Constructing a container home on your own requires a lot of hard work. But, if you are determined to Do It Yourself, we are here to guide you through.
If you are in rush here is the cost breakdown of building home from 40′ used shipping container DIY:
- 40′ Used Container – $2.500
- Doors & Windows – $3.200
- Insulation Cost – $2.500
- Internal framing – $700
- Electrical fittings – $1.500
- Plumbing – $1.800
- Drywall & flooring – $750
- HVAC system – $900 – $2.300
- Cabinets – $2.200
- Counter-tops – $350
- Millwork – $600
- Misc material – $500
- Primer & Paint – $250
TOTAL $17,320 or roughly $20.000
The following steps will help you convert a shipping container to a liveable, safe home:
Note: Click here to watch the video.
Deciding the container layout
The first and foremost thing in developing a container home is deciding its design layout. The floor plan of your home will help you know the material required in the construction process.
Considering the required facilities
After deciding the layout, it is important to consider the facilities you need in your house. Depending on the area you live, you might require a complete insulation. You might also need to install an HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) . Make a list of such facilities as they will form a part of your building cost.
Estimating the material costs involved
Today, we will be discussing the determination of material costs involved in constructing a container home. We will focus only on the material costs and not the labour charges involved in the building process. We’ll be estimating the total material cost for modifying a 40ft. shipping container without involving a contractor.
Estimated Cost for 40ft. DIY Shipping Container Home
The cost of materials required in building a shipping container home plays a major role in deciding its total costs. Let us make a construction cost estimate for a 40ft. shipping container. We will be calculating the material costs involved in the ‘Do It Yourself’ container home project. Let us begin discussing the materials involved in the construction process one by one.
Used shipping container
The first requirement for creating a beautiful container home is the container itself. You have the option of acquiring a new or a used shipping container. For this DIY project, we are using a used shipping container that cost us $2500 with shipping. The prices for new containers will, however, vary greatly.
Doors and Windows
The next part of the process involves cutting out holes in the container for fitting in doors and windows. You will have to take care of proper air circulation while deciding the placing of windows. For this project, we are choosing the impact windows. It is because the area carries a high risk of tornadoes or hurricanes and such windows can withstand the damage. If you are in a risk-free area, you can opt for normal windows that will cost you much less. We used five such windows.
Also, we installed a sliding door and an internal door at the entrance that is impact rated. These cost us around $3200 including the cutting and installation costs. Based on these numbers, you can estimate the costs involved in your project. A container home with two or three windows will cost lesser and such.
Insulation follows after the installation of doors and windows. We are using 1-inch closed-end panels with dimensions 4 foot by 8 foot. The board cost us about $1000. We also asked for the cost of spray foam for this project but it was expensive than this option. The same insulation for walls, roof, and floor would have cost us $2500 in that case. We even looked into buying the frost packs from online sources like eBay or Amazon. The insulation cost would have been $2500 in that case too.
After the external structure, it is time to determine the costs involved in framing our interiors. We used 20 gauge steel frame studs for this DIY project. Our total cost for metal framing came to be around $700. Normally, these costs do not vary much. You can find these materials at a local store or Home Depot.
For the current project, we purchased a 50 amp RV plug and a big 50 amp RV extension cord. It plugs all our breakers inside the panel. The total cost of electrical fittings came out to be $1500 including all the little things needed for safety.
All the plumbing materials cost us a combined $1800. The costs are so high as stainless steel sanitary fittings have been used. These costs included all the faucets, sinks, a drain basket, a little water heater, showers, and shower valves. The water lines and shut-offs are also included in this cost. This is only the material cost excluding any labor charges.
Drywall and flooring
For this DIY construction project, we are using drywall. You can also use shiplap in which case your costs will rise significantly. Since we are trying to develop this container home at the cheapest possible price, we are using drywall. Installing drywall cost us $720 including fiber tape, compound, and, sanding sponges.
For flooring, we used a vinyl floor. The costs reached $750 considering the underlay that is required for flooring.
We chose a high-end mini-split system that is extremely energy efficient. We installed only one such system in our container structure. You can, however, choose to install more depending on the design layout of your home. Our costs for a single unit were $900, yours might double up if you decide to install two systems. It includes only the material costs and not the charges paid to a professional for fittings. We had to spend an additional $2300 for a professional and the charges for copper running into the unit.
We sourced our kitchen and bathroom cabinets from Nitori, a cost-effective company. The cabinets installed in this house cost us $2.200 in all. You can also buy them from Home Depot but the quality will vary.
We chose the most cost-effective method of building counter-tops. We fabricated a butcher block and installed it on our own. All the sanding and refinishing to the block was done on-site. We used 2 such blocks, you might need 1 if you constructed a smaller kitchen. We bought one for $350 that amounts to a total of $700 for our counter-tops. It does not include sanding and refinishing costs.
Millwork & Interior doors
Next, we move on to the material costs involved in acquiring the interior doors, baseboards, door casing, and any type of trim woodwork. All this millwork cost us about $600 including some raw finished doors that we revamped.
Miscellaneous material costs
This section includes all the materials that do not fit in any of the above categories. These items are important for creating a container home yourself. Such miscellaneous materials include glue, shims, screws, nails, saw blades, tape, plastic roller covers, and more. We spent nearly $500 for miscellaneous stuff and we already had most of these items with us. So, if you do not own any of this material, your costs will be much higher.
Primer and Paint
We are only covering the costs of primer and paints for doing the container interiors. The costs of roller covers, roller frames, roller poles, and brushes are not included in this estimation. These can cost you around $300 from Home Depot. Our costs for primer and paints were around $250. We did not include costs incurred on the exterior painting to keep the costs as low as possible.
We excluded many other modifications including exterior siding, roofing, exterior paint, landscaping, site prep, septic, water supply, and electrical supply. Our sole purpose was to estimate the bare minimum cost of constructing a container home yourself.
Let us now sum up the total cost we spent in constructing a container home from a used shipping container. It adds up to $17,320 which is the bare minimum cost of acquiring the materials. You must add a buffer of $2500 to this amount for contingencies. That makes the total cost to reach around $20,000.
If you plan to hire someone instead of doing it yourself, you must double this amount as your total cost. This is because the cost of labor almost equals the material costs in a building project.