Why Build a Home from Shipping Containers?



By Caroline Kirby

The idea of shipping container homes has been a while, but over the last few years, the trend has taken off with more and more DIY pros and sustainability influencers have been testing out this fad. They’re mobile, easily modified, and can be a great option for those looking for a fresh start.

Building a home from shipping containers is not as simple as it sounds and certainly has its fair share of pros and cons, but we’ll break down the most important items that can help you decide on if this venture is right for you.

What’s the purpose of building a home from shipping containers?

Before looking into the purpose of a shipping container home, you must first understand what it means. Shipping container homes are any dwelling made from shipping containers (you know, the large reusable containers that transport goods). Typically shipping containers are 20 feet by 8 feet or 40 feet by 8 feet, with the smaller equaling around 160 square feet of living space and the larger container offering 320 square feet.

These structures have been used as a standalone home, multilevel residence, or even a personal office. For decades, many people have been looking for an alternative to suburban homes, cramped walk-ups in the city, or just a new take on the traditional multi-bedroom house, and for some, shipping container homes ticked all their boxes. Here are some of the top reasons why people like this option:

1. It can be cheaper than traditional housing: While it can get pricey to customize and build your dream home, if you’re looking for something simple, it’s possible to find a shipping container home for as low as $10,000. Shipping containers also generally require fewer building materials and labor to construct, making it an attractive option for many.

2. You can take them with you: There are dedicated shipping transportation services that can pick up and relocate your off-the-grid single container home, meaning you’re not tied down to any one spot, and if you do decide to relocate, you can bring your home with you.

3. They’re highly customizable: The top reason that these homes are so popular among creatives, especially in the architecture community, is because of how easy they are to modify. It’s possible to combine multiple containers to create a larger home with various rooms, a second floor, or even a guesthouse. You can browse some impressive container homes here.

While shipping container dwellings are an exciting and cost-effective option, it requires a lot of planning and consideration. Some of the biggest drawbacks include:

• Difficulty obtaining certain building permits
• Not as eco-friendly as perceived (e.g., some containers may have transported dangerous chemicals)
• Installing modern appliances may be tough but not impossible if you’re able to find an electrician and plumber familiar with the architecture and design of shipping container homes.

With all of the above factors in mind, both the positive and negative, it may come as no surprise that shipping container homes are particularly popular for people looking to live off the grid or who need single structures for extra space like a guest home or personal office. As many of us will be spending more time at home or even potentially working remotely due to COVID-19, this may be an interesting option to create more space.

Check out LandHub.com’s listings to find the perfect property for your shipping container home!

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