Close this search box.
Shipping container home

What Are Shipping Container Homes? Everything You Need To Know

A container home is a residence made from one or more shipping containers, also called cargo containers, storage containers, or conex boxes. Typically used for transporting goods, these containers are made of corrugated steel and are designed to be durable, secure, and weather-resistant, making them well-suited for temporary or permanent homes. Shipping containers are available in a variety of sizes, offering flexibility depending on your preferences and lifestyle. Shipping container homes can be built quickly and often inexpensively, making them a popular choice in areas with high costs of living. Some people choose to build shipping container homes for this reason, while others choose them as a sustainable alternative to traditional homes. Others are simply attracted to the unique look and feel of the containers! They are often associated with a minimalist and industrial aesthetic but can be designed and decorated to suit a wide range of styles.
The price of container homes varies widely depending on a number of factors, from home size and number of containers used to location and materials used in and outside of the home. It also depends on if you are building the home custom or buying prefabricated. In general, though, these homes tend to fall between $25,000-$80,000 for a single container model and $80,000 to $250,000 for a multi-container house. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of land and labor to your overall budget!  Learn more about the cost of shipping containers →
Shipping container homes are typically less expensive than traditional homes. This can vary based on materials used, square footage, etc., but comparing homes with similar dimensions, container homes typically clock in around one- to two-thirds the price of traditional homes.  If you want to cut costs and save even more money, you may want to repurpose a used shipping container rather than buying new, assuming it is still in good, weather-resistant condition.
Because they were built to safely transport goods over long distances and often-harsh conditions, shipping containers are extremely durable, making them an ideal choice for homes. With proper care and maintenance, these homes can last decades - an average lifespan of 25-30 years.  The biggest risk to shipping container home longevity is rust. Rust-resistant paint can ward this off, but even if the structural integrity of the corrugated sides is threatened, these may be replaced without altering the home’s frame.
Shipping containers are just as safe and secure as traditional homes. Just like a “stick-built” or wood constructed home, the safety of a container home depends on property construction and maintenance, but they are otherwise no less safe than a traditional home.  After all, storage containers were built to safely transport cargo over long, sometimes treacherous journeys without compromising the goods inside. This makes them secure and safe in a variety of weather conditions.  Be sure to avoid toxic materials when building a container home, as often the floor on a new / one-trip container can be sprayed with heavy pesticides. And - as with any metal home - ensure it is grounded to provide safety in a lightning storm.
For all their benefits, one of the tricky things about container homes is that their walls are thin, posing a challenge for insulation. There are two ways to get around this: building out or building in. By building walls slightly separated from the sides of the shipping container inside the home, you can keep the quintessential container exterior, but take up more square footage inside the residence. Alternatively, you can do this on the exterior, and leave the corrugated steel look inside the home.  Next, you’ll need to choose the type of insulation you want to use. Spray foam insulation is popular for shipping containers due to its ease of use. However, its chemical makeup means this is not the most sustainable option. Cotton, wool, and cork are also viable options. Wool and cork are both fire resistant, and cork has the added benefit of absorbing extra sounds from the metal of the shipping container.  Learn more about shipping container moisture control →
All 50 states in the U.S. allow shipping container homes - some are simply easier to build in than others due to zoning laws and building codes. Alaska, California, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas are particularly easy states for building these types of residences. 

Ready to purchase a shipping container? Reach out today to get a quote from the best in the industry!

How to build a shipping container house

If you’re still interested in a shipping container home, it’s important to know the basic steps involved:
  1. Prepare a design: Creating a design first will allow you to decide which materials you’ll need and what size shipping container is ideal. Shipping containers come in a variety of dimensions, and you can also stack them to achieve your perfect home. Brainstorm the must-haves and nice-to-haves for your future home, and don’t hesitate to ask a professional for help in creating the plan and the design. 
  2. Keep the Rules in Mind: Check building codes and zoning laws in your area before starting any construction to ensure it will not need to be demolished. Additionally, this will help ensure the safety and integrity of the structure. 
  3. Establish a Firm Foundation: Good foundations are needed for any permanent home. It is impossible for anything to be built and remain stable without a good foundation, and this is particularly crucial for shipping container homes, where the foundation should help keep away moisture that can lead to rust and structural damage. 
  4. Stabilize your Skeleton: The frame must be strengthened by a professional welder if you want it to be as robust as possible. It is possible for them to make sure that cranes are properly and steadily connected.
  5. Provide a Quality Finish: Shipping container homes need a quality finish, especially when it comes to weatherproofing. Make sure the container is well-coated and in good condition to avoid any metal exposure caused by rain and moisture. Additionally, the interior should be insulated to create a safe and comfortable environment during extreme temperatures.

Are container homes worth it?

The answer to this question is very personal and dependent on your individual wants, needs, and goals for building a shipping container home. Shipping container homes are less expensive than a traditional home, yes, but there’s more to it than that. 

If you are looking for a more sustainable alternative to a traditional home and have interest in building and customizing your own space, a shipping container home is likely a great option for you. On the other hand, if you lean more toward traditionally designed houses and aren’t willing to learn about the unique maintenance required to live in a shipping container home, it may not be the best choice for you.

Work with the best in the shipping container business.

Container Sales Group buys containers directly from the steamship lines to offer our customers the highest quality containers at the most competitive prices. We’re a women-owned business, established in 1998, and have locations throughout the US.

Shipping Container “Need To Know” News
Get Price Updates – Discounts – Newest Accessories – Container Trends – Industry News

Share this post