There are design software packages to design the room: kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, sliding robes and studies all of which can include fitted furniture. And others that are more sophisticated that will design the furniture as well as the room. These are used by bespoke manufacturers to create something different, something special. This type of software can have the added feature of producing accurate workshop drawings and even cut lists of panels derived straight from the design. Buying a top line design package even if just for the quality of the end results will probably only cost a little more than something average in the scheme of things
Purchasing a software package will involve a substantial outlay and should represent an excellent investment if you chose the right software, or a costly mistake if you choose the wrong one. The aim therefore in writing this piece is to help narrow down the type of software you would need and avoid costly mistakes, not just in the financial outlay but in the time you will need to invest in training and in it's the implementation into your business.
There are two main aspects to consider in choosing the right design software; It's value as a sales tool and its value in streamlining the design process and making your business more efficient.
There are many design systems that have the catalogues from manufacturers included. This is the opposite than what is needed by the higher end bespoke manufacturer. He needs flexibility and the ability to modify or create cabinets, where the catalogue driven system is tying the designer down to only using what is available in the catalogue.
Some CAD packages do not rely on manufacturers catalogues at all or on only a few that are created for some of their larger multinational retailers who only sell their own brands.
A lot of sales people (demonstrators of CAD software) have no hands on kitchen, bathroom or bedroom design experience , and knowledge of only their own software, so it's important when purchasing a design package to be shown and not just told the answer to a question. A sales person who didn't understand what it was they were being asked can easily make assumptions resulting in software being purchased that does not do what it should do. It is the responsibility of the buyer to ensure that the package they buy meets their requirements.
If you can afford to pay for the software upfront you can often negotiate a better price. This is the traditional way of acquiring a software package and will be the cheapest and most cost effective for most companies especially if training is included and a support contract for at least the first few months is also included.
Product trends constantly change and new technology brings with it new features for the designer. As long as the feature and benefits are valuable to you a support/maintenance packages are good value especially if you can spread the cost over the year.
There is a cost for training either included in the software or paid for separately. However it is paid for the buyer needs to ensure they get the most out of it.
Usually the favoured and most profitable way for a software company to deliver training is through a class room training session over one or more days. There will be up to seven other people being trained at the same time. The slowest person will often hold up the group and feel the pressure of doing so. The fastest person will feel that being held up has wasted their day. Rarely is everyone completely satisfied.
The best software to buy is one that does what you want it to do. All CAD systems are different although they fit into various categories. Catalogue driven or generic or a combination of both. And software like AutoCAD® that is a 2D line drawing CAD with no libraries branded or generic. It produces technical drawing layouts and was the traditional choice of the bespoke designer until the ability to retain the technical appearance of their plans and produce 3D images was made available through software powered by an AutoCAD® OEM engine together with kitchen cabinet, appliance and accessory catalogues.
One the whole our UK KBB industry is a nice one to be part of and one I've been part of it for over 32 years. Back in the early eighties when I first left school I trained and worked a kitchen installer, I qualified as a cabinet maker which then lead into owning my own bespoke kitchen manufacturing company for 16 + years. When I was in my early teens my parents had our kitchen replaced, and I watched as the designer measured and designed the layout of the new kitchen. When we went back into the showroom to see the finished design a few days later I knew I wanted TO work in this industry and someday become a kitchen designer.