The Pros And Cons Of Owning Shipping Container Homes

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

Shipping containers homes are a type of dwelling places made from steel shipping containers, which are reusable intermodal containers you see in ports, used to transport goods. Shipping containers come in different sizes. Today, a popular construction and architectural trend has seen uses for shipping containers beyond ship ports. They’re also used as the main frame of some houses these days.

Like tiny homes, many homeowners are opting for shipping containers as an alternative solution to the traditional manner of building homes. Some have shipping homes with multiple levels, while others have small units, mostly for vacation purposes. Whatever the purpose, there’s no denying its global fame as of late.

Like any mode of construction, however, shipping homes aren’t perfect. They also come with their own set of pros and cons. An awareness of those advantages and disadvantages ensures that before you decide on having a shipping container home yourself, you’re backed up with sound research to make an informed decision.

With that said, this article presents you with the pros and cons of owning shipping container homes.

The Advantages Of Owning Shipping Container Homes

Here are the advantages of owning a shipping container home:

1. It Makes For Speedy Construction

Shipping container home construction is faster than regular construction simply because you already have an existing frame or structure per se. All you’ll have to do, then, is to finish the frame up to turn it into a home. In essence, you aren’t building from scratch.

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So, if you’re pressed for time, building a home using shipping containers is, definitely, a good choice. With offsite fabrication, a smaller shipping home can be finished in a month or two. For a larger structure, you’re looking at a timeline of three to six months. These are only general averages, but the whole outlook is that shipping containers can be twice as fast to finish constructing than traditional building work.

2. It May Be More Cost-Effective

This second advantage applies if you’re able to source out container vans, which aren’t as expensive. This is the reason why you’ll have to take the time to go through your options to ensure a cost-effective purchase. Otherwise, if you pay any more than what you have to for a shipping container, then, your home can’t enjoy the advantage of being more cost-effective.

Generally, however, shipping containers are a more cost-effective option than building one from scratch. Conventional houses require more materials simply because you’re also constructing the structure and framework from scratch. With a shipping container home, this structure is in place, therefore, reducing the materials needed to start the construction work.

3. It’s More Mobile

This third advantage applies if you don’t see yourself living in just one area for too long. When you move, the most common route of action taken is to sell your home. In this case, however, why sell your home when you can bring it with you as you move?  This latter option is available to shipping container homes, as they’re more mobile.

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All you have to do is load or haul the shipping container in the trailer van, then, you’re good to go!

4. It’s Tough And Durable

Shipping containers are made to withstand harsh weather conditions during long ship travel. You can, therefore, rely on their structure to be tough, durable, and inherently weather-proof. When well-maintained and taken care of, shipping container homes can last longer without need of any major repair, in comparison with conventional homes.

Shipping Container Homes

The Disadvantages Of Owning Shipping Container Homes

No construction material is ever perfect. This means that perfect as it may seem, a shipping container home has its own disadvantages, too. These include.

1. It May Have Structural Issues

If you’re working with a contractor or engineer who isn’t well-versed on using shipping containers, then, your home may be prone to structural issues. This dilemma is pushed to the side if you’re working with a contractor who’s an expert at shipping containers.

The sides itself are sturdy, but the roof may not be as strong. Typically, you’ll need to build another roof over it to ensure your shipping container home can withstand extreme temperatures, like too much heat and heavy snow.

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2. It May Be More Challenging To Obtain The Right Permits

Building shipping container structures and homes is popular nowadays, yes. But, its popularity can’t change the fact of it being a relatively new phenomenon in the engineering and architecture industry. This means there may not be set rules and guidelines yet as to codes and rules to follow.

Because of this fact, there may be some local jurisdictions wherein obtaining permits for shipping container homes may still be challenging and difficult. The rules can differ from one state to another, so before ultimately deciding on building a shipping container home, be sure to go through your own local laws first and double-check the permits.

3. It May Be More Challenging To Insulate

Shipping containers are, generally, long and narrow. This is because they’re meant to fit seamlessly on a trailer truck. This narrow shape has its many advantages, but it also has its pressing disadvantages. One of these is the fact that narrow structures don’t tend to insulate very well.

When you’re working with a narrow shipping container, it may result in eating up a huge chunk of the interior space to insulate it. This can be very challenging when you’re now going to make the shipping container narrower than it already is.

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4. It May Need A Lot Of Reinforcements

Shipping containers are made of durable steel. After all, their primary purpose was to withstand months of long ship travel, as well s harsh weather elements. This durability, however, can be compromised when you start building on the structure. This means doing engineering work relating to building a home, like cutting holes for doors and windows, and drilling for electrical attachments.

So, to compensate for those work done, which could damage the structure, you’ll have to install a lot of reinforcements. By doing so, you can make the shipping containers withstand harsh weather conditions and keep its durability.


Hopefully, this article has enlightened you well enough that shipping container homes aren’t an engineering miracle. While the advantages of one still outweighs the disadvantages, you still have to give it much thought before deciding on having one. At the very least, do put your construction project in the hands of a qualified expert contractor who’s well-versed with shipping container homes. If you’re confident enough that a shipping container home is, in fact, the best choice for your needs, then go for it. 

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