If you are looking for a house that’s affordable and easy to build, a shipping container home is an excellent choice. You can build a sturdy structure for just a fraction of the cost of a traditional house. They also don’t require a large lot like conventional houses. What’s stopping some homeowners from going for a container home is their appearance. However, there are ways to make a shipping container home attractive.
In this article, we will show you some beautiful container home ideas you can try, give you a tour inside shipping container homes, and show you a wide range of examples ranging from cheap to luxury shipping container homes.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Choose to Live in a Shipping Container Home?
- 2 What are Some Good Shipping Container Home Designs?
- 2.1 The Bachelor(ette) by Custom Container Living
- 2.2 The Weekender by Custom Container Living
- 2.3 Dwell Well by Custom Container Living
- 2.4 Family Matters by Custom Container Living
- 2.5 Luxury 4 All by Custom Container Living
- 2.6 Bunny Lane
- 2.7 Containers of Hope
- 2.8 4×40 by Lot-Ek
- 2.9 HO5 by Honomobo
- 2.10 HO4 by Honomobo
- 2.11 Mariposa House by ThreeSquared
- 2.12 Unique Shipping Container Home in Denver
- 2.13 Rooftop-E Downtown Containers
- 2.14 Beach Box
- 3 Is It Worth Living in a Shipping Container Home?
- 4 FAQs
- 5 Final Thoughts
Why Choose to Live in a Shipping Container Home?
Instead of regular houses, why do people choose to live in shipping container homes? We’ve already mentioned one of the most compelling reasons: affordability. You don’t need to break the bank just to build this type of house. This makes it an ideal choice for those starting their family and needing a starter home. The low construction cost of shipping container homes can help you conserve money for use in a larger and more permanent home you might be dreaming about in the future.
Another advantage of a shipping container home is its easy customization and design. You can design a rustic, simple, or modern structure. Its design also makes it easy to expand. If you live in a tiny house and your family is growing, you’ll be forced to cram people together in a small room or build a larger house, like a barndominium which usually is more costly. With a shipping container home, you can add new rooms, expand the common areas, or add an extra story to your existing structure. Think about it like building a home from Legos, where you can attach new spaces on the go.
Read our comprehensive guide about shipping container homes to better understand these structures, their benefits, and how you can start building one for your family.
What are Some Good Shipping Container Home Designs?
If you think that shipping container homes are just blocky or rectangular structures, you are mistaken. You can build container homes any way you want them. Allow us to present to you some amazing shipping container home design ideas you can use to build a house that your neighbors will envy.
The Bachelor(ette) by Custom Container Living
Size: 160 square feet
The Bachelor or Bachelorette is a studio unit from Custom Container Living. It is a studio unit without a loft. As the name suggests, it is perfect for a single person and can even suffice for a couple. You can build this container home in your backyard for a child who wants to start living independently. The Bachelor can be ideal for a granny flat or a guest unit for visiting relatives. It is also an excellent idea if you want to build a rental unit for Airbnb. It is made from a single 20-foot shipping container.
This studio unit has all the creature comforts you need. It has a bedroom and a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink. The Bachelor also has a small kitchen for cooking meals. The kitchen may be small, but it is enough for a kitchen sink, microwave, a small pantry, and a refrigerator.
The living room doubles as the bedroom, so you can have a double or a queen-sized bed. You can also have a sofa bed to have a functional living room during the day and a bed during the night.
The Weekender by Custom Container Living
Size: 160 square feet
The Weekender by Custom Container Living is similar to The Bachelor as both are studio-type container homes with 160 square feet of living space. The Weekender, however, has the advantage of being a loft-type unit. The loft has enough room for a queen-sized mattress. It also has shelves for storage so you can organize your belongings. The storage option lets you unclutter the lower level for more furniture and appliances.
Since the bedroom is in the loft, the living areas in The Weekender are more spacious than that of The Bachelor. The kitchen is larger and has more countertop space, so you can cook meals comfortably. The kitchen also has some pantry space for storing your kitchen staples.
The bathroom is of reasonable size and has a walk-in shower. It also has a bathroom vanity with storage underneath for your towels and toiletries. One good thing about The Weekender is that it offers a composting toilet as an upgrade to let you save water.
Dwell Well by Custom Container Living
Size: 480 square feet
This shipping container home uses two containers, a 20-footer, and a 40-footer, to provide 480-square feet of living space. If you love cooking, this is an excellent choice because it has a u-shaped kitchen where you can cook without obstructing the goings on of the house’s other occupants. The kitchen has generous counter space for cooking large meals. It also has enough space for a conventional oven if you love baking.
The Dwell Well has a spacious living/dining area. This will give you enough space to spend quality time with your family or entertain guests. The bedroom has space for a king-sized mattress. It also has space for a clothes closet. Custom Container Living offers an option for a custom raised bed platform to use the space underneath for more storage space. You can have a monotone exterior, or you can play with colors and go with a two-tone design.
Family Matters by Custom Container Living
Size: 960 square feet
With 960 square feet of living space, Family Matters is a great option for a growing family. This two-bedroom structure is made by combining two 40-foot containers and two 20-foot containers.
The master bedroom is the coup de grace of this shipping container home. It has a large walk-in closet, shower, toilet, and bathroom vanity. The second bedroom is equally comfortable and has a walk-in closet for organizing clothing items. Both bedrooms feature large windows to let in natural light and make them look roomier.
The main bathroom is large enough for a 5-foot tub, so you can enjoy a relaxing soak after a long and tiring day at work. It also has a built-in linen cabinet for your toiletries. The main bathroom has space for a stacked washer and dryer.
The living room is located between the two bedrooms in the center of the structure. It is spacious enough for most furniture choices. Family Matters offers several siding choices, so you can choose the one that appeals to you most. You can also combine siding options. You can also leave the shipping container exposed if you want an industrial look or paint it with your choice of custom color scheme later.
Luxury 4 All by Custom Container Living
Size: 960 square feet
Luxury 4 All is an excellent shipping container design for a large family. It has three bedrooms and 960 square feet of living space. The structure uses a combination of two 40-footer and two 20-footer shipping containers.
The master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and a massive walk-in closet. The two other bedrooms are identical and have closets. You can customize the bedrooms to have bunk beds for more sleeping options.
Luxury 4 All’s kitchen is huge, so you can equip it with all the necessary equipment and tools to cook sumptuous meals for your family. The kitchen is L-shaped and open-concept, so you can move freely or cook with other family members. The living room is also massive and ideal for entertaining guests. With a large living room, you can utilize several furniture configurations to have the living room style that suits your family’s needs.
Luxury 4 All has several siding options, like exposed or colored metal sidings. You can also go with painted wood sidings if you want your shipping container home to look more like a traditional house or a cabin.
Size: 2,240 square feet
This massive shipping container home is by renowned architect Adam Kalkin. What makes this structure unique is the fact that it is a traditional house nestled within a modern one. The structure’s outer shell is made of shipping containers with custom roll-up doors.
One end of the structure has three stories of rooms. It is divided into nine sections and has modern furnishings. The effect is meant to pay homage to 1950s office buildings.
The interior house of Bunny Lane is a white-washed traditional New Jersey home. It has a wrap-around porch where you can take your afternoon tea or read a book on a rocking chair. The traditional motif extends to the interior of the traditional home. It has a living room with a fireplace. It has antique furnishings and a warm color palette reminiscent of heritage houses.
Containers of Hope
Size: 1,075 square feet
This shipping container home in San Jose, Costa Rica, by Benjamin Garcia Saxe, is one of the most famous container homes in the world. Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta currently own it. It has 1,075 square feet of living space and is made from two 40-foot shipping containers. What’s even more amazing is that this fantastic shipping container home cost only $40,000 to build.
This is a perfect example of a simple shipping container home that exudes luxury. Instead of installing the containers as they are, they were pulled apart to create the large floor-to-ceiling windows and afford the occupants an imposing view of the eastern and western portions of the property.
Containers of Hope has two bedrooms. It has a large bathroom with a walk-in closet. The central portion of the roof is raised and has bow windows to improve air circulation. Multiple floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the house help conserve electricity by letting in plenty of natural light.
4×40 by Lot-Ek
Size: 1,280 square feet
As its name implies, this shipping container home is made of four 40-foot containers for a total of 1,280 square feet of living space. It has two stories with two bedrooms on the second floor. Both bedrooms are identical in size. They both have bathrooms and closets for storing personal effects. The two bedrooms are accessible by their staircases for more privacy.
The lower floor is exclusively for common spaces. It has an open floor concept to make it look roomier. It has a full-sized kitchen that continues to the dining room. The 4×40 has front and back decks to appreciate your picturesque surroundings. The decks are also excellent options if you want an intimate al fresco dinner with your family. You can also use your deck to entertain guests. The 4×40 also has external stairs that lead to a roof deck. This roof deck is excellent if you want to hold a party for friends or if you just want to enjoy a quiet time under the stars.
Be sure to check our article detailing shipping container roof plans to learn how to build a shipping container home with a fabulous and functional roof.
HO5 by Honomobo
Size: 1,600 square feet
The HO5 is the largest model offered by Honomobo. The designation means this shipping container home is made from five shipping containers. It has a master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms. The master bedroom has an en suite bathroom large enough for a bathtub and a double bathroom vanity. It also has a walk-in closet for storing clothing items, luggage, footwear, etc.
The two bathrooms are almost the same size and have built-in closets. Unlike the master bedroom, the two bedrooms share the second bathroom. There is also a powder room near the common storage room.
The common area has an open floor concept that starts from the living room and stretches across the dining area and the full-sized kitchen. The HO5 also has a dedicated laundry room.
One of the walls of the HO5 is made of floor-to-ceiling glass, and Honomobo offers the option of having two glass walls if the owners prefer. Another unique feature of the HO5 is the option for homeowners to build stairs and connect the structure to an onsite basement. This will allow you to expand the structure downwards and increase the property’s total floor area.
HO4 by Honomobo
Size: 1,280 square feet
The HO4 is another offering by Honomobo with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Just like the HO5, the master bedroom of this structure has an en suite master bathroom. However, unlike the HO5, the master bedroom doesn’t have a walk-in closet. Another difference is the lack of a powder room for the common areas.
The HO4 also has an open floor plan that connects the living room, dining room, and kitchen areas. It has one wall of glazed floor-to-ceiling glass with the option to upgrade to two walls of glazing. The glazed wall is nice to have if you live in a picturesque location because you can build a deck to expand your living areas.
The HO4 also has a provision for building stairs to connect your shipping container home to a basement. Another option is to install the HO4 atop a concrete structure to act as the second floor with an overlooking deck.
Mariposa House by ThreeSquared
Size: 2,830 square feet
The Mariposa House in Columbus, Ohio, is an excellent example of a multi-family dwelling. It has enough room to comfortably house two families. This shipping container house is made of eight shipping containers and has a total of 2,830 square feet of living space.
The structure utilizes a double-height open-concept core you’ll often see in luxury shipping container homes. This gives an illusion of space to make the area look roomier. The core space of the structure lies smack in the middle of the family dwellings to act as an invisible divider. The shared living spaces also have an open-concept layout so you can move seamlessly from the living area to the dining and kitchen area. Right outside the living area is an outdoor niche where you can set up an outdoor living space for entertaining guests or if you want to get some fresh air.
Unique Shipping Container Home in Denver
Size: 3,000 square feet
This luxurious shipping container home in Denver, Colorado, is currently listed on Airbnb. It has an astounding 3,000 square feet of living space. The main house has three bedrooms on the upper floor plus two full bathrooms. On the lower level, you have one full bathroom and a powder room. It has a full-sized kitchen with a granite center island for additional countertop space. The crown jewel of the structure is the great room with a 25-foot ceiling.
The exterior of the shipping container home has decorative wood panels, so it doesn’t look like it’s made from shipping containers from the outside. However, the interior spaces clearly show the shipping containers, giving them an industrial look. Aside from the main house, there is also an attached apartment for guests staying over. It also has a garage for storing your vehicles. Read our article about shipping container garages if you want to build durable and affordable garages made from shipping containers.
Rooftop-E Downtown Containers
Size: 1,280 square feet
Rooftop E is another prime example of a multi-family shipping container home. The entire structure has a total of 1,280 square feet of living space. It has a total of four bedrooms and four bathrooms, with two of each per level. The structure sits on a slightly elevated foundation, ensuring it is safe from light flooding.
Aside from the indoor living spaces, Rooftop E also has a 640-foot roof terrace perfect for holding small parties or Sunday barbeques. It also boasts a 500-square-foot decking if you’re up for an al fresco dinner.
What makes this sample shipping container home great is the premium it placed on individuality. All four bedrooms and bathrooms have differing designs. The bathrooms are nicely appointed and used different flooring and wall materials to make them unique.
Size: 1,942 square feet
Whenever we hear the name Hamptons, we automatically conjure images of opulent celebrity beach houses. However, if you plan to build a container home by the beach, the best model is the Beach Box in the Hamptons. Although this structure was built more than a decade ago, it is still one of the most recognizable and admired container homes.
The Beach Box has 1,942 square feet of living space made by combining six shipping containers. Just like the other beach houses in the area, this structure is as luxurious as it can get. It has four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms spread out over two levels. The structure has huge windows allowing its occupants to enjoy the surrounding vista. It also has over 1,300 square feet of exterior decking, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, which is less than 1,000 feet from the house. If you’re not fond of the ocean, the saltwater pool of the Beach Box is an excellent alternative for relaxation.
Is It Worth Living in a Shipping Container Home?
Yes, living in a shipping container home is worth it. This is a type of house that is easy to build and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It is unique and easy to customize. If you are looking to build a structure quickly, a shipping container home is an excellent option. It is also a great starter home because it is easy to expand as your family grows.
How much does it cost to convert a shipping container into a home?
A shipping container home can cost between $10,000 and $25,000. This is the price for a basic shipping container home. If you want more features and customizations, expect to spend more in building your structure. This estimate is for the structure only and does not include the cost of buying land if you don’t own one.
If you want a more comprehensive breakdown of the expenses involved in building one, check out our shipping container cost guide.
Is it cheaper to build a house or a container home?
A container home will be cheaper if we compare a house with a container home of the same size and features. However, it is not unusual to find container homes that are more expensive than their traditional counterparts because they have more features and use luxurious building materials. Your location also plays a crucial role because a huge container home in rural Alabama will likely be cheaper than or just as expensive as a medium-sized house in downtown Los Angeles.
Shipping containers are also excellent choices if you are looking to build other affordable structures like workshops, garages, or storage options. Make sure that you check our article about shipping container storage to learn about how you can transform a shipping container into a durable and cheap storage option.
How long do container homes last?
The average lifespan of a shipping container is around 25 years. They are designed to make them durable enough when traveling by sea. This means that you can expect a container home to last around 15 years. This is an estimated lifespan for a house built with used shipping containers.
Take note that this doesn’t mean that the house will no longer be liveable after 15 years. It only means it might need major maintenance or repairs after 15 years. If you will use new shipping containers to build your home, expect the house to stand for around 25 years without the need for major repairs.
This underscores the importance of choosing the right shipping container when building your home. Make sure that you use shipping containers in great condition. If your supplier offers dilapidated shipping containers, check with other suppliers near you. You might have to pay more, but you’ll have a house that will last longer by using good-quality shipping containers.
Alternative house types like shipping container homes, modular homes and barndominiums are getting more popular as the years go by. They are cheap and easy to build. They also look unique. Even better is knowing that a shipping container home doesn’t mean that the house will look like a bunch of shipping containers.
The design ideas above show that you can turn shipping containers into magnificent homes. You can have a simple studio unit for a starter home. You can transform a shipping container into a luxurious family dwelling if you want to. Visit our Instagram account for more design ideas for your shipping container home.
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