Building or buying a house is the most important, but also most expensive investment in a person’s life, especially if they’ve chose to live in an attractive location.

It is because of the expenses involved that some homeowners consider alternative living spaces. The good side of the process is that we live in a modern design age when even most absurd living space ideas are perfectly acceptable.

In fact, there are even people who opt for an alternative home because they want to skip the pollution and resource expenditure involved in the process of making one. Why not pulling an energy efficient home together if we can do it?

But what is the trendiest solution to consider? Recently, people started considering homes made from shipping containers, and initiated a design approach known as cargo container architecture.

While there is a lot that may sound illogical in container homes design, we responsively claim it is the most affordable, eco-friendly, and compact living solution.

Image source: Chang + Sylligardos Architects

Besides, most people already have inordinate numbers of shipping containers they don’t use, and will be glad to consider containers house designs.

Before getting too much into the subject, let’s tackle some quick questions that you might have:

How long do container homes last?

The consensus seems to be that a new shipping container will last for over 25 years without any form of maintenance. Obviously this figure will vary depending on the climate the shipping container in also; however a minimum of 25 years seems like a fair representation.

How much are shipping container homes?

There are prefabricated shipping container houses sold for as little as $15,000. A big and luxurious house made of shipping containers can cost more than $200,000, but this is one half of the price of a regular construction that has the same size. So, it’s pretty affordable comparing to the alternative.

Do shipping container homes rust?

A shipping container is a special, non corrosive Corten steel; then, when coated with the Ceramic coating, it becomes virtually rust proof and also prevents mildew, mold and is highly antiseptic. There will be no rust problems if you use an ISBUA Certified Member to build your home or advise you.

How much do used shipping containers cost?

One-trippers are containers that have been manufactured and shipped directly from China, carrying their first load of cargo. New containers cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the size, features and market price. Many suppliers offer new containers for purchase, so be sure to ask.

How many square feet are in a 40 foot container?

Containers typically come in two sizes, either 20 feet by 8 feet or 40 feet by 8 feet. The smaller of the two equals about 160 square feet of living space, whereas the larger container gets you 320 square feet.

How wide is a shipping container inside?

Standard ISO shipping containers are 8ft (2.43m) wide, 8.5ft (2.59m) high and come in two lengths; 20ft (6.06m) and 40ft (12.2m). Extra tall shipping containers called high-cube containers are available at 9.5ft (2.89m) high.

Now that we’ve finished with the quick FAQ, let’s delve into the subject.

There are also many practical sides that can inspire even the least brave among you to consider houses made from shipping containers, including those that don’t have one.

But which are those practical aspects we mentioned?

To start with, shipping container homes are storage unit homes, and they allow you to narrow furnishing down to few simplest elements, reduce clutter, and become environmentally conscious.

The key bonus is that modern container homes will stand out easily, and attract everyone’s attention even if you didn’t spend a fortune to build them.

Unlike traditional homes, houses made of shipping containers will resist both fires and floods, as they are made from the most durable material you can imagine.

Depending on their size and proper maintenance, you can prolong their usual 25 years lifespan, or even choose to reinforce the construction in order to transform them into real modular houses.

Maintenance won’t burden your budget either, and you will be able to move whenever you decide. The best part, however, is the modular nature of storage unit houses – there is no obstacle to stack few more when needed!

Storage container homes – why should we consider them?

Image source: Les Collections Dubreuil

As you can guess by the name, storage container homes are in fact shipping crate houses or similar facilities that can be transformed into a livable space.

The transformations you can apply on them are simply unlimited, as you can tailor them to the very exact size or shape you wish your home to have.

The concept has gained momentum in recent years, which is why designers have a lot of designs, ideas, and great container practices to suggest.

Browsing on the internet, you’d discover that many people go as far as creating offices, granny flats, commercial centers or even hotels in containers like these.

The previous life of your container home

Image source: Stephenson Design Collective

Shipping containers are storage units produced using sustainable materials (steel, for instance), and which can withstand unpleasant weather conditions, replacement, and heavy stacking.

The usual life span is 25 years, but with proper maintenance it can take the double to put them out to pasture.

This is the reason why more than 30 million households are situated in containers, together with the fact that such homes don’t require head-spinning investments (most of them can be purchased for $1,500-$2000).

The benefits of shipping container homes

Image source: Ziegler Build

The first distinctive advantage to have in mind is price – even the most durable and beautiful containers won’t cost more than$5000, making it possible for the homeowner to purchase a perfectly livable space for as little as $800.

Most of the time, they are ready to use, and you can move in once they’ve been shipped to your address. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the idea of living in an eco-friendly home which you can repurpose whenever necessary.

The other benefit is the durability of containers’ materials, known to be virtually indestructible, and capable of resisting climate attacks better than most American homes do.

The size is a huge plus as well – everything you need for decent living is stuck and organized in a cute box, delivered in a single piece, and completely enabled for all sorts of modifications.

The tough part, however, is taking care of containers, and handling their maintenance. As you know, the container idea is to build an indestructible establishment that can handle heavy loads and resist harsh climate conditions, but it is exactly their strength that makes them sturdy to move.

Image source: Coates Design Architects Seattle

Depending on what you want to achieve, you may need to hire professional help, in particular for irregular structures and shipping crate houses that contain more than one room.

We recommend you to do some extensive research before you actually jump on the bandwagon.

Before we take a more focused look on container homes benefits, we should analyze the history of this trend, and how it appeared.

According to experienced designers, it was the need to skip conventional architecture that inspired people to reinvent housing, and think of temporary placement that can be tailored exactly to their taste.

Nevertheless, it was the practical aspect that kept the trend going, because the aesthetical side of things is never enough in interior design.

Let’s say that there are few obvious reasons why container homes are so popular:

Low cost

Image source: JENDRETZKI LLC

As we explained preciously, home-suitable containers cost approximately $5,000, and that’s way less than the thousands (or even millions!) you’d spend on a durable suburban house.

To make matters even better, your off-the-shelf container home is very likely to sustain harsh environment conditions better than a traditional home can.

It doesn’t take to be a construction expert to appreciate metal features compared to the ones of timber and concrete, noting at the same time that container structures are designed in a simpler and more function-orientated manner.

The choice of available design materials and exterior finishes will surprise you even more.


Image source: Resolution: 4 Architecture

The most distinctive advantage of storage unit homes is the lack of overwhelming maintenance expenses, because equipping and designing a simple container can’t possibly be more expensive than purchasing a living-ready home.

It eliminates the need to look for a place, and gives you the freedom to move whenever you decide to do so, and take your home with you.

Large areas on small footprints

Container construction ideas are not only suitable for homes, but also offices and dwelling spaces on small footprints.

Lack of construction difficulties

Image source: FINNE Architects

It may look challenging at the beginning, but constructing an amazing shipping container home doesn’t require that much effort.

The first step is to find the most appropriate container (rent, buy, or repurpose an old one), have it delivered to the planned location, and implement all of your cool design ideas on it.

There is no such design technique that can’t be used to beautify your container home, be it a window, door, or even a staircase.

Climate-resistant and environment-friendly homes

Container structures are weatherproof and strong, which makes them an ideal solution for habitable spaces. At the same time, the construction methods related to them place less no burden on the environment than conventional homes do.

A habitable home in less than no time

Image source: FINNE Architects

The reason why so many people opt for container ship homes is that they don’t need to invest years preparing a habitable space for their family.

With the suitable container in place, it shouldn’t take more than 2-3 months to obtain a movable home, or implement the change your contractor failed to consider.

With container homes, it is easy to predict how the final version will look like, and you will often have the chance to peak on a fully fledged picture of your home long before it has been prepared for living.

Reasonable construction plans

Image source: Tomecek Studio Architecture

The challenge is to think of the most appropriate style and design solutions – once they know what you want, contractors will take no more than 1 week to make your container weatherproof and livable.

The freedom of movement

Image source: Princeton Architectural Press

Artistic vagabonds who simply won’t settle for a single living place should definitely consider a container home – the storage unit can be delivered in literally every location, as long as you’re working with a reliable vendor who knows how to take the necessary precautions (a 100 ft maneuvering space for comfortable loading, for instance).

If a day comes when you no longer feel like living in that area, your container home can easily be moved to a new and exciting place.

As you can see, there are many benefits to consider when speaking of this outstanding architectural redemption. One thing is for sure: you should no longer ignore the practical aspect of this idea!

FAQs about shipping container homes

1. What are the advantages of building a home out of shipping containers?

A few benefits of shipping container homes include its cost, toughness, and sustainability. They are a well-liked choice for anyone wishing to build a home on a budget because they are frequently less expensive than conventional residences and can be built fast. Since they can be made to be energy-efficient and are made from recycled materials, they are also environmentally beneficial.

2. How much does it cost to build a shipping container home?

The price to build a shipping container home varies depending on the size, location, design, and type of container utilized, among other things. The price can, on average, run from $50,000 to $150,000 or more. Nevertheless, building a container home can be less expensive than building a conventional home; some people have even been able to build one for around $10,000.

3. How long does it take to build a shipping container home?

The length of time needed to create a shipping container home varies based on a variety of elements, including the size and intricacy of the design, the quantity of containers utilized, and the accessibility of building supplies. A container home may typically take a few weeks to a few months to finish.

4. How do you insulate a shipping container home?

To make a shipping container home comfortable to live in, proper insulation is necessary. Spray foam, batt insulation, and rigid foam board are a few types of insulation that can be used to insulate a container home. Budget, climate, and personal preference are just a few of the variables that will determine the type of insulation chosen.

5. What are the building codes and regulations for shipping container homes?

Depending on where a shipping container home is built, different locations have different building laws and restrictions. Generally speaking, you must secure the required permissions and abide by all zoning and building regulations. To make sure the house is constructed in accordance with code, it is crucial to engage with a professional who is familiar with the rules.

6. How do you transport shipping containers to the building site?

A crane is used to lift shipping containers onto the foundation after they have been delivered to the construction site by a flatbed truck. The delivery site must be accessible for the truck and crane, and there must be space for the container to be installed.

7. What types of modifications can be made to a shipping container to turn it into a home?

Numerous modifications can be made to shipping containers to turn them into livable abodes. Adding windows and doors, making openings for plumbing and electrical lines, and adding insulation are a few alterations. You may design a distinctive and individual home thanks to the countless customization possibilities available.

8. How do you connect utilities such as electricity, water, and sewage to a shipping container home?

A shipping container home can be connected to utilities by employing experts to set up the plumbing, electricity, and HVAC systems. By connecting to the neighborhood supply and running pipes to the container, water and sewage hookups can be made. By employing a certified electrician to run wiring and install outlets and switches, electrical systems can be connected.

9. Are shipping container homes safe and durable in extreme weather conditions?

Homes made of shipping containers are sturdy and able to survive severe weather events like hurricanes and earthquakes. They can be made to be structurally sound and are built to be wind- and water-resistant. To ensure the safety and durability of the container home, it is crucial to ensure its proper construction.

10. Can you build a multi-story home out of shipping containers?

By piling containers on top of one another, a multi-story shipping container home can be constructed. However, this needs additional structural support, like columns or beams made of reinforced concrete. Working with a specialist is crucial to guarantee the home is structurally sound because the design and size of the property will also affect its stability.

Ending thoughts

Image source: Hammer & Hand

Interior design changed many times throughout history, but one concept remained the same: exponential change of comfort requirements are easily subjected to change, but the basic need for a shelter where you can sleep, eat, and store your items is the core of your establishment decision.

New generations chose to break the settlement with overdone habitual solutions and to skip paying crazy amounts, even if that means living in a unique container home no one in their environment approves.

The residential component of such non-conformism approach evolved to an insane amount of diverse habitual solutions, where the only criterion is what people need and like.

There are, and will be families that like glass houses and concrete homes, but that will no longer influence the ‘special ones’ that want to live in a storage home.

Before rejecting the container home idea as being boring, think of all those ways in which you can personalize it without spending a fortune.

All it takes to have a stunning shipping home is imagination and dedicated effort, and you won’t even have to hire an architect for the purpose.

If interested to construct a full-time livable space instead of an off-the grid guest haven, you can consider hiring a talented architect to turn your ideas into reality.

Image source: Studio Agoos Lovera

Containers were originally invented for transportation purposes, but managed to become cute and practical crates where people live and perform essential activities.

The trend doesn’t seem to cool down, as more and more people realize containers make for cheap, maintainable, durable, and unique home solutions.

At the dawn of this discovery, shipping container homes were celebrated as eco-friendly concepts which reduce construction waste, but practice showed there is much more to appreciate about them.

They are incredibly resistant to fire, water, termites, and mold damage, and can be easily dwelled to replicate the very same concept you planned for your traditional homes.

In terms of style, they are most often described as minimalist solutions, which is how we came to see all those amazing cutting-edge and high-profile designs around the world.

Designers believe this is just the beginning of their resurgence, and that people have just started to discover all environmental concerns and financial challenges container homes can solve.

Storage unit homes nowadays vary from simple studios to elaborated full-scale houses, where people can live for years at a mere fraction of the traditional housing costs.

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