We use Punch! design software. Find out what it does and the many features, plus the pros and cons.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to draw was house plans. Yeah, I know it’s a bit odd, but that’s what I did.
I imagined and then sketched out spectacular homes and loved planning layouts, both inside and outside.
When we took family vacations, I always wanted to tour the local notable homes such as the Gaches Mansion in La Connor, WA (we went there often on day trips), Mark Twain’s house in Hartford, CT and Casa Loma in Toronto, ON to name a few.
With the advent of the computer you can only imagine how much fun it is to design homes, interiors, floorplans and landscaping digitally. Moreover, the graphics of today’s design software is amazing. It’s almost photograph quality.
Punch! Home and Landscape Design Software products are definitely one of the leading digital design options available.
Disclaimer: At Homestratosphere.com we have and use the “Home Design Studio Complete” version for Mac. We have not tested the PC version, although we have no reason to believe that the PC version lacks anything compared to the Mac version.
=> TIP: If you’re going to buy home design software, our current preference is Home Designer Software by Chief Architect (read the Chief Architect review here).
- Many templates for quick start. I also find the templates helpful in learning the software.
- Split 2D and 3D views so you can see your changes in 3D as you make them.
- Insanely huge design library: furniture, plants, home elements… you’ll enjoy just dragging and dropping the elements you need.
- Many 3D viewing options.
- Materials pricing list generation.
- Many helpful video tutorials. There are many of them, but they’re short. I much prefer many videos that are short than a few that are long.
- You can literally design your entire home and property in very fine detail.
- Simple enough for non-professionals; robust enough for professionals.
- Mac and PC versions.
- Several product options… pay for what you need.
- Price: Reasonable prices for what you get. Other software costs quite a bit more.
- Learning curve: This is software with all the bells and whistles. There’s a lot of options and so it takes a while to learn the user interface and many of the features to create designs. Be patient and enjoy playing around with it. Also, it’s well worth your time to watch the many video tutorials on the Punch! website.
- It’s Downloadable software: It would be great if there was a cloud version that you simply logged into online.
- It’s a huge file… over 3 MB.
When you open the software, you’ll see the following:
When I first started, I wanted to learn off a template, so I started with “Browse Sample Plans” and ended up with the following:
The screen is split into 4 sections.
Your basic functions such as “File”, “Edit”, “View”, “Design”, “2D”, “3D” and “Window”. These are what you normally have with any document except the options are tailored to the software.
When in 2D, you can choose among the following:
Your choice will then dictate the editing tools that display on the left.
These are your editing tools. They will change depending on which aspect of the home you’re working on.
On the right you can generate a 3D or 2D view. It also contains your library of various objects.
One of the best features is the massive library of elements and features. For instance, you can plan out your garden in incredible detail by placing plants, flowers, hedges, etc. in a design. You can get a graphic depiction of what that garden will look like in several years as your chosen vegetation grows.
There are deck templates, furniture, faucets, cabinets, staircases, windows… the list goes on. Everything you could imagine is built into the software.
In fact, and this alone offers a pretty good use for this software, and that is you’ll find elements and features in the library you didn’t know existed that you can incorporate into your house.
Here are some screenshots:
Example library of bathroom faucets:
Example plant library:
You can view your plans in many, many ways. Below are just a few of your many options:
this is cool because you can move all around the house checking it out from many angles and perspectives.
2D / 3D Hybrid View:
This is excellent so that you can see your changes in real time in 3D.
Generate a Materials and Cost List
Once you’re done, you can generate a materials-needed and cost list. This is obviously helpful for budgeting and purchasing purposes. If the price ends up blowing your mind, you can go back and opt for less expensive options… maybe switching out the hardwood floors or taking it easy on the landscaping. Yeah, those pools are expensive.
Software this robust is not something you’ll turn on and figure out in 30 minutes like a $1.99 app.
This program has some serious horsepower and endless features that takes a while to learn. Don’t let that deter you. I’ve used many, and I mean many different types of software over the years in many industries and typically high-powered, extensively featured software does have a learning curve.
That said, if you’re the type that resists reading an instruction manual or watching video tutorials, do yourself a favor and watch the video tutorials available here. They will save you a truckload of time getting up to speed and actually designing something pretty cool.
My approach is to jump into the software and play around but it didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t getting too far without diving into the tutorials. You don’t have to watch them all. A few during the early stages will give you a really good idea how the software works as a whole. Also, the tutorials aren’t long (but there are many) so you don’t have to sit for hours watching a video just to learn a few techniques.
Who is this Software For?
Anyone who is thinking about renovating and/or building a home who wants to come up with their own design can benefit from this software. I find using design software helpful for coming up with ideas. Even if you plan on hiring an architect or designer, playing around with this type of software helps you hone your ideas for whatever renovation you’re doing.
If you’re building your own home, you can play around with the many home plan templates or start a layout from scratch.
My Current Favorite Use
One use I currently have for this software is the deck design module. I like designing decks and this software does a good job doing so. You can design simple decks, multi-level decks, custom shapes… if you can dream it, you can design it.
In fact, because this software is fairly reasonably priced, it’s worth buying even if you’re designing a renovation for one room, a deck, patio, garage, addition, etc. It’s not just for designing an entire home.
Tip of the Iceberg
There is no way I could profile every feature available in this review. The point here is to provide my overall opinion and showcase a few of the features and screenshots to give you a glimpse of what this software offers.
In my view, you’ll get a much better idea of what this software offers and does by watching some of the video tutorials.
=> Click here to watch video tutorials (this is the best way to get an idea whether this is the right option for you).
Here are a series of galleries showcasing examples of what you can design with this software.
Click on the images to enlarge.
1. Interior Examples
2. Exterior Examples
3. Decks, Patios, Pools & Landscaping Examples
4. Other Examples
In my opinion, it’s good design software as long as you take the time to learn it. Don’t expect to design your entire house in a day. It’s certainly not the most expensive on the market and balancing cost with feature set, it’s a solid buy.
But please, do your due diligence and carefully assess this software against others on the market. Watch the various video tutorials and overview videos to get a sense of what will best meet your needs.
NOTE: If you’re going to buy home design software, our current preference is Home Designer Software by Chief Architect (read the Chief Architect review here).