Are Shipping Container Homes Cheaper to Build: Facts to Know

Gone are the days wherein shipping containers were merely used for transporting goods from one place to the other. In the years that have passed, a new trend has arrived in the real estate business which consists of using such containers for building new homes.

However, people who’re looking to make a new house while living within their budget have a common question which is, “Are shipping container homes cheaper to build as compared to their traditional counterparts?”

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If you’re looking for the right answer, you’ve just landed at the perfect place. This article incorporates a comprehensive information about how much does it cost to build a new house using shipping containers.

It will also take a look at the different types of containers which you can purchase from the shipping ports, their advantages, and disadvantages, and finally, how each one of these types compares against the rest in terms of the cost factor.

Are Shipping Container Homes Cheaper to Build?

When it comes to estimating the actual cost of shipping container homes, it depends on a number of different factors.

  • Container Cost

The first thing which you’ve to purchase, for building a new container home, is none other than the container itself. Based on your personal preference, and the specific kind of house which you want to build, there is a wide range of containers which are available in the shipping ports.

The price of any container depends on the size and the actual condition of that particular item. While new containers will definitely come at a higher rate, you can purchase used containers for a relatively low price.

Also, as the size increases, you’ve to pay a larger amount of money. Nonetheless, a 40-inch container is often more than enough for a wide range of homeowners.

After deciding the size of the container, you’ve to decide about the number of containers which you want to purchase. Although a single container is more than enough for building a small house, you’ve to purchase five to six containers for a spacious building.

Types of Container

There are two types of containers which are usually used in the transportation business: high cube and regular.

Regular containers: They are the most widely used types of containers which are also normally utilized for cargo shipments. You can easily purchase them from almost any shipping port, and they also come at a bit lesser price.

The regular containers also come in a number of different sizes, including 20 inches and 40 inches. Additionally, you can also purchase them in both new as well as used form.

High-cube containers: They are the ones that incorporate a taller ceiling as compared to their regular counterparts. They also come with a bigger overall size, so if you’re looking to purchase a new, or even a used container, with extra vertical space, you might go with this particular type of containers.

One thing which you’ve to keep in mind while purchasing the high-cube containers is that they come at a higher price as compared to that of regular counterparts. So, if you’re looking to invest in a large-sized container, and can also afford to pay more bucks, the high-cube containers can be your priority.

  • Insulation Costs

This is an area of your shipping container homes where you can save a handful of money. However, if you want to live in a comfortable house, one which stays cool in hot weathers and warm during cold winters, you should never compromise on the quality of the insulation.

There are three types of insulation which are normally recommended for all those houses which are made from shipping containers: spray foam, panel, and blanket.  Even though there are other types as well, these three are most preferred.

Insulation Types

Spray foam insulation: It is a type of insulation system that generally costs a couple of dollars per-square-foot which, as compared to the other two types, lies on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Having said that, this is the only type of insulation which is entirely seamless. In other words, it works without wooden battens which eventually saves a lot of space inside of your container.

Panel insulation: It is the type that comes at a bit lesser price as you have to pay just above one dollar per square-foot. As compared to both, spray foam and the blanket insulation, it is this particular type of insulation which is the easiest to install.

The drawback of this type lies in the fact that in order to install it inside your container, you’ve to make use of the wooden battens which eventually takes a lot of space.

Blanket insulation: It is a type that is ideal for all those of you who’re looking for a budget-oriented option, but just like the aforementioned type, wooden battens are required to install blanket insulation.

  • Foundation Cost

Just like the insulation system, you’ve three different choices when it comes to choosing a viable foundation: trench, pier, and slab. Selecting any one of these three foundations depends on the budget, which you can afford to spend, and the quality of your land.

The trench foundation is the one that is in the middle range when it comes to cost while the concrete pier foundation is the most affordable. Finally, the slab foundation is the most expensive, but you can use it on grounds which are too soft for any other foundation types.

  • Other Costs

Once you’ve decided on all the factors mentioned above, it’s time to consider various additional costs which are required for regular house building projects like plumbing, HVAC system, electricals, and flooring. There are numerous other items which can be included in this list, but at the end of the day, it depends on you and the budget which you can afford to spend.


If you’re looking to build a small home without breaking your budget, you should always purchase a single container. However, when it comes to creating larger homes, ones which consist of several rooms, you’ve to buy three to five containers.

As far as the question “Are shipping container homes cheaper to build?” the answer will always be a “Yes, it is.” That is because you no longer have to create strong foundations that require a lot of materials.

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If you're looking for the best container home designs, look no further!

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