Make Your Next House A Shipping Container

These 12 ideas for converting shipping containers into homes are pretty cool, if not always practical or cheap. Our favorite is the one that’s probably among the most expensive to make, not to mention that added cost of relocating to New Zealand to get the awesome view. Runner up: Ross Steven’s three-story fortress built into a hillside (see page 2).

“Crate Expectations” [Treehugger via Digg]


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  1. snoop-blog says:

    Perfect for that “I was brought over here as chinese slave labor” feel.

    • rpm773 says:

      @snoop-blog: Especially if the crate says “China Shipping” in big letters on the side…

      • snoop-blog says:

        @rpm773: Well you can guaranteed make your overwieght friends feel uncomfortable and awkward when they visit you in one of these homes. On the otherhand, I bet you can always reach the toilet paper under the sink in those bathrooms.

  2. snoop-blog says:

    At least this would make relocating a snap. But with the current slump that the economy is in, maybe the headline should read, “Make your next house a Rubbermaid tote.”

    Makes me wonder if any hobo’s have ever tried to scotch gaurd a carboard box? For 200 pennies, you can more than double the value and lifespan of your estate. I apologize up front for the poor taste of my jokes, pun intended.

  3. B says:

    My next house: a 1977 VW Vanagon.

  4. ospreyguy says:

    My father in law uses one for extra storage at his auto parts store. It’s a mini warehouse that barely costs anything to have on hand. Property taxes aren’t affect no heating/cooling and the only electricity is a two 8′ florescent lights. It does get hellaciously hot in FL in the summer though…

  5. forgottenpassword says:

    Too many local government entities would refuse to allow you to do it. Cheap housing to most means a poor & dangerous elements moving in.

    There are often serious restrictions for even conventional mobile homes. Do you think the average city council will approve of a house made of shipping containers?

    The only way I see this as possible is if you live in an unincorporated part of the county. ANd even then (like in my former county I lived in)… sometimes you have to own a certain amount of acreage in order to put a mobile home on.

    I would LOVE to build a home out of a shipping container or two, but the sad fact is…. those in conventional houses tend to look at it as cheap & trashy.

    • Gopher bond says:

      @forgottenpassword: That’s what I was wondering. How do these people get to make all these cool homes? I’d like to make an off-grid, self-reliant cottage on the back half of my property that is set maybe 90% underground. But I looked into it and there’s absolutely now f’ing way I could get the permits to do it. If I did it without the permits, they’d come and tear it down. I understand why, and I don’t agree with it, but that doesn’t change the fact.

  6. forgottenpassword says:


    + Watch video

    ^^^ Inside of simple $10,000 converted shipping container home.

    I would personally LOVE to live in it.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @forgottenpassword:Too narrow. Not that I’m a big person, am actually quite small, but I do have huge friends, that would never come over if I lived there. It does however look very polished for only 10K. Some of the ones in the link looked like it would cost considerably more than 10k which would seem to defeat the purpose. At 10K, you could probably get a decent mobile home or camper/Rv. I know of some nice mobile homes in my area that are selling for less than 10K.

      • narf says:

        @snoop-blog: For sub-10k, I doubt that mobile home is really going to be “decent”.

        Anyways, the idea of a home with a structure that’s inherently strong and that termites can’t attack is nice … but alas, building officials still need to be convinced. It can certainly speed up construction time … just stack them up like a Lego brick.

        • snoop-blog says:

          @narf: I think your stereotyping too much. The one I know of in particular is super nice, one owner and about 10 years old. 3 bedrooms, master has spa tub, and it’s the largest single-wide you can buy. The price, 8K.

          In order for your assumption to work, you’d have to know the cost of living in my area and seeing how you have no clue where I am located you have no clue. You should know that I live in the lowest cost of living in the midwest.

  7. Invective says:

    I’m too old to care, but this will make you popular with the ladies.
    After reading the things I’ve read today, banks are going south anyway, despite the supposed rescue plan. In other words, it’s not enough and we already knew that. We’re just plain screwed. Fortunately for me, I’m already poor. So the shipping container could be an upgrade…

  8. Ben_Q2 says:

    Hay you all I have a 2 22 footer out in the back that holds all my ammo and stuff. When we get low on us food we just lowed them pickup and poy and me go get use some food from de supermarket place.

    Why I am being funny right now. I do have a number of these. I did use them when I was a gun dealer. Funnything is I really did get them over seas ship to the USA full of ammo (9mm). I now use them to put stuff in.

    Yes they do get hot in the summer time. I really do not think the ones I have would make a great house. But if I had too who knows?

  9. Crabby Cakes says:

    That’s made for FOUR people? That’s WAY too much family togetherness for me.

  10. valleygirl_18002 says:

    A company in Florida does this type of thing. I heard an interview with one of the salespeople on the radio. He says they’ve become popluar as mother-in-law apartments or rental properties. Base model is about $12K.


  11. Ein2015 says:

    I first saw this on a documentary of sorts detailing ways to get people off the streets and owning homes… since they actually are cheaper (and from what I understand, stronger) than most houses. Nice to see it here, too! :)

  12. Difdi says:

    It’s not a bad idea. A shipping container is to be water tight, especially with the original doors welded shut. It’s structurally sound, can support many other containers stacked on top of it, and offers considerable security in a high crime area against people breaking through walls or roofs. Just use a cutting torch where you want windows and doors, weld as many together horizontally or vertically as you like, cut larger doorways in adjacent ones for larger rooms, install insulation, flooring, drywall…add plumbing and electrical wiring and you’re set.

  13. dougkern says:

    they mention him in the treehugger article, but adam kalkin has been doing container architecture for years and is awesome. check out “bunny lane”


  14. AgentTuttle says:

    This isn’t really that new, but for some reason it is making news all over,… economy maybe?? The thing is, there are billions of these around for cheap, they ALL conform to the same standards and therefore, are guaranteed to stack ‘n’ stuff and they can be made into sweet contemporary modern looking homes. Check Amazon for books on the subject. Google “container city” for a project in London.

    One designer used a smaller one for emergency FEMA type housing which can be easily shipped and is fully equipped as a nice, open living space. A lot of times, these can be had because nobody wants to ship an empty container back to China. A side effect of one-way trade. Another bonus is that it can be used to ship your stuff to a McCain-free country before you make it into a home, serving double duty.

  15. Drowner says:

    Did anyone else read the series “The Boxcar Children”?

  16. mikedt says:

    On an episode of Bob Villa’s Welcome Home, they did a house in Florida using multiple shipping containers. They sprayed the outside of the containers with a high tech insulation developed for NASA. A light coating gave it some amazingly high R value.


  17. DWalk says:

    Some cool links and ideas:


    AFAIK, you can get shipping containers from between $500 and $2000, depending on shipping, etc. There are companies that specialize in converting the containers, too. The second link is very informative.

  18. sk1d says:

    how much do one of those containers cost?

  19. racerchk says:

    We own the largest sea container company in western canada and let me tell you, these are becoming very popular. We get inquiries all the time.
    Sk1d – You can get a used 40′ container wind and watertight for $3800 before the modifications. Very affordable.
    Dwalk – if your paying between $500-$2000 for the container, you are probably buying junk full of holes and rust.

  20. ReverendDrGladhands says:

    I actually lived in a shipping container for six months, while stationed in Bosnia with the Army.

  21. hexychick says:

    My boyfriend kept telling me he wanted to do this one day and I always thought he was kidding… now I have to eat crow and email him this article.

  22. flalawyer2b says:

    I’m all in favor of conservation, WHEN PRICES and ROI DICTATE.

    If the price of something that “green” is MORE EXPENSIVE than something “not green”, by definition, the “not green” product is more efficient including considering any savings in resources.

    So when you are looking at whether something is a good idea or not, assuming no government interference in the market (NOT A SAFE ASSUMPTION!) all you have to do is look at the PRICE and ROI.