Top 12 Best Container Home Design Software: Free & Paid 2022


Shipping containers are increasingly popular as modular and affordable tiny homes. But, if you’re building one, setting it up can be difficult.

In addition to basics like insulation and utilities, you have to work out how to make everything fit. That means extensive planning and modeling to maximize how you use the space. 

Luckily, there are plenty of applications you can use to do that planning. Container home design software is actually readily available. In fact, options range from drag-and-drop builders to professional CAD programs. 

This list of the top 12 best container home design software includes some of everything. That means you should have plenty of options whether you’re looking to design your own home or to design professionally. 

SoftwareFree/PaidCostBest For
SketchUpFree/Paid $0-$119/year Intermediate/Professional
Belight Live Home 3DFree/Paid $0-$49.99Intermediate 
PackVOLFreeNA Intermediate 
Sweet Home 3D  FreeNAIntermediate 
Floorplanner  Paid $0-$5/monthIntermediate/Professional 
LibreCAD FreeNAIntermediate/Professional 
Planner 5D  FreeNABeginner 
3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software Free (with a $47 membership) $47Beginner
RoomSketcherPaid $49+Intermediate/Professional
CedreoFree/Paid $0-$124/month Intermediate/Professional
PlanningWizFreeNAIntermediate/Professional
Floor Plan Creator  Free/Paid $0-$9/month Beginner/Intermediate

*This list was correct when last updated in September 2022. Software, features, and pricing are subject to change. In addition, this list is in random order.

1. SketchUp 

SketchUp is a 3D and 2D modeling program perfect for professional use. However, if you want to design a single container home, the learning curve is a bit high.

However, 3D modeling is ideal as container home design software. Here, you can set dimensions for your full space and build objects into it. 

Here, 3D is especially useful, because you likely want to use space vertically as well. This means you can design bunk beds, lofts, and cabinets in a 3D space. SketchUp also offers 2D designs for layouts and floor plans. 

However, SketchUp is not the best beginner option. If you don’t know where to start, SketchUp can’t help. It doesn’t offer templates or ideas.

Instead, you’ll have to start from scratch with a box and build from there. 

  • $0-$119/year
  • Best suited for intermediate/professional users 
  • Drawing interface 
  • Browser-based

Website: https://www.sketchup.com/ 


2. Belight Live Home 3D 

Belight’s Live Home 3D is one of the most popular container home design software options available.

The program is intended for generic interior home design. However, it also offers options and layouts for tiny homes. That can make it easier to find and get inspiration when designing your container home.

In addition, Live Home 3D offers a drag-and-drop 3D design. Even if you don’t know how to draft plans, you can still easily build one with the app. 

Live Home 3D also offers exterior mockups. Plus, with the ability to create levels and floors, you can add complexity to your designs. For example, lofts, multiple containers, etc. 

Live Home 3D offers a free and a premium version, so if the free version isn’t enough to meet your needs, you can always upgrade. 

  • Free/$49.99
  • Best suited for beginners/intermediate users 
  • Drawing/Drag-and-drop interface
  • Mac, iOS, Android, Windows 

Website: https://www.livehome3d.com/ 


3. PackVOL Lite 

PackVOL is not a home design solution. However, it is a shipping container packing solution. It’s also an easy way to see how the dimensions of your furnishings and interior walls fit into your shipping container. 

Here, all you have to do is tell PackVOL how large each item is. You can then move it around in the container.

PackVOL creates alerts when things don’t fit, highlighting spacing and sizing issues that a standard program might not. 

That can be extremely useful if you primarily want to know how things fit into the container. PackVOL is also completely free, so you can use it to check measurements from another app. 

  • Free
  • Best suited for intermediate users
  • Drag-and-drop interface 
  • Windows-based 

Website: https://www.packvol.com/ 


4. Sweet Home 3D 

Sweet Home 3D is a free interior design application.

This container home design program offers 2D and 3D designs. That means you can build floor layouts. From there, you can create a 3D design based on the layout. 

Sweet Home 3D is also great for creating mockups of an entire space. That can be a good way to look at different ideas and designs. For example, checking how different layouts work in the 3D space. 

Plus, Sweet Home 3D is completely free. You can draw, render, and see 3D views of any layout you have, without buying a program to do it. 

  • Free
  • Best suited for beginner to intermediate users 
  • Drawing interface
  • Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris 

Website: https://www.sweethome3d.com/ 


5. Floorplanner 

Floorplanner is a 2D and 3D home designer. While originally made for 2D floor plans, the program now also offers 3D and mockups.

This allows you to design a container home with a layout and diagram and then add a 3D mockup to use horizontal space. 

Floorplanner also supports dimensioning and measurements. Plus, it has 150,000+ items to drag and drop into place. That means you’ll very rarely have to start furniture or walls from scratch. 

Plus, Floorplanner offers access to a library of user-created templates. That means you can almost always find inspiration before you get started.

And, you can edit from someone else’s work rather than starting fresh. That’s great if you don’t know where to start or need inspiration. 

  • Free/$5 per month 
  • Best suited for intermediate to professional users 
  • Drawing/Drag-and-Drop Interface
  • Browser-based 

Website: https://floorplanner.com/ 


6. LibreCAD 

If you’re considering using CAD for your container home design software, LibreCAD is a great choice.

While it’s not as functional as premium versions like AutoCAD, it is free. Plus, LibreCAD offers strong community support and tutorials to help you get started. 

LibreCAD also has a lightweight design interface. You can easily use a mouse or a stylus to draw, set dimensions, and build designs in 3D. 

However, LibreCAD is a complicated program. It does have a much higher learning curve than any beginner app ever will.

If you just want to design one layout, it’s probably not worth the time investment. On the other hand, if you’re designing multiple container homes, it might be a good idea to learn. 

  • Free
  • Best suited for intermediate/professional users
  • Drawing interface/CAD interface
  • Mac, Windows, Linux 

Website: https://librecad.org/ 


7. Planner 5D 

Planner 5D is a free container home design app. While built for general homes, it’s ideal for small and even tiny homes. In fact, the app has multiple templates and prebuilt designs for that purpose. 

This drag-and-drop home designer is an easy beginner tool. Plus, with 5,000+ objects in the app, you can often design without drawing anything. In addition, you can check other people’s designs. 

Planner 5D does not have multi-level designs. However, you can create different floors. That’s less convenient than some alternatives on this list.

At the same time, you can use this on your iOS or Android tablet. Plus, with sizing and measurements worked in, it’s enough for most simple container home designs. 

  • Free
  • Best suited for beginners
  • Drag-and-drop interface 
  • iOS, Android, Mac 

Website:  https://planner5d.com/ 


8. 3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software

3D ISBU Shipping Container Home Design Software is the largest app made just for container homes.

The software uses 3D modeling with drag-and-drop for ease of use and accessibility. In addition, it comes pre-programmed with most major shipping container types. 

That makes it easy to quickly set up and design your shipping container home. The software enables 3D modeling of exterior homes. This includes windows, decks, stairs, supports, and shipping container layouts. 

However, 3D ISBU does not allow designing the inside. This means you’ll likely want a separate app for this purpose.

Alternatively, you can download the Interior Design for Cargo Container Modules from Container Home as well.

With an easy way to mock up and design the outside of the home, anyone building a container home should try this app. 

  • Free for Members ($47+)
  • Best suited for beginners
  • Drag-and-drop interface 
  • Windows

Website: https://www.containerhome.info/non-member?wlfrom=%2Fdownload-instructions.html 


9. RoomSketcher 

RoomSketcher offers home design software you can use for container homes.

The app is cloud-based, meaning you can use it on your computer or your tablet. Plus, with synchronized projects, you can switch between the two. 

That means you can easily sketch and draw on your tablet. Then, you can clean up and add dimensions and more details on your computer. 

RoomSketcher also has a 2D to 3D function. You can start with the floor plan and layout in 2D. Then, you can add walls and dimensions in 3D. 

Finally, if you’re having trouble, you can always ask RoomSketcher to do the work for you. The app has a flat-rate fee for creating designs for you – although you’ll still have to send dimensions and what you want. 

  • $49
  • Best suited for intermediate/pro
  • Drag-and-drop/drawing interface 
  • Cloud-based 

Website: https://www.roomsketcher.com/ 


10. Cedreo

Cedreo is a 3D home design app that offers interior and exterior design. However, the app is intended for professional designers and real estate agents. 

The app also allows you to design container homes from a library of templates. You can use a drag-and-drop builder to quickly set up different kinds of flooring, walls, etc.

In addition, with templates and layouts, you don’t have to start from scratch every time. 

Once you have a floor plan, you can render it in 3D, add furniture from a library, and make your container home however you’d like.

Cedreo also allows you to design your own furniture instead of just using the models. That makes it easier to mock up furniture if you’re building it into the container. 

  • Free-$124/month 
  • Best suited for beginner/pro 
  • Drag-and-drop interface/drawing interface 
  • Cloud-based 

Website: https://cedreo.com/ 


11. PlanningWiz 

PlanningWiz is a DIY container home design software solution. The app is completely free, which makes it a great choice for one-time users.

In addition, while it starts with a floor plan, it also includes basic 3D elements. 

Here, PlanningWiz starts with a drawing interface. You can also drag and drop elements like doors, windows, and wall types. Then, you can pull from a library of objects in 2D and 3D. 

PlanningWiz also offers exterior design. This includes fencing, landscaping, layouts, and more.

However, while PlanningWiz has containers built in, you can’t customize them as objects. So, you’ll always want to start with a floor plan. 

Otherwise, PlanningWiz offers a good balance between professional tools and accessibility. That makes it a top choice for many users – although it has no container home-specific design tools. 

  • Free
  • Best suited for beginner-intermediate 
  • Drag-and-drop interface/drawing interface
  • Cloud-based 

Website: https://planningwiz.com/ 


12. Floor Plan Creator 

Floor Plan Creator is a 2D planner with a drag-and-drop interface. The tool allows you to quickly drag and drop or draw your floor plan. However, it does not offer 3D. 

Still, you can use it to set up the layout of your container home design. In addition, it supports mechanical export.

If you have the premium version, you can export to CAD – making it easier to share your designs with your builder. 

Floor Plan Creator offers one free project per account. However, you can always get a premium subscription to access more.

In addition, the premium version offers a larger library of drag-and-drop furniture, walls, etc. 

  • Free to $9 per month 
  • Best suited for beginners
  • Drag-and-drop interface/drawing interface
  • Browser-based/Android based 

Website: https://floorplancreator.net/ 


To End 

Building a container home requires creativity and planning. Hopefully one of these container home design software options suits your needs to make that easier. While not all of them are free, some are specifically designed for container homes. Others offer more diverse tools – but still offer everything you need to do layouts, floor plans, and even 3D renderings. 

Good luck designing your container home.

Brandy Cross

Brandy is a freelance writer with a background and strong interest in DIY and home repair, stemming from her childhood and days spent helping her dad who worked as a handyman. Today, she's renovating an apartment she shares with 100+ houseplants.

Recent Posts