Are Shipping Container Homes Cheaper To Build?

Emily Wilson

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Orange shipping container on dirt ground

With the rising cost of traditional housing and an increasing interest in sustainable living, shipping container homes have become a popular alternative to conventional homes. While these structures are a low-cost and eco-friendly way to build a home, the question remains: Are shipping container homes cheaper to build than traditional ones? 

A shipping container home may be constructed for significantly less money than a traditional home. A traditional house of comparable size would cost you around $90,000 to construct, but a single-container home may cost under $30,000. 

In this article, we will explore the costs associated with building a shipping container home and also learn the pros and cons of shipping containers versus traditional ones. 

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Factors Affecting the Cost of Building a Shipping Container Home

Modern house with large wooden deck

The price of constructing a shipping container house may vary depending on a number of variables, including:

Size and number of containers required

The amount of the living area required, the form of the house, and the number of occupants will all affect the size and quantity of containers needed to construct a home.

More containers will be needed for a larger residence, raising the project’s final cost. 

Location and ease of access to the construction site

The site’s accessibility and location might also influence the price of shipping container construction. Transporting the containers to the site could be more costly in a far-off or challenging location.

Similarly, more preparation may be necessary if the location has challenging topography or poor access, which may raise the final cost. 

The design’s complexity

The design’s intricacy may also influence the price of a shipping container house.

A more intricate design could need more container alterations, such as welding and cutting, which might raise the project’s cost. A more complex design could also require more expensive materials or specialist labor, raising the price. 

The quality of finishes and materials

The quality of finishes and materials may significantly influence a shipping container home’s final cost. High-end appliances and finishes could drive up the price of the project.

Similar to cheaper materials, lesser quality materials could not be as strong or long-lasting, which might lead to future expenses for replacements or repairs.

These and other variables may significantly impact the price of creating a shipping container house.

To establish whether this sort of house is a cost-effective choice, it is crucial for individuals considering buying one to assess their requirements, finances, and design preferences thoroughly.   

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Shipping Container House

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Shipping Container House

Large shipping container home costs vary depending on your desired degree of personalization, the caliber of the materials used, and the size of the container.

However, building a shipping container home is less expensive than building a traditional home. 

One of the reasons shipping container homes can be less expensive to build is that the main structure is already in place. Since they can be stacked and are strong, shipping containers can resist inclement weather and large loads.

The foundation and framing of the home are already in place, which can save money and time during the construction process.

Another reason shipping container homes can be less expensive is that they require fewer materials than traditional homes.

They are made of steel, a durable, solid material that can withstand wear and tear. There is also no need to use additional framing materials like wood, which can be expensive.

However, it’s vital to note that while shipping container homes can be less expensive to build than traditional homes, they can still be costly.

A shipping container home cost can be between $3,000 and $8,000 (depending on the size and condition of the container).

In addition to the cost of the container, there are other expenses to consider, such as insulation, plumbing, and electrical work.  

How about the cost of pre-built shipping container homes?

The cost of a pre-built shipping container can also vary widely depending on several factors. These factors can be the size of the home, the materials used, the location of the home, and the level of customization.

How about the cost of pre-built shipping container homes?

On average, a small pre-built shipping container home with basic amenities can cost around $20,000 to $40,000. However, larger and more customized models with multiple shipping containers can cost upwards of $100,000. 

It’s important to note that the cost of a pre-built shipping container home is just one aspect of the overall expenses.

Other costs may include site preparation, delivery and installation, utility connections, permits, and finishing touches such as flooring, insulation, and exterior cladding.

The Estimated Cost: Shipping Container Homes vs. Traditional Homes

Let’s have a minor cost comparison regarding the price of constructing a shipping container home versus a traditional home. 

Cost CategoryShipping Container HomeTraditional Home
Materials$3,800 – $8,000 $8,000 – up
Labor$15,000 (average cost)$150,000 (average cost)
Construction TimeBetween 4-10 weeks7 months – 1 year
Total Cost$10,000 – $100,000$200,000 – up

Do Shipping Container Homes Lose Value Over Time?

Like any other property, shipping container homes can lose value over time if they are not well-maintained or located in areas with declining property values.

However, with proper maintenance and upkeep, a shipping container home can hold its value and even appreciate over time.

One advantage of shipping container homes is that they are manufactured of durable materials that can withstand harsh weather conditions, which can help them retain their structural integrity over time.

Additionally, they can be moved to different locations if necessary, increasing their resale value because they are portable.

The factors that can impact the value of a shipping container home include the following:

  • quality of construction 
  • the level of customization
  • the location
  • the overall condition of the property

It is crucial to keep a shipping container home well-maintained and ensure it is located in a desirable area with solid property values to maintain or increase its value.  

Is It Worth It To Live In A Shipping Container Home?

Is It Worth It To Live In A Shipping Container Home?

Are shipping container homes worth it? The answer depends on your circumstances, preferences, and priorities.

On the one hand, shipping containers can be a more affordable and environmentally-friendly housing option than traditional homes.

Shipping containers are often readily available, and you can repurpose them into living spaces, saving money on construction costs. 

Additionally, many people find shipping container homes’ minimalist and industrial aesthetics appealing. These homes can also be customized to fit various styles and needs, from tiny homes to larger family residences.

However, there are also some downsides to ponder. Shipping container houses can be challenging to insulate correctly, making them hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

They can also be noisy and require significant modifications for comfortable living spaces.

Furthermore, depending on where you live, there may be zoning regulations and building codes that restrict or prohibit the use of shipping containers as homes.

Ultimately, while shipping container homes can be an appealing and cost-effective option for some people, it’s essential to carefully consider the pros and cons and evaluate whether it’s the right choice for your situation.  

Do Houses Made of Shipping Containers Hold Value?

A well-kept shipping container home may keep its market value like a conventional house. They can be put into a truck and sent practically anywhere, making them relatively simple to resale. 

Before making a purchase, you should find out whether the shipping container house was designed for your environment and, if not, what changes you would need to make it suitable for its intended site.  

Container Homes vs. Traditional Homes: A Quick Comparison

Whether it is worth living in a shipping container home depends on individual circumstances and preferences.

There are several advantages and disadvantages to remember before making a decision:

Factors To Consider:Shipping Container Homes vs Traditional Homes 
Cost effectivityShipping container houses can be a more affordable housing option than traditional houses, especially if you opt for a pre-built model. Multiple containers also vary. 
Eco-friendlyUsing shipping containers for housing is a sustainable option that repurposes existing materials and reduces waste.
CustomizationShipping container architecture is customizable to fit your specific needs and preferences.
PortabilityShipping container houses can be moved to different locations, making them a flexible housing option. 
Living spaceShipping container homes are generally smaller than traditional ones, which can be a drawback for those needing more space. 
Permits and regulationsDepending on your location, obtaining the necessary building permit and approvals for a shipping container home can be lengthy and complicated.  
Resale valueShipping container homes may have a lower resale value than traditional homes.
Insulation and ventilationProper insulation and ventilation are essential for shipping container houses to prevent moisture buildup and maintain a comfortable living environment. 

After weighing the pros and cons of container homes vs traditional homes, you might be interested in another intriguing comparison: container home vs. tiny home.


Modern house with many windows and stairs.

Shipping container homes can be significantly cheaper than traditional homes. However, there are additional costs to consider, such as insulation, modifications, and the need for a foundation, which can add to the overall cost. 

Overall, whether or not a shipping container home is cheaper will depend on various factors, including location, size, design, and materials used.

Choosing a shipping container home can be a viable option for those who value affordability, sustainability, and customization. 

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