Shipping Container House Specifications & Samples

two story container house prefabricated

The table below shows typical characteristics of 20ft and 40ft equivalent customized container modules used as building blocks for larger housing structures. The details may slightly vary between manufacturers, the fundamental parameters however like dimensions and structural characteristics (frames) of 1-TEU and 2-TUEs Customized Container Houses are very similar to cube versions of corresponding cargo shipping containers.

Shipping Container Home Typical Specifications

Construction Type



Ext. Dimensions (L x W x H) (1)

20ft container (1-TEU)

40ft container (2-TEU)






Walls (2)



Purlin (beam)

Metal sheets (3)





Purlin (beam)

Bottom protection (3)








Electrical (4)


Plumbing (5)

Grid/water/sewer connections

Life Span


Bolts and screws

Seismic Resistance (6)

Wind Resistance (7)


Prefabricated, 1-TEU (20ft-equivalent) or 2-TEU (40ft-equivalent) based Shipping/Customized Container House


6 x 2.5 x 2.75 m (19.7 x 8.2 x 9 ft)

11.9 x 2.25 x 2.75 m (39 x 7.4 x 9 ft)


Galvanized Steel (GI)/Powder Coated

100 x 100 x 2.5mm (3.9 x 3.9 x.0.1”) steel or

160 x 160 x 3mm (6.3 x 6.3 x .12”) steel


50/75/100 mm (2/3/4”) thick sandwich panel

0.5mm (20 mils) steel sheets int/ext


30 x 40 x 3mm (1.2 x 1.6 x 0.12 inch) steel

0.3 to 0.5mm (12 to 20 mils) PPGI steel

50/75/100 mm (2/3/4”) thick sandwich panel

3mm (0.12 inch) PVC



30 x 80 x 3mm (1.2 x 3.15 x 0.12inch) steel

1mm (40 mils) steel sheet

18-20 mm (0.7 inch)

15 – 18mm (0.6-0.75”) MgO/Cement-fiber boards

Vinyl, tiles…


Steel (GI), insulated

PVC/Aluminum alloy (dual pane options)

Customer’s choice

National standards (American, European, Australian…. )

As required

Exterior hookups (as needed)

20+ years

ISO 9001, CE

International standards

Eurocode 8

120 to 200km/h (75 to 125 miles/h)

Yes (Typically A-grade)


  1. Typical sizes (they can slightly differ between individual manufacturers, especially the width and height)
  2. Manufacturers offer a selection of insulation materials (typically EPS, PU or Rock-Wool) and thicknesses. The latter depends on the climate zone at the destination site.
  3. All panels (steel sheets) and frame structures are made from GI (hot-dip Galvanized Iron). Metal sheets are made from PPGI steel (Pre-Painted, Galvanized Iron)
  4. Typical installation includes wiring, lights, switches, sockets, and distribution/fuse panel (actual installation depends on the specific application)
  5. Depends on the required functions (kitchen, bath, toilet, etc..)
  6. Compliant with Eurocode 8 (Seismic Design of Buildings)
  7. Represents the structural strength of the container (the overall wind resistance will be determined by the foundation and the strength of attachments).

Typical structure of the 1-TEU Customized Container Module


Container house structure


After this short introduction to customized container houses let’s see some examples of “Container Architecture” from around the world. As we all know, even one picture is far better than thousands of words! Below you will find several of them, some showing great architectural marvels, some may be just so-so designs. But we are sure that all of them deserve attention and certainly, they will serve as an inspiration for your own projects. Well, it seems that for container-based houses, the only the sea is the limit. Yes, the sea (or rather an ocean), because most of them are designed and manufactured in South-Eastern Asia so they have to be shipped packed in cargo shipping containers ?.

Larger multi-family buildings

Larger multi-family buildings prove that there is no limit to architectural forms when it comes to container-based structures. Source: Qingdao Sanjiangrunda (SJRD) Steel Construction Co Ltd

container home exterior and interior

Above and below: This combination of Simplicity with Nature confirms that “The Small is Beautiful”! Source: Shandong UPS Housing Co. Ltd

Container Home on the water


Bedroom container house

Customized Container-based family house: The bedroom seems small but looks charming and warm, large sliding glass doors and a balcony open the tight container’s interior into the outdoors. Source: Ruixin Prefab House Co. Ltd (Chengdu)

Prefabricated Shipping Container Hotel

This customized container-based hotel offers its guests simplicity, modern elegance, and as it can be seen – surrounding nature. All these are benefits of modular design and easy assemble containers structure. Source: Ruixin Prefab House Co. Ltd (Chengdu)

Container house wood-grain pattern siding

Customized container-based home with wood-grain pattern siding. Note the large balcony on the first floor greatly extends the living space. Source: Hebei Weizhengheng Modular House Technology Co., Ltd.

European-style customized container-based house

European-style customized container-based house. Source: Ruixin Prefab House Co. Ltd (Chengdu)

Customized Container-based houses

Customized Container-based houses represent new construction and architectural trend. As it can be seen, their interiors offer an equally fashionable and comfortable environment. Source:  Global Housing Technology Co., Ltd (Foshan).

Simple container house

Customized Container House: This one most likely wouldn’t win the contest for “Beauty Queen”, but thanks to its short assembling time, low price, and comfortable interior design, it will make happy many customers. Source: Global Housing Technology Co., Ltd (Foshan).

Granny flat container home

Granny flat container home

This GrandDesigns’ (Western Australia) granny flat is built from customized containers (Global Housing Technology, Foshan, China). It consists of two 1-TEU modules joined together with a floor-plan offering a bedroom, bathroom, and one large living and dining area with kitchen. The model is known as “Monte Carlo” represents the series of luxurious “SmartVilla” houses.

Shipping container house Australia

Shipping container house Australia floorplan

This GrandDesigns’ (Western Australia) beautiful granny flat “Grass Tree” is built from three 1-TEU customized containers. Luxurious interior features 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and combined large living and dining area. Glass walls and spacious deck makes it a perfect countryside house.

Container home sits on pillars

This beautiful family house is built designed and built from 1-TEU customized shipping containers by Giant Containers (a company has offices in China, US, and Canada). It sits on pillars leaving the space under for a covered recreational area or garage.


Many of us, especially those that for the first time hearing about “Shipping Container Houses”, may associate such term with the picture of rugged metal boxes, corrugated walls, and faded colors dotted with rust. Well, nothing can be more wrong than such an assumption.  These days, container houses make their own category of architectural styles including not only small single TEU weekend container cabins but also multiple-TEUs, and multi-level residential mansions that often outpace the stylishness of traditional housing structures. Just for clarity – one Twenty-Feet Equivalent Unit (TEU) refers to the dimensions of a basic industrial-grade shipping container.

Despite the boring uniformity of TEU-based building blocks, multi-modular container houses (just as familiar to most of us Lego structures) offer almost limitless architectural opportunities with shapes, exterior finish, and colors often unmatched by traditional designs of residential housing. By stacking several containers next to each other and opening their adjacent walls, one can create spacious interiors overcoming this way the limitations of a single TEU module. On the other side, by piling containers on top of each other, rotating them axially, shifting their centers versus each other, mixing 20ft modules with 40ft ones, adding glass walls (to mention just a few ideas), one can achieve amazing spatial effects as well as functionality and comfort.

But that’s not the end – by blending container-based structural blocks with traditional construction materials you can significantly widen “horizons” for architectural creativity, literally giving chance to “push” designs in several directions.

Obviously, such hybrid buildings lose the portability and extend otherwise short on-site construction time so characteristic of container-based structures, but let’s face it – residential mansions are usually built to “grow roots” in their original location.

Individual container-based houses are not the only winners of this new construction trend. The modular structure also allows for the development of large, multi-level apartment buildings in dense urban areas. As in the case of individual container-based residential housing, a combination of low cost, short construction time, and variety of available interior configurations makes developing everything from affordable public housing to high-end luxurious condominiums an attractive option. Note that while cargo shipping containers will need some “adaptation efforts” to convert them into habitable spaces, the new customized container modules come as “out-of-the-box” housing solutions with thermal insulation and interior finish including windows, doors, floors, ceilings, electrical and plumbing installations as well as (if required) baths, toilets, kitchens, basic appliances, and even furniture.

As you can see, the architecture of customized container-based houses includes everything from extravagant, to modern to simple, sometimes very similar to traditional housing structures. Regardless of their shapes and level of interior luxury, they all have common characteristics:

  1. Modularity that significantly cuts the on-site construction time
  2. The flexibility that allows for easy expansion by adding more TEU modules,
  3. Portability that makes it possible to move the whole structure to a new location (especially valid for small houses)
  4. Almost unlimited architectural forms

Not surprisingly, many container-based houses are located in remote, countryside blended with surrounding Mother Nature. This growing trend prompted also relevant industries to undertake efforts and make such houses ready for at least partial off-grid operation with the final goal to make them fully grid-independent.

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