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Introducing 8 Best Budget-Friendly Shipping Container Home Building Materials

Introducing 8 Best Budget-Friendly Shipping Container Home Building Materials

Are you considering building a shipping container home on a budget? We have great news for you. In this guide, we will explore eight of the most cost-effective building materials for your project.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional builder, these materials will help you bring your container home dreams to life while saving you money.

Of course, it’s not all about choosing the cheapest options. There are important considerations to keep in mind when selecting materials.

We’ll highlight these factors within the article, ensuring you make the most informed decision for your shipping container home.

Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of budget-friendly building options. The dream of owning a shipping container home is closer than you think. Let’s begin our journey!

Key Takeaways

  • Building a DIY container home can be more cost-effective compared to traditional homes due to the low cost of purchasing shipping containers and the ability to use the containers as the building’s structure.
  • Budgeting is essential when building a container home to ensure the financial feasibility of the project, prioritize expenses, and avoid unexpected financial setbacks.
  • When building a DIY container home, consider using materials like pier foundations, plywood, cob, fiberglass panels, concrete sheets, reclaimed wood, bamboo, and metal cladding.
  • These materials offer cost-effectiveness, durability, sustainability, and customization options for creating a unique and comfortable living space.
  • Prioritize quality and durability when selecting materials for your container home to ensure that they can withstand the rigors of container living and meet local building codes and regulations.

Benefits of Building a DIY Container Home

A shipping container home is a type of modern home that is created by repurposing one or multiple containers and transforming them into habitable living spaces.

These containers are typically made from steel, are suitable for transportation, and can be modified to include all the amenities found in a traditional home.

Container homes have gained increasing popularity in recent years due to their numerous benefits. Here are some of the key benefits people who choose container homes enjoy:


Building a container home is often more affordable compared to traditional homes. The cost of purchasing shipping containers is relatively low, and you can save money on construction as the containers can serve as the building’s structure, reducing the need for additional materials.


Building a DIY container home allows you to have complete control over the design and layout of your living space.

Containers can be easily modified and combined to create unique and personalized homes. You can choose the size, number of rooms, and specific features that best suit your needs and preferences.


Container homes can be easily transported and relocated to different locations, making them a great option for those who want the flexibility to move or travel while still having a comfortable and sustainable living space. This flexibility also makes container homes suitable for temporary or vacation housing solutions.

transporting container home

Photo from Conexwest


Shipping containers are built to withstand harsh weather conditions and heavy loads, making them incredibly durable and long-lasting.

They are designed to be stacked and transported, making them structurally stable and resistant to damage.

Container homes are also low-maintenance, as they require minimal upkeep and are less prone to issues such as rot, pests, or mold.

Budgeting For Your DIY Shipping Container Home Construction

Budgeting is essential when it comes to building a container home. Whether you’re a novice DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, keeping track of finances is vital throughout the construction process.

First, it helps you understand the financial feasibility of your project. Creating a detailed budget can determine how much money you will need and whether you have the resources to complete the project successfully.

A well-planned budget also allows you to prioritize your expenses. Building a container home involves various costs, including purchasing the containers, hiring contractors, and buying materials.

Creating a budget also helps you allocate your funds efficiently, ensuring that you can cover all the necessary expenses without overspending.

Budgeting also helps you set realistic expectations and avoid unexpected financial setbacks.

Carefully estimating costs and considering contingencies can help you anticipate potential challenges and plan accordingly. This can help you avoid running out of money halfway through the project and leaving it unfinished.

Another benefit of budgeting is that it enables you to make informed decisions about design and construction.

Understanding the costs associated with different materials and features can help you make choices that align with your budget and priorities.

Finally, budgeting provides you with a sense of control and peace of mind throughout the construction process.

Knowing that you have a comprehensive plan in place and the necessary funds to cover all aspects of the project allows you to approach the endeavor with confidence and reduces the stress associated with the construction.

container home construction

Photo from Conexwest

8 Best Budget-Friendly Materials for your Container Home

To help you create your dream container home on a budget, we have compiled a list of the 8 best budget-friendly materials that can be used for construction.

1. Pier Foundations

Pier foundations are a popular choice for shipping container homes. They’re chosen for their cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

What exactly are pier foundations? They’re sturdy concrete blocks, or ‘piers’. These are placed at each corner of the shipping container. For larger 40-foot containers, extra piers are added for stability.

Pier foundations require minimal digging—just enough to accommodate the piers. This saves a great deal of time and money in comparison to other foundation types.

Unlike pile foundations, there’s no need for expensive specialized equipment with pier foundations. This simplicity adds to their affordability. It makes them an easy choice for those looking to construct a shipping container home in their own backyard.

But it’s not all about cost and ease. Pier foundations also tick the box when it comes to compliance. They meet all building codes, making them a safe choice. Plus, they offer the flexibility needed for custom upgrades during the construction process.

2. Plywood

Plywood is a top choice for flooring, walls, and ceilings in shipping container homes.

It might be due to its affordability. Or it could be its versatility in construction. Either way, plywood takes its place in the conversation about building materials.

Plywood is a hero for DIY projects. It’s user-friendly and easy to work with. This sturdiness makes it ideal for creating durable flooring systems. It also steps up as a reliable wall and ceiling material.

Plywood also offers insulation benefits. It serves as a soundproofing agent. The result? A comfortable and quiet living environment.

Whether you’re on a tight budget or sparing no expense, plywood is there for you. It’s a reliable choice for a shipping container home.

brown wooden blocks on brown wooden table

Photo by Jakarta Parquet on Unsplash

3. Cob

Cob, a mix of clay, sand, straw, and water, is a versatile and enduring building material that has been in use for centuries.

Cob is known for its excellent insulating properties and durability. This makes it ideal for constructing the walls of a shipping container home or providing insulation within.

The process of building a home with cobs and shipping containers is straightforward. First, you create the cob mixture. Then, you shape it into bricks or apply it directly to the walls. Finally, you allow it to dry and harden.

Using cobs in your construction can significantly reduce the cost of your home. Yet, you’ll still be able to create a custom home that’s both sustainable and energy-efficient.

4. Fiberglass panels

In the world of container homes, fiberglass panels are a game-changer. Lightweight and easy to install, these panels are a prime choice for walls and roofs. They offer an affordable solution for home builders without skimping on quality.

Fiberglass panels are known for their durability. They can withstand extreme weather conditions, which makes them a reliable choice for home construction.

These panels aren’t just tough; they’re also eco-friendly. They can be recycled and reused, contributing to a sustainable environment.

For those who love a good DIY project, fiberglass panels are a dream. Their versatility means they can be tailored to fit your individual needs.

Working with professionals? They’ll appreciate the ease of installation these panels provide.

Furthermore, fiberglass panels have a knack for complementing other materials, like cob. This makes them a valuable addition to your container home construction.

5. Concrete sheets

The cost-effectiveness and adaptability of concrete sheets have made them a go-to for both DIY aficionados and seasoned professionals.

This popularity isn’t without reason; these prefab panels are a breeze to install, thus cutting down on both time and labor costs.

The need for on-site framing and pouring is also eliminated, thanks to these versatile sheets. This not only saves precious time but also your hard-earned money. The benefits of using concrete sheets extend far beyond just cost and time savings.

One major advantage of concrete sheets is their robustness. They’re fireproof and weatherproof, offering a high level of security. This ensures that your shipping container home isn’t only safe but also durable.

When it comes to insulation, concrete sheets have that covered as well. They help maintain a cozy temperature indoors, adding to the comfort of your container home.

Concrete sheets are also a good thing for those who cherish flexibility in their floor plans. They provide a solid base for installing doors and windows, paving the way for a tailor-made container home that aligns with your unique needs and tastes.

6. Reclaimed wood

Reclaimed wood can be a smart and sustainable choice when building your shipping container home. This material isn’t only cost-effective, but it also adds a unique touch to your living space.

Reclaimed wood is cheaper than fresh lumber. This makes it a great option for those who are conscious of their budget. Furthermore, using reclaimed wood helps reduce waste and keeps it out of landfills.

You can often find reclaimed wood for free. It’s available on online marketplaces or at construction sites. However, always remember to ask for permission before picking up discarded wood.

Incorporating reclaimed wood into your home’s design can give it a distinctive look. You’ll see a mix of grains and colors that you won’t find with fresh lumber. Plus, reclaimed wood can be refinished to match your preferred aesthetic.

7. Bamboo

Bamboo, a durable alternative to traditional lumber, is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth. This rapid growth makes it a particularly sustainable choice for construction. Imagine using a material that replenishes itself quickly, lessening the impact on the environment.

But its sustainability isn’t the only reason to choose bamboo. It’s a multi-use material that can be employed in various aspects of your shipping container home.

Need a sturdy frame? Bamboo’s got you covered. Looking for an eco-friendly roofing or flooring solution? Bamboo is your answer. What about a fence to enclose your property? Bamboo can do that too.

Pairing bamboo with recycled shipping container homes is an excellent idea. This combination offers a modular home solution that’s both eco-friendly and strong.

Whether you’re using one shipping container or several, bamboo complements the steel structure beautifully.

Before you rush out and buy bamboo, there’s one more thing to think about. The type of bamboo and its harvest time are crucial considerations.

So, it’s wise to do a little homework to ensure you select the right bamboo for your project.

brown bamboo fence

Photo by Denis Agati on Unsplash

8. Metal cladding

If you’re in the market for an affordable but sturdy solution for your shipping container home’s exterior, metal cladding is worth considering. This choice is favored among container home builders for several compelling reasons.

To begin with, metal cladding is known for its resistance to weathering and corrosion. This makes it a long-lasting option that will stand up to the elements. It’s not just about durability, though. Metal cladding also has excellent insulation properties.

This is a significant advantage, as it helps maintain a comfortable temperature inside your container home, regardless of the season. With metal cladding, you can enjoy a cozy interior all year round.

But it’s not all about functionality. Aesthetics matter too, and metal cladding delivers on that front. It lends a sleek and modern feel to your home, making it look contemporary and stylish.

Whether you’re working with a brand-new container or breathing new life into a used one, metal cladding is straightforward to install. It enhances both the appearance and practicality of your container home.

Things to Consider When Buying Materials For Your Container Home Building

person standing beside container home

Photo from Conexwest

When venturing into the exciting world of container home construction, there are several key considerations to bear in mind.

Quality of materials

It is important to choose high-quality materials that can withstand the rigors of a container home. This includes durable and weather-resistant materials for the walls, flooring, roofing, and insulation.


Look for materials that are long-lasting and require minimal maintenance. Container homes should be able to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, and other environmental factors.


Invest in high-quality insulation materials to ensure your container home is well-insulated and energy-efficient. Good insulation will help regulate temperature, reduce noise, and lower your energy bills.


Consider materials that allow for modifications and expansions in the future. Container homes can be easily modified, so choose materials that can be easily installed and adjusted as needed.

Local building codes and regulations

Check the local building codes and regulations in your area to ensure that the materials you choose comply with the necessary standards. Some areas may have specific requirements for container home construction.

Expert advice

Consult with professionals or experts in container home construction to get their advice on the best materials for your specific needs. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their experience.


Shipping container houses are becoming an increasingly popular choice for people looking for affordable and sustainable housing options. Fortunately, there are several materials available that won’t break the bank.

The eight materials in this article offer a range of benefits for shipping container home builders. They’re cost-effective, sustainable, and offer a variety of design choices.

When planning your build, take these materials into consideration to create a home that’s both affordable and built to last.

If you’re interested in learning more about container living, feel free to visit our guides here.

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Container Home Hub is not a shipping container home construction company. While we do our best to make sure our information is accurate, please contact a professional shipping container home builder for information. Container Home Hub is also a blog and does not independently sell shipping container houses and/or shipping container house plans. Container Home Hub currently uses advertisements from a third-party advertising site in addition to occasional affiliate links.