Tiny Houses Inside Logo

Tiny House vs Shipping Container Home – Still Worth it in 2024?

If you are wondering what the difference is between Tiny houses vs Shipping container homes in 2024 then in this comparison we explore the options to see if its the right fit for you and your family.

The rising demand for tiny homes and shipping containers has proven that the concept of living small is not a bad idea at all.

Homeowners are beginning to downsize their living space due to the huge benefits that come with them.

container homes vs tiny homes

You may get enticed by media or you decide to move into tiny homes by choice.

In each scenario, you will be in a position to save a lot.

Tiny houses are becoming more luxurious.

It is more of a movement that is taking over the world while remaining under 300square feet.

Tiny houses require planning and in execution, you have to be accurate while trying to fit a lot in a small space.

On the other hand, shipping container homes are the same as the name sounds.

They are homes made from steel shipping containers.

These are some that you come across every day either on trucks, trains, or ships.

Both tiny houses and shipping containers have become trendy these days.

For instance, shipping containers are now commonly used to make homes, studios, offices, and even cabins.

They are over 14 million out of service containers in the world hence their availability is instant.

Tiny houses are trendy and serve a wider interest when it comes to money-saving.

Construction and maintenance cost is low thus, more effective for homeowners.

Advantages of living in a tiny house

Larger isn’t always better.

Anyone living in a tiny home can confirm the major benefits that come with it.

The advantages fit into three categories namely financial gains, environmental and psychological benefits.

Depending on the buyer you might choose one of the benefits or focus on the categories.


This is suited for the millennials who feel the need to keep their debt at a minimum.

Gravitating towards tiny homes can help a lot in saving.

They are an alternative as you can stay until you are at the apposition to finance and build your own home.

Most lenders do not give loans for these small structures and thus with your little saving, you can comfortably stay in tiny houses as you grow your savings.

Customized options.

You can model your tiny house according to your preference.

You can customize the kitchen and fit it with materials such as granite, quartz, recycled glass, and mosaic tiles.

They are readily available and come at a fraction cost of building a traditional home.

Life in tiny luxury homes is more realistic than living in luxury homes.

Lower utility cost

You can reduce or eliminate bills when you install solar panels.

Moreover, the consumption of water is low.

Bills such as electricity water and gas are very low since one is living in a very small space.


Your tiny home can also be mobile.

This can ease the movement and being a homeowner, you can opt to pack and go wherever you want and at your convenience.

Cons of living in tiny houses.

They come with a low resale value.

Standard house value depreciates depending on the location.

Tiny houses’ value depreciates very fast.

Selling them can be difficult and may go for a lesser amount even when you have applied some upgrades.

Thus for good resale value, it has to be extremely super unique and well maintained.

Small storage

Having a small house means that you have lesser storage and you cannot buy goods in bulk.

You have to keenly consider the available space and bring in only the necessary materials in the house.

Cooking is tricky

Cooking in a tiny house can be challenging.

Due to the tiny space, the fridge and pantry have to be small.

This leads to one using more propane due to consistent cooking.

The result is abandoning healthy cooking and opting to eat out more often.

Tiny house laws vary

Some states consider tiny houses safety grey areas.

They have minimum size requirements that have to meet for it to be considered a residence.

This leads to difficulty in accessing permits and registration.

Advantages of living in a shipping container home.

It is worth noting that steel shipping containers outlive their usefulness after carrying cargo for about five years.

They are then abandoned on the shipping yards for many years.

When you convert these containers to homes it is a way of promoting sustainable living while reducing cost.

The advantages include:

Ideal building materials.

The steel materials that make up the containers are known to be durable and adaptable.

They are light in weight.

They come at a low cost and can be easily stacked.

The materials can be modified and be properly insulated.

They can be warm and cozy in winter and cooler during summer.

Ease in movement

Originally these materials are meant for transport.

This means they can be easily moved whenever one feels like relocating.

As a homeowner, you can leave any time and pitch it at a different location that pleases you.

Strong and durable.

Shipping containers are meant to tolerate any extreme weather.

They include hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes.

When they are securely anchored, they can withstand winds up to 175 miles r hour.

This is a surety that they cannot be moved in case of an earthquake.

Moreover, they are considered the safest storm shelters.


When you compare the container homes to traditional homes, then you can conclude that they are very cheap.

They are more suitable for starters who would want to save an extra coin while they plan for future housing.

You can save a lot of time and money since putting up such a structure require little time and amount of cash.

Cons of living in shipping container houses

Permits access can be difficult

Being a very new phenomenon, access to permits in some regions is very difficult.

You should have the correct information about certain regions and the regulations they have in place for the shipping containers.

Require reinforcements

Though they are built using durable steel, you have to compromise their structure to fit other structures such as windows and doors.

They can be prone to roof bowing due to heavy snow if not properly reinforced.

Modern appliances are difficult.

Everything requires licensed personnel.

You will need an electrician familiar with shipping container architecture design and install necessary electrical set up in your house.

You have to also get the services of a good plumber to have it well fitted.

how to build a tiny house from a shipping container

Benefits of tiny houses in comparison to shipping containers

Environmentally friendly

Tiny houses are extremely environmentally friendly.

Due to its small size, you can make use of used materials during its construction.

The house looks unique and saves you several new resources.

Container houses on the other hand are a result of reusing already used containers.

They also serve the purpose of environmental conservation as the companies will offer the already used containers to be used as homes.

Cost of building

If you have the time and ability to design your tiny house then all you require is to spend money on construction materials.

Design should not worry you as some people can design the house and create it for you.

For shipping container houses, they take few months to be up and ready for use.

Depending on your specified requirements, the company can be at the apposition to adjust the container to your specifications before they make the delivery.


With tiny houses, you do not have to worry about your future movements.

This means if you have a new job and you want to relocate then it will be easier.

This is because the house is not permanently tied and all you have to worry about is the place and not the house itself.

The same applies to shipping container houses since they are not permanently structured, you can easily relocate by using a truck to the new region that you are moving to.


Tiny houses require advanced creative planning as compared to shipping container homes.

This breaks down to the living space and innovative storage and living areas.

The same applies when renovating container houses.

You have to consider dealing with rust and removing toxins can be very challenging.

However, since it is part of the process it can be worth the time.

How it’s like living in Tiny houses vs. Shipping containers

Tiny house living has become the norm in the recent past.

The thought of a simpler life with no debts has been the motivating factor towards tiny housing.

Life in a tiny house means that you can save a lot of money.

Bills are minimal and the cost associated with the house is very little.

In tiny houses, you have a lot of time for yourself.

Your chores are minimal and you can attend to them very fast and save more time to do other stuff.

There is a large space left for other outdoor activities.

Tiny houses grant access to a bigger yard and hence you can practice various forms of gardening as well as creating a backyard for your comfort.

They are eco-friendly meaning the energy consumption is limited.

There is minimal or no waste at all compared to big houses.

You need not worry about after as you can fit the house with a collection point and harvest a lot of it.

When one feels like traveling all you need is your truck to pull the house as you go to the desired location at ease.

This depicts life in tiny houses as fun and very unique where you are in a position to do all you need most simply and efficiently.

When you are living in a shipping container house, you have a surety of affordability.

Being a pre-made structure, all you have to do is fit the doors and the windows.

You can do insulation and the home becomes very comfortable.

There are many shipping container companies and thus access to these can be very easy.

Life in a shipping container house is eco-friendly.

All the materials that you can use are recycled and come at a very low cost.

There is minimal waste as you only buy the required items for consumption at a particular time thus no wastage.

You do not need to cut trees to create space as your home can be anywhere.

Moreover, you can opt to create a yard where you can plant flowers while enhancing the environment.

Once in this house, you are assured of durability.

The steel that makes the shipping container is strong and can endure extreme weather conditions and thus you do not have to worry about the weather changes.

Movement is facilitated and you can relocate at ease without any hindrances.

With your truck, you can fit the mobile house and be ready to move any time depending on the destination.

Life in a shipping container is quite simple.

You do not require a lot of stuff in the house.

Only the necessary items are in place therefore even when you require moving it will be easier and less bulky.

You can design how you want your container house to look.

This makes them unique depending on your preference and the method applied in designed the interior and the exterior.

Tiny House vs Shipping Container Home

Who should live in a tiny house and shipping containers?

Single people or small families

A tiny house is not suitable for all families.

It is feasible for fewer people.

They are suitable for couples that are retiring and have no children at home.

It cannot be viable to live with children as they will require a study area and you have to put in place a methodology for their rooms.

Students who have recently completed their studies would opt to live in tiny and shipping container houses.

This is because they do not have much stuff to store and need to adapt to the changing environment as they search for jobs.

It presents unique opportunities for the young to cost-share and increases their savings.


People dream of taking to the open road and see the surrounding country once in a while.

If you love traveling then a tiny house is best for you.

Here you can have all the required items you need in your tiny house and mount them on your truck.

You may be living in a place with very cold winters and you want to go south to avoid the weather then this can be your way of life.

A tiny house or a shipping container will ease your movement to and from as you shift from the varying weather conditions.

If you care about the environment

It takes several logging trucks to build a traditional home as compared to a tiny house that may require one-half of a truck.

This leads to more saving of trees thus conserving the environment.

Moreover, there is less energy than you consume and you can harness solar power very easily due to the low consumption in the tiny house.

Shipping containers are even more eco-friendly and preserve the environment in a big way.

For instance, the container is made of steel and therefore there is no wood usage.

They are recycled and therefore they do not have to be disposed of once they outlive their usefulness as this becomes their alternative use.

Legal provisions for container houses vs Tiny houses

Regulations refer to the type of rules that affect shipping container houses.

They are different and their impact also varies.

Property zoning

This breaks up groups of urban land in different zones that determine the type of things that can be built in that particular place.

City governments use it in planning and developing cities so that they can put similar types of buildings in the same area to control density.

Building codes and permits

This stipulates the standards a construction has to apply and how it will be built.

They are what you apply for to prove your compliance with the applicable building codes so that you are given the green light to proceed with construction.

For instance, in the United States and several other developed counties, their codes are based on International Code Counsel’s, International Residential Code (IRC), and International Building Code (IBC).

The codes are updated yearly or after two years each denoting the year of publication.

Building code for tiny houses states that one should have the following:

  • At least one bathroom with a ceiling height of at least 6 feet and 4 inches.
  • The ceiling area should be at least 6 feet, 8 inches.
  • At least one window can be used as an emergency exit.
  • A ladder or stairs if the tiny houses elevated.
  • Compliance with International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) requirements.

shipping container tiny house_

Zoning regulations

These govern the usage of land.

The rules zone specific areas for different services.

For instance, there are some zoned for hospitals, and others zoned for residential homes.

Before you plan on building a tiny house somewhere or even parking it, you should first review zoning ordinances and ensure that the structure is compliant.

Things to consider when choosing a tiny house

Budget – You have to be realistic in the costs involved.

Though you may be using recycled materials, the cost can shoot easily especially when you require specialized fixtures and other parts.

Lifestyle – You may think that you will fit in a tiny house only to realize you cannot.

When you have a spouse or children in the picture, then this might not work for you.

Therefore you have to be cautious and plan ahead on what you really want choosing your tiny house.

Trailer mounted or permanent foundation – When you are in a constant move then the trailer-mounted suits you.

However, the size is limited to the trailer at hand.

A permanent foundation is more flexible.

They are likely to require permits, inspections, and extra costs to complete.

Are you buying or building your tiny house?

– When you are building your tiny house you have to do a personal and realistic assessment of your skills to ensure you can do it properly.

You should also consider the resale value in case you want to let go.

Age and physical health – Choose a plan that suits your age and physical condition.

Various limitations may present themselves.

For instance, if you are getting older and you have a physical limitation, you may not prefer a loft in the bedroom area.

What you should consider when choosing a shipping container home

Structural integrity – Shipping containers come as robust building materials.

Therefore understanding how they work and their structural integrity is vital.

You have to consider the amount of steel you will get rid of and the reinforcements to put in place.

Plan for wind – Though shipping containers can withstand rough weather conditions; you have to take into consideration how to mitigate them.

Plan for your home wind rating so that you can be in a position to block them

Check the shipping container – Failure to look at the container before buying them can be disastrous.

You should consider and differentiate between brand new containers, one-trip containers, and used containers.

Consider also the height of the container to have the necessary and much-needed head-space.

Regulations – Depending on the region you want to have a container home, you should be well informed of the regulations in place.

This is because the building codes differ depending on the city.

Final word

Tiny house living does require more planning than container housing.

This comes down to the living space and the creation of practical, innovative storage and living areas.

The same will apply in container housing where you have to consider the type and size of the container.

As people shift towards tiny homes you have to start by selecting the right shipping container first and have an elaborate plan of the desired outcome of the structure.

This will ensure minimal adjustments and the right materials are put in place.

With the information provided above, you are at a better chance to make a sound decision between these two types of homes.