The Advantages of Shipping Container Houses

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

Tough and Durable

Often overlooked, one advantage of shipping containers is their toughness and durability. Shipping containers are designed to transport valuable cargo, through rough seas and dangerous weather. While crossing the sea, shipping containers can be subjected to hurricane force, 100 mph winds, and waves over 50′.

This means that a shipping container are one of the strongest items to be used as a home, especially 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, and 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 them from rusting.


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

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

Off-Site Construction

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, and the availability of electric and water, necessary for the construction process, can be limited. If you plan on living in the boonies, the cost of transporting building materials, and paying contractors to travel, may be much higher than shipping your finished container house to the location in one trip. With a shipping container, you can do your conversion in town, and once it’s finished, it can be transported to your land. This can allow you to live in a place where traditional homes couldn’t be built.


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; you will also need windows, doors, insulating material, flooring, and home appliances and plumbing, which will cost significantly more than the empty container. And you may also have to hire help to do some of the work, and the cost of transporting the unit to your land must also be considered.


This statement 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 containers minimally. If you cut large pieces of steel out of the shipping containers, you will reduce the structural integrity. This will prevent 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 will 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.

Fast to Build

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

One reason why a shipping container home tends to be quicker to build than a traditional home, is that the main structure is typically complete when the shipping containers are delivered. The interior simply needs to be completed, and a foundation laid. The walls and roof are already finished.

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. You can also 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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