Changing your living conditions and planning a drastic change such as converting a shipping container into a home is a large undertaking and takes more planning and scheduling than an ordinary move into a new home. Moving into a conventional home is stressful, but you’re generally moving from one house to another.
With the shipping container home movement, you’re taking on the additional challenges of building this conversion and then moving into a much smaller space than most people are accustomed to. This challenge is worthwhile, but don’t go into this process blindfolded. Get a hold of some good shipping container home design software and lay out your future before you take that first step. Without shipping container home design software, you’re winging it with little margin for error.
While the process of constructing and moving into a shipping container home allows you the freedom of doing nearly anything you like, if you don’t plan ahead you can find yourself coming across unplanned nuisances and problems.
That’s where a good shipping container home design software comes in to save the day. Get the software, plan the build, and you’ll make it much easier and less stressful than playing it by ear.
5 Considerations Before Purchasing Software
Before you purchase any shipping container home design software you should answer a few basic questions about your needs.
How user-friendly is the software interface?
If you have experience with design software, this won’t be a concern. But many shipping container builders are novices in the field and have no experience with design. A friendly GUI and interface will make the process easier for you.
What devices will I be using the shipping container home design software on?
A software platform that is a designer’s dream on a desktop machine with multiple monitors may be completely useless on a tablet. And a mobile-friendly tablet/phone software may not be so simple to use on your laptop. Know your device before deciding on software.
What OS does the software use?
Related to the device platform question, you may want to use a particular software but find it is not available for your OS. Another thought is that you might need to share these files with contractors or consultants. Be sure you are purchasing the shipping container home design software for the OS you plan to use.
Free Trial or Purchase?
Many software systems offer free trials to get you started or free versions of the software that have limitations. Shipping container home design software is no exception, so explore your needs before deciding. The free version may be sufficient for your build, but it may also be severely restricted in the options it offers.
Are my designs released for use?
Free versions not only restrict some uses but may also restrict your final design to remain on your device and unable to export them. You’d hate to put in all this time designing your shipping container home and find out that you can only export your design on the paid version of the software.
Top 6 Shipping Container Home Design Software
The answers to these questions vary from one user to another, and from one software system to all the others. What you need will not be the same as the next builder, so ask yourself these questions and keep them in mind as we go over some of the best shipping container home design software.
Building on their success as one of the best shipping container home design software, a new version 2.0 has been released to improve an already great software system. Specifically designed for the shipping container conversion market, you’ll find pre-modeled containers in almost all of the available styles, sizes, and heights.
Importing, positioning, rotating, and placing these models is simple using this Windows-only software. “Fast Start” templates are included with the purchase and are an excellent way to get started or draw on ideas. The user controls are simple and intuitive, easy to manipulate for even the novice at design software.
Limitations on this shipping container home design software are noted by users as being difficult to operate on a mobile device as the software requires an external mouse and a 3-D graphics processor. This software is also specifically used for the planning of where/how to build your initial shipping container home, not the interior design or the landscaping.
If you’re looking for easy-to-use shipping container home design software and don’t need an internal floorplan design, ContainerHome 3D is an excellent choice.
If you’re looking for a great shipping container home design software platform, you may already have it installed on your computer. Creators and designers have been using SketchUp for a while now and it has quickly become one of the most popular software systems for user-driven designs.
If you’re already familiar with this system, configuring it to become your shipping container home design software is a simple shift in features rather than learning an entirely new platform. You can begin with a simple sketch, or develop a highly refined detailed design, all depending on your needs.
There is a free version of this software but it does come with limitations. The widespread use of SketchUp means you will be able to find someone willing to share their shipping container home designs with you, but you will not be able to import them (or export your results) unless you are using the paid version. SketchUp is a great software system used for many applications and is becoming the default software for many common users around the web, so a purchase may be a great decision for this project and any in your future.
Sweet Home 3D
Hoping for a quality shipping container home design software that won’t break the bank is a good hunt, and coming across Sweet Home 3D software is a particularly great find as the software is free to use and download. Open Source software platforms have their pros and cons, and this shipping container home design software weighs in heavily on the “pro” side of the scale. We believe that once you begin using Sweet Home 3D, it will become your favorite design software for shipping container homes and any other projects you find yourself working on.
There is a bit of a learning curve with this software, the click and drag buttons are easily used, but not so easily identified and marked. When you spend a little time working with it, you will overcome this minor oversight and become familiar right away.
One of the benefits of using Open Source software is the vast library from this and many other shipping container home design software platforms sharing file types and the ability to import models from other platforms into your design saving time from having to draw up every detail yourself.
Live Home 3D
Purchasing quality software is one of those budget decisions that will weigh in with how much you need a quality program against how often you’ll use this program. If you only plan to use it once and don’t need high-resolution details, you may be prompted to go with a cheaper/free software that will get you through the process. However, if you are going to do any additional design work, on anything, then when you go looking for shipping container home design software, you absolutely need to keep Live Home 3D in the front of your list.
Easy enough for the novice to use, deep enough for the professional to use, this software is one of those rare platforms that appeal to every user no matter their level of experience or comfort with the tools. Live Home 3D can be used to sketch out your very basic landscaping ideas as well as the finite details of multiple-layer shipping container builds. View in split-screen with the 2D and 3D renders, you can see your changes in real-time.
Shipping Container House Plans 1.1
We’ve been told that when something works you don’t “fix” it. Although that rule doesn’t always hold true for all things, when looking for shipping container home design software the tried and true platform that many builders turn to is the Shipping Container House Plans 1.1 and we can see right away why it is a shipping container DIY community favorite. For software that has been around for so long, we started looking into why there isn’t a 1.2 or 2.0 version available and the answer we keep running into is that 1.1 works so well, there is no need.
Limits on any shipping container home design software package are cumbersome to overcome for some users and Shipping Container House Plans 1.1 offers the best available package for the audience they serve. This software is not currently available for the macOS and is also non-functional on the go with a smartphone or tablet. This is a Windows desktop modeling design suite and doesn’t attempt to be an all-in-one package. If this is what you are looking for, you can’t find any better.
Some users don’t require a full CAD suite when looking for shipping container home design software. Sometimes less is more and there is no need to complicate matters by learning a software platform that has many extraneous features you’ll never use. Floorplanner is simple, easy to use, and free.
This simplicity comes from the fact that this design software focuses only on what the name implies, floor plans and room design. This is not the software for you if you need accurate engineering drawings, but if you just want to visualize how you’ll fit your rooms together in your new shipping container home, this is the right software for you.
Playing a little fast and loose with the dimensions is to be expected when you’re just considering moving furniture around. An inch here or there won’t make or break the room, so Floorplanner is perfect for interior planning, not so much with the actual placement of the entire shipping container shell. Shipping container home design software comes in many forms and flavors. Interior finishing is where Floorplanner really shines.