Cargo Container Homes Are On The Rise

With the rising costs of building materials it's little wonder people are turning to things like cargo containers for constructing new homes. Yes, cargo containers. Now, if you're thinking why would anybody want to live in a shipping crate, you might be surprised at just how nice these pre-fab cubicles can really be once they're assembled and turned into modular homes. The finished products are definitely not the Boxcar Willie suite you're most assuredly envisioning. These are sleek, contemporary home and office units designed with a little bit of imagination and a lot of thought and care for modern lifestyles. From modest to lavish, big and small, architects are breathing new life into shipping containers.

Rising Construction Costs

Used shipping containers make inexpensive construction suppliesUsed shipping containers make inexpensive construction supplies


Rising construction costs have mainly pushed this latest trend due to the fact that used shipping containers are relatively cheap. For a used 20-foot container you can expect to pay somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500 and for a 40-foot container between $2,500 and $3,500 — that's between a $1,000 and $2,000 savings off of a new container in either size. If you're toying with the idea of purchasing one, you can find them from dedicated dealers to vendors on eBay and even auctions. Consider that if you only needed eight of them, that's a mere $20,000 to $28,000 in base building materials. It's recommended you buy from local suppliers so that you can inspect the units in person before making your purchase. Also, do some comparison shopping for price and quality before buying. If you're planning on erecting a modular unit in areas prone to inclement weather or near the ocean, look for containers constructed of Corten steel. Finally, investigate "one trip" containers for nearly new units that have only been used once.


Dramatic Transformations

Container City: Image courtesy of plentyofants via flickrContainer City: Image courtesy of plentyofants via flickr


From fun and funky to sleek and stylish, cargo containers can be transformed into pretty much whatever you want them to be. Think Lego toys: you're only limited by your imagination. Do you want an intimate little cottage where you'll feel snug as a bug or do you want a sprawling two- or even three-story estate? Obviously a lot of that has to do with your acreage and your budget, but these efficient units are still a fraction of the cost, labor and resources of more traditional construction materials. In addition to homes and offices, shipping containers are turning up as artist studios, pool houses, mother-in-law cottages, lakeside summer vacation homes, guest houses, fishing and hunting cabins and onsite getaway retreats, among other things. It's not unusual for people to set them up toward the back of their property or at the edge where views can be enjoyed with more privacy or for when you just need a break from the kids.


Interior Design

Shipping container used as part of a modular home: Image courtesy of one cool habitat via flickrShipping container used as part of a modular home: Image courtesy of one cool habitat via flickr

The interior design of these innovative and nearly indestructible dwellings do not lack for creature comforts, either. With a little planning and some know how they can be constructed to accommodate eco conscious builders with solar features for saving money and reducing your home's carbon footprint. Air conditioning and heating are, of course, included along with fully functional kitchens and baths. A lot of these spaces are so beautifully designed inside and out you'd never know you were in a shipping container unless the corrugated steel was left exposed. Even the ones that have are painted and feel clean, sophisticated and modern. If all that isn't enought to sell you on a shipping container home, when you're done sprucing up the interior you can have a modular swimming pool added.


Modular Homes Gaining in Popularity

Container homes gain in popularity: Image courtesy of one cool habitat via flickrContainer homes gain in popularity: Image courtesy of one cool habitat via flickr


These cutting-edge homes are continuing to gain traction and are only getting more popular, especially with people looking to downsize or that are into recycling. This, unfortunately, will lead to rising prices for the units themselves. As it is, they've already gone up just in the last year or two alone. If a DIY project is beyond your skills and capabilities, there are green builders and architects for projects like these. If you're going to go that route, make sure they have prior experience with container homes and that your containers have been inspected by a certified cargo surveyor for structural integrity before you get started.