When you want to design your tiny home, there are SO many design softwares to choose from.
However, there are only a few that are actually suitable to be used as a proper tiny house design software.
Most “tiny” house planners are not made for the tiny house industry and require significant workarounds to design a small house or tiny house on wheels.
No matter if you are a professional tiny house builder or a DIYer wanting to design your own tiny house online, the goal is to easily design a tiny home without spending hundreds of hours drafting or taking a year to learn a software before you can even start designing.
I have been in the tiny house industry for 7 years, live in my own tiny house, and have designed more than 100 tiny homes so far. I have used everything from professional CAD programs to online tiny house planner softwares that are well known in the community.
In this article, I will review the 5 Best Tiny House Design Software Platforms, some of which are 3d modeling softwares, many online planner apps, and the only available purpose-built tiny home design app.
To compare each tiny house planner fairly, I will attempt to create the same tiny house in EACH software, try to generate floor plans / blueprints and share the observations, features and pros & cons of each tiny home design software.
This is the tiny house I will create:
1. 3D Tiny House Designer
Best For: Tiny house builders, Designers, DIYers / Enthusiasts
Tiny Easy’s 3D Tiny House Designer is the only purpose-built tiny home design software for the tiny house industry. The drag & drop based tools are specialized for the small home industry, so you can accurately design a tiny house on wheels, cabin, ADU, container home or A-Frame.
This software is used worldwide by professional tiny house builders to design or customize tiny homes for their clients using the advanced “Business” version, and DIYers wanting to design their own tiny house using the entry level “Personal” version which you can try for free.
To design a tiny house from scratch, you run through a tiny house “configurator” to set up the size and shape of your design. Then you drag & drop doors and windows, place interior walls, lofts & doors, and add smart furniture and cabinetry objects to finish your interior. You can customize all materials to create any unique style.
The Generate Plans feature automatically drafts a full set of dimensioned PDF tiny house plans including floorplans, elevations, sections, window & door schedule, electrical plan and cabinetry plans.
The Take Off feature generates a smart spreadsheet with 200+ material quantity estimations you can add your own costs into to estimate the price.
The Render feature is your “on demand rendering artist” to create photorealistic renderings with one click.
Creating a design and tiny house plans & take off to this detail usually takes 30-50 hours in regular design softwares, but with the 3D Tiny House Designer it takes only a few hours.
3D Tiny House Designer is the only software specifically made to design tiny homes and is easy & fast to use.
Accurately design a tiny house in 3D and 2D
Purpose built tiny house tools like Trailer/Foundation, Shell & Roof Tool
Drag & Drop Doors, Windows, Walls
Choose & configure 500+ cabinets & furniture presets based on industry standards
Create templates for your range of tiny home designs
Generate Plans & Take Off to create full project documentation
Create marketing renders with one click
2. Sketch Up
Best For: Regular home builders, 3d modelers & professional designers & architects
Difficulty: Very Hard
Sketch Up is a 3D modeling software that allows you to design almost anything, like regular architecture, furniture design, but also tiny homes.
This software is well known in the tiny house industry as it has been around for decades and has been used as the only real option to design tiny homes with enough detail, before the 3D Tiny House Designer was developed.
As it's a very in-depth 3D modelling software, Sketch Up requires many hours of learning before being able to create a simple design, and it’s difficult to create plans you can actually build off without being a professional designer, architect or draftsperson.
I used it professionally for years to design tiny homes for clients, but even after having designed many tiny homes it still took me 40-50 hours to design just one tiny house and create construction plans for it.
To create a tiny home design, you use the 3D modeling tools like the pen tool, push & pull tool, groups & layers, dynamic components and custom materials to slowly create a 3d model of every part in your tiny house.
To create plans you use Sketch Up Layout to manually draft each plan page, choose the view, add your title block, draw dimensions & annotations. Whenever you make changes to the model, every modification needs to be manually updated in the plans, and requires switching between two programs constantly.
If you still want the 3D modeling capabilities of Sketch Up, while designing efficiently with the 3D Tiny House Designer, the "3DTHD" exports an accurate 3D Sketch Up model.
Sketch Up as a tiny home design software, only makes sense if you are willing to put in hundreds of hours of initial learning and spend years to build up your own library of components.
Sketch Up is a a detailed 3D Modeling software, that can also be used to design tiny homes, but needs significant time and skill.
3D modeling software for skilled users
Sketch Up Layout link to manually draft plans
Extension Warehouse for plugins and additional features
Large free “3D Warehouse” community model library
Custom code plugins to create your own functionality
3. Home By Me
Best For: Amateur designers, Personal projects, Interior Design
Home By Me is an online home planner software made to easily design a simple home layout and furnish with preset furniture objects.
It’s best used either by amateurs wanting to design their own regular home, or interior designers to design a style for their client’s interior.
The interface and usability is intuitive and found it enjoyable to learn. However, you quickly run into limitations if you want to use it to design a tiny home.
There are no tiny house specific components, so it’s not possible to design on a trailer.
The tools also don’t allow designing the exterior shape like bump outs or overhangs that are often used for tiny homes.
The roof shape is limited to a simple flat roof, and it’s not possible to design a loft, stairs or ladders.
There is a well curated, large library of branded furniture components, however, many presets are locked to one size and can not be adjusted to fit into a specific space which is crucial for designing a tiny home.
There are only a small number of regular cabinet configurations, and you are not able to easily change cabinet settings like the segments in the cabinet, countertop overhangs, end panels, toe kick sizes and more.
Additionally, the material selection for furniture and cabinets is mostly locked or only on an object basis, so you end up selecting every object one by one and changing their materials.
The software produces great renders for the interior and allows you to style it with decoration items.
However, there is no option to create dimensioned plans or blueprints that you can build off like the 3D Tiny House Designer does.
Home By Me is modern, very intuitive and easy to design in, but it's not possible to design a full tiny house with lofts in it.
Design mainly in 2D, view in 3D
Draw walls and drop windows in 2D.
Large library of objects by real manufacturers
Render interior images
Best For: Real estate professionals, home remodeling contractors, professional draftspeople
Cedreo is an online house design software specifically made to design and market regular sized houses used by home remodeling contractors and real estate professionals.
Coming from a professional drafting & design background myself, the software reminded me of a simplified and more intuitive version of Revit, Archi Cad or Autocad.
You start by drawing your wall layouts, add doors and windows and the roof.
Then you add in furniture and choose materials.
The design process is fairly simple and works well for regular sized homes. However, when designing a tiny home, you quickly run into limitations , as the software was not designed for this niche.
There are no trailer design options. Adding loft spaces is difficult and drop lofts / walkways are impossible as the system is based on traditional house “levels”. There are regular home stairs, but no options for ladders. You are also not able to easily add bump outs and overhangs which are common for tiny homes.
They have a curated library of preset cabinetry and furniture, however, you are not able to resize all objects to fit to the space, and are not able to configure cabinets further, to create unique cabinetry design for your tiny house. Cabinetry in the software is treated more as “furniture” which can’t be accurately placed. This is usually not an issue for large homes, as they don’t require intricate space saving design but is crucial for tiny homes.
They have a clever plan/blueprint feature which allows you to create a basic blueprint including floorplans, elevations and sections. However, similar to Sketch Up, most dimensions and annotations have to be drawn manually and updated for every design change. The dimension tool also doesn’t snap to all parts of the design, so it requires some guessing work to draw the right dimensions.
Their rendering tool is great, and allows you to create your own landscape and surrounding with the right set up work.
Cedreo is a fantastic tool for drawing regular homes, and is innovating for their niche. However, as it’s not made for tiny homes specifically, it requires many work arounds to create a design, and manual drafting work to produce correct plans.
Design mainly in 2D, explore in 3D
Try for free
Simplified CAD tool kits for regular home design
Large library of preset furniture and materials
Basic plan drafting feature
5. Planner 5D
Best For: Amateur designers, Personal projects
Planner 5D is an online home planner software that allows you to mock up your floorplan of your future home. Interior designers also use it to create interior arrangements & renders for their clients.
The drag & drop based system is intuitive, and you can loosely place objects into rooms. However, the free version is heavily limited and locks most objects in the library. Additionally, you are not able to resize objects unless you upgrade to a paid plan.
Similarly to other home designer apps, the lack tiny house specific features, like trailers, shells & bump outs/overhangs, and modifyable roofs stops you from being able to design a full tiny house.
While you are able to design a second floor, you are not able to create half height loft spaces, and specific roof shapes that are designed to work for a tiny home. Instead you use pre-modelled roof shapes that you can resize to assemble a roof.
With the paid plan you unlock a large library of pre-modelled objects, which you can drag & drop and resize. However, none of the cabinetry objects allow you to configure them further and you are stuck with the style and arrangement.
You are able to create renders by pre-purchasing sets of render tokens.
However, you are not able to create a dimension construction plan set to build off.
For detailed tiny home designs you can build off, it’s better to use a purpose built tiny house design software like 3D Tiny House Designer.
Planner 5D works best as a regular home layout mock up tool, or interior design work, which the app is designed for. Designing a tiny house is very limited.
Design mainly in 2D, view in 3D
Very limiting free plan.
Drag & drop objects to create a layout
Large library of preset objects
Render feature for presentations
There are many tiny house design software platforms, but only a few have the features to be able to design a full tiny house and fewer have the capabilities to create plans / blueprints, take offs and renders.
The 3D Tiny House Designer is the best tiny home online builder as it's made specifically for the tiny house industry and allows businesses and DIYers to design a full tiny house in a few hours and automatically generates full construction drawings.
Sketch Up allows you to design a full tiny house &, but only if you have a design / drafting back ground and are willing to invest many hours per project.
Home By Me is very intuitive, but is limited to single story designs and basic detail, and does not allow to create plans / blueprints.
Cedreo allows you to create some tiny homes and is better suited if you have design & drafting experience. It does not have the detailed tools to create an accurate, customized tiny house design and only offers basic plans/blueprints.
Planner 5D is best used as a regular house layout planner, and only allows very basic detail for tiny homes. It also does not offer plans/blueprints.