Sunday, February 20, 2011

Design Software

We have been so preoccupied with selling our current house lately that's in been quite a while since I've written anything about the next house.  A while back I wrote a little bit about our house plans and some of the ideas we've used to come up with them.  So today I thought I'd write about the software I used to draw the plans so that any of you who are considering this avenue can go ahead and start today.  Like most things, you can come up with ideas all day long but sometimes getting them on to paper is the hardest part.

The primary program I've used for coming up with the actual floor plan type drawings is AutoCAD LT.  Now AutoCAD is not a software program that I'd recommend for just anybody.  Mainly because the light version, that I use, is $1,200 and the full blown version is over $4,000.  Fortunately I use AutoCAD on a daily basis at work and was able to bring my laptop home with me and use my work version.  I can guarantee you that no matter how good of a program it is I couldn't bring myself to fork over that much money.  In addition, it is a professional drafting software that I took classes for in college and that many people spend their entire careers mastering.  What this means is that it has a relatively steep learning curve and isn't always user friendly.  That doesn't mean that anyone couldn't learn it, you're just not going to be able to knock out a drawing in half an hour the first time you sit down with it.  That all being said, if you have the money and have the time to learn it, AutoCAD is a great program.  If you can think it you can draw it with this program and that's why I love it.  I've been using it for the last seven years and the whole design process wouldn't had been nearly as easy if it weren't for AutoCAD.

Now if you don't have a few thousand dollars laying around and probably at least 80 hours where you're just twiddling your thumbs I have another program that I've used extensively that works great.  Not only does it work great, but the price point is just right:  Free!  Google SketchUp is an absolutely free program that anyone can download.  Plus with some of the great tutorials that Google has put together anyone can learn it in a reasonable amount of time.  Plus SketchUp excels in the one area that AutoCAD LT doesn't actually perform, 3D drawings.  The whole idea of SketchUp is that rather than drawing in 2D like most programs do you actually model everything in 3D from the very beginning.  So what I did was design my floor plan first using AutoCAD and then took that 2D drawing and used it to make a 3D replica of our house.  This really paid off when trying to show things to Becca because like most people she is able to get a much clearer picture in her head of things when she can see a 3D representation of what it looks like.  Plus SketchUp will let you literally walk through your models so you can experience what it would be like to step foot into your new home.  I would highly recommend it to anyone going through the home design process.  Just sit down in front of your computer an in no time at all you can actually walk through the home of your dreams.  If anyone has any questions on either of the programs or help getting started feel free to post them in the comments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

First Open House Part II

Well the first open house came and went and we're still siting comfortably in our first home.  I wouldn't call our first attempt a complete bust, but I would say things could have been much better and we've definitely learned some things for next time.

On Saturday I sat around from 12-5 without as much as a single soul stopping by.  On the bright side I had plenty of time to to start and finish my taxes.  And even better, we're getting a refund this year!  I always try to look at the bright side.  And for those of you who didn't stop by you missed out as we had some excellent cookies, banana chocolate chip muffins, crackers, humus, and a small vegetable tray.  By about 3 o'clock when I realized there wasn't going to be some mad rush I started munching and it was all very good.

My Spot for Most of the Weekend
Sunday wasn't a whole lot better; however, we did get two families to walk through.  Of course, while I happened to be sitting in the office with a perfect view of the driveway for most of the weekend the first family decided to pull up while I was back in the bedroom.  This resulted in me rushing through the house like a mad man to turn on lights before they got to the front door.  Fortunately I was successful and as they were leaving I noticed the second family stopping right in front of the house.  So during the 10 hours of open house time both families were in and out within a 30 minute window.  I'm not complaining though as both families were very complimentary of the house and the second family said that it was the nicest house they had been through so far. So here's hoping for a phone call soon.

A few lessons learned:  1)  We won't be doing another open house on Saturday.  10 hours is way too long and really just a waste of time.  For what ever reason people like open house shopping on Sunday, so who am I to argue with the customer.  2)  Use balloons on your open house signs.  Saturday we didn't, Sunday we did and regardless of whether it made the difference or not with the two families it made the signs much more visible.  3)  Place your signs carefully.  Halfway through on Sunday Becca got home to inform me that there was another sign  for an open house in the neighborhood across from ours which was redirecting people before they could even get into our neighborhood.  Once again, I don't know if it really made a difference, but there's the potential that people who started out following our signs finished off following the others.  I'll be making some different placements next time.  Oh well, live and learn.  I'm sure there are some more lessons in there but that's all I have for now.  If anyone has any suggestions we'd love to hear them.  I know if we can get people to our home we'll sell it in no time, it's just getting them there.

Friday, February 11, 2011

First Open House

We're having our first open house this weekend!  Becca and I have been working frantically this whole week to get the finishing touches ready and I think we're just about there.  It's been a lot of work but we're excited to see what kind of response we get.  In this market it seems to be either feast or famine so we're praying hard for the former rather than the latter.

So if you're needing something to do this weekend, even if you're not in the market, feel free to stop by.  We'll be open Saturday and Sunday from 12-5pm on both days.  There will be a few snacks and coffee.  We figure that any press is good press so the more people we can get walking through the more likely we are to sell.  See you then.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

We're On the Market!

After months of blood, sweat, and tears we have finally gotten our house to a point where we feel good about putting it up for sale.  There are still a few small things here and there, but hopefully we can have all of those straightened out by next weekend when we're going to attempt our first open house.  From here on out it's just a whole lot of hoping and praying that the right buyer will walk through our front door and fall in love with the house as quickly as we did.  It's really pretty sad when I stop to think about it:  leaving our first home as a family is going to be tough.  But if all goes well by the end of the year we'll be in our new home and will get to start the next chapter in our lives.

If you know anybody in the market for a wonderful new home send them this way.  I've set up a website at that gives all the details.  And everybody is welcome to the open house next weekend.  Saturday and Sunday 12-5.  See you there!