Container Homes and Things to Consider Before Having One

container home

So, there you are holding that passbook like it’s the most precious thing in the world knowing it’s the testament of months or even years of hard work to finance your own house. The thought of working on a project as big as this is enough to get you excited. What makes you more so are the many possibilities you can turn that dream home into reality, either by buying a ready-to-own or get more hands-on with an architect and engineer in a house blueprint that reflects your personality.

As you’d want to maximize every penny you get from that first-time home buyer loan, you search for the cost-saving home designs whether you’re renovating a ready-made house or you’re starting with an empty lot. As you scroll through your search page, you’d come across container housing that’s been trending lately. Seeing how designers worked their art on these once plain container vans and made it satisfyingly livable, you can’t help but explore the prospects of having one.

With many advocating a minimalist lifestyle these days, the patronage for container living could only keep growing. And while having a minimalist home that’s less prone to hoarding or clutter is attractive, you know it takes thorough research before you could finalize that decision. Look no further because we did the job for you.

What’s the deal with container homes?

Container homes are houses made out of shipping containers. Yes, those big vessels used by cargo companies for long-distance transport of goods, in the sea via watercraft and on land via trailer trucks. They’re designed in such big block shapes to facilitate ease of stacking and transfer using cranes. It owes its recent popularity in use for housing due to its sturdy built and modular design, as explained below in detail:

Built to last

You’ll be surprised to know that those container homes you see online were shipping vans that have been used for years now. As they’re made with heavy-duty Corten steel, a metal that when exposed to moisture forms a protective layer that keeps it from corroding, these containers are built to withstand harsh environmental conditions making them ideal as houses, too, as they could fare rather well in harsh weather or even earthquakes.

Shipping containers style a corrugated steel exterior. Such ridged design makes for a dent-resistant exterior, which only makes sense as these containers go through tough handling. While they could work to give your house a contemporary-looking exterior, they’re built as such to make them last longer.

A lesser-known option

If you’re on the fence with this corrugated look and would rather have a flat surface, there are so-called portable vans to meet this need. Not the campervan you think, these are just like shipping containers, but covered with flat metal panels and kept intact by a galvanized steel frame. Prefabricated ones are already integrated with insulation beneath their inner walls.

Quick and cheap

Because these containers, commonly 20 and 40-feet long, are built ready for stacking, you’re in for quick construction. As estimated by world-renowned architect Frank Ghery, building a container home could cost as much as only $10,000. This practical solution will allow you to focus more on structural aspects such as plumbing, fire detection, ventilation, electrical, and pest control and dedicate your extra funds to hire a reliable contractor and purchase furniture and fixtures suitable to your interior design.

home container

Things you might want to consider

Shipping container homes are typically more affordable than traditional ones. However, you have the option to go with higher-end containers, which will require some financial preparation. Besides that, be aware of the following hidden costs you’ll have to consider:


Shipping containers are originally chemical-treated to prevent pest infestation. Inhaling its fumes poses health risks. It will take work to decontaminate a container of any dangerous chemicals before proceeding with construction.

They’re hot inside

Also, as these containers are all-metal, staying in one proves to be hot. Insulating containers is also difficult due to their thin walls. This will require the owner to invest in the most suitable insulation methods.

Cannot be soundproofed

If you’re into making music or playing PC games, you might want to think twice before pursuing a container home as the container’s thin walls won’t do the best job at keeping noise from seeping out. Moreover, metal enclosures tend to amplify noise inside. In short, they cannot be soundproofed.

Time to weigh your choices

Luckily, non-traditional houses like container ones can be financed with a mortgage. Having your house insured after consolidating building costs and legal obligations is also possible. Simply discuss and agree with your agent that this be declared as an Intermodel Steel Building Unit (ISBU) and you’re set.

Having considered the structural aspects of shipping mentioned above, it is also right to take all the time you need to contemplate the lifestyle you want to lead. If you’re determined with living minimally for the long run, then container living might just be the one for you. Remember, you’re not just riding a fad that could fade after some time, you’re creating something that’s for you.

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