Inexpensive Shipping Container For A Designer Home

by Sherry Riter in New Home  

I have been raving on and on about storage shipping container homes for awhile, so I decided it was time to actually sit down to investigate the feasibility of building one.

What Is A Shipping Container?

steel shipping container red container home

A shipping container is a very strong container used to ship items all over the world. The “international shipping container” is also known as the “intermodal freight container.” These containers can be moved from one form of transport to another (ship, rail, truck) without having to unload and then reload the product. They are highly efficient for shipping.

Most steel shipping containers are constructed in 20 foot and 40 foot lengths. To give you an idea of the size, a common container has the following measurements:

Exterior – 40 feet long x 8 feet wide x 8 feet 6 inches high (40’L x 8’W x 8’6”H)
Interior length – 39 feet 5.7 inches
Interior width – 7 feet 8.5 inches
Interior height – 7 feet 10.2 inches
Cubic volume – 2389 cubic feet
Door width – 7 feet 8 inches
Door height – 7 feet 6 inches
Weight – 8,223 lbs

Pros And Cons Of A Shipping Container Home

The most obvious use of a steel shipping container is to ship products all over the world with efficiency, lower cost and ease. However, there is another use that has become popular – shipping container homes. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of using a shipping container as the framework of a home instead of steel or wood beams.

Pros Of A Shipping Container Home

  • You are using recyclable materials
  • Easy construction
  • Low cost to cool and heat
  • Highly functional
  • Inexpensive to construct in comparison to an equal sized traditional home
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • A home can be quickly constructed
  • Watertight
  • Can be stacked to created high ceilings or multiple stories high
  • Sturdy, structurally strong and can withstand harsh weather
  • Secure
  • Plentiful and always available
  • Transportable

Cons Of A Shipping Container Home

  • Very narrow if used singly
  • Zoning permits do not allow container homes in all areas
  • Rusts if not treated properly
  • Some container coatings have lead in the paint
  • The wood floors have dangerous chemicals soaked into them
  • Without good insulation, they will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter
  • Some containers transport harmful toxic chemicals

Stunning Examples Of Shipping Container Homes

Even with all the cons of a shipping container home, there are still some stunning homes that have already been built.

Storage Container Home Redondo Beach House Demaria Design

Source: Demaria Design Associates Inc.

Storage Container Home Adam Kalkin's Old Lady House

Source: Adam Kalkin’s Old Lady House

Storage Container Home student housing Diemen

Source: TempoHousing

Storage Container Home Genesis

Source: Genesis

This one is just phenomenal!


Source: Patrick Partouche Architecte


Source: Patrick Partouche Architecte

Storage Container Home Peter Aaron Architectural Photographer 1

Storage Container Home Peter Aaron Architectural Photographer 2

Storage Container Home Peter Aaron Architectural Photographer 3

Storage Container Home Peter Aaron Architectural Photographer 4

Source: Peter Aaron Architectural Photographer

So what do you think…Do the pros outweigh the cons? As long as you have a piece of property to build the storage container home, I really think it is a great idea!



This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 teresa vett January 22, 2013 at 2:39 am

I have seen these before, a home is just four walls regardless of what it is made of . You always start with four walls, even a mansion does that, it is what you do to it that makes it beautiful or not. Your research is always so good


2 Sherry Riter January 22, 2013 at 8:27 am

I’m glad you enjoyed it Mom!


3 Skip_D January 22, 2013 at 3:04 am

intriguing! definitely has possibilities, & some of your examples are very creative!


4 Sherry Riter January 22, 2013 at 8:29 am

Thanks Skip! 😀 I love all the different ways they can be used! If you blast them inside and out, they are perfect to use anywhere.


5 PJ January 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm

How COOL! I had heard of them, but never seen them, so i couldn’t get my head around it. Did you ever price any?

Love ya!


6 Sherry Riter January 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Prices range if you want someone else to build the house. If you just buy the containers, they are usually around $3,000


7 Young Werther January 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Interesting… I’m all for recycling. They had a shipping container shopping centre after the Christchurch quake. Simple and quick to setup!


8 Sherry Riter January 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm

So you got to see one first hand! Cool!!!


9 Liza January 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Those are actually pretty cool! I don’t think I’d be able to live in one, though, especially not with all of the maintenance required and such. :L They seem like they might still have a tight space.


10 Sherry Riter January 23, 2013 at 2:49 am

Once you gut them out and paint them well, there isn’t much maintenance to them. That’s a big part of the beauty! Also, by attaching two side by side it would create a big square. No tight spaces that way. 😀


11 TerritoryMom January 23, 2013 at 9:58 am

We have one for storage. I want a few to use for a sewing studio!


12 Sherry Riter January 23, 2013 at 9:50 pm

That sounds so wonderful! I would love a sewing studio!!!!!


13 Joan January 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Well, I have to say it sounds very convenient to be able to pack everything you own into a shipping container and then just open it up when you arrive at your new destination. You can call it, “Have home will travel!” 🙂


14 Sherry Riter January 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Yes! You can move without having to worry about selling your home!


15 Kai March 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I build houses and commercial structures out of shipping containers in the Seattle are and I’d like to address some of the ‘cons’ to Shipping Container Homes.

The containers will only rust significantly if they are in constant contact with water as they are made out of a ‘weathering steel alloy’ called Corten. see:

All interior wall and ceilings either get covered with stud walls with insulation or are repainted with safe paints.

We love the distressed floors (1.1/8″ tropical hardwood plywood) so we sand and seal them, but they can easily be covered with just about any conventional flooring materials.

Our container suppliers assure us with reasonably certainly that the containers we buy have not carried toxic materials. If there is any doubt we have the interior surfaces tested.

~Kai @ ShelterKraft


16 Sherry Riter March 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Thank you so much for the insight, Kai!

Obviously, I love shipping containers. They are so unique and versatile!


17 mohammad jaffar April 14, 2014 at 8:28 am

very well
its so nice i want to that in my place
but i have one question i want to do that near the river
can u explain to me its possible in this saturation


18 Sherry Riter May 2, 2014 at 7:35 am

I think it would work great by the river.


19 Ann June 20, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Such a nice houses!


20 Sherry Riter January 18, 2016 at 11:45 pm

I love them!


21 Charles Segers July 7, 2015 at 3:15 pm

It’s funny to hear you say by the river. I am currently living on Red Bull Island, less than 100 feet from the river!
I would be nice if this had a floor plan…
A gentleman built one of these (with more than 6), covered the roof with solar panels and enjoys
$35.00 power bills. I could deal with that!
Sitting here typing with one hand eating ice cream in Florida by the river, life is rough these days!

C. Segers


22 Sherry Riter January 18, 2016 at 11:44 pm

Sounds so lovely!!!!


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