see thru-fireplace

Master Bedroom

Master Bath

Middle Floor

Entertainment Room

Low Voltage wiring into the structured media panel; it will look better when the wires are terminated

Front Entry

Retaining Wall; still needs go up 15 feet+

Lower view of the Retaining Wall

Hanging the Siding is time consuming. They cut the boards on the ground and and then rope them up

Sheet rock begins March 25; Taping on April 1. Garage...

Master Bedroom; Trey Ceiling

Great Room

View into the Kitchen

Entertainment Room






The WoodStone

The Woodstone home was designed with Chief Architect Software.  This was our first home design project we started in 2002 and completed in 2003.  The house was sold in 2009.


Renderings with Chief Architect Home Design Software