Across the tracks, trucks, and waterways of the world, shipping containers are used to transport goods of all shapes and sizes. With so many of them in use, many get recycled to become shipping container homes. Those are exactly what they sound like, small and cost-efficient living spaces that can be stacked together to build a home on the cheap.
Using shipping containers like building blocks, it’s easy to create a modular home that can be surprisingly luxurious, if you make the effort to make it look good. They can also be used to create an apartment block without building it from the ground up. Since shipping containers come in many different sizes, your imagination is the only limit.
Today we’re diving into this booming market, exploring 20 of the best shipping container homes and the costs associated with them. As we said, it is often cheaper to get a shipping container home than other property, and you’ll know everything about their pricing by the end of this guide.
Where appropriate, we have linked to supporting materials that show our information to be accurate. It also provides more reading for those that want to explore this industry in more detail.
What Are Shipping Container Homes?
Before we start looking at shipping container homes and explaining how they are priced, it helps to be familiar with them. Maybe you haven’t encountered shipping container homes before and you need to learn all about them, in which case you’re in the right place.
First, you need to know what shipping containers are. You only need to go to a local railway or port to see shipping containers being used. They are large, rectangular crates that are mainly made from steel. They are often painted striking colors like red or dark green, sometimes with logos and iconography on the side for certain goods.
The crates are just a handy way to transport all sorts of goods across the world. They can be filled to the brim with tiny products or house a single, larger product, like motor vehicles. Containers come in many different size measurements, like 10 foot, 20 foot, and 40 foot. Even the smallest containers have 100 square feet of usable floor space.
Most crates are identical, so many are reused and others are tossed aside once they are no longer needed. Sometimes they will find their way back into the supply chain but, in other circumstances, they get bought for other reasons – like making shipping container homes!
There are several reasons why shipping container homes are becoming popular:
- By some counts, 226 million shipping containers are shipped each year.
- On average, there are over approximately 14 million containers that have become out of service, falling out of the supply chain.
- Fun fact: Over 1,000 shipping containers fall overboard every year, with the number increasing due to supply chain issues in 2020 and 2021.
- Homeowners are searching for lower construction and maintenance costs for their homes, this is why metal homes such as barndominium’s are becoming so popular.
- Reusing shipping containers for a property is a form of recycling, so it provides relief to the planet along with your wallet.
Top 20 Shipping Container Homes
Now that we have some understanding of what shipping container homes are and why you may want one, we can look at some of the best home ideas out there.
We have included both generalized home types (like two-piece container homes) along with more specific designs offered by businesses across the world. Between them, they cover pretty much everything we can do with shipping container homes right now.
1. Honomobo HO8 Shipping Container House
Located in Canada, Honomobo is a company that prides itself on providing luxurious shipping container homes for relatively little money. The business found success after the 2008 housing market crash, where affordable housing became much harder to access for many people out there.
There are many home models in the Honomobo catalog, some more luxurious than others. Noticing that many shipping container homes still look like, well, containers slapped together, Honomobo tries to make their homes look as luxurious as possible. This makes them more expensive but the results speak for themselves.
They make their homes with features like vinyl flooring, plenty of cabinets and counters, and a minimalist design that guarantees as much space as possible inside the containers. They also install large windows that let a lot of light in, which also lends itself to sleek and minimalist designs.
The best example of this is their HO8, a two-story homemade from stacked containers that can also support a decking outside. For a shipping container home that’s spacious and also looks good, it’s one of the better options available. The HO8 sells for around $300,000 but, like any other specific prices on this page, it may change in the future.
2. Large Shipping Container Homes With Garage
Homes made from shipping containers can support garages too if they are large enough. Some designs place the garage beside the shipping container home while others place the containers on top of the garage. Then you can live above the garage, in a one or two-story abode, and easily access the garage without stepping outside.
Many shipping container homes are often quaint, so they don’t support things like garages and parking spaces. If you find container homes lacking in practicality, remember that you can get larger homes that can come with garages and built-in decking that can be used as a garden.
Since this is a type of shipping container home, not a specific blueprint, the prices can vary. It all depends on how large the home is, along with the garage, and how much is needed to outfit them and make them a comfortable place to live in. With that in mind, larger homes can go for over $100,000, averaging $175,000, though smaller buildings with smaller garages will be more affordable.
3. Two-Piece Shipping Container Homes
Two-piece shipping container homes have two separate structures, typically connected by a yard. It is essentially two houses, which can be as independent or dependent on one another as you want. Some have small secondary containers that are great for those that want some privacy or a place where children and pets can hang out.
Others are larger, so two families can live near and share living costs. Larger container home properties should measure approximately 2,000 square feet, which would use six average-sized containers.
As such, the price of two-piece shipping container homes can also vary. It doesn’t just depend on how big one building is and how many containers it is made from, it depends on all buildings on the site and how outfitted they are. Like larger container homes, they can reach $175,000 in price.
4. PV14 Shipping Container Home
A homeowner in Texas, in collaboration with M Gooden Design, finished the PV14 House in 2014. The owner is an architect, so it makes sense that this is one of the largest and most luxurious examples we have on this list. You’d need a lot of skill and money to pull off a project like this.
As the name of the home suggests, it is made from 14 shipping containers that have been connected and stacked to create a large, prestigious home that doesn’t look like cargo storage.
The PV14 has a very large surface area of nearly 4,000 square feet in which there are three bedrooms, a bathroom, a roof decking, and a garage that can support two standard cars. It even has an in-ground swimming pool! Overall, the build cost somewhere between $500,000 and $650,000, though that didn’t include the cost of the land that the homeowner built on.
5. Small Shipping Container House
Small shipping container houses can feel a lot more spacious than they are, which is perfect for claustrophobes and people who hate feeling boxed in. Even though you are literally in a set of boxes, shipping containers can be decorated into a comfortable living space and easily delivered to your home.
So, what is a small container home? Anything like 1,500 square feet can be called a smaller home, though everybody will have different size requirements and this is the largest you can expect from a small home. In that space, you can fit a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a few other rooms that could be used as a study and another bedroom.
One of the best features of a smaller shipping container home is how you can power it. Utilities like electricity can be achieved through solar paneling, which can provide sustainable energy without breaking the bank. Smaller installations like this can be great for off-the-grid living, assuming you can figure out how to get power and running water.
Examples of houses like these can cost as little as $50,000 or as much as $200,000 for professionally designed projects.
6. Stacked Shipping Container Homes
While a lot of our plans have involved shipping containers laid side by side, they can be stacked to add stories and increase the height of the building. This doesn’t just open up the space, it can be used as a functional upstairs area and even support a balcony if that’s what you desire. You can only stack so much before the building is too high, however, so many shipping container homes stop at three stories. Carroll House is a great example of this style.
In stacked container homes, windows are popular to keep the space open. This, along with other structural concerns with shipping containers, tends to cost more than a shipping container home that doesn’t have an upstairs area. When stacking them, you should expect to pay somewhere around $100,000.
7. Home Cube Shipping Container Home
Here’s the smallest shipping container home on this list so far. Some home design companies, like Rhino Cubed, specialize in making tiny homes out of one or two small containers.
Their home plans are often between 300 and 500 square feet, acting as a spacious bedroom and all-in-one living space. They have plenty of storage and a kitchen, too, so they are fully outfitted despite their small size.
Rhino Cube’s Home Cube is 320 square feet, durable, and resistant to water, fire, and bugs. Smaller container homes also tend to withstand environmental pressures much better. The Home Cube retails for approximately $78,000, though it can hit $100,000 with upgrades and other land concerns.
8. Two-Story Shipping Container Homes
A two-story shipping container home stacks to create two floors, the ground floor, and an upstairs section. Unlike stacked shipping container homes, there’s just one extra layer of shipping containers where bedrooms are commonly found.
With taller shipping container homes, you need to give more consideration to the building temperature and condensation. Proper insulation is required, which adds to the cost but is necessary for a shipping container home to maintain a comfortable temperature all year round.
The price will vary depending on how much has been done to the home. That said, serious projects can easily go over $100,000 and approach $200,000.
9. Eight-Piece Shipping Container Homes
A shipping container homeowner in France has created a 2,200 square foot place made from eight shipping containers, the Maison House. Unlike in many of these shipping container home projects, they left the doors on the containers, so the home can be separated for privacy reasons.
It’s also arranged across two floors. On the bottom floor, there’s a living room and kitchen. On the top floor, there are bedrooms. Since the containers still have their doors, it has an industrial aesthetic, though any designer can spruce things up with drywall and wooden paneling.
With the eight containers and associated labor cost, these kinds of projects can easily get to $200,000 if not more at $250,000.
10. Single Shipping Container Homes
As we saw with Rhino Cubed’s Home Cube project, it’s possible to make a very small home out of a single shipping container. While most prefer to combine containers to get a bigger place, it’s a compact and cost-efficient way of living.
Solar power is popular for these small homes, as we mentioned before, but such systems can demand over $10,000 for installation. With the rest of the home considered, assuming it has been neatly decorated, the price can hit $50,000. Without solar, it can be as cheap as $20,000, though you’ll have to figure out power and will likely have higher energy costs.
It’s common for these homes to have tarps and other exterior fixtures to create a yard or patio, to add more space to the home. To do this, you need to own land around the container, of course.
11. Nomad Shipping Container Homes
The c192 Nomad is another great shipping container home that was created by a company called Cargotecture. The small but vibrant yellow building has just 192 square feet, making it very small, though it cheats to make the home feel more spacious. It does this by supporting an open door and other exterior fixtures like a sliding glass door, so during the day, the container is open. Then, at night, it can be sealed up for privacy and security.
Despite its small stature, it has a very small kitchen and a dedicated bathroom. It can also sleep up to four people comfortably, though it’s a tight fit. If there’s a downside, it’s that it looks like a shipping container, but that’s common for single-container homes. Cargotecture sells it for $65,000, though prices will vary over time.
12. The Ferndale Shipping Container Home
In Ferndale, Michigan, the companies Forever Home and Alpha To Omega Properties teamed up to create the community’s first shipping container home. The place was made from five and a half cargo containers that are arranged to encourage open space and accommodate two floors, a stairway bridging them together inside, and a generous balcony at the top. If the client wanted, the companies were also willing to add a garage.
While it’s not as bright and luxurious as some of the other container homes we have looked at, it fits the community it sits in well. The companies have since created many more shipping container homes in northern Michigan. The first house was listed for $450,000 and, according to the developers, they sell as if they were $200,000 in the local housing market.
13. Low-Cost Shipping Container Houses
If money is an issue, there are shipping container homes that are much cheaper than the other products out there. Many architects and manufacturers know that they can make money buying containers and turning them into homes, asking for higher prices due to how luxurious they look.
Lower-cost homes won’t look as good, naturally, but they are much more affordable for the average person. You’ll also have to do without certain features and amenities, like a garage for example.
It all depends on how many shipping containers you get, too. To get the basic shell of a shipping container home, you may need $20,000 – $30,000. With decorations and finishes, it can be more.
14. The LoHi Shipping Container Home
Found in Denver, Colorado, the LoHi shipping container home is made from seven large boxes to create a modern, luxurious home. While it turns heads from the curbside, it doesn’t look like it is made from cargo containers.
Like with several of the buildings we have covered, these are also art pieces and proofs-of-concept for shipping container homes. Costing somewhere in the range of $600,000 to buy, a home like this is still very expensive even though it’s made from shipping containers.
15. Alternative Living Spaces Shipping Container Homes
In Las Vegas, Nevada, a company called Alternative Living Spaces creates shipping container homes and other interesting, unconventional home designs. By pairing and stacking shipping containers, they create structures and then decorate the inside according to the client’s wishes.
The least expensive option at Alternative Living Spaces costs $38,000, which factors in the structure, added utilities, and the styling that is included.
16. MAC Shipping Container Homes
A British equivalent to Alternative Living Spaces is MAC Container Housing. Based out of the UK, they create custom, built-for-you shipping container homes that are created with you and your needs in mind.
Unlike many designs on this list, you have a say in how the boxes are arranged, so you effectively choose the layout of the home according to your needs. If that’s too many decisions, they have experts who can suggest the best layouts for your land.
Their plans come in two variants:
- 20’ x 8’ – Perfect for individual temporary accommodation.
- 40’ x 12’ – Perfect for a family of four.
The more affordable option is £13,000, which is approximately equal to $17,500 and is a great deal. The family options are £35,000, or $47,000. These costs don’t factor in owning the land that the home will go on, however, and they also have a team that can help you find cheap land to buy or rent out.
17. Backcountry Shipping Container Homes
Texas seems to be a hub for homes made from shipping containers with Backcountry Containers being another company that specializes in building cargo houses. As a family-run business, they use engineering and interior design to make their projects stable and good-looking.
They have 20’ and 40’ options, priced at $40,000 and $60,000 respectively. They do have larger blueprints that push $100,000 for wealthier clients, too. At that price tag, you’re getting a very spacious home that would be double the price if it had a proper foundation. They also offer multiple optional features, like a porch, balcony, or roof deck. By adding external fixtures, you can make a smaller container home feel larger.
18. Container Conversion Design & Build Homes
Container Conversion Design & Build is another British company that is contributing to the growing trend of shipping container houses. They specialize in ready-to-go shells that you can decorate yourself, which thrifty buyers can do to save the costs that come with a professional decoration.
Their buildings are very, very affordable at £9,000, which is $12,000. For that, you get the shell of the building, one window, a door, insulation, a coat of paint, and electrics including lighting installed.
19. Self-Build Shipping Container Houses
Assuming you have the skills and a reliable source of materials, you can save a lot of money by building your own shipping container home. Naturally, these buildings differ because they depend on the people making them. The owners are also limited in what they can do unless they are a professional.
Many use plywood as a cheap wooden finish to make the container home more visually appealing. Any self builds should cost less than $100,000, though giving an exact number is difficult.
20. The Helm Shipping Container Home
Our last shipping container home is The Helm, a Texas-based building that was created by Cargo Homes. It’s also one of the only places here where you can stay through services like Airbnb, so locals can try it out for themselves.
It is deceptively small, using a 40-foot shipping container and a 20-foot box on top, blended together with a trendy, barn-inspired finish. It’s able to house six people across two bedrooms and a convertible sofa bed. There are also two bathrooms to accommodate guests. The build cost $80,000, which isn’t bad for a place that makes use of multiple containers.
Cost Of Container Homes
With so many shipping container homes covered, we should go into more detail about the costs of container homes and how they are priced.
Average Cost Of Container Homes
Without knowing the supplier and where you are, we can’t talk specifics when it comes to the price of a shipping container home. That said, it is typically cheaper than homes made through traditional means. We can also use averages that should give you an idea of how much your dream shipping container home may cost.
First, you need to know that there are two main sizes for shipping containers. Shipping containers were standardized in the 1960s, so most of them should fall under the same measurements that we mentioned earlier in this guide.
Here’s a recap:
- 20’ x 8’ x 8’ containers, with a surface area of 160 square feet. They can cost between $1,400 to $2,800.
- 40’ x 8’ x 8’ containers, with a surface area of 320 square feet. They can cost between $3,500 to $4,500.
As long as the building is structurally sound, there’s no real limit to how many containers can be laid next to each other. Stacking is different, there is only so much weight shipping containers can handle, so you can’t build a tower out of them without some costly reinforcement. Assuming the average shipping container home has three to five containers, 20’ crates will cost as much as $8,400 or $14,000. For 40’ crates, you’d be looking at $10,500 to $22,500.
Naturally, the prices may change with shipping container availability and a rise in the cost of goods. When planning for a shipping container home, you should estimate labor costs at $10,000 per container, though it can be even more if you’re working with the best in the business. You don’t want a death trap, so paying for a professional’s help is essential.
Then you’ll also need any planning permissions, permits, and renting/ownership of the land that the shipping container is built on. The process of getting all of those can be expensive, sometimes more expensive than the building itself if you’re getting a humble abode.
|Container Home Type||Average Cost ($)|
|Honomob HO8 Shipping Container Home||$300,000|
|Large Shipping Container Home w/ Garage||$175,000|
|Two-Piece Shipping Container Home||$175,000|
|PV14 Shipping Container Home||$500,000|
|Small Shipping Container Home||$50,000|
|Stacked Shipping Container Home||$100,000|
|Home Cube Shipping Container Home||$80,000|
|Two-Story Shipping Container Home||$175,000|
|Eight-Piece Shipping Container Home||$250,000|
|Single Shipping Container Home||$20,000|
|Nomad Shipping Container Home||$65,000|
|Ferndale Shipping Container Home||$400,000|
|Low-Cost Shipping Container Home||$35,000|
|LoHi Shipping Container Home||$600,000|
|Alternative Living Space Container Home||$40,000|
|MAC Shipping Container Home||$20,000|
|Backcountry Shipping Container Home||$40,000|
|Container Conversional Design & Build Home||$15,000|
|Self-Build Shipping Container Home||$15,000|
|The Helm Shipping Container Home||$80,000|
Pros And Cons
Shipping container homes must sound great so far. However, there are two sides to every story, and so there are both pros and cons that must be considered when buying shipping container homes.
|Shipping containers are sourced from out-of-service crates, recycling them for a new and exciting use.||It’s not maximized recycling. One container could be melted down to create fixtures that could be used to build ten homes.|
|Easy to find a plot for the home – they can be placed anywhere!||Structural concerns for certain buildings, not all shipping container homes are safe.|
|Easy to transport the containers – it’s what they were made for.||Harder to implement utilities like water and electricity.|
|Cost is cheaper and more predictable than building your own home.||Limited in sizing options due to modular design.|
|Lower maintenance costs.|
|Enables modular home design.|
By now, you should know everything you need to know about the top shipping container homes and their costs. We haven’t just looked at the most luxurious examples of what a container home can look like, we have also covered the different types of containers you find out there. As you’ve seen, the costs can vary wildly, from $15,000 to half a million dollars!
If you are interested in getting one of these homes for yourself, this is only the beginning. Next, you will need to find a place to put your home and somebody who will help you design and build it. It may be a long process but, by the end, you will save money when compared with the traditional path of homeownership.
After reading this guide, you know what to expect in terms of pricing, and which kinds of shipping container homes will fit your budget.