Chief Architect vs SoftPlan


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,


I know that this question has been abused several times over throughout many designer discussion boards. However, I have not been able to find a discussion on this topic that is up to date. Many of the discussions I have found are relating to Chief X3 and SoftPlan v14. 


I have been an AutoCAD Architectural & Revit user for years. I am not doing many large commercial projects anymore so I am going to scale my software back since I am primarily just doing residential designs at this point. I have been doing a lot of research on Chief and SoftPlan since these are the best residential design software platforms available. There has been quite a few changes with each software since X3 and v14. I was wondering if anyone could give me an accurate review of these two software platforms on a more relevant release? I will be purchasing one of these two programs this year.


I have also downloaded both demos from Chief and SoftPlan. They are nice demos, but demos is all they are. I cannot do real world designs, or create construction drawings with demos. 


Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SoftPlan is not as flexible, missing large libraries like ChiefArchitect has. It appears to be on 2 year release cycle. [vs 1 CA + quarterly patches, i think CA support is a lot stronger ] 

They are both capable programs.


Softplan strength:

Softlist - material estimating

Allows for different models turn on/off feature




Strength every place else

True 3D,

you can turn on or off layers, switch annoset, plan views

Very powerful cameras, glass/* house model. The glass house and slicer let you examine every aspect of the house to see if there are any issues.

Massive catalogs, DAE export that work with VR.

X10 Was greatly enhanced with PlanViews, improvements in 3D renderings, Stairs, Material List.

The layout is much more powerful, but require efforts to set up. 

The Material list was improved where you can see exactly where this material, studs, beams were used.

Ruby Macro language. 

I actually was shocked that in CA I can move elevation lines vs mess with 100s of elevation markers like Softplan.






Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tried softplan years ago stuck with Chief personnally found Chief more user friendly for me but that was a time when I was thinking about bailing on Chief after purchasing Softplan it wasn't worth it for me with all I get with Chief doing construction documents and my customers love the 3d viewer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depends on what market niche you plan to focus on, imho.


If you plan to do custom homes or remodeling mostly, go with Chief.


If you want to focus on plans for production builders, then SP might be a better fit with its building options capabilities and accurate takeoffs.


 I bought chief for two main reasons.  One was the space planner so I could layout floor plan using bubble diagram.  And the big one was the ability to get the client to fill out their selection choices in the design phase by using chief’s extensive libraries.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot of designers using Softplan, and I think you will find the Softplan users are just as enthusiastic about their product as Chief users are about theirs. I purchased Softplan and spent a few months with it, but never really felt comfortable with it.


I think both programs are very good at what they do, it really depends on what you like. Chief just seems to function better for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have tried demo versions of Softplan and Revit and found them unimpressive. I think the main thing is the earned competence of the end user is always what makes the difference in the quality of produce and NOT the software used. I have seen renderings and plans created by others in many types of programs over the years and the only common denominator is the ability of the user, never the software.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

David J Potter makes an excellent point.  Whatever software you decide to use, the results will depend on how much time and effort you put in to master that program.


In fact I follow an architect youtube channel where the man does some beautiful work... and he uses autocad lite.


All that being said, I really enjoy working with Chief Architect.  After all these years, it made designing fun again for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noticed that now we have new Ruby macro Context: "Material List Line Item"...

So presumably Chief Architect is implementing SoftList functionality.


You could provide drywall cost estimation like $2/sq ft or 5% extra.


But no subassemblies like this with CA template and preloaded default formulas


Still SoftList estimating is imho inferior to PlanSwift.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Member Statistics

    Total Members
    Most Online
    Newest Member