Residential Home Design

Professional, Residential Home Design, Stories

Fine Homebuilding California House Collaboration

FHB California House Watercolor Rendering by Chief Architect

By Adrean Stephenson


Taunton Press’s Fine Homebuilding Magazine has been the gold standard reference, covering quality home design and construction for over 30 years. I remember as a youngster sifting through the stacks of my dad’s coveted back issues, soaking up the details and anticipating the next “Great Moments in Building History” featured on the last page. It wasn’t long after I purchased my first fixer upper that I started an archive library of my own.

It is because of this history, along with the natural pairing of design resource with design software, that I am so excited for Chief Architect’s collaboration on Fine Homebuilding’s California House.

We have been working with the editors and art team at Fine Homebuilding, developing illustrations to detail the construction methods for this high-efficiency home designed by Atmosphere Design Build.

FHB California House Technical Illustration Rendering by Chief Architect Software

I started the process as usual in Chief Architect, drawing walls, generating roofs, defining terrain. Then I began detailing the nuances of the house. I created wall types to reflect the necessary layers for insulation and framing for the Advanced Framing Technique leveraged in this build. I set up custom platforms for the floors, ceilings, and roofs, and added the channeled concrete sub-floor supported on steel posts and beams.



After the fundamental house was represented, I tore the design back down to the structure and created the framed elevation view featured in the August/September issue’s spread.


I also created a gutted version of the design to showcase the foundation construction, using what I call a “Ghost House” technique with the help of Photoshop layering. You can learn more about my process in this how-to video.


The third image for this feature is a textured foundation detail. It, like the others, is rendered using the Watercolor Rendering Technique, giving it a softer hand-drawn effect.FHB California House Foundation Detail



FHB Full Page Ad featuring Chief Architect SoftwareWe’ve shared other renderings of the home on our website, where you can check in to see more updates as we progress. You can also scan our ad’s QR code directly from your issue #277 of Fine Homebuilding Magazine for information.


I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Chief Architect and the Fine Homebuilding team in a creative role. I find that I’m continually surprised and challenged while focusing on projects like these. I can’t wait to learn what is coming in this house, just like I can’t wait to get the next issue in the mail and add it to my collection.

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Residential Home Design, Student

Danielle Earns First in National Student Competition

By Emily Black

Congratulations to Danielle for her outstanding accomplishment at the National Technology Student Association (TSA) Competition in CAD Architecture.  She is only 16 years old and is on her way to a promising design career.

Danielle with her teacher, Andrew.“I am 16 years old and from Grand Prairie, Texas. This upcoming school year, I am going to be a junior at James Bowie High School where I am captain of the girls wrestling team and a member of my school’s orchestra, BPA, TSA, and NHS. Ever since I was little I have loved to make things with my hands, when I was in second grade I had even attempted making a castle out of tissue boxes. When I got to high school, I began to see architecture as a possible career path because it combines my different interests, so I took the class during my sophomore year.

“When we were first introduced to Chief Architect in class I was immediately obsessed. The software was professional level and had so many options and different features that the possibilities felt endless. Chief Architect is fast as well as easy to understand and use and no doubt gave me an advantage during my competition. Every time I use Chief Architect I find how to better use another feature and get a better result, and I intend to someday master those features in order to create great designs.

Chief Architect is fast as well as easy to understand and use and no doubt gave me an advantage during my competition.

“At TSA Nationals I showed up to the room 30 minutes early to ensure that I got a good seat at the back of the room then I had an additional hour while everyone else arrived and the judges quickly interviewed us. Then we were all given the problem and the time was started. When they gave us our problem I began to worry, there was so much to do and I only had four hours.

“We were given a floor plan to modify so I started first by recreating the walls, windows, and doors. There were holes in the design that I had to fix so I worked on those then began designing the rooms and other spaces. My main focuses, however, were designing the master bathroom and the kitchen, as well as the area around the front entrance. When time was almost out and I was putting together my layout, I remember worrying that I had focused on the wrong things, but I had to trust that I had used my time wisely and accept what happened. After time ran out we were sent off while the judges judged our work and had to wait for them to call us back to talk about our work. When it was my turn, the first judge told me how well I had done but then pointed out that I had forgotten my dimensions on my floor plan, after that, I lost all hope of getting top three. The rest of my comments were a mix of “good work” and “did you run out of time?” and one of the judges commented that he knew immediately that I had used Chief Architect.

“At the awards ceremony, I was dreading going on stage because I thought the top 10 was as much as I’d get, and once they announced 3rd and it wasn’t me, I was sure that I didn’t trophy, but then they announced first and said my name… Everything was a blur after that, I couldn’t and still can’t believe it!”

Danielle’s Nationals Design

Danielle’s Qualifying Design

Danielle’s teacher, Andrew Barrett, is on his 24th year of teaching and is currently teaching Architectural Design and Animation. Andrew has incorporated Chief Architect into the classroom for everything from floor plan creation to electrical plans, elevations, site plans, roof plans, and layouts. Also, students create animated walkthroughs utilizing Chief Architect to create their structures and use the export function to send their 3D models to 3D Max for animating.

“This is Danielle’s first year in my class and her first time to use CAD of any kind. I am extremely proud of her. She has worked very hard to improve her skills this year. Danielle is a gifted student with so much potential. I feel blessed to have her as a student. The sky is the limit for this amazing young lady in the future!”

We are honored to be a part of Andrew’s curriculum and Danielle’s design process! We wish Danielle the best in her future endeavors. If you are a teacher or student interested in incorporating Chief Architect into your class work, learn more about our academic software.

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Design Contest, Featured Customers, Interior Design, Residential Home Design

Chace Groves Places 2nd and 3rd with his Residential and Interior Designs

This residential home design offers an oversized upstairs patio area, outside storage to the right of the parking spaces, two beds, three baths, and a separate utility room. The downstairs area is an open-concept layout with a generously sized living room, kitchen and full bath.

By Kendra Dorosh

Chace Groves placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest in April and 3rd in the Kitchen/Bath & Interior Design Contest in May. Chace’s passion for 3D home design and modeling is clearly portrayed in his winning designs.

“I always had an eye for design. Since I was a kid, I always loved testing ideas and reworking current concepts. I started young, sketching plans and inventing various models and machines. I always loved testing my creativity and problem-solving skills, despite being a brain tumor survivor. My fairly poor motor skills and major loss of hearing, due to the radiation removal, were challenged in grade school and throughout life. Anything that involved my motor skills was easily not my shining talent. I’ve always hated coloring, cutting, pasting, and other handcrafting skills. In grade school, I worked my way through various home designing software and used them for much more than just home designs. I made dog houses, forts, playsets, greenhouse, and even a roping cow. Continue reading…

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Design Contest, Featured Customers, Residential Home Design

Joni Anderson Places 3rd with her Southern-Living House Plan

Residential home design with large wrap-around front porch, white siding and a gable roof.

By Kendra Dorosh

Joni Anderson places 3rd in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest. Creating 3D models of home designs is one of Joni’s greatest passions and stress releases. You can see her love for design in the details of her dream retirement home.

“I became interested in computerized home design back in the year 2000 when it became available for the consumer market. As the technology changed, I continuously upgraded to stay compatible. Eventually, with each subsequent home computer, I was led to Better Homes and Gardens software developed by Chief Architect. I then graduated to their aptly named Home Designer Suite.  Of all the different home designing software programs I’ve tried, I’ve found Chief Architect products to be the most computer friendly, affordable for budget-conscious consumers, and versatile. I’ve basically stuck with them since 2005.  And the visuals are absolutely stunning, almost life-like. Continue reading…

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