Cost to Build Shipping Container Home in US


Planning to build a container home

What is the cost to build a shipping container home in the US? There are several essential things you need to consider when you are planning to build your dream home. Opt for a small container home built with just a single unit or a bigger one joining multiple units. In any case, it is important to spend sufficient time in planning the whole process.

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Design and structure of your home

First and foremost thing in the planning stage is the structure and design of your house. Think about a functional layout and draw it over a piece of paper for clarity. You can always get design ideas from the resources provided on our website. Make necessary changes to your design before proceeding to the next stage of planning.

Estimating material costs

The sole purpose of drawing out your home design physically is to determine the material costs required to construct it. The layout lets you know the number of containers required. Choose the type of flooring, insulation, walls etc… you desire to determine its cost as well. Using high-quality material ensures to add durability to your container home.

Labour Cost Shipping Container HomeEstimating labor costs

The next major costs involved in the construction process are labor costs. Welding out the strong steel containers to shape them the way you like is not an easy job. It not only involves carving out rooms and an outside place for you but flooring and insulating your container home too. It is up to the labor to efficiently utilize the high-quality material you invested in.


Labor Costs for a Shipping Container Home

Now we know that labor costs play a major role in the development of our container home. We will have to find a formula to get a realistic estimate of these costs.

The model used for your home

The costs involved in building different types of container homes will vary greatly. It all depends on the model you choose for your house. The layout and design finalized by you decide the ultimate cost. A simple layout will cost less and a complex one will cost more. For a better estimate let us discuss the costs involved in constructing a three-container model. Three containers when put together form a rectangular structure that is closer to a square. That allows you to build a stem wall that is a perfect square. It is the quickest way to create a near-square container home. And, of course, it is the most simple method.

Breakdown of material and labor costs

Now that we have decided upon the structure, let us estimate the costs involved in building it. We’ll try to give you an idea of the breakdown of costs into material and labor charges. Your place of residence is the most important thing to consider in determining these costs. Just, for example, South Florida is extremely expensive as it is a hurricane zone. Being rich, the majority of people in the state spend their money on extravagant living structures. This further increases the total costs due to the high paying capacity of the people. The contractors hike the prices for building $50 million dream homes for the rich. The same applies to California and New York City as well. Prices are drastically inflated here as compared to other parts of the country.

General Rule of Thumb

Wherever you are located, there is a general rule of thumb to reach an estimation of total costs. Follow this 3-step formula for an easier calculation:

 1: Determine the material costs in your area.

2: Multiply this cost by 2.

 3: Add 10-15% to the amount you calculated in the 2nd step.

This will give you an idea of the total cost you will have to bear. This formula is a more realistic approach to finding costs. It is because we tend to skip miscellaneous expenses during our calculations. We normally forget to consider tax charges, the amount spent on gasoline during transportation and other such costs. These little amounts add up to make a hefty bill. So, the above formula is truly helpful in reaching a realistic figure.

Shipping Container Home Cost

Example of cost estimation of our model in South Florida

Let us now discuss the costs involved in building the above-mentioned three-container home in South Florida. The material costs for this project reach a little above $30,000 in the state. The labor charges tend to be around $70,000 for two major reasons we discussed earlier. South Florida is a hurricane zone and people here have high paying capacity.

For most of the regions, you can use the formula discussed above for reaching the estimated labor cost. You will be surprised to know that the normal $75 plumbing costs $250 here. That is why labor charges are higher than the average.

So, the total estimated costs work out to be around $110,000, being liberal for reaching a correct figure. This amount does not include the cost of land, impact fees, permit fees, and other such costs. This is only labor cost added to the material cost. It is difficult to ascertain the cost of land and the legal charges involved. They vary greatly even at a distance of 2 miles. So, you will have to determine those figures with a local analysis.

Three-container home translates to an area of approximately 960 square feet. Our total material and labor costs are $100,000-$110,000. That gives us our per square feet cost of between $105-115. That is a great deal in South Florida. But, of course, the costs are much lower in Middle America or even Northern Florida. So, you must stick to the general construction formula shared above. The prices of an old construction here also reach to $300 per sq. ft. Building a new home for between $105 and-115 is really inexpensive.

Estimating the total cost

The above example of simple construction in Florida gave you an idea of calculating the material and labor costs. To determine the final cost of the project, we’ll have to add a margin of 20% to this amount. This amount is the fee paid to the contractor for the hard work he puts in. If you have a full-time job, you cannot be on the job site and manage the subcontractors. You might face difficulty in bringing material and receiving the necessary permits. The building contractor takes away all the tension from you.

So, adding 20% to $100,000-$110,000 lead us to an amount between $120,000 and 130,000. Per square feet, the price goes up to $125-130. This is still a good value considering the location it was calculated for. You cannot find out much that can be built at such a price in South Florida.

Final Thoughts

This is the information that can help an average person in estimating the costs of building a container home. There are so many variables involved in the cost-planning process. So, you must be careful in taking into consideration all of these factors.


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