As the name implies, a shipping container home is a habitat made out of a shipping container. Since their inception in the 50s, shipping containers have revolutionized the transportation industry, making it possible to transport large amounts of goods in capable vessels. It took a few decades, but they were then used as a living space, and they are also making waves in the residential and real estate world.
You can make a 160-square foot of floor space home from just one small container. Eight containers can make you a two-story, 1280-square feet home, and so on. This is why they have been rising in popularity as a habitat for people with the space to fit them and the dedication to turn those steel containers into habitable houses that are both elegant and functional, and most important, affordable. This brings us to a fundamental question.
Unlike traditional real estate, with shipping container homes, you can start from scratch. There is the option to order a prefab home, but you can handle every detail yourself; the choice is yours. This gives you the freedom to start the design process from the very basics to the lamps you want to use, which brings us to the next point.
One of the biggest perks of shipping container homes is that they are easily customizable. Whatever it is you’ve dreamed of having in your dream home, you can do it to a shipping container home and with style, too. The little details that people often are forced to neglect or accept in traditional houses can be addressed in shipping container homes, and you can customize it however you like. This is because making a home out of a shipping container is easy and you can execute the design you have in mind without many complications.
Another huge bonus to shipping container homes is that a lot of companies are offering services to such homes now. You don’t have to worry about doing it all yourself or having to find a contractor that can do it. Owing to their immense popularity now, and the fact that there are millions of surplus containers in the country, several companies have entered that business, offering excellent services to help homeowners make their dream homes, so you won’t be alone on this journey.
This is perhaps the biggest reason shipping container homes are popular now. You can get a furnished and habitable house for a fraction of what it would cost to get a traditional home. As we mentioned earlier, an average house can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it might not even be to your liking, but rather a budget choice. While you can splurge on your shipping container home, getting numerous containers, adding a ton of modifications, and even enlisting the help of professional contractors, it would still be significantly cheaper than getting a traditional home in the cheapest part of your city.
Building a traditional house is often full of surprises. Unexpected costs emerge, from expensive tiles to required touches and finishes you didn’t see coming. With shipping container homes, that is not the case. Most of the cost is predictable. The majority of the work on a container happens in the factory, and this is for a fixed price. Then you have the additional costs of delivery to the site of your home, laying the foundation, assembly, and other costs like utility connections and flooring. These, too, can be easily gauged beforehand, so you’ll most likely know what you’re walking into.
The average house takes months to be properly built, but a shipping container home could be finished within a few weeks. This is another advantage that many people are coming to appreciate, especially those with already complex living situations who can’t afford to stay without a home for much longer. When you build a new home, excitement and anticipation can be too much to handle; the last thing you need is waiting for the better part of a year to move in. Moreover, shipping container homes save you money as well, because longer durations mean more workers getting paid and more resources being spent. The less time the property takes, the more money you save.
If you order a prefab container home, you probably will get it even faster than if you got the containers and did it yourself. A lot of companies offer prefab options now, and you get to choose from the many available models.
Some people worry that shipping container homes might not be legal or up to standard building codes, but they are. A shipping container is designed to withstand a lot of weight and wear, so they meet most building codes out there; it’s unlikely they would be illegal in your area. You just need to get the right permits (which we’ll discuss later in the book) and you’ll be good to go. Sustainable
One of the biggest and most relevant advantages to a shipping container home is that they are sustainable and environmentally friendly. We live in a world plagued by not one, but many environmental crises, and the sustainability of your new place should be something you consider, if not for you then for your children. Shipping containers serve that end goal perfectly. The average container is made out of 85% recycled steel, which, alone, is one of the most sustainable aspects of this structure. So, as soon as you get one, you’re already helping the environment.
Stats show that excess shipping containers in the US and the world are numbered in the hundreds of millions, so there is no need to have new ones manufactured. You’re reusing something that was already built for a different purpose, which is one of the core practices of sustainability. Now, compare these recycled steel containers with cement, concrete, bricks, and wood, and you will find they are a much better option for the environment, and they have minimal impact compared to those other elements.
As we mentioned earlier, shipping containers are strong and can withstand wear and tear for many years. The average container holds over 26 tons of weight, so you don’t need to worry about their strength. The steel they are designed from can take whatever you throw at it, which is why—believe it or not—shipping containers are often used as emergency shelters during natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, or wars. This means you need not worry about your shipping container home blowing in the wind or crumbling under heavy rain. It is there to stay, and it can last you many years if you properly maintain it.
Speaking of rain, those containers are also designed to be watertight because the goods transported might be ruined if they get wet. True, you will modify the container to make it your home, but with the right techniques, you can still retain that quality and keep your container home safe from outside conditions.
You already know that a shipping container can be moved or stacked however you like, which is great because you can get a few and build your home with ease. You can also move your shipping container home after it has been built, disassembling it and moving it with the right help. It is definitely difficult and it will need a lot of consideration, but it can be done. You can’t do the same with a traditional house—how do you expect to lift a wooden house from its foundations?