The Advantages of Shipping Container Houses


shipping container houses

Pre-fab shipping container home, complete with solar. Available on Amazon, just $24,800.00 + $1,000 shipping.


Used shipping containers are a fabulous way to build. When built appropriately, shipping containers can offer advantages over more traditional construction methods.

Shipping Container Houses are Tough and Durable

Often overlooked, one advantage of shipping containers is their toughness and durability. Designed to transport valuable cargo, shipping containers travel through rough seas and dangerous weather. Shipping containers are sometimes subjected to hurricane force, 100 mph winds, and waves over 50′. This makes shipping containers one of the strongest home construction materials. This is especially true, compared to other environmentally friendly building materials, such as straw bales or recycled plastic.

However, to maintain this durability, don’t cut out too much steel from the containers, for windows and doors. This will affect the structural integrity of the shipping container. Removing too much metal will require the addition of steel beams, to carry the load that was supported by the removed metal. Also, you need to do regular maintenance, to prevent a shipping container house from rusting.

Shipping Container Houses are Eco-Friendly

One more advantage of building with a shipping container is they are environmentally friendly. A shipping container is recycled material. Every time a standard 40ft shipping container is recycled into a building, thousands of pounds of steel are repurposed.

Every year, it’s estimated around 500,000 shipping containers are abandoned. Furthermore, several million shipping containers have already been abandoned. That’s a lot of construction material! Another advantage of building with shipping containers, you won’t use other types of building materials, which could harm the environment.

Off-Site Construction

shipping container houses

Prefabricated container home, available on Amazon. $6,000.00 + $2,500 shipping.

One huge advantage of shipping container buildings is that you can remodel them off-site. If you are living in a remote area, building on-site has many challenges; contractors may be reluctant to travel to an off-grid location or charge a hefty fee. Also, transporting your building supplies and materials can be expensive. The availability of electric and water, necessary for the construction process, can be limited. If you plan on living off grid, the cost of transporting building materials, and paying contractors to travel, might be higher than shipping your finished container house to the location, in one trip. With a shipping container, you can do your conversion in town. Finally, once it’s finished, it can be transported to your land. This can allow you to live in a place where traditional homes can’t be built.

Shipping Container Houses are Affordable

One of the biggest reasons to build with shipping containers is they are affordable. A used 40ft shipping container costs around $1,800 and has about 320 square feet of floor space. If you put together three containers, you would have almost 1000 square feet, for less than $6000.

Of course, that does not include the cost of renovating the bare shipping containers into a livable space. In addition to the shipping container, you will need windows, doors, insulating material, flooring, plumbing, and home appliances. Furthermore, these will cost significantly more than the empty shipping container. You may also need to hire help to do some of the work. Finally, the cost of transporting the unit to your land must also be considered.

Shipping Container Houses can Be Portable

This depends on the design, but a shipping container home can be built with portability in mind. For a shipping container home to be portable, you need to do two things:

* Don’t weld, but bolt the containers to your foundation, and to any other containers, if your design has more than one container.

** Cut the shipping containers minimally. If you cut large pieces of steel out of the shipping containers, you will reduce the structural integrity. This prevents the containers from being stacked and transported, without adding a substantial amount of steel reinforcement.

Portability can be a huge advantage if you want to own your own home, but you need to move often. All you need to do is a find suitable piece of property, with utility hookups.

This guy took the idea of portability to the max and built a completely portable shipping container home, which he ships around the world as he travels to work.

Shipping Container Houses are Fast to Build

Another advantage of shipping container buildings, is they can be put together relatively quickly.

One reason a shipping container home tends to be quicker to build than a traditional home, the main structure is already complete. This means the interior simply needs to be finished, and a foundation laid. This is because the walls and roof are already finished.

Shipping Container Houses have Unique Style

It’s obvious that shipping container homes can have a distinctive look; industrial, rugged, and modern. Some people love the look of a shipping container home, and other people hate it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Remember, if you don’t like the basic, “industrial” external appearance, you can always alter this externally. You can clad your shipping containers with wood, so you can’t really tell it’s a shipping container. Also, you can place additional insulation under any wood cladding. You could also place trellis’s all around the outer walls, and grow vines or climbing roses.

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