Shipping Container Homes

https://www.flickr.com/photos/etslee/34261236903

Shipping container homes seem like a no-brainer. Approximately 30 million steel shipping containers are in existence, filled and floating, or standing empty in a port. 8 feet wide by 8.5 feet high, and either 20 or 40 feet long, the steel shipping container has been the globally standardized transportation module since 1956.

Sending empty containers back to their origin is expensive, so often the containers sit unused in ports. If one lives near a port with abundant containers, then the energy required to transport the steel container to a local building site will be lower than an inland location, far from the port.
But buyer beware, as that used container might have been sprayed with insecticides or fungicides inside, and coated with lead or heavy metal paints on the outside. Here’s a look at some of our favorite shipping container homes across the world.

 

1. Shipping Container Guest House, San Antonio

container home
Poteet Architects’ client lives in a small warehouse on a former industrial site just outside of San Antonio, Texas. The newly installed shipping container guesthouse is fitted with a bathroom and one side is used as a garden shed.
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Container house with green roof by Poteet Architects.

2. The Savannah Project

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Container Home, “The Savanah Project’, Georgia. Two 40-foot containers, pricestreetprojects.com

3. Off-The-Grid Shipping Container Home in Nederland, Colorado

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Two shipping containers surround a taller common space in Nederland, Colorado. The containers house sleeping and work areas, while the center space hosts dining, living, and a loft above. The project is off-the-grid using solar orientation, passive cooling, green roofs, pellet stove heating and photovoltaics to create electricity. The house was designed by Brad Tomecek from Tmecek Studio Architecture.

4. Triple Shipping Container Home

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Three shipping containers with a common area between (see below). Note the green roof. Architects: Arcgency. Manufacturer: worldFLEXhome. Area: 180.0 sqm. Year: 2012.
shipping container home
Shipping container home, as above. Lots more great photos here (modern, open interior!)

5. Store Made Of Containers

This container building is used as a shopping center. The black exterior creates a sleek, modernized style.

6. Rustic Minnesota Container Home

container home
Two twenty-foot shipping containers were purchased at $800 each to create a cabin complete with kitchen, dining room, living room with a wood burning stove, laundry room and two queen beds. The two cabins are connected by a middle section loft and roof made out of “(3) 4 1/2″ X 11 1/4″ fir beams made up of (3) 2X12’s thru bolted and glued” and a glass door entrance. The cabin is partially powered by solar power arrays and connected to a rainwater cistern, making this building an ecologically-sustainable vacation home. Hive Modular constructed this cozy cabin.

7. Shipping Container Home in Ottawa, Canada

container home
This building showcased by Idekit Homes was built by EM2ESpaceMobile.

8. Container Home And Photography Studio, San Jose, Costa Rica

container home
Eight containers surround a double height glass atrium. This magnificent structure was built by Maria Jose Trejos.

9. Ancient Foundation, New Container Home

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A wooden sided container sits atop an existing stone foundation in Portugal. This wonderful photograph is provided by Arch Daily and provided of a member from Arquitectos Anonimos.

The Boxed Haus Two-Story Shipping Container Home

This 1.5-container home is quite narrow, but has a full kitchen with stove, sink, and cabinet space. The bathroom is fully tiled and includes a sink, toilet, and shower. The bedroom is accessible through a pull down ladder to the second floor, and has room for a queen-sized bed. A sliding glass door in the bedroom leads to a small deck.

10. Swedish Shipping Container Sauna

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Sauna with built-in wood storage by WRB, Sweden. This addition to the “H-House” was built by ArkitektStudio Widjedal Racki.

11. Maison Conteneur – Container House

 

Collections Dubreuil did a fantastic job using hemlock on the exterior. The design turns the container house into a modern home.

12. Quad-Container Home

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The Cross Box, France, comprised of 4 x 40′ shipping containers, accommodation totals 1280 sq ft. This building was constructed by CG Achitectes.

Inside A $50,000 Container Tiny Home

Walker Wilderness Enterprises in suburban Denver offers this container home for $50K. The video shoes the overall plan plus the interior of the house. It includes a storage nook, a (very, very narrow) shower, along with a sink and composting toilet. The door to the bathroom slides along an iron bar. In the kitchen, a wooden countertop includes a top-mount sink. The kitchen storage is simple shelves on brackets. Other storage is provided by hooks around the house. The home has three narrow window on one side, and a somewhat larger “picture window” on the other. The exterior is painted gray with a red door.

13. New York Container Home

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Shipping container home, in NY, designed by Tim Steele Design. The building is made of two forty foot long containers that sit on a twenty foot container.

14. Container ‘Quik’ House, New Jersey

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Two, three-container-wide 2000 sq foot homes. Constructed by the workers at KOOP Architecture + Media

15. Simple Container Home

This home was built in 2016, using greenery to soften the homes appearance.

16. Containers of Hope, Costa Rica

container home
The roof between the two salvaged containers is made from the scrap pieces of metal cut out to make the windows. The central roof creates a feeling of openness and provides cross-ventilation which is surprisingly sufficient enough to never have to turn the air conditioning on. Cost $40,000. The building was created by Benjamin Garcia Saxe.

17. New Jerusalem Orphanage, South Africa

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28 donated shipping containers were used to create New Jerusalem Orphanage, a vibrant shipping container home for South African children. Designed by 4D and A Architects, the building will be able to house 80 orphans as discussed by Inhabitat.

18. Modern Container Home

container home
This container home was built in Japan, using plants to soften the harsh exterior of the building. Living In Container explains that the building combines aesthetics with modern style.

Inside A Container Construction Workshop

Visit Container-Topia, in the East Bay Area, where artists and construction experts work 24-7 on different container home ideas. The workshop is about 20,000 square feet. The leader of the workshop points out that when building a tiny house, you can use materials that would be prohibitively expensive in a larger house. For example, the house he is working on has a tin ceiling, bamboo flooring, and wood paneling. The platform for the futon bed also functions as a standing desk—he’s going to build a screen that can be raised or lowered to close off the bedroom area. A projector built into the ceiling will project TV/movies/video games onto the screen. The plumbing will work with a 200-gallon tank, similar to an RV. The house will be heated with electricity, provided by a solar panel on the roof—though it will be a hybrid system that you can plug into the grid. He puts the price at $10K in materials and about 150 hours of labor—he’d sell it for around $28,000.

19. Mobile Dwelling Unit

container homes
This shipping container home incorporates pop-out elements that extend from the 40-foot long, 8-foot wide core of the home, accordion-style. If and when the home is in transit, the elements — kitchen, bathroom, reading nook, bed, desk, sofa and storage space — fold back into their slots. See picture below.
container home
The Mobile Dwelling Unit by LOT-EK. The MDU was originally conceived for people constantly moving around the globe. The MDU travels with its dweller to the next long-term destination, fitted with all live/work equipment and filled with the dweller’s belongings.

20. The Manifesto House

container home
Constructed from 85 percent recycled, reused and nonpolluting materials for $118,000, in fewer than 90 days. Two 40-foot shipping containers and two 20-foot shipping containers sided with painted wooden pallets.
container home
The Manifesto House was designed by architects James & Mau in Curacavi, Chile.

21. Karuna Passive House

This building by Hammer & Hand was created to meet the sustainable needs of the home-owner. Including a design that optimizes solar energy and meets the criteria as a “passive house.”

22. Unique Dusseldorf Design #1

container home
The NRW-Forum Düsseldorf invited renowned architects, designers, and artists from around the world to submit existing and new designs for container architecture.These pictures for the Dusseldorf Designs can be found on DesignBoom or Yatzer.

23. Unique Dusseldorf Design #2

container home
This shipping container bridge showcases one of many uses for containers.

24. Unique Dusseldorf Design #3

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The intricacy of this container structure is admirable, even if it isn’t a home.

Tips For Buying A Used Shipping Container

The folks at BigSteelBox offer tips on buying shipping containers for a shipping container home. You want a used shipping container to be, at a minimum, wind, water, and rodent-proof. Their first suggestion is to check the door seals to make sure they are intact, both at the hinges and all along the edge of the door. Next, look for surface rust. Some is okay, but any deep rust can turn into holes and compromise the structural integrity of the container. Make sure that the door handles work, and that the doors open easily. Finally, go inside the box, shut the door, and look for signs of light coming through the walls or ceiling. They point out: “If light can get in, water can get in.”

25. Unique Dusseldorf Design #4

container home
This container building combines the practical use of shipping containers with whimsy.

26. Container City, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London.

container home
Container City did a spectacular job contructing this intricate building.
container homes
container homes
Container City, London. Short-life sites can have Container Cities that simply unbolt and can be relocated or stored when land is required for alternative uses. To date this alternative method of construction has successfully created youth centers, classrooms, office space, artists studios, live / work space and retail space.

27. Container House In Lille

This home was built in Lille, France. The large windows maximize the amount of sunlight the homeowners can use each day.

28. Sugoroku Office, Gifu, Japan

container homes
Daiken-Met Architects constructed this 3-story building as a studio. archisearch.gr

29. Keerwogen—The World’s Largest Container City

container homes
Keetwonen is the largest container city in the world (1000 units) and is the second-most-popular student dormitory offered by the student housing corporation “De Key” in Amsterdam. Each unit is soundproof and has its own bathroom, kitchen and balcony. See more container projects at: tempohousing.com

30. Renault Visitor Center

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Renault’s movable welcoming pavilion in France, provides visitors with information about the automotive manufacturer’s history. The structure is made of 15 colorful shipping containers of two different lengths, 12-meter long and 6-meter long units.

The Entire Shipping Container Home Construction Process

Australian Paul Chambers starting building a container home for a weekend retreat in the mountains. Now he and his wife live there full-time, as an ongoing project in sustainable living. This video is the “trailer” for his YouTube channel, which has more than 150 videos showing all parts of the shipping home construction process. Paul, who started the project with no construction experience, poured the foundations, built a shower with no access to the water system, built a solar panel array, raised ducks in a homemade pond, and built a catchment system for a self-sustaining water system. See how to live “off-grid, in sustainable luxury.”

31. Tony’s Organic Farm, Shanghai

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Container Building. Tony’s Farm is an organic farm packing station, visitor center, hotel, and office building in one.

container building

The construction was undertaken by Playze Architect.

32. Shipping Container Starbucks

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Repurposed shipping container drive-thru for Starbucks in Tukwila, Washington. Although drive-thrus are not green, Anthony Perez, global store design senior manager for Starbucks says the ‘reclamation drive-thru was inspired by a desire to help keep items used throughout our supply chain, like old shipping containers, out of the waste stream.’ Lots more great pics: businessinsider.com

33. Black Shipping Container Office

Giant Container Sales of Canada produced this shipping container office for a Home and Garden TV project. The interior features enough space for a couch and desk, and appears to have additional storage in the back. See more projects at giantcontainersales.com. Photos by Glasshaus Living.

Shipping Containers For Sale

  • EBay: You can usually find shipping containers and prefab shipping container homes for sale on eBay. Arranging shipping will be up to you.
  • Cube Depot sells shipping containers from 10 to 50 feet long. They have locations in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Houston areas, but you can use their site to search for shipping containers anywhere.
  • Meka World, founded by architects and engineers in Toronto, builds custom pre-fabricated homes that are the size of shipping containers, so they can be delivered worldwide.

Shipping Container Resources & Home Plans

  • Using Shipping Containers for Emergency Shelters – Info on using shipping container for emergency shelters.
  • Casa Duro offers 7 shipping container home plans for sale, from a 320-square-foot micro cottage to a three-story condo. These are complete blueprints that you could submit to your local government to get a building permit.
  • Off Grid World have created six container home design concepts. They are just basic drawings, not full plans that you could build from.
  • Shipping Container Homes has five design concepts to inspire you.

Shipping Containers As Emergency Shelters

shipping container bug out shelter
If you aren’t sure about the full shipping container home route, consider a shipping container as the skeleton for an emergency or bug-out shelter. A shipping container is a low-cost start to a functional shelter—one that would give you the peace of mind of a place for your family to go in case of a natural disaster or other emergency.

Other Shipping Container Projects

  • CIMC Modular Building Systems imported shipping containers from China – complete with bathrooms, plastering and air conditioning units – then stacked them into a 300-room Travelodge hotel near Heathrow Airport in just three weeks.
  • SG Blocks creates custom buildings from containers—like the container Starbucks mentioned above. They work with architects and homeowners, they can build on site, or build everything offsite and ship a building to you to put on a foundation.
MSC Oscar container ship
By kees torn – MSC OSCAR & SVITZER NARI, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38718233

The MSC Oscar, christened in January 2015, is the largest container ship in the world. It can carry 19,224 shipping containers. It does not look like containers are going away anytime soon.

Do you have photos of your shipping container house project you’re willing to share? Let us know and we will add them to this page.

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.

52 Comments

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  1. Modified container homes are getting popular day by day. The main reason behind this is the ease of modification and lesser amount of money involved. Apart from that, as the home is made up of container, it is easily movable. The blog shows some amazing creations of homes from modified containers. Just wonderful work done!

  2. Hello friends ! need some infos on the best way to install a green roof on a container. Got doubts regarding the max. weight and the waterproofing of the container. I’ll check back here but if you could also reply by email that would be much apreciated ! Thanks a lot ! 🙂

  3. Hi all

    I’m from South Africa, does anyone know where I can get containers from for cheap? I’d like to convert them into a guest house or small apartments.

    I am still new to the whole container idea but I think it’s genius & just need the right contacts to help me.

  4. Cut out the middleman! Grade A Storage and Shipping Container

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    Over 400 containers nationwide that must go!

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  5. This website looks interesting, not only that it has a great designs by using shipping sea containers, which made it more interesting because I am looking a blogger who writes or talks about ‘shipping containers’ for that matter I would like to ask if it’s possible for me to post an article in your blog/website and you can provide me a link of that article for a fee. Will it be possible?

    Please do let me know your thoughts on this and we can proceed with the business by then.

  6. I run a non profit for Veterans ( http://www.supportingourservicemen.org), we will be donating a new home through our next fund raiser. http://www.racearoundthemarina.us and we have a funding solution for more homes at http://www.ihavhaveyou.us. We build new homes out of new containers with a 50 year warranty for only $15,000. We can also build to your design. Also looking for designers to work with. email me at montecook3@gmail.com or call me at 310-913-5533. ALways looking to work with innovative people.

  7. Love this idea. As a realtor in Edmonton, Alberta Canada I would like to have the connections to suppliers and most importantly assembly here.

    Anyone have information please advise.

    Thank you kindly.

    Nicole Bourdon

    canadarelocators@shaw.ca

  8. I recently started looking into shipping containers as affordable housing and most of the protects are simulating a famous design or are on such a large scale it no longer can be considered affordable or going in the trend of tiny houses is no longer considered a residence where can I find regular affordable housing designs

  9. I would like to get in contact with a builder that does container construction.

    I have two prime properties that I’m interested in building. If you know of any one send him/her my way. Thank you

  10. Interested in one of these as I have property in CA(94501) and would like one in lieu of an upcoming remodel project on same site. (1421-23 Santa Clara Ave) Hit me back….

  11. We are container home builders based in Sydney. We deliver 1 , 2 ,3 or 4 bedroom container homes completely finished including bath , kitchen and internal fittings ready to connect and occupy. We deliver worldwide and all units are made to strict Australian Building standards. Please contact us with your query and we will be glad to help.

    Pls review the attached information and designs on the links below for designs and pricing options.

  12. Most ppl think building a house like these are impossible and they need a building degree or cert to build one. Its just simply not true. You just need to right materials and building instructions (plans) , my wife found a builders guide to constructing a shipping container home, you can find it here howtobuildashippingcontainerhome.blogspot.co.nz/

  13. we are building a shipping container home & need help on structural

    our Engineer is making it to complicated & costly. Bungalow style 2000 sq feet

    How would you place it on the ground & can we make a less complicated roof.

  14. I stumbled upon this site as I also stumbled upon the idea for shipping container homes. Anyone know if they available in Alberta or if there was an easy way to learn more on how to save money by designing my own home out of three or four containers. Anyway, I look forward to some more info.

  15. PROTAINER

    http://www.protainer.com.br

    Venda de Containers Marítimos e Transportes

    Casa container – Confira a nossa Galeria de fotos e veja ótimas idéias referentes a container

    Av. Conselheiro Nébias, 754 Sala 622 l Paquetá l Santos/SP l CEP 11015-001 l Tels: +55 (13) 97405.0868 / +55 (13) 4141.2858 / 35*2*23913

  16. I’m currently building a container house in Dallas, Texas. We are doing it on our own and definitely learning a lot!

    For two containers we paid about 6,000… and yes… they do have a pesticide smell. Two coats of Kilz Primer did the trick! 🙂

    Check out our STEP BY STEP Progress and tips on my blog at the Container House Project Tab!

    http://www.xtracrafty.com

  17. I would like to know how much it will cost for plans for a 10 container home (Ten 40′ containers) 4 bedroom 1 master suite and two mother in law apartments. I have the outline of the look I want but I need a price range for an architect.

  18. Greetings everyone,

    I see there are a lot people interested in building a custom container home. There are a lot of ‘how to’ websites out there but most need you to pay a fee in order to get plans and blueprints.

    Our team has managed to get containers at a much lower price. Approx: $1000.00 to $1500.00 each depending on size. Shipping varies depending on how far you may be from a port. (Amber Smith you could have gotten shipping containers a bit more affordable in Texas)

    I have made plans to build a 1600 sqft using 6 – 40×8 containers for approx. $55000 to $65000 (not including lot $40000.00) It will have 2 floors, bottom is common area and upstairs are the rooms. There will be a 190sqft deck/balcony.

    Most homes in the area with similar dimension cost about 40-50k more. I feel that is a good deal for ANYONE thinking about buying a home.

    For more details as to pricing for shipping contianers, blue prints, building plans, etc, please email me to

    buildyourcontainerhome@gmail.com

  19. Questions about containers:

    This is what you should know and should ask before you buy.

    1. Insulated or dry freight container?

    2. Look for ‘one-trip’ containers if you are looking for a nearly new look and condition. These containers are usually made in Asia and used once for cargo shipping before being sold. They are often listed as ‘new’ or ‘like new’ but they will have a few scratches from their initial trip.

    3. Look for ‘corten steel’ if you want to use containers in inclement weather or near the ocean. This relatively new material is also used in construction projects and it can stand up to more weather without rusting.

    4. Look for a ‘factory paint’ label if you want it to be freshly painted, instead of refurbished. Refurbished containers can have problems with paint peeling from rust. Factory paint implies that it has only been painted once, when it was made.

    5. A designation as ‘no shipping label’ means that you will not find a large company logo on the container. It is likely painted a single color, without many other markings.

    6. A ‘cargo worthy’ container indicates that the unit has been inspected by a cargo surveyor. It has been deemed worthy of ocean cargo transport.

    7. Shipping containers that are categorized as ‘as-is’ are the most worn and economical option. It is likely that they have been retired by shipping companies, they have some leaks or damage, they are partially rusted and they have 1 or more shipping labels painted onto them. There is a large supply of as-is shipping containers across the globe, so you are likely to find a good price.

    Modified shipping containers are also available at various prices. Many of these containers have been repainted. Other options include roll up doors, heat units, air conditioning units, skylights, security bars, partitions, vents, fans, framing and insulation. Keep in mind that the addition of new doors or windows will compromise the seal and security of the original model.

    Other well used containers are classified as ‘wind-water-tight’. Wind and watertight conveys that the seller believes it to be a well sealed container, but it has not been inspected by a surveyor.

    • Margaret, I’ve been converting shipping containers since 2010. Recent project is for 82 homes and public amenities (was consultant for developer and financing). My designs range from 320 to 1280 sq/ft.

  20. I am part of a small collaborative of GC in the southeastern United States and in the Midwest we would love to find any of these companies willing to partner with us in America by sharing plans and helping us with ideas and concepts

  21. Hi. I was wondering if you require builders of these units I have a full hanger of workspace and the machinery to assemble these both in the yard or work site, I have built these units before , I have every needed here on Ghent Docks Belgium and a shop IN Pinecrest Miami I would like to know if there is a bid list to assemble these units ?

    Thank you Paul

  22. good afternoon

    our company is currently looking for x 2 container accomondation home. i have an image of the home. please contact me for further details.

    kind regards

    tengy

  23. Please could you assist. Contact me asap. would like quote on both new and refurbished steel containers(sleeping units…6 m long)

    Regards

    Dane Bekker

    Arrive Alive Engineering

    0799126518

  24. I have a project in the Houston area where I am in need of 1200 container homes for construction workers. They do not need to be fancy, but they will need good Air Conditioning. There are also a couple other building I am interested in, but I would like to know your cost and availability.

    Thanks

  25. I have a small property by medina lake in san antonio TX and I an interested I having a container home 1600-1700 sq feet placed there. would you be able to do this. What would be the cost or could you link me with some one in my area that could.

  26. I have a small property by medina lake in san antonio TX and I an interested I having a container home 1600-1700 sq feet placed there. would you be able to do this. What would be the cost or could you link me with some one in my area that could.

  27. dear,

    I would like to receie some information about container cost (as20′ as40′), cost of an average trasformation in order to fit windows and door, and delivery cost if possible, I’m located in Brescia, near to Garda Lake in Italy.

  28. Hello

    My name is Klaus Kleinfield and i am a container home builder with years of experience. I have built in different countries in AMERICA ,ASIA, EUROPE and AFRICA. For your quotation kindly contact me on +447418471410 OR KLAUS.KLEINFIELD@GMAIL.COM. Our prices are reasonable.

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