Importing 3D Symbols

Reference Number: KB-00888
Last Modified: March 30, 2016

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite or Home Designer Interiors


I can't find the objects I want in the Library Browser and want to import a 3D symbol from an outside source. How can I do that? 


In Home Designer 2016 and newer versions, you can import 3D symbols from outside sources in .obj, .3ds, .skp, and .dae formats.

Home Designer Pro can also import 3D .dxf files. 

SKP import is not supported for Home Designer 2015 or earlier versions on the Mac operating system, however, you can download and install the free version of SketchUp and choose to export a Collada .DAE file of the 3D model, which can be imported in to Home Designer 2015.

One excellent resource for free symbols online is the Trimble 3D Warehouse, which has a wide variety of symbols such as furniture, accessories, musical instruments, electronics, people, animals, vehicles, plants, fixtures, appliances, and many more!

These symbols are created not only by individuals, but also companies such as: Kohler®GE Appliances®Kraftmaid®WhirlpoolBosch, and many more!

In this article, you will learn how to import a symbol from the Trimble 3D Warehouse; however, importing a 3D symbol in any of the accepted formats will consist of the same basic steps. 

To download a symbol file

  1. Click the following link to visit the 3D Warehouse website:

  2. In the search field at the top of the page, type a word or short description and press Enter or click the Search button.

  3. Browse the results, and when you find an object you want to download, click on its picture to display the symbol's description page.

  4. Click the Download button to display options to choose from.

    In many cases there are multiple model types and versions, in these instances, you will want to select the highest version of SketchUp Model file available, such as a Sketchup 2015 model.

    Note: If you are using an older version of Home Designer, then you may not be able to import the most recent version of the SKP file, so consider downloading an older version if one is available.

    For example, Home Designer version 9.0 programs did not support importing version 7 or newer SketchUp files.

Once the file has been saved onto your computer, you are ready to bring it into your Home Designer plan.

To import a 3D symbol

  1. Launch your Home Designer software and open the plan in which you would like to import this symbol.

  2. Select File> Import> Import 3D Symbol  to display the Import 3D Symbol File dialog.

  3. Navigate to the location that you saved your file to and select it then click the Open button.

    Note: If you have previously imported this symbol or another using material textures with the same name as the one you are importing, the Texture Filename Conflict dialog will display.  This dialog will allow you to either rename the imported texture, use the existing texture instead of the imported texture, or replace the existing texture with the imported texture.

  4. In Home Designer 2017 and newer versions, when you import the symbol, it will display the Symbol Specification dialog, which allows you to set the Drawing Units as well as rotate the symbol along the X, Y or Z Axis, and set its Materials.

    In Home Designer 2016 and earlier versions, some symbols may not come in at the scale you want or using the materials that you would prefer, however, once imported in to Home Designer, you can select these imported symbols and choose Open Object to adjust its dimensions and materials as with other objects in the program. However, if the symbol was not at the correct orientation when imported, such as is on its side rather than upright, then you will need to modify the original file in SketchUp, save it, and then import the modified version it in to Home Designer 2016, or upgrade to the current version which allows you to rotate the symbol during the import process.

  5. Click in your plan to place the imported symbol.

    • Once placed, the symbol can be added to your User Library by clicking the Add to Library  edit button while the symbol is selected.

    • All imported third party symbols are brought in to the Home Designer software as independent interior fixtures, meaning they will be located on the "Fixtures, Interior" layer in Display Options.  

    • The Chief Architect Premier version of the software has additional options for importing 3D symbols, such as doors/windows which can actually be inserted in to walls, lights with light sources that can be applied to them, appliances to be inserted in to cabinets, moldings that can be applied in Specification dialogs, the ability to control stretch zones when symbols are resized and much more!

      If you are interested in upgrading to the more advanced version to gain these features for imported symbols, please contact our Sales team directly to discuss your upgrade options.

Although the Mac version of Home Designer 2015 did not support the .skp file format, you could still use Trimble 3D Warehouse for symbols, as it has a variety of reliable items to choose from.

In the steps below; you will download SketchUp, import the .skp symbol, and then export it as a different format that can then be recognized by Home Designer.

To import a 3D symbol into the Mac version of Home Designer 2015

  1. Start by downloading the Mac version of Sketchup onto your computer.

  2. Once SketchUp has been downloaded and installed, open it up, start a new plan, and go to File> Import

  3. Browse to the .skp symbol file that was downloaded at the beginning of this article, select it, and choose the Open option.

  4. Click once to place the symbol into the SketchUp file. 

    If an outline of a person is present in this SketchUp file, click on it once, and select the Delete key on your keyboard to remove it from the file. 

  5. Now, go up to File> Export> 3D Model to bring up the Export Model dialog box. 

    • Name the model appropriately in the Save As field and specify Where you want the model to be exported to.

    • Change the Format to either a .3ds, .obj, or .dae format. For this example, we chose the .3ds format.

    • Once you are done making these changes, choose the Export button to export your model. 

  6. Launch your Home Designer software and open the plan in which you would like to import this symbol.

  7. Select File> Import> Import 3D Symbol  to display the Import 3D Symbol File dialog box. 

    • Navigate to the location that you saved the .3ds file to and select it. 

    • Click the Open button.

  8. Now, simply click in your plan to place it. 

    • Once placed, the symbol can be added to your User Library by clicking the Add to Library  edit button while the symbol is selected.