Best Design Software For Construction

By Jim Stephen | BIM, CAD, Collaboration, Data Management, Surveying

One of the most significant hurdles for home design professionals in the construction industry is figuring out which software is the right choice for their projects. For compatibility, there are Microsoft and Mac software programs to choose from. These can range from basic, open-source design tools to advanced programs with add-ons and plugins. Then there is the cost to consider, which can be free to tens of thousands of dollars. 

Another issue is that many of these computer-aided design software tools are designed to simulate different things. They work in different phases of the construction process, meaning you need to know how each phase evolves when making the best choice for your workflow. Either way, once you understand the general CAD software principles, it is easier to understand and pick up new CAD software.

There are many different types of construction design software, and they are generally categorized by which profession they are made for.

Top Software

Software for a civil engineer won’t work the same way when the chief architect uses it. You also need to understand building information modeling (BIM), which is the general category that most construction CAD software falls into. However, your choice for architectural design, interior design, and building design software in the industry will always start with your specific situation.



Software for reliable 2D and 3D drafting

While not specifically built for construction, AutoCAD is the grandfather of professional CAD software. Over the years, it has set the trends in this industry and paved the way for other user-friendly programs such as SketchUp. It has toolkits for many industries, but its architecture toolset is notably quite advanced. With this tool, you can design 2D and 3D models. You can also do things like compare drawings and count objects. AutoCAD also makes it easy to do 2D floor plans, 3D floor plans, elevations, and 3D designs. It gives you all the tools you need to create a useful 3D model that represents what you are trying to create.



An affordable entry-level CAD system 

Rhino is used by architects and engineers to design, model, present, and analyze various projects. It has multiple editing modes, meaning you can utilize NURBS or traditional geometric tools to create blueprints. It also meshes with a whole host of CAM, engineering, and rendering suites. The best thing about this program is how affordable it is compared to its competition. It even has integration with various digital fabrication tools. For example, it can be utilized with 3D printing equipment.


Autodesk Navisworks Manage

Coordination software that includes clash detection and advanced collaboration

Autodesk Navisworks Manage is an industry leader in advanced collaboration and clash detection. It allows users to combine all design and construction data (architectural, civil, MEP, etc.) into a single model without the dreaded lag common with other programs. This function offers exploration of aggregate models in real-time for advanced visualization and clash detection—a tool that identifies and reports any cross-discipline interferences (clashes). Many users report these features being invaluable both in the early and finishing stages of the design process.


Autodesk Construction Cloud

A construction software bundle for budget-friendly collaboration

Autodesk Construction Cloud is a series of software that supercharges projects with cloud-based collaboration. This different software saves designers time and money by streamlining the entire construction from bid to build—gone are the days of manually tracking changes and managing model updates.

  • Get your project off to the right start with Autodesk Takeoff to create competitive bids and do in-depth material cost analysis.
  • Then, once your project is underway, manage construction and field execution with Autodesk Build.
  • Additionally, the Autodesk Construction Cloud solutions also offer Autodesk Assemble to query and connect BIM data to key workflows. Autodesk Construction Cloud solution is ideal for both large and small businesses—keeping all team members up-to-date throughout the project lifecycle.



The industry standard for BIM software

Revit is one of the most commonly used tools in the industry. It specifically offers BIM functionality that can be used by construction professionals, civil engineers, and architects. There are many tutorials and walkthroughs available that make it easy to learn, but there is a bit of a learning curve for people just getting started. However, this is mainly because this tool has everything a professional could ever need—meaning it will take many years to master.

There are also plenty of tools for collaboration, meaning you no longer need to be in the same place to work with other engineers and architects on design projects. Additionally, it offers the same simulation and building management functionality you would expect from traditional parametric CAD modelers. If you could only choose one tool to get, this would be the one needed to manage everything in the building lifecycle.


Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro 

Cloud-based collaboration between AEC teams across Autodesk products

Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro focuses on connecting architectural, engineering, and construction teams. This cloud-based platform makes it easier for AEC teams to connect, collaborate, and create high-quality models in real time on a single platform. The main benefit of this software is that team members can implement changes at any time and from any place in AutoCAD Plant 3D, Civil 3D, Revit, and more. 



2D and 3D home design tools for remodeling and building 

Cad Pro provides high-quality drawing tools for remodeling and building. You can even evaluate your designs quickly using built-in tools. This home design software is made for traditional homeowners looking for a powerful CAD solution to help them build or improve their current homes. It offers features that make drawing, visualizing, and collaborating easy. It is the perfect bridge between a powerful professional system and one that doesn’t have the features needed to do anything useful. Finally, it is also an excellent tool for creating landscapes, patios, and other outdoor designs. 


Autodesk AEC Collection

A diverse collection of top AEC software

The Autodesk AEC Collection is designed to tackle all design aspects of projects—from design to construction. It bundles the top programs to ensure that designers, engineers, and construction professionals have cloud-based BIM and CAD tools at their fingertips. This collection includes Revit, AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Navisworks Manage, InfraWorks, and more. Beyond the cloud-based capabilities and robust tool set, a considerable benefit of this collection is that it saves you thousands of dollars compared to buying the included programs separately. 



There are plenty of CAD modeling tools and software for design and construction. However, note that there is generally no need to have them all—a few should be enough for most projects. The key is to determine your needs as a designer and the needs of your project. 

If you are looking for the best of the best, you won’t go wrong with Autodesk Revit. Then there is AutoCAD, which is excellent for working with everything from basic 2D designs to 3D renderings. However, beginners may find more value in the budget-friendly Rhino3D. Need to enhance collaboration ease? The Autodesk AEC Collection or Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro are good choices. 

With the diverse software available, there is truly an option for every design situation. Do you have any questions?  Contact us.

INDUSTRIES: Construction

Published on December 11, 2023 in .

About the Author

Jim Stephen is the Construction Industry, Account Executive at Microsol Resources. He supports construction professionals across the U.S. He focuses on solutions that improve workflow, enhance margins, and reduce risks through software adoption.