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Shipping Container House Cost Breakdown – The Guide 2024

Want a Shipping Container House Cost Breakdown?

in this complete & updated guide of 2024 you will find out all the expenses and costs involved.

Shipping container homes are trendy homes made using shipping containers.

These homes are becoming increasingly popular as more people opt for affordable and off-grid housing.

But what is the cost of a shipping container home?

While these steel containers are typically used to ferry goods everywhere on trucks, trains and ships, designers are beginning to repurpose shipping containers into a wide array of modern buildings.

Using shipping containers, many people have been able to build houses of different shapes and sizes.

While some of these structures are simple as they are made from a single compact shipping container, others are complex as multiple containers are merged to design some of the most sophisticated shipping container homes we have ever come across.

If you’re new to this trend, you’ll be happy to learn that steel shipping containers come in 10ft, 20ft and 40ft, and the smallest of these containers can provide at least 100 square feet of space.

Now the big question is, are shipping container homes economical and sustainable?

What goes into building these homes?

Are they livable as claimed?

How much actually goes into building container homes?

Read on to learn more about these trendy homes and why they are the real deal.

costs of a shipping container house

What is the shipping container home movement?

The shipping container home movement is a trend that is sweeping through the real estate industry in many countries.

These homes are uniquely designed from shipping containers, with many of the resulting structures looking breathtaking.

And like we mentioned earlier, these containers are available in multiple sizes, and they include 10ft, 20ft and 40ft.

While the smallest container can provide 100 square feet of floor space, the 20ft and 40ft containers can provide 160 and 320 square feet of living space, respectively.

While some shipping container homes are designed using a single compact container, many builders and homeowners have been able to combine multiple containers to build larger homes.

In some of the larger container homes we have come across, we realised that walls are often removed to provide more spacious interiors.

And with the help of traditional construction methods, most of these homes are reinforced with exterior materials to improve their structural design.

In terms of design, shipping container homes deliver striking architectural masterpieces that will give traditional homes a run for their money.

How to find shipping containers to buy online

If you have an empty and brand-new shipping container, then there is every likelihood that it came from manufacturers in China, and that’s because CIMC, a Chinese company, manufactures 82 percent of the world’s steel shipping containers.

Even though used shipping containers are a lot more eco and budget-friendly, you have to scrutinise them to ascertain their condition.

Plus, you want to pay close attention to the different certifications.

While some of these containers are certified to ship goods overseas, others are certified as wind and watertight.

Again, some of these shipping containers are tagged as “one trip” only.

Usually, these containers are in great condition and offer an excellent balance of value and superb condition.

On the flip side, containers designated “As is” are often used to transport dangerous chemicals.

Plus, they may have rust and feature doors that don’t seal up properly.

Also, many of these containers have holes on them, making them a no-no for home construction.

If you’re interested in used shipping containers, you’ll be happy to learn that you can order these containers from either national or local dealers.

While national dealers have an extensive collection of these containers and can ship to any location, local dealers offer better prices but don’t offer delivery services.

Additionally, while a 20ft container can be easily moved using a standard forklift, moving a 40ft container will require the use of a crane.

And if you’re not ready to get your hands dirty and looking for a shipping container home that is ready to purchase, we are happy to inform you that there are many companies out there that offer this option.

While these shipping home containers vary in style and prices, they are the perfect choices for anyone who wants a shipping container house but not ready to build one themselves.

How much do shipping container home cost?

While shipping container homes look trendy and all shades of impressive, many people are worried that these beautiful homes may cost a fortune.

Now the million-dollar question is, how much does shipping container homes cost?

Well, if you’re interested in smaller container homes with basic features, then be prepared to spend between $10,000 to $35,000.

On the other hand, if you prefer larger container homes, especially those with multiple containers and amenities, be prepared to spend between $100,000 to $175,000.

Another interesting fact is that shipping container homes cost half as much per square foot as your regular traditional homes.

However, it isn’t always easy to compare apples to apples, and that’s the case with these trendy homes as there are many factors that can dramatically influence their cost.

While the cost of land, climate and other requirements can significantly influence the price of shipping container homes, other factors like flooring, size, sliding, cleaning, layout, design, lofts, number of containers, welding and fabrications, windows, kitchen and bathrooms, insulation, doors and more can also play a huge role in determining how much you spend on your container homes at the end of the day.

shipping container house costs

Do you need a permit for a shipping container home?

Being a relatively new niche in the real estate industry, the shipping container home space can be quite tricky to navigate.

To this end, you want to do your homework by researching local laws and regulations.

As per regulations, you want to ensure that your preferred shipping container fits on the designated land.

Also, you have to ensure that your container home follows existing zoning restrictions and building codes.

For those who are new to this space, it will interest you to know that building codes are standard put in place to ascertain what structures must have before they are granted occupancy permit.

On the other hand, zoning regulations stipulate where a home can be built.

Some building codes expressly state whether or not shipping container homes are allowed.

Others group shipping container homes under non-traditional structures like domes and tiny houses.

That said, keep in mind that these homes will not have problems in less trafficked and remote areas.

Overall, you need to reach out to a council planner to learn about the specifics.

This way, you’re not breaking any laws.

How sustainable are shipping container homes compared to traditional buildings?

Shipping container home enthusiasts applaud these structures for giving unwanted containers a breathtaking look, especially considering that there are millions of unused shipping containers out there.

Here is the thing about shipping containers you should know.

According to experts in this niche, it is quite cheaper to receive a new shipping container than it is to send it back to the dealer.

What this means is that many containers are abandoned after just one trip.

Thankfully, with the new shipping container home movement, many people have found alternative uses for these containers.

Plus, using them has also encouraged a smaller footprint as well as less usage of building materials like masonry and wood.

Also, most owners of shipping container homes take things up a notch by incorporating other eco-friendly features like wind power, solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, water recycling system and more in their homes.

That said, some shipping containers are not eco-friendly, and that’s because some of them must have been used to store toxic chemicals.

Not just that, some of these containers have also been treated to forestall corrosion during transit, resulting in high chemical residues.

Others have argued that the energy needed to make shipping containers livable erases the whole idea of recycling.

According to reports, the average container is able to produce nearly a thousand pounds of toxic waste before it can be used to set up a structure.

Are shipping container homes more affordable than traditional houses?

Although many people like to think that shipping container homes are always cheaper to build than regular stick-built homes, it isn’t always the case, and that’s because there are many variables that can influence project cost.

Factors like size, interior finishing, location, and overall design can influence project cost significantly.

For starters, the cost of getting the container itself can range from $1,400 for small containers to as high as $6,000 for larger containers.

And if you decide to get a new container, you’ll spend even more as newer containers cost way more than second-hand containers.

Even though shipping containers have a flat metal roof, metal frame that doubles as a foundation and exterior walls, which have been sighted as cost-saving, you’ll still spend extra cash to transport the container to your site.

Plus, you have to spend more money on interior finishing.

Let us also add that you’ll still need to pay for the land.

The only exciting thing is that container homes can be built on land that may not be suitable for normal construction work.

For instance, shipping container homes can be sited on rocky or steep land.

And if you’re interested in a ready-made shipping container home, you may end up spending around $33,000 for the smallest homes.

Plus, these homes come with only basic units.

How long does it take to build shipping container homes?

Compared to traditional stick-built homes, shipping container homes are a lot faster to build.

As a matter of fact, the smallest container homes can be completed within a couple of days, depending on what you want and what your design entails.

On the flip side, complex homes usually take some time to complete and may even take a couple of months for everything to fall in place.

And before we forget to add, keep in mind that shipping container homes are subject to all of the typical construction delays.

If you’re looking to put together your shipping container home quicker, you can reach out to companies that fabricate the models offsite before transporting them to the designated site.

While these prefabricated style shipping homes are smaller, they come prebuilt with all the crucial elements, so it won’t take so long to have everything up and ready.

What states allow shipping container homes?

Before you jump on the shipping container home trend, you want to make sure you aren’t doing anything wrong.

While some suburban and rural areas are opening up to shipping container homes, some states are more friendly to alternative living than others.

States like Tennessee, California, Oregon, Texas, Missouri, Alaska and Louisiana are among some of the progressive states that are jumping on the shipping container home movement.

At the moment, Texas is home to many container homes in the US.

Even though states like California are known for their red tape, the state is increasingly opening up to hybrid homes.

As per zoning regulations, states like Louisiana and Tennessee are among the most lenient and forward-thinking states.

As this trend continues to sweep through countries, it is only a matter of time before they become fully recognised and accepted by all states.

Shipping Container House Cost Breakdown

How long can container homes last?

Even though experts state that shipping container homes can last up to 25 years, we have seen instances where these homes last even longer, especially if they are well maintained and protected by sliding exterior.

For many container homes, rust seems to be the most common problem that affects their lifespan.

So it’s essential to constantly check your container home for rust spots and take actions accordingly.

Any slight problem should be swiftly repaired to mitigate against the rust spreading.

DIY shipping container home building: Breaking down the cost

Building your very own shipping container home can be somewhat tricky, especially if it is your first time.

Plus, it requires a lot of hard work to put this kind of project together.

That said, if you’re still hell-bent on doing it yourself, we are here to make the process easy and hassle-free.

Here is a rough cost breakdown of putting together a home from a 40ft used shipping container:

  • Cabinets: $2,200
  • 40ft used container: $2,500
  • Primer and paint: $250
  • Doors and windows $3,200
  • Misc materials: $500
  • Insulation cost: $2,500
  • HVAC: $900
  • Internal framing: $700
  • Countertops: $350
  • Electrical fittings: $1500
  • Drywall and flooring: $750

Given these cost estimates, it will cost you between $17,320 to $20,000 to put together your dream shipping container home if you decide to take the DIY route.

On the other hand, if you plan to hire someone to handle the project, you’ll have to double the total estimate, and that’s because the cost of labour is almost equal to the total cost of materials needed for a building project.

Do container homes rust?

Because these trendy homes are made using metal containers, there is every likelihood that they may rust.

Thankfully, some shipping containers are carefully designed with alloys, which involves corten or weathering steel.

This helps to form a surface level of rust while preventing further corrosion.

Another factor determining whether or not a shipping container home will rust is the climate around the location.

And that’s because both wet and dry climates have different impacts on shipping containers.

How valuable are shipping container homes?

Like traditional homes, a shipping container home can retain its resale value, especially if it is well maintained.

Plus, these homes are super easy to resell as they can easily be loaded onto a truck and transported to almost anywhere.

But before buying a used shipping container home, you want to make the necessary inquiries, including finding out if the house was built for your climate.

Also, ask about the modifications you’ll need to make sure your home is perfect for its intended location.

Adding a roof to your shipping container home: What you should know

While most shipping containers come with reinforced corners, the existing roof may not be all that great.

And for those looking for a container home that can support weight, such as weather, you’ll not go wrong to build a roof over the container.

Another cool thing about roofs is that they provide aesthetics and architectural flair to your container home.

So if you’re looking to build a container home that will send the right message, you’ll not be disappointed to include a roof in your home.

Even though you can use multiple roof styles for your shipping container home, we have discovered that pitched roofs, living roofs, green roofs, and roof terraces are among the most common types.

Here is all you should know about these roof styles:

  • As per pricing, flat roofs are the least expensive to construct. That said, they can be more costly to maintain. And just so you know, they are the simplest and fastest to construct.
  • For an aesthetically pleasing roof, you’ll fall head over heel for living roofs. Also known as green roofs, these types of roof styles provide natural insulation and cooling.
  • Pitched roofs have an unmistakable design you’ll love right from the get-go. This roof style has a downward sloping design and is commonly used in heavy rainfall and snow areas.
  • Roof terraces are pretty famous, and that’s because these types of roofs provide a flat surface to expand usable space. This roof style is mainly used for small outdoor gardens and lounge areas.

costs of building a shipping container

Best place to buy a shipping container home online

It’s one thing to desire a decent shipping container home and another to end up with good container home.

And for many people, they just don’t know where to start from.

Good for you; we are always here to save the day.

For those looking to buy a shipping container home online but don’t know where to kick off from, you’re welcome to check giantcontainers.com and shipped.com for the perfect shipping container home.

Being in the business for many years, these guys will work with you every step of the way to deliver a shipping container home you’ll be proud of.

Even if you’re interested in special modifications, these guys have all the necessary skills and experience to design your home just the way you want.

From modular homes to prefab structures, these guys will make your dream home a reality in no time.


Yes, you may love to have a shipping container home because it looks breathtaking and features an impressive design that you’ll not find in traditional homes.

But guess what, it doesn’t come cheap, and you may have to spend a fortune to get your dream home.

But if money is not an issue, shipping container homes are definitely worth every penny spent.

Frequently asked questions: Learn more about shipping container home

Are container homes cheaper to build?

While the shipping container home movement continues to get famous, many people think that they are cheaper to build than traditional homes.

Yes, they may not cost as much as conventional homes, but they aren’t cheaper.

The cost of the container itself ranges between $1,400 for the smallest containers to $6,000 for the largest containers.

And we haven’t even factored in the price of materials and labour.

How much does it cost to convert a shipping container?

Converting a shipping container to a tiny home doesn’t come cheap.

To this end, expect to pay anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 for professional labour.

Besides labour, you’ll also likely spend between $25,000 to $40,000 per container.

And the price could go higher if you factor in the size of the container and your preferred design.

Notwithstanding, some prefabricated container homes will cost as little as $15,000.

Are container homes safe?

One thing you can’t take away from container homes is their safety.

Without mincing words, these homes are virtually indestructible.

Thanks to their structural stability, these homes are hurricane and earthquake-proof.