From green infrastructure to tiny houses, architects and designers are reinventing the definition of a home. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, people are creating shipping container homes. There are about 14 million containers ‘out-of-service’ in the world, and people are using them as building blocks to create houses, cabins, offices, and studios. There’s a definite appeal to constructing your own home like Lego and some people take their creativity to the next level.
Stunning Shipping Container Homes All Over the World
Denver Shipping Container Home: This house spans three thousand square feet and perfectly blends rustic with industrial.
Quadrum Ski & Yoga Resort: This resort in Gudauri, Georgia consists of stacked containers paneled with wood. It’s a stunning piece of architecture standing in the stunning Caucasus Mountains.
Tiny Shipping Container House: The tiny house movement meets shipping containers with this eco-friendly vacation rental on Airbnb.
Containers of Hope: Gabriela Calvo and Marca Peralta built their dream home with just $40,000 in Costa Rica. The home was created by the architecture firm Studio Saxe, who used two shipping containers.
Shipping Container Tiny House: Imagine this at your next glamping trip. It has lovely bohemian decor, but it lacks running water and a real kitchen. But that’s unnecessary anyway with a campfire and barbeque.
NYC Shipping Container Home: This was one of the first of these homes in Brooklyn, New York, and it has a homey but chic interior.
Beach Box: This is an actual mansion in the Hamptons made out of shipping containers. Plus, it has a shipping container pool! It’s also listed for $1.4 million.
The Wellington Container: This vacation home in New Zealand consists of three shipping containers, plus its own home theater and hydrotherapy spa. 
Meka Modular: The company creates “superior, environmentally sound modular living and workspaces that can be shipped easily worldwide,” according to their website. 
Customer Container Living: This company creates tiny homes with two sleeping lofts. Despite its small size, it feels spacious with room for all standard home appliances, and even a covered porch. 
Many people turn to shipping containers for lower maintenance costs and less construction for their homes. Additionally, many theorize recycling these containers helps the environment. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Although there are many ‘out-of-service’ containers, they are often damaged, dented, and rusted; not ideal for a home. Therefore, most factory-built container homes utilize ‘one-use’ containers that only made one trip. Taking these good containers out of service isn’t good recycling. Plus, the steel in the containers could go into regular house-making.
According to Architect Mark Hogan of OpenScope Studio, “An empty 40′ shipping container weighs 8380 pounds. A galvanized steel stud weighs a pound per linear foot. These two containers, melted down and rolled and formed, could have been upcycled into 2,095 8′ long steel studs. Framing the walls instead of using shipping containers would have used about 144 of them. Using shipping containers as structural elements for a one storey building is downcycling and wasting of a resource.” 
Additionally, the homes could contain structural issues. The roof of the shipping containers often needs enforcement to withstand harsh weather. Plus, whenever people cut out a window or door or even an entire wall (to enmesh it with another container), they need reinforcement.
As Hogan said, “If you cut openings in the container walls, the entire structure starts to deflect and needs to be reinforced because the corrugated sides act like the flange of a beam and once big pieces are removed, the beam stops working. All of this steel reinforcing is very expensive, and it’s the only way you can build a ‘double-wide.’”
However, according to some experts, shipping container homes are ideal for temporary or emergency housing, for instance, after a natural disaster.
Living in a Shipping Container
Still, the shipping container home trend continues increasing in popularity but not all states and countries allow them. It’s important to do research about your area if you’re considering one. In general, suburban and rural areas tend to be more lenient for shipping container homes. They should last at least 25 years, or longer if they are well-maintained or are lined with siding. The biggest enemy of these homes is rust, so owners should be on guard for signs of corrosion. 
Although it’s not necessarily the most environmentally sustainable or cost-efficient, many people fall in love with the idea of a shipping container home. After all, its DIY-type design and movability are its greatest features.
- “23 Incredible Shipping Container Homes Around the World.” House Beautiful. December 18, 2019
- “20 Stunning Shipping Container Homes Built for Any Lifestyle.” HGTV. Brent Furdyk. February 13, 2019
- “5 Shipping Container Homes You Can Order Right Now.” Curbed. Megan Barber. September 3, 2020
- “What’s Wrong With Shipping Container Housing? One Architect Says “Everything.”” Treehugger. Lloyd Alter. February 16, 2021
- “Shipping Container Homes – Pros, Cons & Costs.” Build With Rise. Luke Hunter. July 17, 2017