Is it Safe to Live In a Shipping Container Home: The Facts

Some people nowadays not only use shipping containers to load off and transport cargo quickly but also build them as restaurants, hotels, schools, houses, office spaces, pubs and clubs, portable cabins, and swimming pools. That is why the demand and supply for shipping containers have increased tremendously over the years. However, building a home out of these containers has been argued by some people. Their primary concern or question is that “Is it safe to live in a shipping container home?

Is it Safe to Live in A Shipping Container Home: The Problems and Solutions

We already know the fact that shipping containers are meant to carry items so that they can be exported and imported safely. That is why they are constructed to be durable. However, why are people building them as dwelling places? The answer is that shipping container homes are flexible, portable, environmentally friendly, and quick to construct. To add more, they are more affordable than building a house using cement, blocks, and any other construction materials.

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On the contrary, since they are designed for things, some things should be considered and look into in order to know whether or not it is really safe to live in a shipping container home. With that said, we will briefly discuss some safety concerns and the resolutions for each, if there is.

  • Health Concerns

Without a doubt, you would be buying a shipping container that has already been used. Thus, before you build your home out of it, it is necessary to understand that these containers were constructed to be in the sea for their lifetime. So, most of them have flooring that is made up of wood that contains a good deal of pesticides. This is because they should be protected from mice and bandicoots that might eat the flooring and destroy the items inside.

Also, the paint that is used has a lot of strong chemicals in order to protect the container from corrosion that can be brought about by the high amount of salt in the sea. In addition, since shipping containers are designed for one-time use only, some manufacturers use other chemicals like thinners, chromate, phosphorous, arsenic, and chromium.

Needless to mention, these shipping containers transport various types of cargo. That means that they might have contained harmful chemicals, radioactive minerals, and metal. Unfortunately, even a minor spillage of these type of materials cannot be detected easily. As such, some of these shipping containers might have traces of those materials. Of course, breathing the vapors of such will be harmful to the human health. Fortunately, these problems can be resolved.

  • Possible Solutions

Although there are shipping containers that have been built using non-human friendly elements, you can already find a lot of experts who can inspect the shipping container before you even buy them. What is better is that they are not just trained to detect the level of the compounds present, but to also treat these problems.

Nevertheless, if the level is not too high, you can use other solutions. For the harmful chemical paints, incorporating a thick foam sheet or insulation material on the inside will ensure that no toxic chemical gases will pass through. You may also choose to have the walls, flooring, and roof repainted.

In case the shipping container has treated wooden floors, the best way to resolve this problem is to replace them with new ones. You can also just consider buying a new shipping container if you have the budget. Do not worry as it is still far more affordable than a traditional house.

  • Durability

As mentioned earlier, these containers have been built with strong materials. In fact, they are so strong that they are able to withstand natural calamities like hurricane winds and earthquakes. The main concern when it comes to durability is rust because they are used and old, which means that they have already been exposed to seawater. Rust might affect the paint as well as can cause holes.

With that in regard, you must carefully evaluate the shipping container that you will buy. Likewise, you can also replace these parts since they will not cost that much. If you do not want to, you can opt for shipping containers that are made of rustproof materials.

  • Indoor Temperature

Shipping containers are mostly made up of metals like steel or aluminum that is why if the outside temperature goes extremely high or low, the metals tend to absorb the heat or cold. Thus, you will not be able to control the temperatures inside the shipping container house. This situation will not just make you feel uncomfortable but might also take a toll on your health.

The best solution? Use the correct type of insulation and paint. One consideration, though, when you add an insulation system is that it can further decrease the limited interior space. As such, you can opt to have cooling and heating systems installed. If your budget permits, you can also increase your space by building a house that is made of multiple shipping containers that are connected.

  • Security

As similar to traditional houses, shipping container houses are also a target of burglars or thieves, especially if they are located in remote areas. You must also take into consideration that shipping container homes are not usually mounted on the ground. If these are your concerns, you do not have to worry. That is because these containers are made of thick metal that requires a blow torch for it to be opened. Also, they are also extremely heavy to carry.


Definitely, we cannot blame anyone who questions the safety and security of living in a shipping container house. Even so, our answer to the most important question “Is it safe to live in a shipping container home?” is a “Yes.” That is because the concerns that we have mentioned can be addressed without having to spend much.

Also, the ground rule remains the same just as we build a traditional home. That is: you must make sure that you have the correct information about the shipping container before buying and using it. You can do so by seeking the assistance of qualified inspectors and contractors.

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