Are you a prospective homeowner on the fence between building a shipping container home and a traditional brick-and-mortar house?

Some key facts to consider about shipping container homes are that they’re significantly cheaper to build than traditional houses and better for the environment.

Additionally, these homes are highly durable and portable.

Read on to learn more about what shipping container homes are and some key details about them. Keep these details in mind as you decide whether to build one!

What Is a Shipping Container Home?

The raw materials prices needed to build a traditional brick-and-mortar house have risen significantly over the years. In turn, so has the total cost of building such houses.

This is why plenty of prospective homeowners have been searching for cheaper options.

One of the top alternatives is shipping container homes. As their name suggests, these homes are primarily built using repurposed shipping containers.

Such containers are highly suitable for this purpose. That’s because they were originally designed to transport tons of cargo across the ocean’s vast expanse, which is reflected in the rugged material used to make them.

Key Facts About Shipping Container Homes

Here are some essential facts about shipping container homes to know before you decide to build one.

Fact 1: Shipping Container Homes Are Much Cheaper Than Traditional Houses

Container homes cost less to build than traditional homes
Container homes are significantly less costly to build than traditional homes.

The first and possibly most significant fact about shipping container homes is how much they cost to build.

Several factors determine the total cost of building a shipping container home.

The first input is the shipping container itself. Such containers can cost as little as $10,000 upfront.

Of course, exactly how much they’ll cost depends on whether you’ve bought an already repurposed container or a new one that needs to be repurposed from scratch.

When figuring out a container home’s cost, other things to consider are the location and type of land you’re building on.

Plus, keep in mind the type of foundation you’re going to lay, insulation, and amenities.

Even with these added costs included in the equation, the price of a shipping container home is still much lower than that of a traditional house.

Building a shipping container home will set you back a third of what a brick-and-mortar house would.

The average shipping container home will cost between $35,000 and $50,000 to build. However, you can also find such homes built for as little as $10,000 and as much as $175,000.

Fact 2: Shipping Container Homes Are Highly Durable

As previously mentioned, the original purpose of shipping containers is to house enormous amounts of cargo and transport it across harsh ocean conditions.

This is why these containers are crafted from corten steel, a material much stronger than wood or concrete.

This steel is incredibly durable and can withstand the harshest of weather conditions.

In turn, you can rest assured that your shipping container home will be a safe haven for you and your family for decades, even through major natural disasters.

If you live in an area with frequent tornadoes and hurricanes, you’ll be delighted to know that shipping container homes can stand tall against winds of speeds up to 100 MPH.

Of course, this is under the condition that the home stands on a proper foundation.

As for shipping container homes’ performance during earthquakes, these dwellings are 100 times more likely to maintain their structural integrity after getting directly hit by an earthquake than traditional houses.

Fact 3: Shipping Container Homes Are Good For the Environment

Container homes with a graphic of the earth
Shipping container homes use the more than 20 million empty containers on our planet, reducing the need for new construction.

Another essential thing to know about shipping container homes is their effect on the environment.

Right off the bat, let’s make it clear that building such structures has a significantly lower carbon footprint than building traditional houses.

Studies have shown that almost 30 percent of the building materials delivered to the construction site of a traditional brick-and-mortar home end up as waste.

On the other hand, building a shipping container home uses containers that would have ended up in a junkyard.

Considering there are currently about 24 million empty shipping containers worldwide, repurposing them for home building does wonders for the environment.

Fact 4: Shipping Container Homes Don’t Have to Be Small

When most people think of shipping container homes, they envision a small compact unit.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case at all. For example, some shipping container homes can be as large as 1,700 square feet.

Furthermore, building a shipping container home gives you superior flexibility in size. Adding to the area of a traditional house is a costly endeavor.

On the other hand, you can add new shipping container extensions to a shipping container home at a fraction of the price.

This allows you to have a home that can grow with you and your family.

Fact 5: Shipping Container Homes Are Highly Portable

A woman wearing a white tank top and a skirt sits at a desk in her shipping container home in Tennessee on a clear, sunny day
You can take a shipping container home here, there, and everywhere.

Are you constantly on the move? If you are, then a shipping container home might be your best option.

Such homes are highly portable. They can be disassembled, loaded into the back of a truck, and reassembled elsewhere.

However, you realistically won’t be able to do this alone. You’ll need to hire a transportation service to do it for you.

You can expect to pay around $3 per mile to move a 20-foot container. You should also consider the cost of disassembly and reassembly.

Fact 6: You Can’t Do it All By Yourself

Sure, building a shipping container home is considerably easier than building a traditional house. However, that does not mean that the average joe can do it alone.

You must hire an experienced shipping container home-building company to guide you.

This process will include acquiring the shipping containers to be used. These containers come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions.

The shipping container home builder will assist you in reaching suppliers that can provide the materials you need to modify the containers to your liking.

The shipping container home builder’s role isn’t limited to just this. They also guide you through the required zoning rules, regulations, and permits.

Additionally, they help you navigate the construction laws and guidelines for shipping container homes in your area.

The Types of Shipping Containers

When deciding on a shipping container for your project, you’ll need to know the types to choose from.

Here they are summarized in the table below.

Shipping Container TypeDimensions (Feet and Inches)Original PurposeRecommended Home Use
StandardLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping dry cargoSingle story homes
Open-TopLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping slabs of granite or marbleLower story of a multi-story home
Open-SideLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping wide cargoFor homes with full-length windows or doors along the side
TunnelLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping steel beamsFor homes with full-length windows or doors at the ends
ThermalLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping perishable cargoFor those who want readily installed insulation
VentedLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping cargo that needs ventilation (ex., coffee beans)Single-story homes
RefrigeratedLength: 8’0″ Width: 40’0″ Height: 9’6″Shipping perishable cargoFor those who want readily installed insulation

The types most commonly used for shipping container homes are standard, open-top, open-side, and tunnel. You should also note that each type’s quoted heights and widths can vary.

Key Takeaways

As the cost of the raw materials needed to build a traditional brick-and-mortar house has increased, so has the cost of owning a new home. This has led many people to explore other avenues.

Shipping container homes are one alternative that has become prominent over the years. These single or multi-family units use repurposed steel shipping containers as their base material.

Such homes are much cheaper to build than traditional houses. Additionally, they’re highly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, even natural disasters.

Furthermore, shipping container homes are significantly easier on the environment and building them results in much less waste.

Even though these homes are easier to build than traditional ones, you’ll still need to hire a shipping container home builder to guide you through the project’s many phases.

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