Shipping containers are strong, spacious and extremely resistant. They are:
- fireproof and flood-proof,
- resistant to mold,
- made of steel that does not rust,
- resistant to strong hurricane winds of up to 175 miles/hour.
Moreover, they are incredibly affordable.
Reusing large shipping containers to build container homes is becoming a popular trend worldwide where more and more individuals are striving for more sustainable and greener living.
A wide range of building structures can be constructed using recycled containers: from small studios for one or two persons to large single-family homes that use several metal containers joined together.
Architects, designers and creative persons who like to think outside the box are discovering new ways of combining shipping containers to create some amazing examples of modern architecture.
Just look at some of these amazing container homes. Some of them have been covered with dry walls or wooden panels to camouflage the fact that they had been built from metal containers! Some have large floor-to-ceiling windows that make them look bright and spacious. A popular trend is adding grass to the roof converting it into a perfect solarium or adding solar panels for self-sustainability.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to designing your home from a shipping container. It can be made to look like a regular house at a much smaller cost!
Shipping container specifications
Shipping containers come in two standard sizes:
- 20ft container measuring 6 m long (internal length) by 2.34 m wide (internal width);
- 40ft container measuring 12.11 m long by 2.34 m wide.
This translates into a total floor area of about 14 m2 (20ft) and 28 m2 (40ft).
The internal height ranges from 2.39 m in standard containers to 2.69 m in high cube shipping containers.
One shipping container can hold up to 30 tons of weight, which means you can easily stack containers on top of each other up to a maximum of 7.
How much can a container home cost?
A used 20ft container costs anywhere between 1200 euros and 2400, whereas a 40ft container costs from 3000-4000 euros. You should expect to pay at least 10 000 euros for labour. Add up the modifications you want to make to make the container livable (adding windows, doors, insulation and wires).
There are home building companies that sell prefabricated container homes starting at 13 000 – 15 000 euros. Hive Modular, Rhino Cubed, HonoMobo and Logical Homes are some of the few builders that offer a wide array of prefab container homes. Big luxury villas made from metal containers can cost at least 200 000 euros, and yet this is only a portion of the price you would pay for a regular building structure of a similar size.
On the photo above you can see an example of a container home with a total floor area of 1000 sq.ft located in San Jose, Costa Rica. The estimated cost of this home is 75 000 – 125 000 euros. Two 40ft containers have been used, adding large ceiling-to-floor windows to make the house look bright and spacious.
How easy is it to build yourself a container home?
- Everything starts with a permit. First of all, you will need a building permit to build or install a container house. To obtain a building permit, you are likely to need a site plan.
- Consult with an architect and structural engineer. Make sure that your proposed shipping container home design is structurally sound.
- Buy your container. Finding a container for sale is probably the easiest task of all. You can purchase shipping containers from a nationwide broker, from an auction site like eBay, for example, or a local transportation company. Buy from locations nearest to you to save on transportation costs.
- Pre-modify your container. There are workshops that offer to pre-modify containers and then simply have them delivered to you. This can help reduce the building time. Modifications include window and door cutouts, adding insulation, repainting.
- Turn your container into your new home. Depending on your professional skills and experience in building, electricity, plumbing, painting, etc you will need a certain amount of help from the professionals to turn the container into living spaces by adding windows, doors, insulation, electrical wires and making other necessary changes.