What is Construction Design Software?

Erin J. Hill

Construction design software is any program or system of programs used to design, sketch, and label various construction projects. This can include diagrams used for installing electrical or plumbing systems, as well as blueprints for the structure itself. Landscaping and other aesthetic aspects of a project may also be mapped out using software.

Plotters, a special type of large format printer, are typically used to print designs made with construction design software.
Plotters, a special type of large format printer, are typically used to print designs made with construction design software.

The benefits of using construction design software over hand-drawing blueprints and diagrams are numerous. For starters, designers can change aspects of a design and correct mistakes much more easily with the click of a mouse than when using pencils and paper. Sketching designs using software is also much more efficient than doing it by hand. Drawings get done more quickly with more details, while still maintaining accuracy and precision.

The most efficient and top of the line construction design software may even be able to let designers know when there is a flaw in the sketch. This could mean alerting the designer when there is an issue of safety, or making suggestions based on what may be visually pleasing. These features can help designers avoid costly mistakes that would normally be fixed in a second draft or during the beginning stages of building a structure.

The cost of construction design software varies widely depending on the sophistication of the programs, the number of programs within a software system, and the features each system carries. The most basic editions may be available for download for very reasonable prices, while professional grade versions can be very pricey. Occasionally, there may be freeware or open source programs available, although these are generally very basic in nature and do not have all the features a professional designer may need.

Builders, contractors, and designers may be able to find construction design software at specialty stores tailored to the trades or online on various websites. To find the right program for a given job, it is important to read product descriptions carefully or talk to sales staff for information about a product’s capabilities. Buyers should also inquire about return policies in case the program does not work correctly or doesn’t have the appropriate features once used on the job.

For those who wish to design for a living, special training or knowledge is usually required. Architects often have a four-year degree, as do electrical and plumbing designers. In some cases these professionals may only need to be familiar with design concepts as well as using construction design software. These requirements will vary based on locations and employer.

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