A Guide to Shipping Container Homes

A Guide to Shipping Container HomesHousing solutions are getting more creative as communities run out of affordable living spaces, and people are shifting towards more budget-friendly options. One of these alternatives is the shipping container home, an idea that hasn’t been around for long but has begun to gain popularity in recent years. In this post, we take a closer look at what living in one is like.

What is A Shipping Container Home?

As its name suggests, a shipping container home is built using a shipping container. These rectangular steel containers are usually standard-sized and can be stacked and joined together, making them fantastic for compact, environmentally-friendly homes.

Some of the first shipping container homes appeared not too long ago as a quick solution to an urgent need for lodging for military personnel. Shipping containers were practical, available, affordable and easy to convert into small living spaces.

Types of Shipping Containers

While there are many different types of shipping containers, the ones that are converted into living spaces are often standard shipping containers that have carried goods across seas or on the roads or refrigerator containers.

Standard shipping containers have corrugated steel walls that sometimes have anti-pest treatments or water-proof insulation. Refrigerator containers hold perishable goods like food or pharmaceuticals. They are insulated and might be a better choice for homes that withstand extreme temperatures.

The Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

Here are a few of the benefits and limitations of container homes.


  • You can expand your container home through a modular system.
  • A container home is less expensive than a traditional one.
  • Building a house out of retired shipping containers is eco-friendly. It promotes recycling and keeps waste away from landfills.


  • The living space will be narrower and smaller than a regular home, which might not fit large families.
  • Some containers might leak toxic substances because of various treatments that they’ve undergone, such as fireproofing or pest control.
  • It can be more difficult to get permits for a container house.

How Much Does a Container Home Cost?

A shipping container can be a bargain if you choose a retired one. However, building a container home involves pouring a foundation, owning land, and adding functions to make it livable. On average, a small container home costs between $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the type and number of containers you use.

Frame and Foundation

Any container home needs a foundation, especially for several containers in a modular system. The soil underneath the house can have different textures and densities, so a uniform weight distribution is necessary. A pier or slab foundation is the best solution for a sturdy container home. Reinforce the frame with galvanized steel posts to secure the joined containers. If any of the walls have gaps, they will need reinforcement too.

RW Steel is a premier provider of high-quality steel retaining wall posts and other steel products in Melbourne and the surrounding areas. We offer a variety of products that you can use for a shipping container home project. Contact us today for a free quote!