Shipping Container Home FAQ

FAQ Shipping Container Homes

Homes built out of shipping containers are known as shipping container homes. People also build commercial spaces along with residential ones using these structures. Both new and used shipping containers can be utilized in constructing a container structure. These buildings are strong and sturdy and can last for decades if built well.

Shipping container homes are gaining popularity since they are economical and reduce construction time. Millions of one-time used shipping containers are unfit for transportation purposes and are considered as waste by the shipping industry. The construction industry has come forward to recycle these containers to provide affordable, efficient, and comfortable living spaces.


Can I build my own shipping container home?

 The short answer is yes, however, there is a lot that you will need to learn about it. You will not get very far without doing a lot of research on the subject. Fortunately, there is a lot of great information available online. All you need to do is take the time and find out for yourself and you can start right here!

Is SCH suitable for all types of climates?

Shipping container homes can be built in a wide variety of configurations and using a wide range of building materials. They were originally designed to hold goods that are being transported by ship across oceans and seas, so they are made water and airtight. This means you can be assured that you will be safe from the rain. By insulating the inside and or outside you can be sure that you can keep the heat of the summer and cold of the winter out. Windows can be installed to let in the light and natural breezes of the summer to improve the overall comfort. Learn about insulating your container home here!

Should I be concerned about anything?

When it comes to using old shipping containers for building living spaces, you really need to be careful. While they can be used to construct homes, the inherent danger that is potentially lurking inside a container should not be overlooked. The danger comes in the form of chemicals that were originally used to keep the contents of the shipping container safe. These chemicals can be found in the pesticides that are frequently sprayed inside to kill off harmful bugs. The wood on the floor of these shipping containers contain many toxic chemicals like wood treatments to prevent deterioration. Here is how to detoxify the floor!

Are there different types of shipping containers?

Shipping containers come in a number of different sizes in order to appeal to a much wider group of potential buyers. However, standard shipping containers that are available on the market are 20’ or 40’ long and 8’ across and 8’ tall. There is, however, another type of shipping container that can be used for those people looking for slightly higher ceilings. These containers are called high cubed containers and they offer an extra foot of height inside. Different sizes of shipping containers are here!

Do I need to have a professional home builder?

While it is often highly recommended that you go with a professional home builder to construct your shipping container home. Since there are numerous building codes that would need to be addressed before you can move forward. So, it really is a good idea to consult a home builder in your area to determine if that is the best course of action.

Is it safe to live in a shipping container home?

Yes, it is completely safe to live in a shipping container home if it is built properly. Firstly, you will have to treat the used shipping containers for removing any toxic materials before construction. Secondly, building a strong foundation will ensure that your container home withstands extreme weather conditions with ease. If you take these precautions, you will be as safe in a shipping container home as in a traditional one. Additionally, you will be glad to know that shipping containers are very stable structurally. This stability makes them ideal to be used as homes in areas with extreme weather. Shipping container homes are hurricane and earthquake-proof and are, therefore, completely safe to live in.



Are shipping container homes environment-friendly?

One major reason for the rising popularity of shipping container homes is their being eco-friendly. Shipping containers are delivered as one-way shipments to the ports that order them. It is quite expensive for the ports to send them back after using them. Also, melting down a shipping container requires about 8000 kWh of energy which is extremely high. It, therefore, results in the accumulation of discarded containers at the port.

Container homes utilize these discarded containers and repurpose them into new homes. These homes are known as green buildings since they consume only about 400 kWh of energy in the modification process. Additionally, about 3,500 kgs of steel are upcycled by reusing a single 40 feet shipping container. It is worthwhile to mention here that the cement industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental CO2. Shipping container homes prevents this emission since cement is not used in constructing these houses. Lastly, container homes are 100% recyclable if demolished later.

Some people do argue that a lot of energy is required to make these containers habitable. Also, an enormous amount of hazardous waste is produced while modifying a shipping container into a home. They contend that it does away with the benefits of recycling completely. However, a lot less energy is consumed in converting a shipping container into a home rather than melting it down

Are shipping containers strong enough to handle the load of furniture and fixtures?

Shipping containers are built to transport heavy cargo through long distances under all weather conditions. Therefore, they are made extremely tough to withstand swirling waters and high winds while carrying tons of weight. Since we never fill up our house with tons of weight, the full strength of a container is never utilized.


Can rust destroy a shipping container home?

Yes, rust can destroy a shipping container home if precautions are not taken to protect it from rusting. The possibility of rusting arises since these containers are made out of metal. Some shipping containers are manufactured with weathering steel that adds strength and corrosion resistance to the containers. You can also consider using rust-proof paint to protect your home from environmental damage. Additionally, it is best to treat rust spots as they appear to prevent them from spreading and destroying your home. Such an appearance of rust completely depends on your local climate.

Are shipping container homes fireproof?

No, just like traditional homes, shipping container homes can catch fire in case of a mishappening. That said, it is not impossible to reduce the chances of fire occurrence and the damaging effects thereof. The local building codes will address any shortcomings in your container home design to slow down the spread of fire. Additionally, you can take some extra measures to prevent your new home from an outside fire like a wildfire. It can be done by using appropriate external cladding material over the bare steel surface of your shipping container home.


Which climates are suitable for constructing shipping container homes?

You will be glad to know that shipping container homes are suitable for all extreme climatic conditions. Since these containers are strong and heavy, you can create a weather-resistant house out of them. Until now, people have built container homes in places ranging from hot deserts to snow-filled mountains. You just need to take the necessary steps to properly insulate your container home and make it airtight while constructing. It will help your new home to survive in any kind of extreme climate.


Can lightning destroy my shipping container home?

Shipping containers are made of steel and are, therefore, susceptible to lightning. When you convert a container into a home, the exterior material of your house decides the impact of lightning. Additionally, the design of your container home will also contribute a lot in protecting against damage from lightning. You can use lightning rods to prevent any such damage to your new home.


Can a shipping container home be insulated?

Yes, it is possible to insulate your shipping container home to make it an all-weather dwelling. Many shipping container home builders insulate their prefabricated models to make them suitable for all climates. You can also insulate your container home if you plan to build your home on your own. A wide variety of insulation materials can be used for this purpose.

Are there any savings in time in building a shipping container home?

Yes, using shipping containers for building your home will substantially reduce your construction time. These containers provide a readymade structure for your house so you don’t need to build walls and roofs. A simple design of tiny container homes can be brought to life in just a few days. The reduction in construction time of building a container home, Incubo, in Costa Rica was determined. The architect of the house, María José Trejos, estimated 20% savings in construction time because of using shipping containers


Are shipping container homes superior to traditional brick and mortar homes?

One cannot call a certain building method to be superior to the other. All methods of constructing a house leave a certain impact on the environment. Additionally, these methods offer different pros and cons to the construction process. You cannot compare the exact benefits offered by one method over the other due to several complexities involved. Similarly, it is tough to compare the drawbacks of these two methods of construction in true sense.


Where can I buy shipping containers for my new container home?

More than 80% of shipping containers in the world are produced in China. Therefore, if you plan to buy a new container for your house, you might have to source it from China. However, if you are looking for used shipping containers for modification, you can buy them from local sellers. Additionally, there are several national dealers in almost all the countries that carry a large inventory of containers. You can also consider purchasing your shipping containers from such dealers and get them delivered at your doorstep.


How to choose the right shipping container for my home?

While choosing a shipping container for your home, consider the following aspects:


Size and height of containers:


It is extremely important to choose a container with the right size and height as per your needs. Keep in mind your future needs as well since it is a long-term investment. The effective size and height of a shipping container home will be reduced after installing insulation panels. The standard height of a shipping container is 8 feet 6 inches. It is reduced to 7 feet after insulating the ceilings. However, a high-cube shipping container features a height of 9 feet 6 inches. It is, again, reduced to 8 feet after you insulate your ceilings. Similar is the case with the breadth of the shipping containers as well. You must, therefore, carefully calculate the effective area that will be left for your use after installing the necessary insulation. It will help you determine the size and height of the shipping containers you require for your new home.


Condition of shipping containers:


Depending on your budget, you can select a brand new or used shipping container for your new home. A new container would cost you more than a used one but won’t require any additional expense. It is in excellent condition and that is why you have to pay more for it. On the other hand, a used shipping container might have some dents, holes, or chemical leaks. You need to visually inspect your containers carefully before making any payment. Going for a cheaper shipping container might mean more repair costs. You, therefore, need to maintain a balance between the cost and condition of the containers you buy. It is worthwhile to mention here that you can plan your door or window cuttings according to the container condition. For instance, you find a shipping container with a single hole but having a good condition overall. You can modify your house design and cut the damaged portion out to carve out a door or a window.

How can I find a contractor for building my shipping container home?

Since shipping container homes are quite different from traditional dwellings, your local contractor might not be able to build them. But these contractors might recommend you the right person for your needs. If you still cannot find a solution, you can get in touch with your local container home builders. It is recommended to specify your requirements and receive a quote before you begin working with them. 

What costs are involved in building a shipping container home?

A basic shipping container home can be constructed between $10,000 to $20,000 using a single container. For more complex designs and houses using multiple containers, the cost can go beyond $1,00,000. 

Can I order a shipping container home plan online?

Yes, many websites allow you to order a shipping container plan online. You can share your details along with the requirements or rough drawings while sourcing a professional plan. This way, you can receive a plan prepared by an expert for your next shipping container project. 

Is it possible for a layman to create a shipping container home plan?

Yes, you can create a shipping container plan easily even if you have no prior experience in designing. Several websites and mobile applications have now made it possible to create beautiful designs without using any complicated software. A user-friendly drag-and-drop interface offered by these floor plan creators can be used both by a layman and an expert. Additionally, you can decorate your plan with furniture and view the final setting in 3D. Some platforms allow you to order furniture directly from your container home plan. You will be glad to know that there are some free floor plan designers as well.

Is it better to prepare a container home floor plan myself or order one?

It depends on the individual situation whether ordering a home plan is better or preparing it yourself. The major benefit of following a DIY route is enormous savings in costs. On the other hand, plans prepared by an expert have a high chance of receiving approval from the local authorities. 

Can I buy a shipping container home online?

Yes, it is possible to purchase a container home online. There are several container home builders with whom an order can be placed. You can mention the features you desire or share your container home floor plan with the company. Many firms offer a free quote as per your requirements. It helps you determine your total expenditure in advance so that you don’t go overboard with your budget. You will also be informed about the time in months that will be taken to finish your desired design.

How are shipping container homes delivered to my place?

The shipping aspect of completed shipping container homes shall be discussed with the company well in advance. Some companies offer delivery at your doorstep while others do not. In the latter case, you will have to hire a transport firm for carrying out the shipping of your home. It also means incurring additional costs. It is, therefore, advised to consider the shipment expense of your container home during the planning stage. It will help you manage your overall budget beforehand.

I’m short on time, can I get a shipping container home instantly delivered?

We do understand that you might need a home urgently. In such a case, you can go for a prefabricated shipping container home that can be delivered to you instantly. Many companies offer pre-built models in different sizes for varying needs. You can select a readymade container home and get it delivered instantly. Additionally, certain modifications can be carried out on these models as per your requirements. If you have little time on hand, you can get some alterations done on these prefabricated container homes for personalization.

Is it cheaper to order a prefabricated shipping container home from China?

No, it is not always certain that a shipping container home manufactured in China will be cost-effective for you. Since the majority of containers are manufactured in China, it is cheaper for the nation to build a container home. But transporting these houses to the parts of the world is a costly affair. In some cases, the delivery cost exceeds the cost of the shipping container house itself. So, it would not be cheaper for you to order a prefabricated container home from China. Instead, you shall look for shipping container home builders in your region for a cost-effective container home

Am I supposed to take any building permits for my container home?

Yes, you will have to take permission from the local authority before you begin any construction on the container. You must research your local laws and regulations for the installation of shipping container architecture in the area. In some areas, it is specifically mentioned whether shipping container homes are allowed or not. While in other regions, you will have to look for the guidelines issued concerning non-traditional structures. It is worthwhile to mention here that some container home builders take care of all the local permits. If you don’t want to spend time on getting the necessary approvals, you can choose to work with such builders. It will save a lot of your time and hassle. 

Do I need to purchase land for my shipping container home?

Yes, you need to purchase, lease, or rent a piece of land for placing your shipping container home. Just like a traditional home, an investment in land is a must before you begin construction of your container home. It will help you take the right measurements for the design of your home. You will also be able to take the required permits well in advance.

Which regions in the US are best for building a shipping container home?

Since shipping container homes are strong enough to withstand all kinds of extreme climates, you can build them anywhere. However, you will be required to follow the local building codes and other regulations for smoother operations. So, if you have a choice in terms of US states, many of them allow the construction of container homes. In some US states, however, regulations are extremely easy to follow than others.


Does my land require any special preparation before the placement of my container home?

Yes, a shipping container home is generally placed on a solid foundation for achieving sturdiness. In some cases, you might not need to prepare the land for the placement of your container home. It depends on the structure of your new shipping container home and the local environment. It is, therefore, recommended to talk about the land preparation requirements with your container home builder in advance. It will save you time as the installation process will be carried out without any delay.

Which foundation is best for my shipping container home?

Though the shipping container homes are strong in themselves, placing them on the right foundation is very important. The strength of a house is determined not only by its structure but also by its foundation. You need to consider several factors while selecting a foundation that is best for your shipping container home. The number of containers used in building the house, local soil type, and the house structure is some of these. Therefore, the best foundation for your container home can only be selected on an individual basis. 

Is it cheaper to build a shipping container home than a traditional one?

Yes, it is cheaper to build a container home in many terms. Many people are turning to such alternate living structures because of them being economical. You bear the cost of a shipping container instead of brick, mortar, and structural beams. Since shipping containers are in perfect shape to be modified into homes, savings in labor expenses are enormous. With a smart design, a container home can cost half that of a traditional structure of the same size. Where you’ll have to spend a fortune on a traditional home, a container home can be built for $20,000.


Can I create a shipping container home underground?

Yes, it is possible to create a container home underground just like a traditional building. It is a great idea to build a home underground since the underground temperature remains lower than above the ground. Such underground container homes are away from direct sunlight and are, therefore, suitable for areas with hot climates. You can create an underground shipping container home like a traditional basement. 

Is it possible to build a self-sufficient shipping container home?

Yes, you can build a completely off-grid shipping container home that is fully self-sufficient. Several energy resources and water harvesting plus storage methods can be utilized for this purpose.  

Can I get my shipping container home financed from a bank or other authority?

Yes, it is possible to receive finance for the construction of your new container home. You will have to follow certain guidelines and other local regulations to qualify for a loan. Many shipping container home builders collaborate with the financial institutions to help you with the process. You can select a container home manufacturer on that basis or talk to your builder beforehand.

Are shipping container homes durable?

Shipping container homes can last for decades just like a traditional brick and mortar home. The key to keep your container home last longer is to treat the rust spots as and when they appear. A good structure along with good maintenance will make your shipping container home last for at least three decades.

How can I prevent condensation in my shipping container home?

Shipping container homes are built airtight and are, therefore, prone to condensation. Steel structure and lack of openings for air to escape are the major reasons for the build of moisture inside. This problem might not arise if you live in a drier region. In areas having high moisture content, condensation of a shipping container home is a major concern. You can use dehumidifier systems to manage this problem and prevent your container home from rusting.

Can shipping container homes be ventilated?

Though shipping container homes are made airtight to make them climate-proof, it is possible to ventilate them. It is recommended to make way for a proper ventilation system in your container home for health and safety reasons. It will reduce the impact of fire and delay its spread in case of any mishappening. Additionally, such systems help reduce or prevent the occurrence of moisture or condensation in your container home. You can ventilate your shipping container home using a variety of methods. 

Can I build a luxurious house out of shipping containers?

Constructing a house is a big financial investment and shipping container homes allow you to save huge amounts. You can build both a tiny container home or a spacious one as per your requirements. People have created shipping container homes with almost all the facilities one can dream of. You can even construct a beautiful container home with a private pool. 

Do shipping container homes have resale value?

Yes, a shipping container home does have a resale value. Just like a traditional structure, the value of a container home is determined by its condition. If you are successful in maintaining your container home well, you can resell it at a good price. Additionally, shipping container homes have an advantage over traditional homes for reselling purposes. They can be transported anywhere without damaging the structure at all. It makes the reselling of a shipping container home much easier.

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