Shipping containers are great for transporting goods via ocean liner. But are recycled containers a reliable building material for homes? Ask any local green builder and you’re likely to hear a resounding “yes.”
Across the country, home builders and DIYers have embraced the shipping container home trend. Recycled shipping containers are being used to build urban housing, tiny houses, apartment buildings and cabins. The reason is simple: Shipping container homes are eco-friendly, cost-effective, adaptable, and quick to build.
Are you interested in building a shipping container home? If so, there are numerous advantages to eschewing traditional building materials in favor of a used shipping container. Here are a few things to consider:
What Are the Pros of Shipping Container Homes?
The U.S. has a glut of used shipping containers in its ports. In fact, there are upwards of a million shipping containers in America that are available for sale. This overabundance means that they can be procured for cheap.
But the low shipping container cost and overabundance are just a few advantages. Shipping container homes are also:
- Eco-Friendly: Recycling a used shipping container saves about 4 tons of steel and eliminates the need for the costly process of melting down the container. Additionally, shipping containers reduce reliance on traditional building materials like concrete, wood and brick.
- Fast to Build: The stackability of containers, ease of shipping and moving speed up the building process. Here’s an example: The 3-story SeaUA apartment building in nearby Washington D.C., which used containers sourced in Baltimore, was constructed in just a few weeks; this process could easily have been 6 months or more using traditional methods.
- Pre-Fabrication: Used shipping containers can be pre-fabricated, shipping and lifted onto a pre-built foundation. In fact, a lot of preparation can be done before they reach the construction site, including window, plumbing, painting and flooring prep. A completely finished house can be set on a foundation with utilities hooked up in as little as a day or two.
- Cost Effectiveness: Used shipping container costs are fairly reasonable. A standard small used container may cost in the ballpark of $1500 to $3000 depending on condition. Yet, overall, the construction costs are greatly reduced; on average, a shipping container home costs at a minimum 30 percent less than a traditional home of the same size. Entire cabins and small houses can be constructed for as little as $15,000.
Building a Shipping Container Home: Considerations
Clearly, there are advantages to using a shipping container as your primary building material. But it’s not just as easy as finding a shipping container for sale, buying it sight-unseen and dropping it off at the construction site. You’ll want to consider:
- See the Container In-Person: Shipping containers for sale come in a variety of conditions. Some are rusty and have dents and dings from overseas journeys. Avoid sourcing damaged containers by visiting the shipping container seller. Visit the lot with your contractor, select containers that match your needs, and see if the supplier can help with prefabrication.
- Know Your Options: You can find shipping containers for sale in a range of shapes and sizes. You’re not limited to the standard 20- or 40-foot container. Taller roofed containers are available, as are some non-traditional lengths. Contact a shipping container seller to learn about what’s available.
- Ask About Prefabrication: The majority of shipping container sellers also provide customization services. If you will need the container altered, ask if the provider can help. This will save you time, and help you avoid costly welding jobs.
- Use an Experienced Contractor: Shipping container homes require a different set of expertise than traditional brick-and-mortar houses. Choose a contractor that understands the preparation required, as well as the limitations of shipping container buildings.
Ultimately, a shipping container home can provide comfort and a stylish habitation for generations. Yet building a home requires sourcing the right containers.
Are you looking for shipping containers for sale? K&K Containers can help. We’re a Baltimore-based shipping container seller and have experience repurposing containers for green building projects. Contact us today to learn more about your options.