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What is a Shipping Container Home?

What is a Shipping Container Home?

Building your own home is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself and your family. There are so many advantages to a custom home build and so many reasons to take on this challenge. However, if you have ever looked into the cost of building a home, you know how expensive it can be. That’s why building a shipping container home is such a great option. 

Building a container home is a great way to get all the luxaries of a custom home without the expense. With the alternative housing movement booming, there has never been a better time to start. In this article, we have put together everything you need to know about building a shipping container home. By understanding the basics, you can decide if it is the right choice for you. 

What is a Shipping Container Home? 

A shipping container home is a house built using recycled containers as the structure of the home. Shipping containers are used to move goods across the world in all kinds of ways. They are designed to fit on trucks, trains, and ships and are mostly uniform in size and shape. Because of this uniformity, they are perfect for building interesting custom homes. 

Shipping containers are usually made of steel and have boxy, rectangular shapes. This means that they are a great choice if you love the mid-century modern style of house. All you have to do is arrange the containers in a certain way and furnish the inside. In many cases, you don’t even need framing for the interior unless you want custom shipping container insulation

shipping container home

Types of Shipping Containers 

There are a few different types of shipping containers and it is important to know the difference. Most shipping container homes are built from standard containers, which are the most common type. These come in different sizes, including 8×10, 8×20, or 8×40. They can be stacked on top of each other or side-by-side if you want to increase your living space. 

High cube containers are a great option for building shipping container homes. They have the same dimensions as standard containers but they are about a foot taller. Refrigerated containers are used to move food across the country if it is perishable. These are highly insulated, which makes them perfect for cold or hot climates. 

Where to Get Shipping Containers 

Many shipping containers are made in China but they are usually available all over the world. This is because when they are decommissioned, they are put into storage or recycled. There will most likely be a glut of containers because many of them are only used once. The cheapest containers will be these one-use options and they are generally readily available. 

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If you are looking for containers for your shipping container home, you should be able to easily find one. A quick Google of “shipping containers near me” should bring up some resources for your area. New containers will usually cost between $3,800 and $5,000 each. However, if you can find some that need to be reclaimed, you could pay much less. 

Advantages of a Shipping Container Home 

One of the biggest advantages of a shipping container home is the fact that they are so sustainable. Because you will generally be using recycled materials, there is very little in the way of a carbon footprint. Most shipping containers are going to be sitting in storage or will be recycled anyway. By using them to build a home, you can reduce the steps needed to bring them back into circulation. 

The other advantage of building a shipping container home is the price and ease of the project. You will not need to do any of the complicated framing that has to happen with a traditional house. This can save you money on both labor and materials for the entire project. It can also happen much faster, which is fantastic if you are new to building homes. 

shipping container home

Disadvantages of a Shipping Container Home 

The biggest disadvantage of a shipping container home is the available space. Even though you can combine several containers to make more space, you are quite limited. The containers can be very narrow, which can be an issue if you are living with multiple people. This is one of the sacrifices you will have to be willing to make if you want to build one of these houses. 

The other disadvantage of a shipping container home is the possibility of toxic chemicals. Some shipping container manufacturers use dangerous toxins to waterproof the boxes. This means that you will have to have an expert check out any containers you are thinking of buying. If the toxins are found, you will have to spend extra money to have them removed or insulate the container. 

shipping container home

How Much Does a Shipping Container Home Cost? 

The cost of a shipping container home will depend on a few different factors. However, you can count on spending somewhere between $10,000 and $35,000 for a small home. If you want to make your shipping container home bigger, you may have to spend somewhere between $100,000 to $175,000. The size is one of the biggest factors because it will dictate how many containers you need. 

It is important to keep in mind that this cost does not include the property you are going to build on. This is going to be an extra cost depending on where you are building and what real estate is like. In more rural areas, the land will be much less expensive than in populated areas. You will also have to spend extra money on things like utilities and plumbing. 


Building a shipping container home is an incredibly rewarding process. If you have been dreaming of building a custom home, it is a great opportunity for you to do so. Knowing everything that goes into one of these projects is a good way to get started. The more information you have, the better. 

If you would like more helpful guides like this one, be sure to check out the rest of There, you will find tips and tricks from the pros as well as featured container homes. These can help get you inspired and get you thinking about what kind of home you would like to build. 

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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.