Shipping Container Homes: the Future of Homebuilding?

shipping container home

Would you live in a home made of shipping containers?

While the housing market has been steadily improving, many people are still hesitant to put money down on a home, especially millennials who remain swamped by college debt. That’s where shipping container homes come in.

Steel shipping containers are often left sitting around once their freight is delivered. In fact, there are an estimated 20 million surplus shipping containers around the world ready to be put to use. Each 40-foot long container costs from $1,400-$4,000.

The comparatively low price has caught the eye of custom home builders and innovative homebuyers everywhere. Building a home out of shipping containers on a small plot of land costs only a fraction of what standard homes do, and people who want to dream bigger than the size of a single storage container can stack several of them together like Legos.

The homes are strong, efficient, green, and can be protected from outside cold and heat with proper insulation. They also take a significantly shorter time to build and usually meet or exceed structural building code requirements.

“Shipping containers may become an alternative to mobile homes which may be safer but they will still have to deal with the local municipalities for the code standards which may be difficult,” says Eric Cocks, Marketing, Arthur Rutenberg Homes.

Developer Michael Kenner has been stacking containers up to nine high to create what he calls “micro apartments.” Several of his projects were turned into retail stores, offices and restaurants.

Container buildings are springing up everywhere, from the Hamptons and the South Street Seaport in New York to a Starbucks in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Catholic University of America is even offering apartments to students and locals made of shipping containers. A group of CUA alumni constructed their SeaUA apartment complexes with containers from the nearby Port of Baltimore.

The containers which would otherwise end up in a landfill are being converted into gorgeous apartments with flour-to-ceiling windows, balconies, birch-plywood walls and marine-grade plywood floors.

“Repurposing sea containers has been proliferating globally for years,” architect Travis Price told “However, today with over 700,000 fallow sea containers alone in the US, their reuse is not only an ecological necessity, but one that will help put the US construction industry back to work locally.”

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