10 Reasons You should Consider a Shipping Container Home
The popularity of tiny homes is exploding. Minimalism is garnering a huge following and, with it, a widespread desire to abandon the junk we accumulate in our huge homes and move to a simpler, more streamlined, more meaningful way of living. Storage container homes are an increasingly popular way of embracing this way of living. And, thanks to creative designs and high profile television exposure, storage container homes are appealing to a group of buyers outside the “tiny house” movement. Shipping containers are being used to build everything from simple sheds to studios to guest houses to huge, elaborate homes.
Switching from living in a traditionally-built home to living in a shipping container home is not something to be taken lightly. It can be a big lifestyle change and requires some commitment and an understanding up front of what you’re in for. In case you’re on the fence about whether the container home lifestyle is something you’re interested in, or in case you need some material to pitch to an uncertain partner, here are a few of our top reasons why living in a shipping container house is a great choice!
Shipping Container Homes are Eco-Friendly
Homes that are truly eco-friendly are also usually VERY expensive. A traditional home that claims to be environmentally friendly often requires expensive additions, like solar panels, expensive appliances, and custom wiring and plumbing. The price tag can be too much for even the most environmentally-conscious home buyers.
Shipping container homes, on the other hand, are by definition more eco-friendly that most traditionally-built homes. Because there are so many used shipping containers sitting around (one estimate says nearly 11 million unused containers around the world), turning one of these containers into a home is a significant act in recycling. This is because, after companies ship their wares in the containers, it normally costs more to ship back the empty container than to simply buy new ones. The result: millions of containers are left unused and, eventually, are melted down. This process uses a lot of energy and causes a lot of pollution. Repurposing the used containers into homes saves that energy and pollution and, what’s more, saves the energy and pollution associated with building a traditional home.
Furthermore, if you keep your cargo container home relatively small, and insulate it well, container living is itself very sustainable because your home will use little energy and will last longer.
Shipping Container Homes are Beautiful
Not all shipping container homes are beautiful, but all of them CAN be made beautiful, and for a lot less money than a traditional home. When you’re dealing with relatively little square footage, you can go for the luxury finishes without breaking the bank. You can also customize your shipping container home to suit your needs and tastes. If you really want a work of art, you can hire an architect specializing in shipping container home design (this area has been coined “cargotecture”) to whip up a stunning plan. Whatever you end up doing, you can be sure that your home will be unique, iconic, and all yours.
Fast to Build
Traditional home scan take months or years to complete construction. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, the average length of time for the construction of a family home is seven months. Not so with shipping container homes. Because the basic structure of the home is already complete, it’s just a matter of arranging the containers in the configuration you’ve chosen and adding the finishing touches. If your home is made up of just one shipping container, once the foundation has been completed, you can have your home constructed in one day (or less). Even with more complicated container home plans, you are likely looking at construction time of six months or less.
If you want to go the REALLY fast route, you can buy a prefabricated 40 foot by 8 foot shipping container home that comes already complete with everything you need, from a kitchen to a bedroom to a living space. The home is delivered to your site and set up and—just like that—you’re home!
Shipping Container Houses Can Be (But Aren’t Always) Cheaper
Housing is a huge expense for most people. For many of us, our mortgage or rent payments are our largest monthly expense. And the bigger the house, the higher the time and financial costs of running it, from utilities to cleaning to yard maintenance.
Container homes can be expensive too (get a gander at some of the huge, stunning container home designs out there), BUT those budget-minded house builders certainly have more opportunity for saving money with a container home than with a traditional home. For example, a used 40 foot shipping container might only run you a couple of thousand dollars. Can you imagine building a traditional home for that little money.
Of course, you have to take into account the cost of the land, of the permitting, and of the alterations to the container to make it livable, but even with all these expenses, you can still end up with a beautiful, customized home for a fraction of the cost.
Shipping Container Homes Offer Incredible Design Flexibility
As long as you don’t have your heart set on a circular design, shipping container homes can be used to craft just about any design you can come up with. Because the containers are already built, you just have to make the right cuts and arrange however you like! Want to do a remodel after your home is built? With a traditional home, it can be very expensive and complicate to alter or take down interior walls, but not so with a shipping container house. Just cut away all or part of the internal wall and you can open up a space very easily to create a huge, impressive room. Want to add a second story to a traditional home? That’s going to cost you A LOT of time and money. But because shipping containers are standard-sized, you can stack them up, and they fit great together.
And because shipping containers are mobile, if you design and build accordingly, you may have the ultimate flexibility of being able to move your home to a different location should you later choose to!
Shipping Container Homes are Nearly Indestructible
Shipping containers are designed to be sturdy under all sorts of conditions. They hold up to thirty tons of weight. They can be stacked up to seven containers high. They are made of steel and designed to be totally watertight. So, of course, a shipping container can stand up to just about anything you, your neighbors, or Mother Nature can throw at it.
Homes built from wood can degrade due to mold, dry-rot and water leakage. Steel does not. Further, shipping containers have fewer parts and pieces than traditional homes, which means fewer complications and repairs.
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits of choosing to build your home using shipping containers. Of course, there are tradeoffs as well. Zoning and permitting rules may make finding land a challenge. If you choose to hire a designer, you may have trouble finding a local one experienced in shipping container home design. As with any home purchase, only you can decide what the best choice is for your tastes, needs, and lifestyle!