7 Best Container Home Design Software Options

Container homes need no introduction, thanks to their growing popularity!

Not only are they cheaper to build, but homeowners have a never-ending list of possibilities to design one. And what makes this process even more convenient is a container home design software. Moreover, these can also be used to create reference layouts of conventional homes.

But there’s more to the story. There are a lot of options on the web, and each one promises to ease your troubles. The question then becomes – which one is truly worth your time and money?

To help you answer this, we’ve reviewed the seven best container home design software, both free and paid. So, sit back and relax as we share our experience of using them for the first time.

Now, let’s begin!

Top Container Home Design Software Options

  1. Live Home 3D

One of our top recommendations is Live Home 3D from the house of BeLight Software. Although promoted as a professional design software, its user-friendly features make it equally suitable for novice designers. What’s more, you can opt for either the free or the cost-effective paid version.

Why Did We Like It?

First things first, we really liked the software’s compatibility with various operating systems. Since it was built using the technologies of multiple OS (Windows, Mac and iOS), you can transfer your designs without having to worry about losing any changes. Talk about being user-friendly!

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Another one of its likable features is the multi-dimensional planning that allows users to create a 3D draft of the floor plan. Not only can you create your design natively within the software, but you can also trace imported images. This will come in handy for users who have no prior experience with CAD programs.

Beyond that, there’s this option of a 3D interior tour that lets you create visually stunning presentations with intricate details. For example, the point-and-click design tool enables users to have precisely measured wall and room frameworks.

Moreover, the software features a vast collection of furniture and colors to choose from. You can even customize them via the ‘inspection window’ for working on adjustments, but be sure to select the desired furniture first!

Lastly, it offers great flexibility for exporting the final layout. Users are free to export a specific part or the whole design as a document, video, or image format. Complete with multiple language settings and a 30 day money-back policy (for the paid version), Live Home 3D hits the bull’s eye!

What Could’ve Been Better?

Perhaps the only drawback of this otherwise excellent software is the lack of adequate customer support. Because there are no direct calling options, the wait time may span for days. That being said, the easy video tutorials shouldn’t require users to seek additional help.

  • Sketches can be drawn or traced
  • Different viewing angles, lighting options
  • Creates 360-degree walkthroughs
  • Works in 2D, 3D and split modes
  • No telephone support
  1. Sweet Home 3D

Next up on our list is Sweet Home 3D. This open-source software by SourceForge.net Project is distributed under the GNU General Public License and can be used directly online or downloaded from the website. Its wide range of features makes it one of the best design software out there.

Why Did We Like It?

Before we take you into the deets, here’s some quick appreciation for Emmanuel Puybaret, the developer of the software. Apart from downloading it for greater convenience, users can also use it online, the only criteria being an updated Java installation.

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Although an open-source program may not attract your attention, Sweet Home 3D ensures that its functionality doesn’t disappoint users. For starters, there are multiple options to design the desired floor plan with precision. The default increment is 5cm, but users are free to enter the exact length via the preference menu.

Likewise, you can define the wall dimensions and label each room to create a more lively structure. Furthermore, multiple levels can be stacked on each other, thereby facilitating the hassle-free designing of a multistory building.

What appealed to us the most is the 2D/3D split-screen, meaning you can view your plan’s 3D model while designing it in 2D. This gives you a better idea about the placement of different fixtures.

Similar to Live Home 3D, users are provided with a library of furniture, which can be customized too. Furthermore, you may choose to import compatible images for tracing. And you’re required to create an account only if you wish to save your design while working online.

What Could’ve Been Better?

In the absence of proper labeling, figuring out the controls may become time-consuming. And there’s no built-in option for sharing the design on social media. Also, the unavailability of an app somewhat restricts this software’s usability. But given its features, we can overlook these trivial problems.

  • Click-and-drag tools
  • Sunlight placement with rotating compass
  • Enables virtual tour and snapshots
  • 3D video walkthrough
  • Supports multiple image formats
  • Tools aren’t marked
  • No app version
  1. 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software

Exclusively dedicated for outdoor-designing, the 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software is another one of our top recommendations. Its high-quality 3D graphics help you design your home with real-life-like detailings. Besides, it offers both a free and paid version.

Why Did We Like It?

We are all for user-friendly software and this is one of the main reasons why the 3D ISBU Shipping Container Design Software finds a place on our list. Unlike its predecessor, the tools of this software aren’t very complicated to understand. We loved the self-explanatory navigation tools, which makes it easy to ‘move around’ the design.

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The view mode is the default mode that’s used for both moving around and zooming. While the left-hand mouse button facilitates movement, the right-hand mouse click enables you to have a view of the upper section. And by double-clicking anywhere on the layout, you can create a pivot point.

The walk mode comes to the rescue for users who may find it tricky to toggle between the left and right mouse click. All you have to do is press and hold the right mouse button, which will take you through right, left, front and back for a virtual walkthrough.

Since it has a free version, users can try out some of the features and decide if they want to go for the full paid version. On that note, the trial version allows you to stack and place containers parallelly.

What Could’ve Been Better?

It may be helpful to know that quite a lot of features are restricted on the free trial, so we’d recommend watching some Youtube tutorials to get the hang of things. However, you may use it with other designing software for complete landscape designing. Also, the software isn’t compatible with MAC OS.

  • Can be used to design the outdoors
  • Imports images to the library
  • Convenient navigation
  • Free trial version can be downloaded from the website
  • Doesn’t run on MAC
  1. SketchUp

SketchUp is a popular designing software that’s used regularly for various purposes like video game design, civil engineering, architecture, interior designing and others. Its free version is available on the official website and the paid version, called SketchUp Pro, is a hit among professional designers. But that doesn’t stop it from assisting novices.

Why Did We Like It?

The positive user feedback told us that this software is quite well known for its ease of use, and our experience justified this claim. To begin with, we really liked how it uses a very convenient ‘push and pull’ technology that facilitates fast designing. Simply put, designing with SketchUp is as easy as drawing with a pen and paper.

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In fact, this is a few of those programs that start working with 3D plans from the get-go. Moreover, there is a seemingly endless possibility to create unique designs from scratch. So, let the creativity in you rejoice!

Although the user-interface may come across as a bit complicated at first glance, its utility is relatively simple. For instance, you can begin drawing a container with the pencil tool. Once done, the push and pull tools will come in handy to design the walls and create a 3D rectangle. The axis and interface points let you know about the edges and mid-points at every step.

Apart from making precise layouts of doors and windows, the cloning tool allows users to make exact copies for different rooms. Furthermore, the thickness can be adjusted as required.

Lastly, the 3D Warehouse library contains thousands of templates, objects and textures to choose from.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Much like the 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software, the free version of this software has some limitations, the primary one being the absence of an export facility. So, you may have to take multiple screenshots, which can become a cumbersome task, especially for bigger projects. On that note, the software tends to stop a bit if the file becomes heavy.

  • App version of Android and Mac
  • Lighting effects and layer manager
  • Facilitates adding of complex details
  • Thousands of free 3D models
  • Animation effects in paid version
  • Free trial doesn’t allow export
  • Doesn’t run smoothly for heavier files
  1. Floorplanner

As the name suggests, Floorplanner is a software that is primarily used for creating the floorplan of your shipping container home. Its intuitive control panel and object library form the ideal combination that allows quick designing even for someone with no CAD background. Plus, the built-in sharing feature facilitates trouble-free file sharing on social media.

Why Did We Like It?

If you’re a fan of the click, drag and release method for drawing layouts, then Floorplanner will surely please you. While we opted to create a room by directly drawing a box, you may also choose to sketch individual rooms by drawing single walls.

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The latter will be especially beneficial when you need to put a partition or half wall. But in that case, make sure to line the edges properly! Once you’re done, easily resize the corners to create different shapes. The dimensions will be displayed upon dragging the walls.

We loved the cartoonish furniture library, which does well to give users a break from the conventional lines and shapes. Besides, you can customize their size and shape as desired. And with the duplicating tool, creating multiple fixtures won’t make you break a sweat.

Last but not least, the software regularly reminds users of new changes in the project and asks if you’d like to save them. However, you may prevent this dialog box from popping via the settings menu.

What Could’ve Been Better?

There are quite a few reasons why we have placed Floorplanner at a lower position. For one, basic operations like cloning floors and panning are tedious tasks. Secondly, the virtual 3D walkthrough redirects you to a different website, which can’t download any fixture. Additionally, you can’t enter the measurements manually, which is somewhat compromising on precision.

  • Publishing option with privacy settings
  • Dedicated furniture type for different rooms
  • Plants and accessories library
  • Click-and-drag mechanism for placing fixtures
  • Multiple help forums
  • Inadequate virtual walkthrough
  • Doesn’t allow to set measurements manually
  1. packVol

Before we conclude the list, the packVol designing software finds a worthy mention. It’s different from the rest of our recommendations in the sense that it helps users to optimize the container space. The software is compatible with Windows and can easily adapt to varied load plans, including trucks, pallets, railroad cars and containers.

Why Did We Like It?

Space utilization is a key aspect of designing a container home, and we are glad that packVol works brilliantly for this purpose. Consequently, the controls and tools are quite different from the other software on our list. It’s mainly used by companies to cut down on freight costs and planning time for container setup.

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However, that shouldn’t keep you from using this intuitive software. Since container homes are smaller than traditional homes, it’s important to plan out proper space utilization so that your house doesn’t look cramped. Moreover, the control panel is designed to be pretty straightforward for almost anyone to use.

packVol offers two creation modes, i.e., automatic and manual. While the former works by using predetermined measurements, the manual model lets you draw layouts with basic tools like cut, copy, paste, zoom, and so on.

All in all, this designing software is the perfect companion for an interior designing program, thereby enabling you to create a complete landscape.

What Could’ve Been Better?

We felt that the software could’ve included details like doors, windows and other fixtures. In the absence of these, users may often end up altering the dimensions upon transferring the layout to some other software (like Live Home 3D). Other than that, we don’t have much to crib about.

  • 3D graphics
  • Import or export varied file types
  • Internal database to store plans and layouts
  • Reduces transportation costs by 5 to 20%
  • Free trial doesn’t restrict features
  • Doesn’t facilitate interior detailing
  1. Shipping Container House Plans 1.1

The Shipping Container House Plans 1.1 is a freeware from the CAD subcategory and part of the Graphics Apps programs. With some prerequisite system specifications, this designing application lets users create real-time 3D models of their homes. What’s more, you can get expert advice to improvise on the layout.

Why Did We Like It?

Having tried a number of designing software prior to this, we didn’t face any significant difficulty figuring out the tools and their respective use. At the same time, we feel that first-time users won’t face any troubles either. Besides, the shape tool is conveniently located to help users draw varied spaces with ease.

With the texture tools, you can decide on the finishing. Furthermore, the object tool lets you add furniture and fixtures. For this, a library window pops up on the right side with the imported pictures of doors and windows. Just select the desired image and drag it to the preferred location.

Finally, the website features an easy download option with a green direct download button. There’s no need to create an account or enter any credentials for downloading the software.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Perhaps the biggest limitation is its non-compatibility with MAC. On top of that, you need to have a separate plug-in type mouse for operation, as the laptop’s mouse pad can’t be used for control. And make sure that the system has a 3D graphics card installed before downloading the software.

  • Speeds up the graphic designing process
  • Object library
  • Creates interactive 3D models
  • Doesn’t require separate purchase
  • Works only with Windows
  • Needs plug-in mouse and 3D graphics card

Container home design software 3

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is The Software Compatible With Every OS?

We’d highly recommend going through the descriptions to know about the compatibility of the software. While some may run on both Windows and Mac, they may not have an app version. Alternatively, some programs that run on a specific OS like MAC may have an app version for iPads.

  1. Does The Software Have A Free Trial?

Most container home design software have a free version, which can either be downloaded or used online. An advantage of a free trial is that users can decide if they are completely comfortable using it, and then go for the paid version. However, the majority of the trial versions come with restricted utility.

  1. Can I Use The Software On My Laptop?

If a said software is compatible with a particular OS, the device type shouldn’t matter (except app versions). But some programs may not be controlled using the mouse-pad. Hence, you’ll have to get hold of a mouse, either wireless or plug-in.

  1. Do I Need CAD Knowledge To Work With A Container Home Design Software?

Most modern software features a user-friendly interface that doesn’t trouble users who have no experience with designing. But a little knowledge always helps! Beyond that, there are a plethora of video tutorials on Youtube to help you with the process. Some programs also have a pop-up help box, which acts as a continuous guide.

  1. Should I Opt For An Outdoor Designing Only Program?

Software that facilitates space optimization or designing outdoor spaces are often used in tandem with interior designing software. If you want to design the entire landscape of your residence, going for a combination of two software is a good choice. But in that case, make sure to rectify any changes that occur when a project is opened on multiple software before beginning work.

  1. Can I Share The Final Layout?

Some designing programs may have built-in sharing tools, which allow you to upload the file directly on social media websites. Others may allow you to only save the file. Whatever be the feature, it’s a good practice to ensure that the project can be saved in a different file format.

Container home design software 4

Final Words

Home design software is meant to simplify the otherwise tedious task of designing homes on the computer. After all, who doesn’t want to be involved in creating the layout for the house of their dreams?

This brings us to the end of our guide. We hope our efforts help you find the best software for your needs. But before we take your leave, here are a couple of tips – first, check for the system requirements before downloading the software.

Likewise, we advise trying the free version and then deciding whether to go for the full paid version. This will minimize the risk of making an unworthy investment.

Till next time, stay safe!

Best container home design software options 2

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