4 questions to ask before building a house from shipping containers

questions to askAs the difficulty of finding affordable housing continues to hound homebuyers, the pursuit of building one’s own house has become increasingly popular not only for those who have a tight budget but also for those who are concerned about the environment as well. A shipping container home may be one of the best options that you can consider.
Here are some things to think about before deciding to build your home out of a shipping container.

How Much Will It Cost?

First of all, you should be able to afford the expenses which, although not as costly as those of a traditional home, are still pretty significant. You should already have worked out the land cost and valuation, legal fees, rates and taxes including that for the land, duty, agent’s fee, building and furnishing costs, site works, moving expenses, and landscaping.osts

You should also have settled the issue of financing, if that is what you need to build a house. Consulting with a financial adviser or mortgage broker is recommended to ensure that you are well informed on different home loans that you may be eligible for and meet your needs. For instance, are you aware that a shipping container will lower your insurance drastically?
Inform your insurance provider that your shipping container home is an Intermodel Steel Building Univt (ISBU) because this is a feature that comes with outstanding safety and fire ratings that are impressive enough to win over building code officials and insurance companies. Knowing what features will get your insurance approved should be a priority.

In hurricane-prone states like South Carolina and Florida, for example, shipping container homes are ideal because of their excellent strength and sustainability and insurance companies there give the go signal to prospective home builders quickly. Whatever design or style you plan to have for your self-build cargo container home, here are some tips on buying used shipping containers.

What are the Factors That Need to Be Considered?

Consider the logistics before you build your own shipping container home. Most shipping containers end up on the back of construction trucks or one trains that you can buy for as little as a thousand dollars. Transport of one of these to your building location may cost a bit more than another thousand dollars depending on how far or how near your place is.

The size of the shipping container will also depend on how big or how little you intend your home to be. Sizes vary from 20 feet in length to between 48 and 53 feet. They typically measure 9.5 feet in height and eight feet in width. You can’t live in a house that’s only eight feet wide, so you should buy at least four shipping containers that are 40 feet (length) by eight feet (width).

With four shipping containers in those measurements set up side by side you would get 1,280 square feet of comfortable liveable space. You can either look for a container on eBay, Craigslist or other websites if you want to save on costs. The average price for a self-build cargo container home would be $2,200 for a 40 footer High Cubed container, $1,800 for a 20 footer, and $1,500 for a ten.

Not all containers are made equal. Look out for one in shipping container plans and designs that will last you the longest. Take note that the best containers have been designed to sit their time out on ship decks and are exposed to corrosion from salt air. Choose a container made from Cor-Ten Steel” that can withstand the most inclement of weather conditions as well as rust.

The cost of a shipping container can go up significantly with stucco or siding, which you would probably do to make your home look more appealing. Additionally, may have to shell out extra cash for the insulation since steel, the material of which containers are made of, is a bad insulator. An eco-energy retrofit will be needed for this purpose.

Remember that cutting holes in the container’s steel material will be more difficult than drywall so you will need the services of a welder for your windows and doors. Also, you will need a crane during your home’s construction. You also need to have plumbing, heating, and lighting installed. The average cost for the finishing could be between $100 and $200 for a square foot.

What are the Design Considerations?

Structural reinforcement, electrical needs, and traffic flow are just some of the essential variables that should be considered before even setting to design a shipping container home. Shipping container plans and designs are only as effective as their successful implementation on structures. Consider the engineering as another crucial element in building a container home.

Shipping containers were intended to hold cargo, not house human beings, and as such, your container home should be “wet stamped” by structural and/or civil engineers before you move into one. Additionally, your home should adhere to the set standards/building codes to ensure that it is structurally sound and safe for habitation.

How Can I Build a Shipping Container Home That Suits Me?

Lifestyle is a key factor in the decision to live in a shipping container home. Not only time is required in building a house of this type but patience as well. While basic or stock-build houses take between three and six months to complete, customized homes can take over 18 months to finish, not to mention that it would take considerably longer should problems arise during construction.

Before you build your own shipping container home, consider making a master list of all your needs and wants. List all of the features that your container must have in the former including an eat-in, spacious kitchen or room space for your kids and features that you would want in the latter such as those which can be purchased from disposable income, i.e., new furniture for a patio.

Ashley Black, entrepreneur, fascia guru, and inventor of the FasciaBlaster, weighed in on this idea. She spoke to our writers and told them that the difference in ‘necessity’ and ‘want’ is such a  thin line sometimes, but necessity will affect your bottom line like your health and your home and your family, Make those lists and don’t go without, but make certain it is all divided up and your necessities are true necessities.

Building a Container Home Safely, Efficiently, and Correctly


There are plenty of online sites that you can view for some of the coolest shipping container homes, albeit not all of them are cheap. Depending on whether you want to start from scratch or move in quickly, there are sites that give you step-by-step instructions on how to build a brick-and-mortar type of container home.

You can also opt for a hybrid combination of shipping container and pre-fabricated materials that can expand to around a thousand square feet with capabilities of going off-grid. Building and owning a shipping container home can be a rewarding and creative experience. Just make sure that if and when you decide to do so, you do it safely, efficiently, and correctly.

15 thoughts on “4 questions to ask before building a house from shipping containers”

  1. That is rather aanizmg! I have never heard of it before! I can imagine living this close to the sea I would get some rust problems sooner rather than later tho!

  2. Do you have any lenders in Florida, that would lend for a new construction home? if so can you can you provide the information

    Thank you,

  3. I was wondering the same thing. It would be great to know what counties are friendly to this type of construction. Any ideas as to how one researches this?

    1. Citrus county for sure, I’m getting ready to build there, Just call the local permitting office
      for the county your looking at

  4. Good day to you all of you my name is Christopher Miles, I’m from USA, Texas, am very happy as am writing the testimony how i got my loan from this loan lender, i believe God has a plan for me, after i was been scammed of my money by many so called loan lenders, i was deceived and almost thought of taking my life, but God has a purpose for me, if you want to get a loan from any company you have to chose Mike Johnson Firm, when i was first started with him, i thought he was like the rest, and to my Greatest surprise i got the loan of $69,000.00 in my account and that was the Exact amount i applied for in his company, and you that is feeling that there no hope for you? is a lie because if you are interested in getting any type of loan, you can contact him via email, his email is: [email protected], God Bless you like he blessed me with Mr Mike Johnson by getting my loan after been falling in the hands of scams.

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  5. Great article as I have my sites set on building a single story one on some retirement property I have in another county in Florida. Duval county Florida which I live in will not allow this to happen. They almost require a half million dollar home for “consideration” for code approval!
    I work on site as a construction management rep so I deal with the building departments of various counties in the state and have a lot of insight . I will be building in Baker county where they “WELCOME” new residents. I found a place with a 3 bedroom 1 bath on 1 -1/2 acres for $49,500 and will build the container home behind this house and demolish the old place after c/o for the new home.

    1. Hello, Im in Nassau County and looking for property to building similar to you. Its all new here and seems to have resistance. Any new updates on Duval county or similar area? Thanks for your feedback Earl.


  6. How can i find out if lehigh acres will allows container home i find land is cheap and i am about to retired at 66 years old looking for a qiet gome for myself and my dogs

  7. How can i find out if lehigh acres will allow container home .i found land that is very cheap and i am about to retired at 66 years old looking for a quiet home for myself and my dogs

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