Shipping Container Homes: Quick Overview

Shipping container homes are everywhere now.  While they are still not a very common form of construction, they are becoming much recognized as the most trending form of modular style and completely custom design homes.

The overall concept of building with containers is pretty simple.  It's like Lego Blocks but life size in scale.  With that in mind, the design of these homes can be as small as 160 Sq ft to as large as your wallet and landscape allows for.  There are many examples of homes using up to 30 shipping containers to complete a single home as well as single 20 foot containers.

Availability is obviously one of the largest factors in any construction project.  Can you get the resources you need to complete the project?  Due to their nature of being used to ship goods across the oceans, the closer you live to the coast or a major shipping port, the easier it is to find quality containers at bottom dollar prices.

With any construction project the cost is dictated by your means and how much you are willing or can spend.  Typically these builds will cost anywhere from 75 to 2.50 for every dollar you would spend in standard constructions.  The reason for the cost variance is available skill sets and design or constructions codes may play a huge part in the overall cost of the project.  Where you can save money is on foundations and roofs.  However insulation and temp control may cost more than usual due to the space constraints. Where you ultimately save money is in the long run.  Long term maintenance costs are significantly less as these units are designed to withstand wind and water pressures well above a normal home.

Benefits to building a shipping container home include unlimited design options as long as you like squares and rectangles.  For a self builder, these homes also offer the ability to build at your own pace.  Because they start wind and water tight, you can work backwards essentially and place windows, doors, and wall opening as you see fit.  You do not need to have an EXACT plan for windows because you can change the design once the containers are placed. Another huge bonus us the ability to move the home in pieces even decades from now.

Some of the down sides to building this way may include costs for permitting and sourcing materials or finding craftsmen that are willing to work with this type of metal. Room sizes can be limited if using single wide containers and not placing them side by side. Running electrical and plumbing can be different than standard construction and may take some getting used to.

Aside from learning curve headaches, to me there are plenty more benefits than negatives to building a house with shipping containers.  There are so many completed houses now available to view on the internet you can get an idea of where people's creativity can take them.