Whenever low-cost housing is mentioned, the words “shipping container homes” is never too far behind.
At the Dream Homes Project, we will be sharing with you the things you need to know about shipping container homes—its charms and challenges, whether to go for it or not, as well as how to go about getting one of your own once the decision has been made.
But first, the basics.
What Is a Shipping Container Home?
A shipping container home is a living space created from shipping containers. Shipping containers are large metal containers used to transport goods, usually bound for overseas. These containers are made from durable, often corrugated steel and designed with hinged doors and a closed top. The walls have ridges on the bottom and their top parts welded to their rails and frames.
Shipping containers come in two available sizes — 20 × 8 feet, and 40 × 8 feet. You can combine multiple containers to build a home. Shipping container homes have become popular living spaces as they offer a lot of benefits. Most potential homeowners find it useful as an alternative to traditional homes made from brick, cement, and wood.
What Are the Benefits of Shipping Container Homes?
- Cost-effectiveness – A container home is cheaper than conventional housing. It normally needs fewer building materials and requires less labor and time to finish. The cost of constructing a container home can be further lowered depending on the renovations that will be done on it.
- Faster and easier to build – Depending on the contractors, a shipping container home can be built in less than a month. Mind that a professional construction company will charge a bit more, but you can also find ready-made shipping container homes for sale at a lower cost.
- Sustainability – A shipping container home gives you a strong, ready foundation, so you can start the project anytime and at shorter notice, unlike the traditional home, which is not as easy to build and will require a lot of preparation beforehand.
- Eco-friendliness – One of the main reasons people opt to live in shipping containers is because of the eco-friendly aspect. Shipping containers are usually made from recycled steel, which is then used to build a tiny home. The use of shipping containers as housing can help reduce waste by recycling and encouraging a simple and minimalist lifestyle.
- Strength and sturdiness – Shipping containers are made from reinforced steel that is capable of protecting goods shipped all over the world. They routinely weather rough open-sea storms on cargo ships. Thus a tiny home that is made from shipping containers can withstand strong winds, earthquakes, fires, and storms. Having a shipping container home will keep you safe from the ever-changing weather conditions and other catastrophic events much more effectively compared to traditional homes.
- Flexible and customizable – Shipping container homes are flexible in design and can be altered according to your needs and preferences. Since you can use multiple shipping containers, you can stack them or place them side by side, and it is easy to put in installations in case you need extra space in the future. This can be a great option for a growing family.
- Mobile and adjustable – A shipping container is also flexible in terms of location. You can literally move house if you decide to live in a different city. To move your shipping container home, you can hire a shipping transportation service to help you relocate.
- Essentialist – The lifestyle encouraged by shipping container homes gives you more time and focus for the important things in life. Many families have decided to leave a life of luxury and invest in a shipping container home to live a minimalist life with their children. This will allow them to live a happier life wherein they no longer have to worry about maintaining appearances and an expensive home.
- Mortgage-free – A shipping container home means no need to pay rent and mortgage fees. Individuals and families given shipping container homes by the Dream House Project are only be asked to take care of their new homes and pay their utility bills on time.
What Are the Disadvantages of Shipping Container Homes?
- Building permits can take time – Since shipping containers are new to the scene, it can be difficult to obtain a permit. Fortunately, the Dream Homes Project is based in Colorado, where container homes are allowed and are regulated by the state. Whenever you are planning to build a shipping container home, you must connect with the local city planning office to obtain information regarding building codes, permit requirements, and zone restrictions.
- Not always eco-friendly – Not all shipping containers are made from eco-friendly materials. Many homeowners prefer using new containers as shipping container homes, which defeats the purpose of recycling. However, if used shipping containers are considered for building a home, other factors must be considered. For example, the shipping container should not have sustained too much damage during its time transporting products. There is also risks if the container had been used for transporting dangerous or hazardous chemicals. These factors can prevent home buyers from choosing used shipping containers.
- Compatibility – Modern appliances can be difficult to maintain in shipping container homes. You will need a professional electrician with the experience and specialty in shipping container homes to handle the installation of the electrical set-up. You will also need to hire a plumber for the home’s plumbing. If you are planning to live off-grid, you can hire a contractor to install solar panels on the roof of your shipping container home.
- May require reinforcements – Storage containers are usually made from steel, but you must focus on the structural integrity of the home when certain modifications are done during the building process. For example, when large holes are cut in the sides to create the windows and doors, it can compromise the container’s structural integrity.
Shipping container homes can withstand different kinds of weather conditions usually encountered on the move, but some rarer conditions like heavy snow, hailstorm, etc., can cause the roof of the storage container home to bow under the weight, especially if the corner castings are not reinforced properly. You must hire a contractor to reinforce load-bearing parts of the container home and also consider installing a sloped rooftop.
DIY or Buy?
For those whose main selling point is low-cost housing, a shipping container is a perfect option to build a tiny house.
When a shipping container has reached its destination and has been unloaded, most companies will opt to sell the container instead of returning it.
Most individuals considering shipping container homes go into it eager for a DIY project, but there are also a lot of shipping container homes that are ready to move into. Which should you go for?
There are many things to consider when deciding to build and design your very own container home, and even when you’re looking to purchase a ready-made home on the market.
The DIY option will meantime, knowledge, experience, and skill. Important aspects such as framing, plumbing, and electrical installation must be considered. The DIY builder will require experience in metalwork as well.
Knowledge about specialized tools such as plasma cutters is important to deal with thick metal walls. Welding equipment and skill is also a must, so make sure to work with an experienced company that knows how to work with shipping container homes to guarantee the success of the project.
The Usual Challenges of Building a Shipping Container Home
- Cutting and proper placement of doors and windows – One of the first things to consider when making the floor plans of your shipping container home is the location of the windows and doors. The heavy steel must be cut through thoroughly, requiring the use of specialized tools. You will also need the expertise of an engineer familiar with shipping containers so that you can cut through the parts that will not affect their structural integrity. You must not cut recklessly as it can affect the wind resistance and safety aspects of the shipping container. When placing a window inside the container home, you must make sure to create cross ventilation for proper airflow.
- Additional insulation – Since the shipping container is made of metal, it will retain heat. To prevent any issues with heat retention inside the home, you can add a thick layer of insulation to the ceiling. Solar panels can be a great addition to the roof as they will absorb the solar energy and convert it to usable energy. Some container homes have decks fastened to the roof to provide cooling and as a great addition to the home’s outdoor space.
- Ventilation – The shipping container home must be installed with a good HVAC and proper ventilation system to allow proper airflow and prevent excessive indoor heat during summer.
Check out The Dream Homes Project if you want to help with our cause. We would love to help individuals who are not capable of buying their own homes. We do not gain any benefit or profit; we just want to extend help to individuals at the risk of homelessness. If you want to know more about our project, please send us a message through this contact form. We are also on Fundly if you want to support our cause.
The Dream Homes Project constructs shipping containers and makes them into appropriate living spaces for low-income single parents, older citizens, disabled individuals, and kids who grew up in foster homes and are incapable of buying or owning a home.
To help us with our project, please consider donating to our cause. If you want to know more information about our company or our projects please contact us by calling +760-218-8472 or sending us an email at [email protected] We are looking forward to hearing from you!