Should you consider 3D renders for your Home Design project?

3D rendering software is a game-changer in the designing process, especially if you have a hard time visualizing colors and shapes.

george nicola

By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

Whether for a renovation or new construction, designing a home is as exciting as it is an overwhelming project to undertake. The endless design decisions take many resources, such as time and money.

Like any design process, it starts with an idea drawn manually and translated into working drawings that your contractor uses to build your home. Good thing, the time and money spent in this initial stage of planning has been simplified thanks to computerization.

One of the game-changers in the home designing process is 3D Rendering Software. You can cut the cost, time, and effort today through digital drawing.

This means you can allocate the saved resources to your actual construction, making it a cost-effective means of designing your home.

Plus, revising designs and doing multiple schemes or initial drawings is easier and faster.

“Home designs have never been that easy with the emerging trend of 3D home design software”

George Nicola (Expert Stager)


First off, what is a 3D rendering for home design?

3D rendering home design

A 3D rendering, in general, is a three-dimensional representation or simulation of an actual fictional physical object or scene using a computer program.

So, when you talk about 3D rendering for home design, this means you get a drawing processed in a digital format to simulate the colors, textures, form, and other design elements of your home design.

The drawing output can be saved and shared digitally, such as a jpeg, pdf, or png file. You can also print a 3D rendering as a hard copy.

Should you DIY your home design in 3D?

Nothing stops you from trying.

Currently, there are many 3D rendering software, both paid and free versions, that you can use to design your home. 

But there’s a caveat to that whole thing!

At the time of writing this text, I managed to count 60+ alternatives web-based and downloadable 3D home design and rendering apps.

However, I am sure that’s not all, and there’s more.

Many homeowners, especially those with a modest budget, often resort to DIY alternatives.

Together with their partner or alone, they roll up sleeves and dive into first researching what software is the best for their needs, pricing options, and how easy to use. 

With the improvements through the years, simplified commands and user-friendly interfaces make it possible for even inexperienced users to create their designs without the aid of a professional 3d renderer.

All of the above means if you know precisely what you want, where, and have the time and skills, you can achieve not bad results.


What time it takes to learn DIY 3D home design software?

Let’s set up some parameters to answer the above since the answer is not that straightforward.

Scope of the project: House 
Size: 150 sqm / 1614.60 sq.ft
Style: Modern

Also, let’s compare it to a project done with an Interior Designer, 3D Home Rendering Services, and a DIY method.

Interior Designer

Design projects often start with a consultation. For our 150 sqm / 1614.60 sq. ft house, it might take 2 hours for the brief. On average such projects can take from 2-3 weeks to 2-4 months, depending on the scope. Price-wise, the range can vary; we detail pricing interior designs on this page.

Often, designers work with an external 3D designers or have a 3D designer in-house who produces all interior renderings. So it’s safe to say that you get 2 in 1; the designer’s expertise and interior renderings.

Required budget: Average to High

Expected results: Likely great

3D Home Rendering Services (Virtual Interior Designer)

If you resort to using a 3D Rendering company or freelancer 3D designer, you will need to have the concept of your project and some specifics in advance. The idea of this service is simple – the 3D renderers are hired as skilled hands to follow specific guidelines of the project without participating with ideas. Although some 3D rendering companies offer Interior design help (at Tallbox we do that, too)

Our 150 sqm / 1614.60 sq. ft house from the example might take between 2 to 4 weeks or even 2 months. If the concept is ready and there are not too many revisions. 

Required budget: Low – Average

Expected results: Likely average to great

DIY 3D home design

Some homeowners prefer to try the DIY path. Depending on the learning curve of the software, minimum it will take one day to 2 weeks. And then further 5 to 6 weeks or more for fine-tuning or testing different details. The biggest challenge here is that most homeowners might not be design trained and the home design software will not solve their problems. 

Most 3D home design software has layout and space planning tools that do the job. Some even have a rudimentary 3D system to convert your 2D plan into a 3D, which will get you quickly to the basics of the design project. The tricky bit is the details, and that’s where things might get in the wrong direction.

Designing our 150 sqm / 1614.60 sq. ft house from the example above might be a challenge since 90% of the apps have a limited amount of models and tools, which might not fit the design scope (modern). In addition to that, 3D renderings often look like a game in almost all of the 3D home design software. 

The one positive side of the DIY approach is the price. Almost 100% of all DIY 3D home design and rendering apps are cheap to use, which means more money for furniture, materials, and real-life stuff. 

Expected results: Likely poor to average

Required budget: Free – Low

3D Home Design Rendering Software – Paid options

SketchUp Pro –This 3D modeling and rendering software has presentational features suitable for client presentations. Aside from the usual features for modeling and renderings, SketchUp Pro also has walkthrough animation capabilities where you can visually walk inside or on your project.

After downloading the software, you can immediately create design concepts for your home as Sketchup has an intuitive and easy navigation interface that non-professionals can easily use. 

As of the time, this article was written, Sketchup Pro costs $299. 

Learning curve: Easy

3Ds Max – Though more intricate to navigate than SketchUp Pro, 3Ds Max is a powerful 3D home design rendering software with many textures and presets to use in your design.

One of the best and most flexible software for 3D home renderings. It has a steep learning curve and might take months to learn.

As of the time this article was written, 3Ds Max costs $460 per quarter, annually $1470 or monthly $185

Learning curve: Hard

AutoCAD – Like 3Ds Max, Autocad is a comprehensive architectural software and is as popular as SketchUp Pro and 3Dsmax. Mainly popular for 2D drawings, the newest versions of AutoCAD have improved their rendering features to more realistic outputs. 

As of the time this article was written, 3Ds Max costs annually $1690 or monthly $210

Learning curve: Hard

Lumion – One of the easiest software to navigate for your 3D home designs is Lumion. The presets and tools allow you to update materials and colors in real-time. You can import modeled projects from Sketchup or AutoCAD into Lumion for a fast-rendering process. The only downside of Lumion is the heavy use of your GPU and CPU.

As of the time this article was written, Lumion cost $1700

Learning curve: Easy-Medium

Foyr Neo – Interior Designers’ workflow, from floor planning to rendering, is covered by this all-in-one software.

A newly launched For Shapes module allows users to create their own 3D model using industry-standard features such as drawing tools, push/pull, offset tools, and follow me, in addition to a large library inbuilt of around 50,000 render-ready models.

As of the time, this article was written, Foyr Neo costs monthly $49 per user

Learning curve: Hard

Cedreo – It’s more focused on home builders and remodellers allowing them to design and visualize their projects. It has 2D and 3D tools to help you draw interior and even exterior details.

It comes with a component library, drafting, annotation, landscape design and rendering, project management, and presentation tools.

As of the time, this article was written, Cedreo costs monthly $99 per user

Learning curve: Easy-Medium

Modo – Modo is a polygon and surface division modeling software that is commonly used in animation, 3D printing, and sculpting. Artists and designers alike prefer Modo because of its quick speed and effective results.

It is easier to use, resulting in less difficulty with technical hoops, and it includes unique features such as n-gons and edge weighting. In addition, Modo allows users to create their toolset for a more personalized experience.

A yearly subscription to this software costs $359.

Learning curve: Medium

3D Home Design Rendering Software – Free options

Sketchup Free – You get the essential tools for rendering, and all you need is an internet connection and to credit card required. 

Blender – Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software suite that can make for visual graphics and interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and computer games.

Daz – Daz is a free 3D modeling program available. It has rendering tools that help with the creation of images and videos. In addition, it gives you access to two free render engines, namely 3D Delight and Iray.

Additionally, several add-ons render engine plugins from other vendors used in Daz studio can be purchased. Daz provides studio-quality processing for photo-realistic images and animations. It uses its models in other 3D modeling programs like Maya, 3DS-Max, and others.


Twinmotion – Another one easy to use software. In combination with SketchUp, users can visualize and walkthrough, and explore their 3D home designs in real-time. The only downside is the requirement for a good video card.

As of the time this article was written, Twinmotion cost $299 or Free

Learning curve: Easy

What your designer/ 3D renderer will need from you?

When you decide to hire a professional 3D renderer or designer, they will need much information on your preferences to integrate into the design and successfully realize your dream home. But requirements will vary according to your needs. The most common requirements entail:

Basic Requirements: - For Schematic/Conceptualization Phase

  1. Budget 
  2. Project Dimensions, e.g., Square Footage, Required Floor to Ceiling Height, etc. 
  3. Desired Theme/Style, e.g., Contemporary, Cottage House, Mediterranean or Scandinavian 
  4. Desired Color Palette, e.g., Monochromatic, Earth tones, Metallic accents, etc. 
  5. Materials, e.g., Wood and Metal, Stone, etc. 
  6. Functional Areas (For New Construction)
  7. Desired Lighting Design 

Secondary Requirements: - For Detailed/Final Presentations

  1. HVAC Systems 
  2. Structural Design
  3. Electrical and Plumbing Design 

Other Requirements

  1. The lifestyle of Family Members
  2. Number of Occupants

Traditional Home Design Illustrations vs. 3D Renderings

Hand-rendered concepts produce emotional connection. This makes them ideal for the first concept with a focus on quality, such as design consultations and client “first looks.”

Computer-generated concepts are always more suitable for achieving quantitative outcomes. In addition, most design software allows for quick replication of design elements across multiple buildings.

These programs’ design flexibility allows for easy early-stage revisions. Designers and clients can also get an estimate of materials and costs.

However, each has its own set of disadvantages. When it comes to back-and-forth reviews, hand-drawn designs pose a challenge. Changing a design often necessitates redrawing large sections or starting from scratch.

It’s also challenging to achieve quantitative results with hand-rendered concepts (though not impossible).


3D home design rendering has changed home design projects significantly, saving time, money, and effort while minimizing contingencies. Computer-aided design software offers vast capabilities of visualizing any design detail including light simulating, weather, and even special effects.

To get more details on utilizing the powerful features of 3D rendering software, you can check this article here.