Why Shipping Container Homes And What You Need To Know Before Building One

Are you still deliberating on whether to get your very own cube house? Whether you’re thinking of customizing or getting a prefab one, let us show you why shipping container homes are selling and if living in one is for you, too.

Why Shipping Container Homes?

Below are some of the reasons why container homes are selling like hotcakes nowadays.

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Off-site construction

Getting a prefabricated shipping container home offers you a home shopping experience like no other! It’s almost like shopping at the mall for an appliance and waiting for it to be delivered to your door—only you’ll have to wait for weeks. Still, that’s quite fast compared to having your house built from the ground up on site! And as soon as it arrives, you can move in your house that’s built up to code.

Also, the fact that these houses can be prefabricated offsite solves the issue for landowners with plots of land that are off-the-grid or where on-site construction is not viable. Disaster-wrought areas can also benefit from the quick solutions they offer, providing people with emergency shelters.


Just as it’s easy to move in a bare or prefabricated container home, it is also easy to relocate. With a shipping container house, you don’t only get to pack up your belongings but also the house itself.

Predictable Cost

Container houses are not always more affordable than regular housing—just to set things straight. There are pre-manufactured ones that can cost you just as much as regular houses would.

But its coming in more affordable is a moot point, the cost coming closer to your budget isn’t. Shipping container houses are sold at a fixed price, and all you need to add in the equation are costs for delivery, foundation, assembly, and utility connections.


Another point of contention about container houses is that they are eco-friendly since homeowners are recycling a product that would otherwise be left somewhere to rot.

But the ones on the market are not necessarily recycled, and they shouldn’t be. According to Container Build Group CEO Jamie van Tongeren, old shipping containers are unsafe for occupancy. They may contain high levels of chemical residue; one of them is lead from paint used to coat and protect these containers from ocean spray.

So, it being eco-friendly is not necessarily a selling point of shipping containers in that respect. Still, there are ways that it can be viewed as an eco-conscious option. For one, it doesn’t take much energy to run a household living in a container house.


Using shipping container homes—at least the smaller ones—is in keeping with the principle of the tiny house movement that less is more. Working with limited space, you are forced to let go of stuff that you don’t truly need. Consequently, it buys you more time to do more important activities than, say, maintain a big house.

If that idea appeals to you, then a shipping container house offers you a good option to declutter your life—if you keep it small!

What You Need to Know Before Building Your Shipping Container House

While shipping container homes sound like a cozy idea, there are also a few things you need to keep in mind should you choose to live in one:

  • It needs steel reinforcement.

While a shipping container is strong at the corners, the walls and roof aren’t that structurally sound. If you cut openings such as for windows and doors, then you’ll have to add reinforcement to the construction. The same is true if you put one container on top of the other, especially if you don’t stack them on the corners.

  • You need insulation especially in places with cold climates.

Steel walls and roof are not particularly useful in keeping things cozy inside the house in cold weather. It could feel like living in a fridge when it’s cold! Conversely, it could feel like living in a sauna under the sweltering heat of the sun! Both instances can be uncomfortable, but more so in freezing temperatures—even fatal. Do not overlook insulation!

  • Insulation will eat up interior space.

While you can opt for a thin layer of polyurethane spray foam to insulate the house from the inside, it is not an eco-friendly option. The other alternative is to apply insulation on the outer walls using a more eco-friendly material.

  • It can get noisy.

Aside from the sun and snow, the wind can make living in a container house less ideal. Adding some plants around the house can help lessen the impact of the wind and the rattling noise.

  • You need to make room for plumbing, HVAC, and other systems.

As it is, you already have limited interior space to work with. Standard shipping containers are only 2.6 meters tall; whereas, high cube containers are 2.9 meters high. Ductwork and utilities can easily eat up headroom.

  • Shipping houses need a foundation.

Whether they’re wooden footings, concrete slabs, or steel piers, your cube house will benefit from having one. It’s one thing you shouldn’t overlook when you’re playing with the idea of living in a shipping container house. Know which type is best for your location, installation, and budget.

  • It’s recommended that you hire professionals and contractors with experience in building container homes.

It’s an entirely different house building method, and not everyone is equipped for the job. Some are still new to it; while others already have the field experience to apply in constructing yours. Besides, building a cube house is not cheap, and mistakes can be costly!

  • You may still need to obtain council consent to build one.

Bigger and permanent installations usually require you to get legal consent. Check out other permits you may have to apply for—even for small or temporary shelters. Each country or state has its rules and standards.

Parting Words

We hope we’ve given you a lot to think about. There are many reasons why shipping container homes are a good choice. But if you’re seriously contemplating living in one, then you have to consider all the things we mentioned above to make it truly work for you.

As it is, some people have loved and lived in a shipping container home, and some didn’t like it at all. On which side you fall is something you may already have an idea of, and one thing that you have to find out for yourself.

Our top pick for container home designs

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

Learn More

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