Shipping Container Homes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

December 25, 2018 by Maren Nader
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Step aside, cookie cutter houses. Shipping container homes are providing people with a way to live large in tiny dwellings. You can take or leave the white picket fence.

Currently, there are around 17 million shipping containers in the world. Only 6 million of these containers are actually in use for shipping large items. This means that there are approximately 11 million containers just sitting around, unused.

Shipping container homes have sprung up throughout the country as affordable and eco-friendly housing options. From primary residences to off-the-grid escapes, these steel boxes are redefining the comforts of home.

They can be purchased anywhere from $7,000 to $70,000 on sites like eBay and Amazon. The price, of course, depends upon aesthetics, customization and other add-ons.

One couple, Stephanie and Clark Evans, built a shipping container home for their family of four in the Chicago suburbs. They turned seven, 15-year-old containers into a 3,200 square foot home.

Initially, the idea was not necessarily well-received.

“In the beginning, people just didn’t understand it, and no one 100 percent supported it,” said Stephanie. “But as it progressed, a lot of those people who were hesitant about it started to come on board and see it for what it was, and not just an extravagant trash can.”

Once the house was completed, it was met with mixed reviews. Perhaps the Evans and other shipping container dwellers are ahead of their time.

“This house is so forward thinking,” said Clark. “We just went rogue. Instead of going downstream, we went upstream, and people are blown away by it…. Either you love it or hate it; there’s no in between.”

Shipping Container Homes: The Good

  • Eco-friendly: Building a container home is a way to upcycle something that would otherwise be lying around. Additionally, you’re not requiring lumber, as you would if you were to build a traditional home.
  • Affordable: The price point of these homes makes them a great option for people trying to get a hold of their finances.
  • Unique: No two shipping container homes are alike. Each container comes with dings, scratches and marks that tell a story. They have character.
  • Movable: Naturally, shipping containers are easy to move, making them a good option for people who move frequently but want to keep their same house.
  • Off-site construction: These homes can be built off-site, meaning they are move-in ready upon delivery.
  • Quick: These homes can be built very quickly. For example, Diemen, a city in Holland, built a block of 250 shipping container homes in less than twelve weeks!

Shipping Container Homes: The Bad

  • Size: While you can put multiple shipping containers together, you are ultimately limited by the shape and size of each container.
  • Haters: Not everyone is going to see your vision.
  • Building permits and codes: These regulations can be frustrating, but are necessary steps whether you’re building a traditional or a container home. Just remember that the same rules apply.
  • Finding contractors: Many people want to DIY build their own container homes, but lack the necessary skills. Finding contractors to do the job can be a daunting task.

Shipping Container Homes: The Ugly

  • Shipping containers will always look like, well, shipping containers. They can be dressed up, but at the end of the day, you have to like the industrial look and small space.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, we think shipping containers are a very cool way to use the steel boxes that would otherwise sit around unused. While there are cons, there are a great deal of benefits for those brave enough to try this new type of housing. Would you live in a container home?

…and if you’re thinking about buying a shipping container to be used as your new home, don’t forget, FreightCenter now ships homes!

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