White shipping container home with a window. appealing windows flickr photo by nicolas.boullosa shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How Much Do Shipping Container Homes Cost in 2024?

Building a house is a considerable investment, and homeowners want to build the best house possible without going way over budget. One of the most popular affordable alternatives to traditional houses is shipping container homes. How much do shipping container homes cost, and are they really more cost-effective?

This article explains the cost of building a shipping container home and the different expenses you will encounter as you build one so you can prepare a suitable budget. 

How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Shipping Container Into a Home? 

If you plan on building a shipping container home, prepare to spend between $10,000 and $25,000. This is an estimate for a small structure with basic amenities. You still need to factor in the cost of finishing. If you want a larger building with more features, expect the price to be higher. 

Shipping Container Home Examples and Cost

As mentioned earlier, the cost of a container home depends on multiple factors. You can have a modest home and save a lot of money. You can also go all out and build a container home that will give traditional luxury homes a run for their money. Let’s take a quick look at sample container homes and their costs to give you an idea of where your budget can take you.

The Beach Box by Andrew Anderson

This is one of the earliest container homes and certainly one of the most popular because it took container homes to a whole new level. The Beach Box is a huge container home that used six shipping containers. It is also in The Hamptons, an area known for the huge beach homes of New York’s most affluent residents. 

This magnificent container home is located just 600 feet away from the ocean. It has a total area of 2,000 square feet and a deck covering 1,300 square feet. It is also an eco-friendly structure that used energy-saving appliances and sustainable building materials like bamboo. The price tag for this luxury container home is a whopping $1,395,000.

A charming recycled shipping container home by Andrew Anderson
A charming recycled shipping container home by Andrew Anderson

Double Duo by Custom Container Living

This is an ideal container home for a mid-sized family. It has two bedrooms and one bathroom. The bedrooms are identical and have closets for efficiently storing clothes and other personal items. Both bedrooms also have large windows to make the space look roomier. 

The bathroom is large enough for a tub so you can enjoy a relaxing bath after a long day at work. This container home has a full kitchen for cooking for your family. The centerpiece of this structure is its spacious living room, which is large enough for any décor or furniture. 

The cost of this two-container home is $131,900

The lovely Double Duo container home by Custom Container Living
The lovely Double Duo container home by Custom Container Living

The Bachelor by Custom Container Living

This is an example of a shipping container home that’s stylish while being economical. The house has a floor area of 160 square feet. It is a studio unit, so it’s ideal for those looking for a starter home, but it may not be the best option for a family of more than 3. 

This is a small structure, so don’t be surprised if the bathroom and kitchen look a bit crowded. While this may not be an ideal option if you want a larger home, at $43,900, it has all the amenities to make life comfortable. The price above also includes the cost of the HVAC system, so you don’t need to worry about keeping your container home comfortable. 

The Bachelor container home by Custom Container Living
The Bachelor container home by Custom Container Living

Breaking Down the Cost of a Shipping Container Home 

The overall cost of building a shipping container home comprises several components, and understanding these components can help you prepare your budget. 

Shipping Container 


Shipping containers come in several sizes; the size of the container you will use will affect the cost of your construction project. Choosing the size of the container you will use is crucial because it will dictate the total floor area of your house. 

Shipping containers are around eight feet wide and can be around 10 feet, 20 feet, or 40 feet in length. When it comes to height, the standard height is 8 feet and 6 inches. There are also taller containers, around 9 feet, and 6 inches. These taller containers are suitable if you want more storage space or to improve air circulation inside your house. 

Depending on its condition, a 40-foot shipping container costs between $1,700 and $3,500


There are several types of shipping containers depending on their original use or the type of cargo they used to hold. 

The most common ones are the standard or general dry storage containers. They are used for transporting general and dry cargo like plastics, electronics, clothes, etc. Vented containers are used to transport goods that need ventilation, like tea, dry grains, or coffee beans. Both of these types are ideal for building a single-story container house. 

An open-top container is one that’s used for transporting large items like tall slabs of granite, marble, and other flooring materials. This type usually becomes the lower floor of a multi-story shipping container home.

Open-side containers are open from the sides and are intended for wide cargo. You can use this type if you want a house with full-height doors and windows along the long side. A tunnel or door container is the opposite of an open-side container because the doors are on the ends and are ideal for transporting long cargo. Use this type if you want full-height windows and doors at the ends of your container home. 

Reefer or refrigerated containers are for holding meat, fruits, seafood, and vegetables. Insulated or thermal containers are for transporting food, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Both of these types are ideal if you want a container with pre-fabricated insulation. 

Receive Quotes from Multiple Barndominium Builders & Kit Providers Near You Today (It's Free!)

Fill in this 1-minute form below and receive estimates for your project without having to find them yourself! Let them do the work.

Flat racks are containers that hold goods that won’t fit in the container types mentioned earlier. This type is ideal for creating outdoor decks. 

Used or New

The condition of the container you are buying greatly impacts the price of your container. You can buy damaged and non-waterproofed containers for a steal, but they may not last long, and you might end up wasting your investment. 

A cargo-worthy container or something that can still be used to transport goods is the most popular choice and can cost around $1,850. There are also containers in almost mint condition, and they often cost around $3,500. 

It is important to note that shipping container prices fluctuate depending on supply and demand. You also need to consider the location of your supplier because delivery fees will come into play. 


Depending on the supplier, you might get a discount if you buy more than one shipping container. Since bulk discount rates can vary, ask for quotes from several suppliers to get the most favorable rates available.  

Land Cost

If you don’t own land for your shipping container, this will consume a large chunk of your budget. The amount you should set aside for buying land will depend on the size of the lot and its location. For example, if you plan on building in Florida, an acre of land’s average cost is around $75,672. This is almost ten times higher than Kansas’s average land cost, around $7,797 per acre. 

If you want to stretch your budget, look for land outside of large cities since that’s where low-cost lands are available. With enough research, you can find an inexpensive lot that’s still near modern amenities to make it suitable for building a house. If you get lucky, you can have land large enough to include a shipping container garage or a shipping container storage. Check our Pinterest account for amazing pictures of shipping container roof plans and floor plans you can use as inspiration. 

If you already own land, you need to prepare it for construction. You’ll have to elevate paving, especially in a flood-prone area. Other options include installing a subsurface drainage system to redirect water away from your structure to protect its foundation. 


The foundation of your container home plays a critical role because it supports the load of the entire structure. A strong foundation can help keep your house standing even amid floods or strong winds. The foundation is especially critical with a shipping container home because your contractor will weld or bolt the shipping containers into the foundation to keep them stable. 

The average cost of concrete is between $4.25 and $6.25 per square foot so expect to pay between $8,500 and $12,500 for a 2,000 square feet home for the concrete alone. Note that these estimates are subject to inflation but will give you a ballpark figure on how much you should expect to pay. It also doesn’t include labor, around $2.60 per square foot or $5,200 for a 2,500-square-foot house. 


With the help of insulation, you can keep your structure’s occupants safe from the harmful effects of the sun and cold weather. The average cost of insulating a 2,000-square-foot house is between $3,000 and $10,000 or between $1.50 and $5.00 per square foot. 

Other Amenities and Finishes

Electrical Wiring

An electrical wiring system is important for any house, including ones made from shipping containers. This allows you to supply power to your electrical appliances. It also powers your HVAC system. Installing electrical wirings is a sensitive matter because a faulty installation can result in a fire and endanger your property and the lives of its occupants. 

Installing electrical wirings can cost between $2 and $4 per square foot or between $4,000 and $8,000 for a 2,000-square-foot house. This estimate includes computations for labor and materials, but they can change depending on your location. 


Plumbing costs for a new house can cost between $4.50 and $5.00 per square foot. This will come to $9,000 and $10,000 for a 2,000-square-foot house. This estimate includes the cost of materials and labor costs. The said estimate also covers the main water hook-up and connecting the sewerage system to the municipal system. However, this does not include the cost of plumbing fixtures and their installation. 


An HVAC system controls the heat, humidity, and airflow in your shipping container home. It regulates the temperature in your house to keep the occupants cool during the summer and comfortably warm during winter. 

The average cost of installing an HVAC system is around $7,000. However, it can run between $5,000 and $12,000 depending on the size of the system, the size of the house, and the house’s layout. The brand and style of the HVAC system also affect the overall cost. 


Installing drywall has many benefits for a house. It helps cover the metal interior of your container home, so it looks like the interior of a traditional building. A drywall has a smooth finish that makes walls ready to paint and more attractive. This can increase the value of your shipping container home should you decide to sell it. 

The drywall cost is around $3 per square foot or between $5,000 and $19,500 for a 1,500-square-foot house. 

Roof Installation

The average cost of installing a roof is around $8,990. It can go as high as $45,000, depending on the location and type of roofing material you will use. Labor costs make up a bulk of this computation, so you might pay less if you live in an area with low labor rates. 

Your choice of roofing material makes up almost half of the cost. Slate and Cedar shakes are high-end options and can drive the price up. If you want a more cost-effective option, go for asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are not just inexpensive; they are also easier to install, so you can expect reduced labor costs too. Since asphalt shingles are easy to install, you can install them yourself if you have enough handyman skills. 

Is Building a Shipping Container Home Worth It?

Yes, building a shipping container home is worth it if you want a starter home but don’t have enough funds to build a traditional house. It can provide the amenities you need in a home minus the hefty price tag attached to conventional houses. 

A shipping container house is also a great option if you need a home built quickly because the construction time is shorter, mainly because it will use pre-fabricated building materials. 

Consider Opting for a Pre-Made Shipping Container Home Instead

Although building a shipping container home is quick, you can reduce construction time further by going for a pre-made one. These are container homes built in the manufacturer’s plant and shipped to your location. They are turn-key homes, so you can occupy them immediately after installation. All that you need is to prepare your lot and foundation. You should explore this option if you don’t have the DIY skills to build your home or cannot find a contractor in your area to build for you. 

The best thing to do is get quotes from local builders and compare them to the cost of a pre-made shipping container home. This will help you choose the most cost-effective option depending on your budget and timeframe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of shipping container homes?

Aside from their affordability, there are other benefits to shipping container homes. They are stackable and can be arranged in a wide variety of ways, so you can design your house however you want. Go to our Instagram account to see design ideas you can use in planning your shipping container home.   

They are made from metal, so they are ideal if you plan on building in an area prone to termites. Another advantage of a metal home is its resistance to fire. Compared to wooden homes, a metal structure can withstand fire better and won’t combust. This makes them an ideal alternative if you are in an area prone to bushfires. 

How fast can you build a container home?

According to one manufacturer, a custom container home can take 8 to 12 weeks to build. This is just for the manufacturing phase and does not include the time for delivery and installation. 

It will take longer to build if you are building from scratch, even with the help of a general contractor. Needless to say, expect a protracted construction schedule if you go for a DIY build. 

How long will a shipping container house last?

A shipping container house can last between 25-30 years. This is an estimate because the life span of your house will depend on several factors. For example, constant exposure to the sun’s UV rays and rain can accelerate corrosion and shorten the structure’s life. 


One of the reasons why many homeowners are attracted to the prospect of shipping container homes is their low construction costs. They are quick and easy to build, so labor costs are lower. You can also find competitively-priced shipping containers you can use. It has a small footprint, so there’s no need to buy a large lot to build on. If you want to build a house on a limited budget, a shipping container house is an option you should explore.

Be sure to like our Facebook page if you want to read informative articles about metal buildings like barndominiums, prefabricated & modular homes as well as shipping container homes. In addition, browse around the website to find more relevant information.


Written by Metal-Building-Homes.com

We strive to deliver informational and inspirational content for unconventional homes. From barndominiums to steel-framed modular homes, this is the place to browse if you're looking into untraditional housing options.