Construction projects are inherently complicated endeavors.
Tools such as construction design software, aka building design and building information modeling, known as BIM software solutions, can help keep you and your team organized by providing detailed schematics and allowing for easy collaboration.
With the ability to create both 2D and 3D images, you can get a complete scope of all aspects of your project. Here are the top five BIM tools as rated by their customer satisfaction scores.
Best construction and home design software products
Top construction design software
- Vectorworks Architect and Vectorworks Designer
Vectorworks Architect and Vectorworks Designer
Vectorworks Architect is a design tool with modeling, drafting and documentation capabilities. Vectorworks Designer has all these features with the addition of site information modeling (SIM) and design tools. With such features as built-in energy analysis and automated schedules, worksheets and data reports, architects and construction managers can easily collaborate and share multiple documents in one place.
“Vectorworks Designer allows you to work in any way you prefer - there is no pre-defined workflow. It is extremely capable and can be as 2d or 3d as you like; it can be a BIM powerhouse, or a simple (yet sophisticated) drafting program. Great software and I did not even mention how robust its modeling capabilities are.” — Vectorworks Designer review from Ron K.
SketchUp is a 3D modeling program that can be used in variety of industries. Its features include 2D drawing and document conversion, so it can be easily applied as a BIM tool. The intent behind the software is to make something easy to learn and use, so you can begin designing as soon as possible. It also contains a 3D model library, so you can spend more time designing and less time creating common models (such as staircases and floor plans) from scratch. Both professional interior designers and casual home renovators can leverage SketchUp's free floor plan software functionality to design the 2D or 3D plans of their dreams.
“I was using SketchUp for Design and Drafting of Formwork Systems used in a Hydroelectric Power Plant. I was able to 3D Model the entire structure and once completed that model I was able to design my Formwork around it. I then took that 3D modeled formwork and used Scenes to transfer those 3D images to 2D drawings using SketchUp Layout.
“The whole system worked great and once the model was setup you can go back and edit the 3D model and it would automatically transfer over to the 2D drawings.” — SketchUp review from a G2 Crowd reviewer
AutoCAD is a platform that has both 2D drawing and 3D modeling capabilities. It has robust customization and collaboration options, which make sharing with your team efficient and easy. It is primarily a computer-aided design (CAD) program, which is usually geared more toward engineers and manufacturers. AutoCAD, however, has many BIM and architectural features.
“AutoCAD is very dependable. From creating machine parts for my school thesis. to drawing layouts for our construction projects in my previous job, AutoCAD never failed. [. . .] Also, I can use it together with other programs. I can import & export drawings that was already made from another program and improve it using AutoCAD.” — AutoCad review from Micah Sarah L.
DataCAD is a program for architectural design and construction document creation. While it includes drafting and 3D modeling tools, contractors can use the automatic 3D framing tool and virtual walkthroughs to accomplish BIM-related tasks.
“First and foremost it is a very user friendly program that has a very short learning curve. Since my clients can understand the drawings better in 3d I now draw everything in the 3d mode which I can then model in O2C or in Sketchup. I have tried some of the other programs and found them to be much harder to learn and to use.” — DataCAD review from a G2 Crowd reviewer
Revit is a BIM tool that contains many features specifically for architects, engineers and construction professionals. Construction modeling, coordination and fabrication features make this a much more technical program than the others listed, with somewhat of a higher learning curve. However, there are many tutorials and other learning opportunities provided.
“It's a great program for collaboration. We use it to work in complex projects where different parts of the project are shared between different of our offices or external consultants. The ability to work in the same model from geographically distant offices or to share links to the model with external consultants works perfectly.” — Revit review from Jorge A