Rather than hiring an architect and paying design fees he could scarcely afford, homeowner Felipe Menanteau downloaded Google SketchUp
for his attic remodel. The free, easy-to-learn program allows users to create room plans in 3-D. You can paint the walls, add furniture, and even rotate your masterpiece in space to see every angle.
The application, available since 2006, has become a favorite of TOH staffers, including technical editor Mark Powers. "It helps you understand the project," he says. "You can stand back and see how it fits in with other rooms. It's like building without lifting a hammer."
Start to finish it took 11 months, then baby Nathaniel arrived. "In a way, the renovation was our first baby," says Felipe.