The Tiny house Blog

Living in a Shipping Container: Is It Worth It?

Updated on:
January 31, 2024
Shipping container home with windows

Shipping container houses are a tiny home option that has grown in popularity in the last few years. Today, people are looking for unique homes that offer a sense of comfort and convenience, and the shipping container house takes the trophy!

From the outside, a shipping container home might not have a lot of appeal. Yet, the interior of a well-designed container home is mind-blowing. Shipping container homes have several benefits that you’d enjoy.

If you're planning to move into a one, here are some things you need to consider. 

What Is a Shipping Container Home?

A shipping container home is a dwelling made out of a repurposed shipping container. These homes can be built quickly and cheaply and are often used as emergency or temporary housing. It can also be very eco-friendly since they use recycled materials.

The global compound annual growth rate of shipping containers for homes is projected to be 6.5% by 2025.

View the HousePeak Terrace Shipping Container House

Shipping container homes can be built very quickly. That’s because the containers themselves are already prefabricated, so all that needs to be done is to assemble them. There is no need for traditional construction methods, which can take months or even years.

Shipping container homes are very strong and durable. They are designed to withstand rough conditions at sea, so they are more than capable of standing up to the elements on land. This makes them ideal for use in areas that are prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

Shipping container homes are made out of recycled materials and, as such, have a smaller environmental impact than traditional homes. They can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines. This means that they can help to reduce your carbon footprint.

Do you need a permit to build a shipping container house?

Whether you need a permit to build a shipping container house depends on the zoning regulations in your area and the size of your home. In most cases, you will need some type of permit to build a shipping container home. 

However, the process for obtaining a permit can vary depending on your location. In some cases, you may be able to apply for a special exception or variance that would allow you to build your home without having to obtain a traditional building permit.

It's important to check with your local zoning authorities to find out what the requirements are for building a home made out of a shipping container in your area. Once you've done that, you can start the process of applying for the necessary permits.

If you're planning on building a small shipping container home, you may get away with not needing a permit. However, if you're planning on building a larger home, you'll likely need one. The process of obtaining a permit varies depending on your location, but it typically involves submitting an application to the local zoning board or planning commission.

Once you've submitted your application, the board or commission will review it and make a decision. If they approve your application, they'll issue you a permit that will allow you to proceed with your project. If they deny your application, you'll have to go through the appeals process in order to try to get the permit approved.

If you can show that your home meets all the zoning regulations and doesn’t pose any type of health or safety hazard, you stand a good chance of getting your permit approved. Building a shipping container as a home can be a great way to save money on your housing costs. 

However, you'll need to go through the proper channels in order to get a permit for your project. By doing your research and working with the right people, your dream home will become a reality.

Things to consider before moving into a shipping container home

Shipping container homes can be a great option for people who want to downsize, but there are some things you should consider before making the switch. 

1. Are shipping container houses affordable?

Shipping container homes cost is incomparable to the expense of building a typical house from scratch. It is somewhat pre-made since you already have the steel shell. You'll only need to cut out the doors and windows sections.

You will also have to think about the flooring, insulation, cabinetry, and other features you want for your tiny home. For the traditional home, you have to get the materials and start by constructing the foundation and then the walls and roof system.

It's a no-brainer that the traditional home will need more resources than a shipping container house. Besides, there are many shipping container homes for sale, and their price is way lower than a traditional house.

In general, small home costs vary greatly depending on your interior design choices, but why pay more when you can have an affordable yet comfortable tiny house?

2. Are shipping container homes eco-friendly?

Shipping containers are made from steel. The material can be recycled, which is a great way to protect the environment. For the modern home, you can’t do away with the house without affecting the environment. And that's not to mention the large amount of natural resources it takes to actually build it.

With a shipping container house, you don't need to cut down trees to create space. You can have your tiny home anywhere. As an environmentally-conscious person, choosing an area where you don't have to infringe on flora and fauna makes all the difference.

Besides, there are other ways to keep your tiny homes eco-friendly such as adding more plants, glass tile, eco-friendly insulation, and solar power. The carbon footprint in your shipping house is relatively small, as the living resources required are minimal.  

3. Are container houses durable?

Ideally, shipping containers are meant to transport valuable freight and shipment. Often, the weather that these shipping containers have to endure is quite perilous. Manufacturers have to make the vessels strong and resistant to all weather conditions.

When used to make homes, the durability of shipping containers is actually an ‘over-spec.’ You don’t have to worry about extreme weather conditions such as strong winds. The container was designed to conquer 100-mile-per-hour winds! Just be mindful of how much you cut into the sides, as that will chip away at its structural integrity.

Within the last year, more than 20 million people have been driven by climate-related disasters. With a shipping container home, you’re safe from tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Your chances of having to vacate your home due to extreme weather conditions are rare.

4. Are shipping containers portable?

Can you imagine moving your home near the beach in the summer? Or moving to different regions depending on the seasons? With a shipping container home, you don't have limitations on where you can live.

A shipping container house is a mobile home that will give you endless location capabilities. With a flat-bed truck, you can move your home to where you wish to live. You can even decide to tow your home on a trailer!

If you want a portable container home, it would be best to bolt it, as welding can make it somewhat permanent. Bolting is easier to detach from the foundation or ground and move to your new desired location. You can inquire more from home builders to have the best experience with your new tiny home.

5. Can you customize a shipping container house?

Shipping containers give homeowners the ability to customize designs. You can decide to expand your home or add other extra parts such as bay windows and stairs. It would help to consider factors such as the functionality you want and the weather when designing your home.

You can have a multi-story home, bungalow-style, or a subterranean home, depending on your preferences. The available designs for a shipping container home are inexhaustible. However, consider working with a professional architect to ensure that you settle on the best design.

With the finishing touches, your personality is the main factor to consider. From the flooring to the decorations, you can choose popping features or go minimalism, depending on what you want. You can check out practical tips for decorating your tiny house interior to have an idea of how to work on your shipping container home.

6. How long does it take to build a shipping container home?

Constructing a traditional home can take 4 to 6 months to complete. The tasks and finances involved can delay completion. On the other hand, container houses take a shorter time to build since they require few resources and are often less complicated.

If you want to move as soon as possible, a container home won’t disappoint. Within 4 to 10 weeks, your container house will be ready. You can’t trust such construction speed with traditional homes!

You can have a larger home by combining several containers. Removing the interior walls will increase the interior space without making you spend more time building the house. For traditional construction, more space will require additional building, which will mean more time and resources.

7. Can you construct a container home off-site?

Some locations don't allow the erection of permanent structures. The beauty of shipping container homes is that you can construct them off-site and then move them to your plot of land. You're not limited to where the construction takes place since you can move the already finished house to your ideal location.

In case you're in an area where the workforce is unavailable, the off-site construction will be essential. Workers can construct and transport the finished home to your location. If you already have the container house plans, the construction process shouldn't stress you.

Off-site construction will help you save on resources. Ideally, you would have to incur transportation expenses for the materials and laborers. For a shipping container home, construction can take place closer to the materials needed and the workforce.

8. Are shipping container homes safe?

Most container homes are in remote settings. It is normal to have concerns about your safety. Often, rural and remote infrastructures are at a higher risk of break-ins.

Steel containers make the job of breaking in much harder for intruders. The material used is pretty durable, which deters a quick break-in. You can't compare the frequency of burglaries in a modern home to that of a container home as the latter is less attractive to intruders.

Shipping container homes are heavy. It would be quite absurd for someone to think they can steal the entire container without attracting a lot of noise and commotion. As such, a container house is a relatively safe structure regardless of your location.

9. Can you design a container house to be unique?

When you look at shipping containers, they all look alike. They have nothing that seems attractive from the onset. What you do with your home is what makes it unique.

You can design your tiny house exterior as you move to the tiny home interior design. The basic-looking container will have an irresistible curb appeal in no time. The exterior and interior design should reflect your personal taste.

You can start with being creative with the window design. Choosing to go the container house way is already a bold move, so don't settle for boring windows! You can have arch windows, triangle windows, or clean, modern black-painted windows!

The front door shouldn't be an afterthought. It should have a level of sophistication while still maintaining a welcoming ambiance. The choice of light fixtures inside and outside your shipping container home will make a big difference.

10. Buying a container makes you part of the solution to container abandonment in your state

Countries such as the U.S. have thousands of abandoned freight containers in ports and yards. Most of these containers remain unused for years. Sending these shipping containers to other regions for cargo-loading is uneconomical.

As a good citizen, you can be part of the solution by buying the containers. You’ll help in preserving the environment in the process. While at it, consider checking the containers thoroughly as some of them have been abandoned for years.

The process of buying should be consistent with the rules and regulations in your state. Be vigilant not to end up falling for fake deals.

Are there disadvantages to living in a shipping container?

Shipping container homes can be a great option for individuals who want to build a quick and easy dwelling. However, it is essential to keep in mind that they do have some disadvantages. For one thing, they are not particularly large, so you may need to sacrifice some space in order to have one. 

In addition, they can be difficult to insulate and ventilate properly, so you may want to consider other options if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions. Finally, shipping containers are not always the most eco-friendly option, so you may want to consider other sustainable building materials if you are interested in reducing your carbon footprint.

Final thoughts

If you’re thinking of having a personalized and unique home, a shipping container home is your best bet. A container house is easy to construct and affordable. It should take you less than six weeks to move into your new home.  

Living in a shipping container is thrilling. The ambiance is unique, and you'll love it. Once you're sure you want to live in a container home, start by working with the right professionals to get it right from the start.

Are you interested in a shipping container home? deals with a range of tiny houses that might interest you. Contact us today and be part of the awesome tiny house community.

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