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Outside Dog
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I am looking at purchasing one of the many deck design and estimating programs out there. Simpson's Deck Tools has so far been the one that looks the most useful as a sales tool, but potentially lacking in some of the design features, at least according to the thread I read on it which written mostly in '09. I would love to hear what anyone who is primarily a deck builder has to say about that program, and any others which would be worth considering. Thanks for your help.
 

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Hello,

I am looking at purchasing one of the many deck design and estimating programs out there. Simpson's Deck Tools has so far been the one that looks the most useful as a sales tool, but potentially lacking in some of the design features, at least according to the thread I read on it which written mostly in '09. I would love to hear what anyone who is primarily a deck builder has to say about that program, and any others which would be worth considering. Thanks for your help.
It's fairly pathetic for anything other than basic decks. Realtime Landscape Architect is better in nearly every way (except for realism of product).
 

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General Contractor
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Greg, how is the material list for that deck. I have CA Premier and I can't use the material list. It doesn't account for all the custom stuff I do.
It will generate the whole list of everything on the plan, of you can get a from an area or from a room.

It pretty much will include everything, including sheetrock, insulation,etc everything connected to the room, but it will have a breakdown so, you just have to weed it out the items that you need. I think or I assume that CA would be a little more advanced compare to HD Pro.
 

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Outside Dog
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the insight, looks like i wont be wasting any money on the Decktools software after hearing what you all have to say.
 

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Outside Dog
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Discussion Starter #8

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I'm here beating my head against a brick wall... otherwise known as using deck tools... DT is just sad, it's only use is to show exact material very well. Most of the process to get to pretty pictures is pathetic.

I don't know how well the PRO version from Ideaspectrum will work, I have the Architect version myself.

The other one I've never tried but I might buy it, it's cheap enough and why the hell not add ANOTHER piece of software to my list...
 

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Outside Dog
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Discussion Starter #10
I just purchased the HD Pro Landscaping and Decks module, after speaking to an architect friend of mine who highly recommended the CA software. He said the rendering was not as high quality as some others, but otherwise its great. From what ive seen it looks like the only real good use for decktools is for its rendering capability. Ill post a design once i get a handle on how to use the HD program. Thanks for all the advice.
 

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Outside Dog
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Discussion Starter #12
Update on the CA Home Designer Landscape and Deck program.

In a word, its only real function is to give a halfway decent rendering of your finished product, but is sorely lacking in design features. I purchased it last week, with the intention of playing with it over the weekend, but ended up working 12 hour days saturday and sunday, which resulted in me getting an RFP for a deck replacement from the HO who we had just finished up a job installing 16 sections of t&g cedar framed panel fence, and 2 other decent sized jobs in the past month. the guy loves our work, so i'd never say its a sure thing but im pretty optimistic on this one. i dont know about the rest of the county, but the construction market is booming something fierce here in Southern CT (New Haven and Fairfield counties), and the weather has been perfect to boot! So I gave myself a crash course this morning, and attempted to design a simple deck to fit in the newly fenced in area (approx. 32'x9' rectangle running alongside the house). there are a few obstructions alongside the house, an outdoor shower, oil tank, and a door which is down 2 steps from the existing deck, which is sitting direclty on grade, terrible design by the way, 2x6 joists @ 24" o.c., no footings, 5/8" or larger gap between deckboards, oh yeah and no ledger or fastening to the building of any kind. hackjob would be a compliment to this abortion. the HO actually was surprised that the thing tried to sail away after the hurricane last year. back to the software, i had already drawn by hand my plan view, materials list, work scope, cost breakdown and wanted to wow the guy with a 3d rendering to seal the deal. so I created the house, the fence we had just put in, and started on the deck, only to find out that you cant adjust any of the framing members with this version, I couldnt make the thing understand that I needed my ledger to not be a continuous run, but to bump out around the obstructions. if this thing cant to something as simple as account for multiple points of attachment and identify point loads, then its simply not worth even considering. I'm returning the thing tomorrow, i spoke to the tech support folks, and they said that the full version ($500 as opposed to $80 for this deck module)) has the capability to allow you to adjust framing members and aparentlly a whole lot more, im going to finagle a free trial out of them to test it out before i shell out any more dough.

a few questions for you all based upon this experience....

is decktools as limited in its design as this product?

so now im looking at the 500 to 1500 dollar price range, whats the best full design and estimating program most relevant to primarily decks, and exterior construction?

and on a different note, looking for recommendations on a project management program that wont break the bank, any ideas?

hope everyone else is as busy as we are, feels like the good old days again!
 

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I use Sketchup (and SU Layout) to do all my construction documents, none of the design programs are going to get the blueprints right unless it's super basic. With that being said I haven't really tried to do anything with DT as far as construction documents go.

DT is decent at making pretty pictures as long as it's a basic project.
 

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deck software

I also agree with using Chief Architect. I have version X2 and also have Revit 2013. If I was only going to be designing decks only I would absolutely use Chief Architect over Revit. It is easy to use, tons of tutorials on youtube, and has some really cool deck features. Also you may want to download a copy of sketchup to create the custom models then load them into chief, the combination really opens doors.
 

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Outside Dog
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Discussion Starter #17
thought it was time to continue this thread, I ended up getting rid of that CA software (deck and landscape mod) it was just way too limited, i need something that I can design complex structural framing options with. so i spent the time learning sketchup, the free version, and I love it, once i got somewhat proficient with it, i was sold, still would like something that can take my design and give me a 3d rendering, but thats taken a back seat to my new search, lead management, estimating, and project management software. I am going to try the 1 month $50 trial of Corecon V7:

http://www.corecon.com/Products/CoreconV7.aspx

Looks fantastic, and the price is only $60 per user, so not bad at all, anyone use it? if not any thoughts or experiences with this product that would help ?

what software are you all using for your estimating? this one looks interesting because its integrated the estimating program with the scheduling and PM software, im sure its no MS Project, but we'll see. starting the trial today so I'll update in a few days and give a rundown of the learning curve and what its actually like.

-Russ
 

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Hello,

I am looking at purchasing one of the many deck design and estimating programs out there. Simpson's Deck Tools has so far been the one that looks the most useful as a sales tool, but potentially lacking in some of the design features, at least according to the thread I read on it which written mostly in '09. I would love to hear what anyone who is primarily a deck builder has to say about that program, and any others which would be worth considering. Thanks for your help.
Just curious what you ended up doing.

FWIW, I know this is an old thread. I use the HD software. Has never failed me once. The first time I used it I checked the first few jobs I did by doing it by hand and came out exactly on point.
 
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