If you are one of the many future homeowners looking to use shipping container design software to design your dream container home, you are not alone. With container homes rapidly rising in popularity as an economical living option, many future builders look to design and build these tiny homes themselves.
Conceptualizing your design idea is a key step in making your shipping container home come to life. Designer fees can be costly, undermining the money saved by choosing the container home route. Container home design software is a reasonable option for those looking to cut costs and stick to their budget.
With so many shipping container home design software options on the internet, it isn’t easy to narrow down the one that will suit your needs. Choosing a shipping container home design software can make or break your design experience, so it is important to research your options before making a financial commitment.
We have researched and broken down the pros and cons of the most popular shipping container home design software on the market today.
Top container home design software options in 2021
There are a lot of aspects to consider when choosing design software. You want the process to go as smoothly as possible. There is nothing more frustrating than making progress on a project only to find that the software doesn’t have a feature that you need.
You can eliminate this frustration by making a list of the attributes you will need. A rough sketch on paper will tell you if you need window and door frame capabilities. If you need to design the interior, check the catalog for furniture options to make the mockup as realistic as possible. Completing a tour through walk mode is important, so this is something else you could look for.
If you are working with a team, you may want an internal database to store concepts and visuals. You will probably want to export data at some point, so making sure your chosen software can do that is essential.
Need to transport your container? Considering a load plan for railroad cars and freight costs is essential and may require separate software. Providing this data to your shipping company can cut down on a lot of money and headaches.
Live Home 3D
Live Home 3D from BeLight Software is a go-to shipping container home design software no matter your stage in the design process. Its basic, streamlined user interface makes this a user-friendly option for both professionals and beginners. The focus is on the details here, so you can really customize your container home design. If you are looking to draft your dream shipping container home, this is a great place to start.
This intuitive software allows you to plan even your loftiest design ideas. One of its key features is allowing you to visualize exact measurements through view mode, which helps you strategically plan space optimization in your container home.
Due to its unique, comprehensive features, this is not free software. However, the paid version is extremely affordable for beginners and allows you to dip your toes into interior design software. The paid version provides video tutorials and furniture pieces to help showcase design options for individual rooms exactly as you want them.
Sweet Home 3D
Sweet Home 3D is a container home design software that is a little more accessible to people just starting to plan their space. While this software is free, it is a little trickier to use than other design software.
There are many tools available in Sweet Home 3D, and you can easily lay your plans and focus on details. The software is drag-and-drop, so it is beginner-friendly. The functions are not easily labeled, but you can easily adapt to the interface by spending some time exploring the functions.
This software allows you to develop your own container home design by adding walls, floors, and doorways. You can create different types of walls, such as circular or sloped, so you can put your own touch on the architecture to focus on space utilization. It also has a furniture object library to help flesh out your overall concept.
If you are looking to export data and images, Sweet Home 3D is a good option.
3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software
3D ISBU is minimalistic design software that aids you in constructing homes. This home design software does offer a free version that is a good introduction for beginners. It has the convenient feature of allowing a virtual walkthrough of the shipping container and setting a pivot point in your preferred location to optimize the design. The default mode is view mode, so you can quickly navigate the layout.
The paid version of 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software allows you to place shipping containers next to each other using exact measurements. This software is best used for exterior design. It will not allow you to design the interior of your container, so your interior design details will need to be completed using another option.
Shipping Container House Plans 1.1
Part of Graphic Apps, Shipping Container House Plans 1.1 is a free CAD program that is a great option for beginners. It has excellent ease of use and clearly labeled functions. It is reasonable that most computer users will be able to work the simple, streamlined functions.
This software contains tools for shapes, textures, and fixtures. Shipping Container House Plans 1.1 allows interior and exterior design, so you can complete your entire project within the freeware. You can create an interactive 3D view of your container home quickly and easily.
There are limitations to this software. It can only run on Windows, and it requires a plug-in mouse to use all features properly. It is also geared towards the traditional CAD model rather than the gamified touch-screen features offered in other software and apps.
SketchUp is a unique shipping container home design software that works in reverse from most other design software. A staple in the video game design, interior design, and engineering industries, this design software is easy to use for beginners as well. Starting in 3D form, you can draw your container house by hand. Instead of drag and drop, one of its key features is modeling.
SketchUp has a free version called SketchUp Make and a professional version called SketchUp Pro. For the beginner container home designer, the free version should provide plenty of options. You can design your own floor plan or choose from the huge variety of professionally designed extensions provided.
The tools within the software are easy to use, as you will most often be using the pencil tool, layer manager, and pull tools. It features a material tool that lets you customize any surface texture. It also includes axis and interface points to draft meticulous design.
The options with SketchUp are endless and can create any container home design you can imagine. The official website gives an excellent preview of the software’s capabilities. SketchUp also has an app for Ios and Android, so you can access it on the go.
Floorplanner is a feasible option for someone looking to draw up a basic container home design floor plan quickly. Its user interface is easy to utilize, mainly using the drag, drop, and release method. It is relatively easy to add walls, doors, and other structural features. It also gives the option to show 2D furniture mockups on one floor plan and allows you to import JPG and GIF files.
The free version of this container home design software is a great option to draft a floor plan to show your contractor quickly, but you may need to utilize other design software to get into the gritty design details.
Packvol isn’t a traditional design software, but it is very useful specifically for shipping container plans. When planning your container project, part of the process includes space utilization. Packvol is a shipping container industry go-to and logistical management service.
Normally used to help shipping companies cut down on transportation costs, freight costs, and logistics when loading railroad cars, Packvol design software can help plan the layout of the containers. The free version offers full features, so you can try it out to configure the best layout for you. It has a useful internal database so you can store information and save your plans for future use.
Unfortunately, because this isn’t geared towards interior design, it has limited tools to place windows and doorways. You may have to look for another design software to plan these details. This is software that should be used exclusively for strategic purposes.
Planner 5D is relatively new in the design software world, but they are among the sleekest options for container home design. This touch-screen-friendly app is a fun, immersive experience in the design process.
Their slogan is “Created for Amatures,” so it is perfect for beginner designers. You can browse designs by other people, and you can upload yours to share. Many of the designs are very modern and comprehensive, providing tons of inspiration for your own project. It also offers a high-definition snapshot option so you can take a photo-like screenshot of your home design.
Planner 5D is unique because it offers an interior design school on the website. The first module is free, and you can continue with a Premium Planner 5D membership. You can access tasks, videos, and homework assignments that help you master the fundamentals of interior design. You can also get feedback from a professional designer if you need a second set of eyes on your design.
Room Sketcher is an easy-to-use app to help you visualize your design. You can design your own floor plan and furnish with decor to your tastes. You can use this on your phone or computer, and the app will sync so you can work on whichever device you prefer.
Room Sketcher also has a feature that allows you to upload your own blueprint or sketch, and they will create a design for you. You can also purchase professionally designed floor layouts. It also has Live 3D capabilities, which lets you feel like you are walking through a panoramic 3D model of your design.
The website provides plenty of inspiration for room design, and you can get started for free. There is a yearly subscription fee to continue after the trial period is over. It contains a library of real-life items such as cabinets, wall tiles, and furniture that you can purchase.
Room Sketcher is a versatile, comprehensive design app that you can easily access to design your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need CAD knowledge to work with a container home design software?
Traditionally, designers used CAD to render 2D and 3D models of buildings. This process was often expensive and required specific training to use. You were generally unable to take the reins in the hands-on design of your home.
Thanks to innovative software development, shipping container home plans are easier than ever. With features such as drag and drop, pencil tools, and pre-built extensions in more advanced container home design software, even beginner designers can draft their ideas. The design experience has become almost gamified and creates realistic models of real-life homes.
While CAD programs are certainly helpful, it is quite possible and even entertaining to use container home design software to craft your dream container home. You can make your design ideas come to life with a little practice and experimentation with the interfaces.
Container home design software offers object libraries, video tutorials, and predesigned plans that often eliminate the need for CAD plans. These platforms usually include extensive technical support on all devices, as well as professional consultants and options to purchase plans based on your sketches if necessary.
Can I use the software on my laptop?
Most of the software choices for shipping container design are laptop-friendly. Some, such as SketchUp, Planner 5D, and Room Sketcher even have their own apps. You should have no trouble designing your complex floor plans on a laptop.
However, some software needs extra capabilities that you may need to seek out. Shipping Container House Plans 1.1 needs a specific minimum graphics card, a plug-in mouse, and a mouse pad. It requires the use of the left-hand mouse button for certain features. 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software requires a mouse as well.
Since you can buy a plug-in mouse for a reasonable price, this is an option for your laptop if this is your chosen software.
What is the best software for a beginner?
Luckily, most of the container home software discussed are user-friendly. Planner 5D leads the pack for usability and a streamlined interface. The options are clear, the tools are easy to use, and they have a vast collection of video tutorials to help you in case you get stuck.
Room Sketcher is highly accessible and affordable and offers options to receive assistance from professionals if you find yourself unsure of your design choices. If you only have access to an iPad or phone, this app helps you design on the go, so you can do it wherever you want.
Live Home 3D is also a great choice with plenty of features to help you build your design from beginning to end.
For a more comprehensive drafting experience, SketchUp Make and Sketchup Pro are both great options depending on your needs. The ability to collaborate allows partners to be able to work together to build their home, as well as tag in team members. The program is often used in schools, so the user interface is easy to use and educational.
The best software is the one that works best for your needs and operating device. SketchUp, Planner 5D, and Room Sketcher are excellent choices if you want to take your time and fully immerse yourself in the design experience and create incredible 3D designs with realistic photos.
What is the best software for MAC users? (250)
Most of the top-ranking container home design software runs very smoothly with Mac OS. Live Home 3D, Sweet Home 3D, Sketchup, Planner 5D, and Room Sketcher are all compatible and offer features that work well with both Macbooks and MACs.
The worst software for MAC users is 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Software. This design software is not compatible with Mac OS. Windows users can utilize this software, but it requires specific hardware, which you may need to purchase.
Always check with the official website to ensure that the software will work correctly with your current operating system. You may require a system update before you can use all features or run the program without errors or glitches.
Container home design software has made rapid strides in the past few years. While hiring a designer is still an option for people who are designed challenged or need some guidance, it is entirely possible to design your entire container home from scratch.
Thanks to the inclusion of user-friendly drag and drop tools, and the interactive features that are available in the paid version of some software options, it is possible to get the same results that you would normally get from CAD programs. Using a clone tool, view mode, and other software features help hit the exact dimensions and can eliminate the middle-man when crafting your own build.
If you find yourself having trouble navigating the software, often the official website will offer telephone support. Some software, such as Planner 5D and Room Sketcher offer professional services to help you craft the perfect design. Ranging from an online interior design course to professionally designed floor plans, you can still create your own design with just a little guidance.
Designing your container home should be a fun experience. Taking the time to play around with floor plans, architectural features, and decor can help you enjoy the planning stage. Ask for opinions from your family and friends, show them your mockups, and make changes as you work towards the finalized version of your new home.
Having complete creative control over your living space lets you customize it specifically for your needs. Accommodating your lifestyle and personal values into your container home makes for a much cozier feel and a higher level of appreciation for your container home.