SketchUp is my preferred drawing tool for designing tiny houses. It’s not a typical drafting tool which make mechanical drawings and drafting easy. It’s a 3D drawing tool for exploring ideas and making highly accurate 3D designs. It can also make 2D measured drawings and is favored by many designers & architects. Engineers would likely prefer real CAD software.
SketchUp was originally created by Google. There was a free version and a Pro version. In 2012, Trimble acquired the Google SketchUp software and has been steadily advancing the software. For several years Trimble offered a free desktop version called SketchUp Make, but sadly it appears this is no longer available. Luckily there are two options that still exist.
Free Online Version
Recently Trimble released an online browser-based version called SketchUp Free. It’s a bit different to use than the desktop versions, but has much of the same functionality. The biggest difference is how you navigate the tools. SketchUp free is fun and easy way for beginners to get their feet wet without spending any money – you just need an internet connection.
Free Desktop Option
Currently it appears the newest free version available is SketchUp 8, which happens to be the last version made by Google. Here are the direct download links to the Trimble website for downloading a free copy of SketchUp 8:
SketchUp 8 for Windows:
SketchUp 8 for Mac:
Two Paid Options
Currently there are two paid options for Sketchup, SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Shop.
- SketchUp Shop – It’s an upgraded version of SketchUp Free with several essential features activated. This option costs about $120 a year.
- SketchUp Pro – A license will set you back about $700, but its worth it if you draw professionally because you get a few essential tools professionals need.
SketchUp can be a lot of fun to use, but there is a learning curve like any software. I recommend starting with an existing tiny house drawing to explore and customize. Then once you get the hang of it, try some original drawings like cabinets, furniture, doors, and windows. Drawing a complete tiny house as your first project would be daunting. Starting with something complete and making edits will get you to your ideal tiny house design faster.
You can see the kinds of tiny houses I’ve designed using SketchUp on my Tiny House Plans page.