Architecture goes D.I.Y.

Software programs make design democratic, potentially risky
June 21, 2012 02:30PM

New user-friendly design software is taking D.I.Y. to a new level, allowing homeowners to tackle complex improvement projects that typically require an expensive architect. The New York Times reported on the trend Thursday, writing about Designed Exterior Studio by Ply Gem, which allows users to choose a virtual home resembling their own and digitally manipulate its layout in a structurally sound way, while keeping more decorative design features in mind.

“We’re taking architectural skill, color choices and design, and putting it in the hands of someone who would not otherwise be able to afford an architect,” John Stephenson, North Carolina-based Ply Gem senior vice president for marketing, told the Times.

Several other programs, such as Floorplanner.com, Google SketchUp and Sweet Home 3D, are now available to these so-called “extreme D.I.Y.ers.”

Not surprisingly, some architects and designers are balking at the idea that untrained homeowners should be attempting such significant and potentially dangerous alterations to their properties. “Even though you can draw a pretty picture with the software,” Pamela Rodriguez, a kitchen designer, said, “you have to ask, ‘Can it be built?’ And ‘Should it be built?’  [NYT]