Container homes are a very popular trend in design and architecture today. Using a storage container as a living area might seem like a wild idea, but you might be surprised at just how practical it can be. Modern shipping container homes are so sophisticated that they even rival the traditional home. You can have everything from a basic house for simple living, to a large, luxurious container estate.
In this article, we focus on these homes, and help you decide whether they are the right choice for you. Of course, these homes have their own special advantages and disadvantages. And we are here to help you decide if this is the proper design idea for you.
This article has been arranged so the shipping container house plans are first, because that is probably what you want to see.
Below the plan information are a number of tips and issues to familiarize yourself with container home plans. This way, you can make good decisions before you spend a lot of money on the containers and getting the contractor help you might need.
Our aim of this article is to help you decide whether you want your own shipping container living space, and how to best go about the design and building process.
Dozens of Shipping Container House Plans
A very simple design for a cabin or hunting structure. This one goes to show just how basic a container home can be. You don’t need a complicated floor plan or multiple cargo containers to be comfortable.
This plan also has a living room and a lounging deck, which isn’t common.
This plan is for a single-level 720 square foot home using two shipping containers. It also includes a 16′ x 60′ porch. The foundation uses a post and pier arrangement. This one makes great use of the design process to maximize interior space.
This plan uses two forty-foot containers places side-by-side and has two bedrooms. Excellent container architecture on this one.
1 Bedroom Single-Container Plans
There are 3 plans here for one-bedroom container spaces. Two are 20 feet long and 8 feet wide, and the last one is 40 feet long and the same width.
This plan uses 3 containers and has two normal-sized bedrooms with a master bedroom. There is a bathroom for the 2 bedrooms and a master bathroom for the largest bedroom. There are also areas for a study and crafts. This shows just how luxurious a container home can get, and how extensive container home plans can be.
This house plan is 960 square foot and has 2 bedrooms, a living room, and a dining room.
This one also has a largish living room, which is 16 x 24. Generally, with a container home, one might not imagine having such a large open space, but this plan has it.
5 Bedroom, 4 Container
This plan uses 4 containers placed next to each other, but with some space between. It has 5 bedrooms, with a family room, living room, study and dining room.
8 Micro Container Homes
These are all small, single-container plans for the economical budget. You might have to zoom in to see them more closely.
This page has 15 container plans, including a plan for a 5 bedroom structure and one for a commercial space.
Tips for Building A Container Home
Now that you have seen all the examples of what is possible, we will turn our attention to some actual tips for how you can achieve this yourself. Building a container home is quite a creative and extensive process, but you need to start with properly planned architecture, and a comprehensive vision.
Building a shipping container home can be an adventure and a good way to save some money, but only if you know what you are doing. If fact, some shipping container houses have cost $200,000 or more, so it pays to do your research first.
Here are some general tips before we get to the plans:
- Make sure you buy containers that are in good condition and that you see them before purchasing. A recycled shipping container is fine, but only so long as it is in good condition.
- Make sure they have not been used to ship hazardous materials like toxic chemicals.
- See if you can get the newest ones available, like a one-trip container – sometimes they don’t cost that much more.
- Know the relevant regulations in the area where you want to build – planning, zoning, and building codes.
- Use a contractor or contractors who have previously worked with containers.
- Learn how to properly insulate your containers to keep out cold air and the elements like rain, and to manage condensation properly.
- Make sure the containers you purchase are structurally sound. In other words – no rust, cracks or too many dents.
- Make sure they were not sprayed with toxic chemicals such as pesticides or disinfectants.
- Compare the total cost per square foot of a shipping container home vs a steel building home to decide which is a better value.
If they are going to come from another country, sometimes nations outside the US don’t have the same environmental laws, and they may allow chemicals in containers that would not be used otherwise.
Have a clear understanding of what is required to move and situate a container, or more than one, because they are very heavy.
The paint used in some containers has phosphorous and chromate in it — these chemicals might be harmful to humans. So, you would obviously want to inquire about what kind of paint was used on a container you are interested in purchasing.
Also, many containers have wooden floors which have been sprayed with pesticides, but you would not want to be exposed to such chemicals in your own home for obvious reasons.
However, there are some containers that are made from scratch for the purpose of residential construction. Mesocore is one company that does this.
These are all examples of considerations you should be having when dealing with a shipping container home. It is good practice to consider all of the variables above. The more work you put in at the start, the more hassles you can avoid down the line.
Shipping Container Advantages
As you have seen so far, there are quite a bit of things you can do with a shipping container home. But how do you determine if this is the right choice for you? In this section, we are going to run you through some common pros and cons with these houses.
Try to sit down first and examine what it is you want in a house, and then try to match it with the aspects below. We are confident that you can make the best decision for yourself.
So, what are some of the advantages of using shipping containers?
If you can find the right shipping containers, they will be in good condition and therefore should last a long time. They are also very strong and very heavy, so they should be able to withstand just about any kind of storm — unlike an RV or mobile home.
Using shipping containers to make a home or cabin in a more remote area should be quite a bit cheaper than the traditional alternative — whichseems to be the main reason people like them.
Also, you will be recycling existing material to make your home, rather than using brand new material, so it is a more environmentally friendly process. By using existing steel, you won’t be utilizing any lumber made from virgin forests — so no trees will need to be chopped down. Reusing is an essential part of living an environmentally conscious lifestyle, so you can feel good about this choice.
Because shipping containers are sort of modular — meaning that they were designed to be stacked — you might consider getting one or two first and creating a smaller structure. Once you have become familiar with them and how they are built, you could consider adding more later.
Of course, if you want a smaller home, then don’t add any. Smaller homes are easier to manage and there is less cleaning, so you will probably have more free time.
Another advantage of building with shipping containers is that you mostly likely won’t have over-invested in your home, so you should have more money for land, if that is your preference.
With more land, there may be more space available for growing your own food, which can save you money, and gardening is a good way to relax and get some gentle exercise.
Finally, a major reason that so many people prefer container home, is that they are so creative and unique. The concept itself is creative enough, but you can then expand on this creativity by adding your own twists and modifications to the design process.
It really comes down to how unique you want to get with it. There are so many ways to combine containers, decorate the interior, customize the floor plan, and more. Those who are drawn to these homes tend to enjoy a non-traditional living situation in the first place. However, it’s not for everybody.
Shipping Container Disadvantages
Not For Everyone
A potential disadvantage is that a shipping container home might be harder to sell because it is unconventional and a certain amount of education could be required when you are selling it. It obviously would not be a cookie-cutter home in the suburbs, so some people might see it as being ‘weird’ or perhaps troublesome. Also, some people simply don’t want to do different things or be labeled as being different.
On the other hand, non-traditional might be a good thing for some people. It really depends what your preferences are.
Thanks very much for reading our guide to shipping container houses. We hope with this article, you have gained some inspiration as to what these houses can look like, and have learned some things about how you can achieve this type of project yourself.
While definitely not for everyone, a container home can be a realistic alternative to a traditional home. We are confident that with proper planning and execution, you can achieve the home of your dreams as well.
Image Credit: rolu dsgn (minneapolis) (CC BY 2.0 license)