Model Railroad Buildings

8 "True-To-Life" Model Railroad House Designs... to Make Building Scale Model Houses Easier and More Realistic Than Ever


house plans download print build scale and construct scale sizes chart for model railroad houses HO and OO scale models sizes for houses N gauge

If you are a model railroader, or just like constructing models, then these 8 downloadable scale model houses and 4 garages are for you.

photos of assembled house from house plans download printing building scale models kits
modeling materials for model trains structures
scale residential house models

Below is a guide on how to scale the house models on a home computer. Printer brands vary slightly, but most have to facility to easily scale PDF printouts.

scale houses on home printer

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Please note: the above images are a guide to what the completed models will look like. The scenery effects are shown here to give you some ideas for possible landscaping around the homes. They are a guide only, and obviously the scenery and construction materials are not included with the downloads.

Make Realistic Looking House Models to Bring a Model Railroad Scene to Life

Model railroads are not just static, stationary models depicting a fantasy railway scene. They are usually extremely realistic, with scale model building architecture (shops, industrial, houses and residences etc.) and structures (bridges, tunnels, towers etc.); landscape including trees, roads, mountains, people, animals, lights and signals. To be effective a model railroad layout needs to be, and look, extremely realistic and interesting, even if it is not based around a real railroad setting.

For most modelers, modeling railroads is a passion. Recreating historical scenes from the past, or real life railroads, and even fictitious railroads to suit their fancy; modeling is an art. Since these scaled models are recreations, making them look realistic and detailed is important.

The scale needs to be consistent whether it's the size of the model train; the people getting on it, the cars in the car park, or the buildings, structures and accessories surrounding the track. Even the colors need to look natural without being too vivid; otherwise it will spoil the illusion of everything in the scene being real. The smallest thing can distract the eye and spoil the overall effect.

Depending on what era or geographic location is being modeled, the track might pass through or near residential areas, small towns, or even larger towns or cities. In bigger towns or commercial hubs, the train stations are likely to be busy, with lots of people and vehicles adding to the scene. The nearby streets might include shops, apartments, residential houses, or perhaps office buildings or warehouses might be built depending on what location or era is being modeled.

I reiterate what I said earlier; to appear 100% authentic, the architecture needs to be convincing without looking plastic. Real looking weathering and detailing makes it easier to replicate the resemblance to real world structures and architecture, and increases the authenticity and credibility of the entire train layout. Buildings can look more true to life when the surfaces are not too perfect. That's where details like flaked paintwork, cracks, mold, rust, and fading can add greatly to a scene's realism.

Plans for Building Scale Model Houses

Downloadable buildings are inexpensive and easy to buy, and make, and add amazing depth and dimension to the railroad model. offers various types of model buildings for purchase. These building kits can easily be purchased online, downloaded, and constructed as per scale and paper choice. Model house kits of this type are not only money savers, but also superbly authentic in appearance. While buying individual buildings is not particularly expensive, opting for the bulk-buy kits on the website is a fantastic option when constructing larger railroad layouts. The PDF files for the house designs can be saved for later use, in case additional model houses are required.

The house model buildings on the web site are easy to assemble, and can aid dramatically in adding depth and dimension to the model. A streetscape or a residential area using model house kits can help in adding to the realistic illusion of the layout. However, having each house building model to the correct scale is important, unless the home is built to a smaller size and positioned against the background, so as to appear a mile or two away in the distance. That's where the versatility of these model house plans comes into play; unlike plastic model kits they can easily be made smaller by scaling the house size down on a home printer. These plans can be constructed to HO SCALE, N SCALE, Z SCALE, or to OO GAUGE and sizes in between. Enlarging them bigger than S SCALE can cause a loss in quality print resolution so is not generally recommended.

If the house models are to appear in the foreground, then an off sized building can ruin the illusion and make the model look unrealistic and toy-like. Any property; whether it's a farm, a home on a residential street, or a shop in a town, can add to the real world feel, and reinstate the notion that the land is populated, that there are humans who actually live there. A deserted property can look artificial and like something from a ghost town.

How Important is Detailing When Building Model Houses?

The key to making a railroad setup look realistic is by first paying attention to everything around. Noticing how the residential homes and houses are placed, the shops in the street, and people, trees and even how the train stations look. Detailing and minute things like using people around the model, weathering on the model buildings etc., will add life to the railroad setup. It will then cease to be just a model, and will become a replica of the life-size reality all around.

While it can be quite tedious for some; it is important to first plan and design the layout by deciding the track configuration, deciding on typography and landscape elements, and allocating space for various properties, be they a farm, a factory, a mine, shops, a train station, or a streetscape of residential homes. Careful planning for each structure or property is needed to make sure the layout does not look too crowded or oddly populated, or deserted.

How Do Paper Model Kits Compare To Plastic Model Kits?

Model building kits of varying types can be used to enhance and liven up a model railroad. While cardstock model building kits are easy to access and construct, plastic model buildings are a good option too. The only drawbacks with plastic model kits is: the high cost, and the extra work required to try and make the weathering and detailing look somewhat realistic and less like painted plastic. Unlike downloadable models; each plastic kit needs to be purchased separately, whereas a downloaded design is purchased just once and printed several times (to make multiple buildings) if required. They can even be cut up to use against a backdrop, whereas it would be a waste of money to butcher a $100 plastic model kit.

The old myth of plastic models being stronger than building downloads has been put to rest, because it is easy to construct the downloaded designs to be remarkably strong by utilizing cheap-to-buy corflute, or foam board sheets. Some modelers even make model houses by gluing the designs to plywood, or cardboard. The options are numerous and generally inexpensive, especially when several buildings are made from one sheet.

Additional supports can easily be built in during construction. Often it is simply a case of adding some basic internal supports made from card or corflute, however most railroaders don't see the need for additional strengthening, as the houses natural strengthen as the glue dries.

Downloaded paper model kits like the ones at comprise structures that are highly detailed and have well designed doors, windows, and surfaces that look like real bricks, real wood, real concrete etc. Also, with all the weathering techniques already included in the designs, it is easy to create the look of a real worn down and beat house, garage, or structure.

Do Paper Model Kits Need Airbrushing, Weathering, or Detailing?

Model house building kits from are photographic in appearance, and are already designed and weathered. So unless specific features are required, the weathering, airbrushing, and detailing are already completed. The PDF plans allow the builder to put together the pieces and, if necessary, detail them further. Regardless of what which modeling kit is used, it is advised to paint edges before or after putting them together. This will add to the effect and will make the model houses look even more real and life like. Again, this can be achieved to precision by carefully noticing real life buildings and the effects of the weather on them. Sometimes just running a lead pencil or artist brush along the edges will hide any joins.

Weathering is an important part of not just buildings, but also structures and bridges, train cars, engines, and the landscape. Notice how different houses and buildings have been weathered differently over time, and use the various weathering techniques to replicate the effect. This is particularly important with plastic model kits, as they usually require considerable work to achieve anything near the fine detailing found on download kits.

Creating a Residential Street with Scale House Models

When building a model railroad, the element of realism is a must. It adds depth and dimension to the setup, making it look larger than life and real at the same time. Scale building kits are a great aid in this case. Added to the backdrop, they add perspective and make it look real.

With house building kits available online, it is very easy to create a residential area in the layout, or pop a house amongst some trees in a rural setting. The track may not have to necessary pass through the residential area, nor do all houses have to be facing the track. The variety of the houses available makes is very easy to create a residential area to suit the requirements of almost any layout. The various kinds of houses can be arranged aesthetically to recreate a real life residential area.

While the train and the tracks are an important part of the model, the backdrop and scenery is what makes the model railroad particularly interesting. A train running on a track laid out on a flat surface does not look as interesting as a track running through a carefully designed landscape. A background made up of buildings, houses, roads, industries, cars and people livens up and adds a new dimension to the railroad layout.

A house model kit can easily be printed off the website, and added to the model railroad. Each house in the building kit can be zoomed in or out, to proportion, so that it fits the scale of the model that is being built - N scale, HO scale, S scale, Z scale, or OO gauge. Low relief model-house kits add amazing dimension and create a feeling of continuation. has a variety of model building kits, including those for houses, residential buildings, and apartments. These building kits contain sets of 5-8 models that can easily be purchased online, printed, and used as many times as required.