My constant companion throughout this whole process has been my favorite new tool – Google SketchUp. In fact, I’m not really sure I would have gone through with this project if it had not been for SketchUp. SketchUp is unquestionably the best 3D design tool I have ever used. It has allowed me to test new ideas, refine them, and throw them away if necessary – without wasting any building materials. And the best part about SketchUp is that it’s free, even though I would gladly pay for it if it wasn’t.
An excellent resource for SketchUp users is Google’s 3D Warehouse. Here is where you can get 3D models of almost anything you would want to include in your design. Need a sofa, plumbing fixture, or tree, it’s all available for download at the 3D Warehouse. I was even able to furnish my virtual cabin with all of the Ikea furniture I plan on using. This really helps in planning out your space requirements.
SketchUp even interfaces with Google Earth. If you assign a Latitude and Longitude to your project, SketchUp will export your design to Google Earth and display it at the correct location.