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3D Building Models – 5 Best Sources for 3D Models of Buildings

Picture of Blu Siber
by Blu Siber
Jul 26, 2018

Whether you're looking for a decorative model of a house, or you want to stage a scene at a company conference, sometimes making a model of a building or structure yourself is too much work, or too time consuming. That's why we've gathered the best sources of 3D building models, some of which are free!

Source #1: TurboSquid

High quality comes at a high price.
High quality comes at a high price. Source:
  • Types: Houses (interior, exterior, or both), buildings (interior, exterior, or both), landscapes/cityscapes
  • Price Range: $400 – $1500+
  • Cheapest Average: $100
  • Quality: Incredible

Pros: TurboSquid has been around for many years now, offering 3D building models for animators, modelers, 3D printing enthusiasts, and students. Since TurboSquid is made up of models uploaded by users, they offer a “checkmate” service. Users that purchase the service have their model inspected, and if it passes the test, it gets checkmate certification, giving you confidence in checkmate models you buy.

In addition, TurboSquid has a huge range of models to choose from, varying in type, shape, size, color, and more! Not to mention an easy site interface that educates you in what kind of license or model you are buying.

Cons: Though high quality models are nice, they come at a price, and a painful one at that. These 3D building models are definitely some of the most expensive ones out ther. Good quality houses can be anywhere from $100 (at the cheapest) to $500, industrial buildings range from $500 to $1,000, and landscapes or cityscapes cost $1,300 and beyond.

Perhaps something else to consider is that if you’re looking for a model to 3D print, you may have to make edits to the model you buy. Due to the fact that the site wasn’t made with 3D printing in mind, rarely do any models come 3D-printer optimized.

Source #2: CGTrader

Apply a filter for 3D printable models.
Apply a filter for 3D printable models. Source: CGTrader.com
  • Types: Houses (exterior), cityscapes, architectural elements
  • Price Range: $50 – $150
  • Cheapest Average: $25
  • Quality: Great

Pros: With many happy returning customers as well as new ones joining in on the excitement, CGTrader offers the best models for their extremely low prices. Several 3D building models are added every day, and this site is flooded with special offers and pop-up sales. Bundle this with their reliability and easy-to-navigate site, the result is an amazing source for animators and printers alike.

In addition, they have options to filter out all models except for those that are 3D printable. This gives you the choice of editing a building you like before printing it, or buying a model that’s ready to go!

Cons: Unfortunately, even though the quality of the models are good for the price, you get what you pay for. Many less expensive models are marked “low poly”, while most ready-to-print models are more expensive. Also, there are way less fully-featured buildings available for purchase, and there are some architectural elements that may litter your search.

Source #3: Free3D

Affordable real estate
Affordable real estate Source: Free3D.com
  • Types: Houses (interior), buildings (interior, exterior), cityscapes
  • Price Range: Free – $15 (if purchasing a premium model)
  • Cheapest Average: Free
  • Quality: Good

Pros: Naturally, the biggest draw of Free3D is that all of the models are free, and they’re some of the best 3D building models at that. Again, this site consists of users (or teams working as one user) that create models to host on the site. There’s a decent range of models to choose from, and though they may not be specific, there’s a very good chance you’ll find a model you’ll like.

Just like the previous source, this site allows you to filter out the models that aren’t already 3D-printer optimized. That way you can easily get a model that prints without extra editing!

Cons: Though the models are of good quality, they can’t compare at all to the previous two sources in terms of poly count, level of detail, or textures. Indeed, most models are low poly, and undetailed. In addition, the site tends to highlight its premium models, which are not free, more often than the free models.

Source #4: Thingiverse

Models guaranteed for 3D printing.
Models guaranteed for 3D printing. Source: Thingiverse.com
  • Types: Custom assemblies, custom buildings, houses (exterior), buildings (exterior)
  • Price Range: Free (unless linked to a premium source)
  • Cheapest Average: Free
  • Quality: Great

Pros: Thingiverse, from Makerbot, was created by makers for makers. It’s a community of people who share and upload their 3D designs and models, showing the rest of the world what you can do with a 3D printer. Practically everything on the site is 3D printable, unless it’s still in development. In addition, the large (though unspecific) selection makes it easy to sort through what you do and don’t want to print.

Cons: Though the site has a wide selection, there are not many options for 3D building models of houses or industrial complexes. Most are dynamic and custom-made structures, either for staging a scene or for random decoration. Also, due to the immense amount of models, the site can be somewhat disorganized, with irrelevant models polluting the search.

Source #5: Sketchfab

Image of: Source #5: Sketchfab
Source: Sketchfab.com
  • Types: Houses (exterior), buildings (exterior)
  • Price Range: $30 – $60
  • Cheapest Average: $20
  • Quality: Fair

Pros: Sketchfab‘s community-like website will make you feel right at home when it comes to finding the models you need. They have a decent selection of models, all of different styles, from cartoon-like to realistic. The site advertises its models as VR and game-ready, in addition to being used for animation or 3D printing. With cheap prices, dynamic styles, and a community feel, you’ll be right at home here in no time.

Cons: Even though Sketchfab is growing, the site isn’t very well organized. If you’re looking for something specific, like 3D building models, only rarely will you find it. The site is not designed to find something you’re searching for but rather to find something by browsing options. Clusters of irrelevant information appear in the searches, and the models could be more detailed for the price.

License: The text of "3D Building Models – 5 Best Sources for 3D Models of Buildings" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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