Before You Start Building a Container Home: Understand the Pros and Cons

There are benefits to moving to container homes from traditional homes. However, builders and homeowners sometimes disagree on whether it is ideal to construct and use shipping containers.

If you’re torn between the idea of living in a shipping container or not, you can start here.

PRO: can be quickly built

Shipping container construction is a lot quicker than the traditional way of construction. Since you already have the appropriate infrastructure in place, the building time won’t take as long. Contractors can build a container home in less than a month. Larger dwellings can be finished in a few months, while the smaller ones can be fabricated off-site in a shorter period of time.

Before the containers arrive at their final site, you can make minor adjustments and alterations can be made at the production site.

CON: need insulation

Although construction can be fast, you must consider your container home’s insulation before production.

The insulating quality of shipping containers is nonexistent. Without insulation, the interior temperature might be intolerable. So you must buy high-quality insulating material or spray foam insulation. Although with spray, it can eat up important space when placed inside a shipping container. For that reason, some people opt to add insulation to the container’s exterior before cladding it with waterproof material.

PRO: reasonably priced

A shipping container home can be bought for as little as $10,000, with the exact amount depending on factors like location and container quality. Compared to more traditional homes, this is less expensive since they need less manpower and building supplies. The walls, roof, and flooring components of your home are already in place, so you don’t have to spend too much for repairs to the building’s framework.

You can go for a prefabricated container home from the rising number of businesses. Some of these businesses specialize in prefab construction off-site. It eliminates the need to pay for expensive construction altogether and they have a consistent cost of production. The cost of delivery, site preparation, foundation, and assembly are some of the only extras that can affect the total cost.

Building a house yourself can also save you money if you have the necessary skills and experience. DIY container home renovations can help you save money while still giving you a unique place to live. You can even utilize two shipping containers to build a $30,000 off-the-grid cabin.

CON: can be costly

A container home may be more affordable than a similarly furnished conventional house. While this may be the case, it does not always prove that container homes are less expensive than conventional ones.

How extravagant you want for your home is another factor that can affect its selling price.

A competent builder to construct your container home can be pretty costly. A wide range of luxury levels of container homes has been constructed. Some appear to be constructed to the level of a luxury resort and are entirely far from the comfort level of camping.

Keep in mind that a container consists of a top, bottom, and sides. After then, all further additions are entirely at your discretion.

PRO: don’t harm the environment

Cost considerations typically prevent the return shipment of these containers. These containers that cannot be used again are considered garbage.

More than eight thousand pounds of steel go into making a standard 40-foot container. That is a lot of steel that will go to waste. Reusing them prevents the containers from being sent to the landfill or destroyed through incineration. So you’re pushing for a more sustainable building method.

You’re doing your part in cutting back on using more conventional building materials like wood and brick. Some may not realize this, but the production of bricks and cement results in significant carbon dioxide emissions.

CON: not 100% eco-friendly

Many people talk about container home living as a great way to repurpose discarded containers. But some homeowners are more interested in purchasing brand new containers to turn into homes.

Depending on their prior use, used shipping containers can be environmentally beneficial. But not all shipping containers can be safely used for humans. Some got damaged while being used for shipping. Some may have been used before to transport toxic and harmful materials. For these reasons, some people may be put off from considering container homes made from reused shipping containers.

CON: can have dangerous chemicals.

Industrial paint and solvent materials are used in the construction of shipping containers. Unfortunately, this means they are not suitable for human habitation.

Containers are often built of steel and are frequently found near or even on the water. And being submerged in salt water can result in corrosion and rust. So these containers have been treated to avoid rusting during transport.

Also, some have been used to transport hazardous items. As a result, it is possible to find lingering remnants of those substances. Heating or removing these compounds without proper protection might be dangerous.

Before buying a reconditioned container, check it to ensure it has been properly treated to be used in home building. You should also check for corrosion, which might weaken the structure and can have potentially dangerous chemicals.

PRO: can be mobile.

You might not want the house to remain in its current spot forever. And when using conventional construction methods, you lose the flexibility to move your home to another place.

Mobile container homes can have wheels. They may be easily transported without dismantling the entire structure. If you want something more permanent than a trailer home but don’t want to commit to a brick-and-cement residence, this is an alternative. It also has more space to live in.

Even while small container homes are movable, there are ways for large shipping container homes to be just as portable. Your finished structure may be relocated as many times as you need with a specialized container shipping service. You can do this by building modular spaces made up of several interconnected but removable containers.

CON: need permits

It can be tricky to obtain building permissions.

Container home living is relatively new and many cities have only recently allowed these dwellings. Because of this, many permits and construction rules are not yet designed for container homes. In addition, some local authorities are yet to authorize such buildings.

Before settling on a shipping container house, you should check with municipal planners. Learn more about the regulations, limits, and permits that apply to container homes.

PRO: lasts a long time

How long do you anticipate a container house lasting? It can survive much beyond the lifespan of traditional homes.

Shipping containers are built to resist severe weather conditions better than other housing types.

The manufacturing process for containers takes long-term reliability into account. Initially, they were designed for transporting goods. They were to spend hundreds of miles from land months at a time aboard an open ocean tanker. When making shipping containers, manufacturers frequently use corten steel. Their sturdy construction ensures they will survive natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.

CON: need additional support

Steel storage containers are built to last. However they can be weakened by alterations like door and window cuts. The weight of snow can cause the roof of a shipping container to bend if the corner castings aren’t sufficiently sturdy. It is most common when the container’s corner castings are weak. Take caution not to remove too much steel. You can address these problems by putting in reinforcements or sloping the roof. You can also add additional steel beams to handle the load.

PRO: allow a high degree of creative freedom

The DIYer will enjoy the possibilities in container homes.

You can modify these dwellings with relative ease. You can make a house as big or as tiny as you like out of a shipping container because they come in many shapes and sizes. Combining containers into a single structure is possible. Multiple containers may be joined together to make a larger house with a main house, a guesthouse, and anything in between.

High cube containers will provide you with the maximum leeway. Because of this, installing insulation and a ceiling fan won’t be a hassle. You can install huge windows to make the room feel more spacious and let in lots of natural light for standard-height containers. Or you may put up big glass doors that swing open to let the fresh air and sunlight in. Constructing using shipping containers is a great way to show off your unique sense of design. Traditional building codes no longer apply, freeing you to experiment with new designs.

Before creating the container house, it’s essential to consider the requirements of all the people living there.

If you’re set on building a house out of containers and want to do it well and be happy in your new home, you need to hire a professional. Your best bet is to find a builder that specializes in working with containers.

With all this information provided, it is up to you to decide as the benefits of having a container home much outweigh the drawbacks.

Pros
Cons
  • Can be quickly built
  • Reasonably priced
  • Don’t harm the environment
  • Can be mobile
  • Lasts a long time
  • Allow a high degree of creative freedom
  • Need insulation
  • Can be costly
  • Not 100% eco-friendly
  • Can have dangerous chemicals
  • Need permits
  • Need additional support
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