Shipping Container Homes


A Shipping Container Home to me is:
1) The possibility to not be shackled to a 20 year mortgage
2) The opportunity to have bungalows in many different location
3) A sens of security that only 3/4 corrugated steel walls can give you
4) The means to live off the grid if I desire
5) A home that I can build incrementally
6) A home that I can build WITHOUT an architect
7) Not a fad, passe, overdone, bla, bla, bla
8) A very real solution to global housing issues

Feb 16, 06 2:31 am

9) A very real solution to my housing problems

Feb 16, 06 2:36 am

That`s CRAPPY place to live in.

Feb 16, 06 3:23 am

You need to contact an Architect soon.

Feb 16, 06 3:24 am

what bullshit.

why dont you just become a sailor instead .itll giveyou better ops

Feb 16, 06 7:29 am

Wes Jones did quite a lot of work with containers. Old news, interesting nonetheless

Feb 16, 06 8:14 am


you may think this is easy and a great idea, but there is a lot involved in making a few shipping containers into a viable home. a lot of welding and steel is involved in making the window punches, etc. you need to figure out how you are going to support them, how you are going to bridge them, how you are going to seal the bottoms, and how you are going to shield them from sun which will inevitably heat the interiors up quite a bit, otherwise you better have a hell of an air conditioner, which you will be spending massive amounts of money on.

i agree with you that you can build with them incrementally thereby allowing your home to grow rather than buy a new one later (i did my thesis using this method for housing and i truly believe in it). but seriously, you will need an architect or some expert of some kind to figure out all the issues involved in placing the containers on the site and making them habitable. there is a lot of planning/sequencing involved that you may not be thinking of (and probably more money for skilled laborers than you realize, unless of course you are going to do most of the work yourself).

Feb 16, 06 9:39 am
Chilly Willy

Points 1 thru 7 sound like the description of a double wide to me. I love how that website says you can do it all for under 6K, meanwhile your home will have no plumbing fixtures other than a toilet, no light fixtures nor power receptacles, no windows, no doors, no flooring, no casework - meanwhile the house in the photo has all those things. Why don't you just buy a school bus and convert that into a home? Atleast you'd have wheels. Sounds like a blatant attempt at placing an ad on archinect.

Feb 16, 06 10:36 am
el jeffe

I'm saving for one of these....

Feb 16, 06 10:42 am

global housing solution???

have a quick read

I've seen some good attempts but nothing worldchanging.

Feb 16, 06 10:54 am

Cameron, I love this line in that article: " a new generation of certified turtleneck-wearing architects..."

Can we also be a generation of certified designer glasses?

Feb 16, 06 11:02 am


Thanks for the thoughtful reply when so many others do not seem to have the faculty to rise above a vacuous one liner.

You have many good points and to be honest their no concrete answers until someone actually gets their hands dirty and does it not just THEORIZE about it. That is one of the reasons I started my site; to explore the options / hurdle's involved living in a container home. But to be more direct here are some answers from a local Container conversion company in Illinois that gave me a quote on two containers:
) 2 - 40' "one trip" containers $11,000
(This is high, I can buy them on Ebay for less)
) 33' side cut out w/framing $3,600
) 2 large 80" x 60" picture windows $2,400
) 2 weld cuts for plumbing $500
) 1 12 breaker electrical box w/8 outlets
) 1 Dayton Air/Heater w/framing
) 8 hour delivery via truck
) Welded together on site
Total cost: $18,950
Now I am sure I could knock this down to $12-14k by purchasing the containers myself, and renting a plasma cutter
for the day.

You also mentioned:
) create window with plasma cuter using a level and bracing,
) simple framing to brace a seal window
) use double pain
) use steel welded out as shutter

Shielding form the sun:
) Exterior bamboo, thatch, SIPs, siding, etc

Lots of planning involved
) Yes
) I have been following this housing solutions for 6 years and am amazed how many experts "THEORIZE" themselves out of doing it and how many average Joes just do it and end up with a home.

Feb 16, 06 11:05 am
1) The possibility to not be shackled to a 20 year mortgage

How else would you finance the costs of buying the shipping container, moving it to the site, pouring a foundation, supplying utilities, and turning it into a habitable building? You'd also probably need to own the land the containers would sit on, which would also have to be financed. Plus, if you think people become "shackeled" to conventional mortgages, it really shows how little you understand about money and home financing.

2) The opportunity to have bungalows in many different location

And this is different from any other type of housing how?

3) A sens of security that only 3/4 corrugated steel walls can give you

If you don't mind the heat loss/gain steel walls will give you.

4) The means to live off the grid if I desire

I don't see why a shipping container house would lend itself any better to being "off the grid" than any other type of housing.

5) A home that I can build incrementally

Again, this is different from any other type of housing how?

6) A home that I can build WITHOUT an architect

Moust housing is already built without architect involvement and that's not necessarily something most of us would say is a good thing.

7) Not a fad, passe, overdone, bla, bla, bla

As doberman said, it's already old news. It's a fad that will last until someone comes up with some other cool thing to do with used containers.

8) A very real solution to global housing issues

It might be a good solution for some people in some places, but it's certainly not the be all/end all solution you seem to suggest. Also, I imgine a shipping container that in bad enough shape to be retired would have to be in pretty rough shape, possibly dented, rusted through in spots, or not structurally sound. I'm tired of the housing market being used as a dumping ground for post industrial waste.

I'd say you'd be better off buying a Winnebago camper.

Feb 16, 06 11:55 am

i smell a new Per Corell in the making! First 3dh, now shipping containers saving the world...Proof positive that everyone and their grandmother can do what an Architect can!

Feb 16, 06 12:06 pm

thank you bryan.

Feb 16, 06 12:25 pm

Here is another really useful web site that talks about shipping containers, amongst other pre-fab options:


Feb 16, 06 12:33 pm

Where do you plan on doing this? Not all counties deem a container as 'suitible for living'.

Feb 16, 06 2:45 pm

Why only stop at two ;-)

Feb 16, 06 3:32 pm

That price list doesn't mention the cost of resolving code issues in order to make them livable. A big one would be the removal of lead paint, which a lot of them have.

Feb 16, 06 5:45 pm

You might not need and architect but I would advise a structural engineer before you start torching your tin can. Oh ya also keep inmind the coefficient of therma expansion when your dealing with can be a bugger!

Feb 16, 06 8:13 pm
vado retro

i was so freaking wasted. damn i could not find my house...

Feb 16, 06 8:18 pm

Slum it Godsell style...

Feb 16, 06 8:49 pm
Feb 16, 06 8:50 pm
7) Not a fad, passe, overdone, bla, bla, bla

Point well taken... er. What's going on again?

Feb 16, 06 8:53 pm

If I wash away all the arrogance, ignorance and derision their are a lot of good questions peering through, so lets get at them. First, to address Bryan4arch concerns:

1) Mortage
I will not have a mortgage, because it is cheaper to buy land, develop it, and put containers down, than to pay $200k for a tiny lot and a stick built. Case in point:

I decided to buy inexpensive land in Hawaii (near Hilo) JUST FOR A SHIPPING CONTAINER HOME. I specifically looked for land that allowed camping, single wides, and was open to alternate building methodologies. I drove around for 10 days, selected a lot, talked to the building department, reviewed the covenants, and the deal was done. In total I am getting out for $60k, which includes 1 acre of land and a two container home. I could have easily reduced this by half or more by selecting cheaper land and buying my container home directly from a Chinese manufacturer such huaxicon or perhaps the Australian Royal Wolf.

2) Cheaper Bungalows = More Bungalows
And I don't ever remember saying that couldn't be done with other housing methodologies I merely inferred Shipping Container Homes allow me to do that.

3) 3/4 steel security blanket != heat loss/gain
I was talking about security. To reduce the heat loss or gain you would insulate it similarly to a normal house.
Lets see, Container Houses can be found in in Antarctica, Africa, Hawaii, the UK, and don't forget they refrigerated that roast duck you will be eating tonight. I don't think this problem is as difficult as you think Bryan.

4) Off the grid
Once again you put words in my mouth. I NEVER said containers are better "Off the grid" structures than any other structures I merely inferred that is a characteristic I like. Bryan, please sharpen you reading skills ;)

5) Build Incrementally
See 3 & 4

6) No Architects

7) Fad, passe, overdone
Hm, I don't consider stick built or stone built homes fad, passe, or overdone. I only consider peoples attitudes as such.

8) Potential solution to Global housing
"Some people" are the ones that can afford an Architect. The vast majority of the world needs a different solution.
Rusted, dented, structurally unsound, I guess you really didn't read my post. I am purchasing "ONE TRIPPERS". I could have purchased a container home from a manufacturer as well thereby avoiding those traps.

For those of you interested in Shipping Container Homes take please take the time to go through my site (Land & Zoning for example) it answers almost every question asked in this thread.

And thanks to every one with constructive/positive comments and resources.

Feb 16, 06 10:16 pm

shouldn't you pay a fee for advertising?

Feb 16, 06 10:40 pm
Chilly Willy

Hey I'm all for it, but you do realize this is a group of architects hanging out here, right? I mean it's like entering a boxing forum and saying, "boxing is for sissies!" What did you expect? And you are posting an ad, just admit it. We don't like ads here either.

Feb 16, 06 11:21 pm

"Lets see, Container Houses can be found in in Antarctica, Africa, Hawaii, the UK, and don't forget they refrigerated that roast duck you will be eating tonight. I don't think this problem is as difficult as you think Bryan."

they are also used for human trafficking and every year dozens of people die due after being trapped in containers for too long.

If you really want a shipping container home - buy one from Adam Kalkin or Sean Godsell. Both have schemes under $50K

Feb 17, 06 12:18 am


ur one of the regulars here on another I.D who just posted this to push everyone's buttons.

your typing style is very familiar

1)blah without the 'h'.

2)and 'their' instead of 'They are'.
If I wash away all the arrogance, ignorance and derision their

3)and hm instead of Hmm /hmmm
Hm, I don't consider

I'll guess who you are.

Feb 17, 06 12:39 am
sporadic supernova

really ?? dosent ring a bell to me ..

i should start paying more attention !!

Feb 17, 06 12:50 am

sporadic... I think I know who...but cant confirm yet.

Feb 17, 06 12:52 am

well........after a lot of careful analyses of written expression ..
(Grammar, punctuation, caps-lock style,paraphrasing etc etc )

heck First I thought it was dear old abra.

I have come to the uncemented conclusion ( and may they forgive me If Im wrong)....the individual who started this thread seems like a vague mixture of skunst and vindpust.

who shares my suspicions ?

Feb 17, 06 1:13 am
FOG Lite

Nah, Shipconner's much better spoken than per ever was/ is. Let's give him a few more posts and see if he starts ranting about "Greeks" or some such.

Feb 17, 06 2:03 am

its not the ranter formerly known as per. he would have replied fifty times by now... each time saying more or less the same thing.

Feb 17, 06 6:34 am

Is living in a container condusive to a Good Life?

Feb 17, 06 7:52 am

Personally I can think of many worse situations than living in a small, unique prefab home in Hawaii. So if a Container Home is affordable and comfortable, then it could be condusive to a good life. Prefabricated homes (particularly off-site prefabrication) is a growing trend in areas (like parts of the UK) where cheap, basic, affordable homes are required.

Feb 17, 06 8:09 am

A discussion about this issue are essential, what are the cost covering the raw steel floor, sides ,ends, top. What is a container but a steel box how good are the small floor arear ,is it realy any good solution compared the cramped volume it offer and all the labor involved to change it from a steel box to what, a cubic volume that would not meet the demands, a destilation unit producing condensed water if you don't spend much to ensure the right ventilation, don't windows cost, where to place the toilet ,what are the real gain compared spending the efford designing new compared being restricted in sad measures and huge expenses ?

Feb 17, 06 12:11 pm

shipping container homes are the invention of the rich architects' un imaginative solution to housing problem. it is totally fad, comes from a fascination of shoe box floor plan and if you are smart, you browse this and buy one engineered and truly mass fabricated to do what it says and if you are not satisfied with the floor plan take a wall or two down and viola. grow up and stop playing lego.
now you can shoot me and i don't care.

Feb 17, 06 1:01 pm
FOG Lite

Ah, there we go. I think you're right momentum, his style is quite different. So who do you thinkit is nevermore?

Feb 17, 06 1:02 pm

Shipconner, I am still waiting for you to back up why it is not a fad. I am not saying it is anything, but I am still missing the proof.

Feb 17, 06 1:38 pm
Chilly Willy

I'm with Orhan. I mean, hey if that's what you want, great. But how is it better, either initial cost savings-wise, long term cost savings-wise, convenience-wise, or performance-wise, than a standard mobile home? It looks cooler? I mean mobile homes are ugly as shit and architects' worst nightmares but there's probably a reason they've lasted for so long. No one has come up with a more viable alternative. Or atleast one that has entered the mainstream. Yet. Please, please, please may there be a "yet." I don't, and it appears many others don't, think this is the answer. This discussion should really be more about prefab construction in general. Then, you'd have something.

Feb 17, 06 1:53 pm

Gimmicky. I think it's cool, but it's no solution to anything.

Feb 17, 06 1:55 pm
Chilly Willy

This is the epitome of "fad." Means and methods that have been done for over a century, whether they are ideal or not, would definitely not fall into "fad" territory.

Feb 17, 06 1:58 pm


I don't think most reasonable people would think I put words in your mouth with the inferences I made from your initial post. You also said nothing about the containers being "one trippers" in that post. You made some very general, sweeping statements about shipping container housing and I responded to your points with legitimate criticisms. If you believe in container housing as strongly as you seem to then that's great. But if people are critical and/or dismissive of your ideas it doesn't mean we're being arrogant, it just means you haven't made a strong enough case.

Finally, I don't want to keep quibbling over the minor points, but if you
If you have $60,000 cash on hand you're most definitely not poor.

Feb 17, 06 2:17 pm

if you live in shipping contaners it is only a matter of time untill the new robots come to get you.

Feb 17, 06 2:21 pm

Ha! Robots!

They will come and neatly stack you away!

Feb 17, 06 2:26 pm

The Container could be, "The New World Trailer Park"....Seems to me they have the same general dimensional feeling. I would also stand to believe once you fitted them out on the inside for wiring, plumbing,
insulation and finishes there wouldn't be much difference than prefabricated mobile homes with the exception you don't have the Wheels, and trailer hitch.

Feb 17, 06 2:32 pm

yes Orhan, right on- as usual....

just a bullshit formalist solution pimped by the likes of Wes Jones, MVRDV (in their container city thingie).

Feb 17, 06 4:00 pm
liberty bell

I may be mistaken but my recollection is that Will Bruder once used a couple of decomissioned train rack freight cars as a bridge over a wash at a rural desert site:

I think that's a very cool and smart re-use of an industrial product.

Living in a shipping container? Not to me such a great idea and as explained here definitely not such a simple one. And I'm annoyed at being called "arrogant" for holding that opinion.

Feb 17, 06 4:39 pm

lb, that is a good re-use of the frieght car. Totally without pretense.

In this case, anyone who calls anyone else arrogant is themself arrogant. C'mon kids! Let's not annoy lb anymore!

Feb 17, 06 4:47 pm
Feb 17, 06 4:49 pm

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