How Much Do Shipping Container Homes Cost?
You may have heard that shipping container homes are the hot new trend in the building world. What’s a shipping container home, you ask? Well, it’s home that’s constructed using shipping containers (maybe just one or maybe several put together). They can be as simple and basic or as fancy and architectural as you like. What’s more, even the more luxurious shipping container houses will set you back for a fraction of the cost of a traditionally-constructed home.
That leads us to a critical question—what do storage container homes cost? Well that depends on a number of factors. But the best place to start when calculating the cost of your shipping container home is with the container itself.
The cost of each container depends on both its size and condition. Shipping containers come in two primary types: regular and high cube. Regular containers are the ones most commonly used in freight shipments. This means that they’re both cheap and easy to come by. You can get a regular container in a 20-foot-long size or a 40-foot-long size. Both sizes are about 8 foot wide by 8 foot tall. This means that a 20 foot container gives you about 160 square feet in living space. A 40 foot container gives you about 320 square feet.
High cube containers also come in 20 foot or 40 foot sizes but have about a foot more ceiling height. As with any home, a higher ceiling makes the space feel much larger, and gives you more vertical living space.
As you might expect, newer containers are more expensive. Of course, newer containers are also likely to last longer and are less likely to present problems when building. Older shipping containers will cost less, but may have a shorter lifespan or require more work during construction.
As for the actual numbers, you can find a used 40 foot shipping container for as low as $2,000, up to $5,000, and averaging around $3,000 or $4,000. A new 40 foot shipping container will set you back around $6,000.
If your plan is to build a small storage container home, you may only need to use one container. If you want a little more space, though, you may choose to use four to six containers, or even more. The more containers you use, the more flexibility you will have in your design. And, obviously, the more storage containers you use, the more floor space you will have. Most people opt to combine multiple containers to create a larger home. The beauty of shipping containers is that they can be stacked or combined in any number of ways, and you can mix 20’ containers with 40’ containers to create a layout that is perfect for your needs. Very often, shipping container home builders use a 40’ container as the main living quarters and add 20’ containers for bedrooms and other secondary rooms.
Breakdown for Shipping Container Homes Cost
At this point, you may be getting excited, thinking that you can build a new home for just a few thousand dollars. But remember that there are other costs involved with building a container home. As with any home, you’re not just paying for the structure itself. You’re also paying for labor, plumbing, electric, finishes, etc.
Let’s break down some of the other costs you can expect to see when you build a shipping container house.
A storage container home has to be located somewhere, which means you’ll have to buy or lease land. There isn’t really a good way to estimate the cost of land. Dozens of factors, like acreage, location, loan terms, and so on, determine this cost. In many cases, the cost of the land will be larger than the cost of the container house itself. You should also consider whether the land will have to be prepped prior to building the home. You may expect to spend up to $10,000 to prepare the site for construction.
When you build a shipping container home, you don’t simply plop down the container on the ground. You need a proper foundation. There are a few options, the most popular of which are slab, concrete pier, and trench. For a trench foundation, you can expect to pay about $5,200 (for a large container). For a slab foundation, you can expect to pay about $6,000. And for a pier foundation, about $500. Slab foundations are typically used for storage container homes only where the ground is too soft to use a pier foundation or trench foundation.
Even if you live in a fairly mild climate, you need insulation in your home. The homes are metal and, without insulation, you may as well be living in an oven in the summer and a freezer in the winter. Fortunately, there are several different options to consider, ranging across many different price points. Generally, shipping container homes use one of three types of insulation: panel, spray foam, or blanket. Panel insulation is the easiest to install, and will run you about $1.20 per square foot. Still, if you’re building your shipping container house on your own, this may be the way to go. Please note that panel insulation will also require you to install wooden battens, which will eat into your living space. Blanket insulation also requires wooden battens, but is the cheapest option, at about $0.45 per square foot. Spray foam is the priciest option, but is also easy to install and a very effective insulator.
Other Shipping Container Home Costs
Some other costs you might expect to incur when building your shipping container home (these are all estimates and can vary greatly, depending on the size of the home, the location, the quality of the finishes, and so on).
Assembly of the container – $3,000
Plumbing – $7,000
HVAC – $7,000
Electrical – $7,000
Flooring – $5,000
Roofing – $3,000
Doors and hardware – $2,000
Finishes and painting – $6,000
Windows – $4,000
You can save a lot of money by DIY-ing your shipping container house, but if you do, you should consider the cost of shipping container home plans.
If your plan is to build your shipping container home yourself, remember that you may need to obtain a permit from your local municipality, and you may need to provide them with a site plan.
In summary, a shipping container home can be tailored to fit your needs and budget precisely. You may build the home of your dreams for as little as $15,000. Or perhaps you prefer to build a large, luxurious home for $200,000 or more. Either way, you’re getting a custom home at half the price of the equivalent home built in the traditional way.