What is a Container Home?

Container homes are typically made out of steel shipping containers and come in sizes of 10, 2o or 40 feet. 

Made from the thousands of surplus containers that sit on docks around the world, container homes are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional building materials. Homes can be built of one or several containers, depending on the desired size of the home. 

Container architects generally recommend what are known as "high cube" containers, which measure approximately nine feet in height. 

Image via WIX

How Much Does a Container Home Cost? 

Image via House Beautiful

Shipping container homes, in some cases, can cost half as much per square foot than traditional stick building.

Costs by Size:

Smaller, basic container homes can range between $10,000 to $35,000.

Large homes built with multiple shipping containers and amenities can range in price from $100,000 to $175,000.


However, many factors can affect the total cost, including:


  • location

  • scope of work

  • site specifics

  • container size

Benefits of Container Homes

Environmentally Conscious

Environmentally Conscious

With each 40-foot container you are repurposing 2,500 kg of steel. The use of steel shipping containers also reduces or eliminates the use of many other building materials, which can be harmful for the environment 

Flexibility with Size

Flexibility with Size

You can also combine multiple containers to create a larger home with a living room, dining room, extra bedrooms, a second floor, or even a container guesthouse.



Shipping container homes made from weathering steel can likely withstand inclement weather conditions better than traditional housing

Reduced Monthly Bills

Reduced Monthly Bills

High value insulation can make it easy to heat or cool the small space and many owners opt for a solar energy option, which can further reduce the monthly cost of utilities

Energy Effeciency

Energy Effeciency

A container house can be very energy efficient due to their small size. Just the size of a shipping container home makes it much easier to utilize smaller appliances

Cost Savings

Cost Savings

Container homes can be built in a fraction of the time traditionally built homes are. To avoid hefty construction costs, you can purchase a prefabricated container home

Did You Know?

Container Homes Can Be Resold
A well-maintained shipping container home can retain its resale value much like a traditional home. They're relatively easy to resell since they can be loaded onto a truck and shipped almost anywhere

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Images via Dwell

Do Container Homes Rust?

Factors such as climate and maintenance determine whether a shipping container home will rust.

Since shipping container homes are made from metal, rusting may happen. Some containers are manufactured with alloys which helps to form a surface level of rust that reduces further corrosion.

Best Climates for Container Homes

Climates with salt laden air, high rainfall, humidity, or persistent fog should be avoided for container homes as these promote rusting. The ideal location has wet and dry cycles to reduce rusting (source: Discover Containers)


What Else Should I Consider?

Image via Dwell


After getting your permit, you will want to lay a foundation on a flat surface for your container home. Most architects use concrete and steel pier, pile, slab, or strip techniques for the foundation.


Container homes are better off in climates that do not experience extreme weather conditions.

Installing insulation for weather conditions will contribute to the overall cost of your home.

Design and Creativity

Container homes offer vast versatility and can be reduced or expanded with additional containers. Design and creativity are essential to making the perfect home for your needs.


Oftentimes container homes need to be heavily remodeled to make it functional. It is good to consider what additional expenses you can expect as you design your home to avoid unexpected expenses.

How Sustainable are Container Homes? 

Yellow Container

Image via Wix

Reusing a safe shipping container is an excellent example of building with recycled materials, and shipping container homes can also encourage a smaller footprint and less usage of other building materials like wood and masonry.


With container homes you aren’t breaking the object down to its raw materials, but instead just reconfiguring what you already have. As a result, you use fewer amounts of other materials like wood and concrete than you otherwise would have building a home from scratch.

Constructing with containers helps the environment through recycling, and it means skipping using materials such as bricks and concrete. Container homes may becomes less sustainable if it requires an exorbitant amount of materials to make it a livable space. 

Reuse Materials

It’s often cheaper to receive new shipping containers than it is to send them back to suppliers, leaving millions of unused shipping containers in the world after one trip.

Smart Design

Owners who are open to alternative living spaces like container homes often incorporate other eco-friendly elements, such as solar panels, wind power, water recycling systems, and rainwater harvesting systems.

Choosing the Right Container

Some used containers are not eco-friendly and may even hold toxic chemicals or have been treated to prevent corrosion during transit, leading to high levels of chemical residue. Because of this, picking the right container is critical.

                     Find Container Homes

Honomobo is a builder of pre-designed, factory-built container homes based in Edmonton, Canada. They create homes using one to eight containers with high-quality finishes. Their largest model, HO8, is a two-story home with just over 1400 square feet of floor area. 

                           Click here to read more about Honomobo

Alternative Living Spaces is a leader in the container housing industry and in the new wave of modern modular construction. ALT is based in Las Vegas and offers spaces for container homes, offices, gyms, pools and tiny homes.

                           Click here to explore ALT spaces

Giant Containers offers contemporary and sustainable homes that can be shipped worldwide. They offer residential, commercial and industrial container homes and buildings and work with clients from beginning (conceptualization), to production, to implementation"

You can view their platform on Instagram to see more of their work (@giantcontainers)

Explore more companies working to make homes from shipping containers


Are container homes more affordable than traditional built homes?

Shipping container homes are not always cheaper to build than traditional stick-built homes, but they can be. There are a large number of variables that influence project cost, such as geography, dimensions, design, and interior finishes. Because of this, shipping container homes are not always cheaper to build than traditional stick-built homes, but they can be (Curbed). 
What states allow shipping container homes?
Container homes are a great alternative housing option, but only some states allow them. Texas, California, Tennessee, Alaska, Louisiana, Missouri, and Oregon states allow shipping container homes legally. Florida also allows shipping container homes to a certain degree, but it is vest to check with your local city regulations (Sulex International). 

Can I build a container home anywhere?

 Container homes can be built on properly zoned land that might not otherwise be suitable for traditional built homes without a lot of site work.  Container houses can be raised on sturdy pilings instead of paying for pricey excavation if a plot of land is rocky or unlevel (Curbed). This article shares insight on U.S. states that are worth considering.

Can I build my own container home?

You can build a container home yourself (DIY); however, building one requires a certain toolset that can work on metal frames as shipping container homes are built very sturdy for safeness. It is recommended to work with a professional service to build your shipping container home for the best results (CMG ContainersDiscover Containers)

What sizes do the containers usually come in? 

Dry van containers are the most common type of shipping container you will find. Here are the three sizes you might be most likely to work with. In addition to the below dimensions, you can get “high cube” containers that are 9ft 6 in tall (Why St.Pete)


  • 10 foot Long Container: Width 8ft, Height 7ft, Internal Dimensions: Length 9ft 4in, Height 7ft 10in, Width 7ft 9in, Doors 7ft 9in x 7ft 6in

  • Width 8ft, Height 8ft, Internal Dimensions: Length 19ft 4in, Height 7ft 10in, Width 7ft 9in, Doors 7ft 9in x 7ft 6in20 foot Long Shipping Container:

  • 40 foot Long Shipping Container: Width 8ft, Height 8ft, Internal Dimensions: Length 39ft 5in, Height 7ft 10in, Width 7ft 9in, Doors 7ft 9in x 7ft 6in