360 Panorama – Ray Trace

As we explore design options for the Grandview home, we generated a panorama image (using Chief Architect X9).

The 360 ray traced image below is composed of six images, like a cube, and then it is stitched together.  It went through 4 passes averaging 9 hrs./pass.  It is very large: 8878 x 4320 (approx. 4x the normal size we do at 1920 x 1080).

Chief Architect interior design panorama
Click the image to explore our 360 image.

360 images can be an interactive way to communicate your design ideas to your customers. Are you using 360 panoramic images in your business? Share the link with us in the comments below.



Design Challenge: Designing for an Uphill Sloped Lot

We are looking for home design ideas to help inspire the final plan for our Grandview Charity Spec Home. You can join the challenge on our ChiefTalk thread. There, you’ll find a file that contains the actual terrain model for the building lot, which you can use to design the home (compatible with Chief Architect X8 or Home Designer 2017 and newer) or see the lot image.

The design post that is voted to the top will be included in the development process with our local design firm. The designer may also become a featured contributor. Learn more here.

We are excited to see your designs!

Using Facebook Live for Business

Yesterday was our first Facebook Live broadcast!  If you aren’t familiar with Facebook Live, it’s a real-time video post that appears on your follower’s News Feed. It will also display on your own page and be available as a recording after the broadcast is over. Viewers can engage during the live stream with comments or reactions, and can also select ‘Follow’ to get notified the next time you start a live broadcast.

So, if you haven’t incorporated Facebook Live into your marketing yet, this is a great time to evaluate the benefits and see if it’s right for your business. Facebook is currently advancing Live video by giving it a much higher organic reach.

Here’s what we learned through our first Live video:

  1. Make sure you have a strong internet connection at your location.

We had difficulty connecting at our Grandview Drive location, but found the magic spots to get connected. Facebook will hide the Live option if your internet connection isn’t strong enough.

  1. Don’t hit the ‘Go Live’ button until you have the right shot.

In the first few seconds of our Live broadcast, you see us move the phone to the correct location and switch the camera.  Avoid these undesirable camera movements by setting up your shot in advance.

  1. Audio quality can be an issue if you switch between the front and back cameras on your phone.

You will notice that our voices became faint when we switched to the back camera to capture the view from the building site.  This is because the phone we were using has a mic on both sides. When we switched cameras, the mic was pointing away from us causing the change in audio quality.  Your phone may be different, so experiment.

  1. Engage with your audience.

Attendees can like, love, wow, etc. during the broadcast and the symbols will float over the screen. It’s fun to see these as the presenter, so acknowledging the audience is a great way to keep them involved. This may also encourage viewers to watch your entire broadcast.

Interact with your audience by answering questions and responding to comments.   A simple shout out to someone who comments is a great way to acknowledge they are watching.

  1. Be you.

We practiced multiple times and found our “polished presentation” to be slightly boring. So know your main points, have fun, smile and just be you! People want to see your personality and know the face behind the company.

I’m sure there are many more tips and tricks, so please share your experiences in the comments.

Also, here’s a link to learn more about Facebook Live.

Grandview Home Floor Plan

Now that we have our site plan laid out, it’s time to evaluate floor plan options. We have designed several candidate floor plans and are considering this layout.

You can also walk through this plan using our 3D Viewer app. Once in the app, enter the shared code: 81640 13064 98116 to access the plan.

Feel free to share your professional design advice with us through our ChiefTalk thread. Your input will be included when finalizing a plan with our local Coeur d’Alene design firm.



Beginning with the Site Plan

Why create a site plan?

Our city of Coeur d’Alene requires a site plan prior to submitting for building permits. This plan is an illustration of the site perimeter, existing trees, and the proposed residence location. This information helps the city reviewers to determine whether the proposed plan meets setback and other requirements.

Where to begin?

Here are the two avenues we explored as we began developing our site plan.

1. Parcel Map


  • Through our Local County Assessor’s database, we were able to obtain a parcel map of our lot. This was helpful as an evaluation before purchasing the lot. We then saved this information as an image file, imported it into Chief Architect Software and then traced over it creating a 3D site plan.

Watch how we imported our parcel map to create the 3D site plan

2. Surveyor Data

Survey PDF1

  • To obtain more detailed information, we hired a local surveying company to mark the property boundary, elevation data, and major trees. Choosing the right company took a little work. We requested a couple of bids, references, and example DWG files to review. This allowed us to make sure the DWG file was formatted correctly with easy to identify layers. We were then able to easily convert it to a 3D plot plan with Chief Architect Software.

Watch how we imported the surveyor’s DWG file to create a 3D site plan

What’s Next?

Now that we have our site plan, we’ll use it to determine our residence location and landscape layout and begin the design process!