What You Need To Know About Container Home Living

What You Need To Know About Container Home Living
  • Opening Intro -

    Since ancient times, people generally like to stick together in groups as there is safety in numbers.

    It is this attitude that would eventually lead to the creation and growth of cities all around the world.


Since ancient times, people generally like to stick together in groups as there is safety in numbers. It is this attitude that would eventually lead to the creation and growth of cities all around the world.

However, although the human population grows very quickly, the amount of usable space in any given city cannot grow anywhere near as fast. As space rapidly runs out in these cities, the prices of real estate in these cities grows at a similar if not even more rapid rate.

Because of the skyrocketing of real estate prices, people who are looking to buy a home are now racing to find an easier and cheaper way to do so.

One such way that is growing in popularity is the use of old, decommissioned shipping containers as a relatively simple way to build a house.

But is it really as good a way as we think it is? Read on through this article as we discuss the pros and cons of living in a shipping container home.

The Pros

If you are used to a more traditional idea of a home, you might be wondering why anyone would want to live in an old shipping container in the first place; but the quick rise in popularity of the shipping container home is by no means an accident.

In fact, you might even be able to notice the potential of turning a shipping container into a living space by seeing one for yourself.

Its simple cubic shape fits quite well in the modern architecture style that has been dominating the home design landscape over the past several years, and the 28 square metre floor area of a standard 40 foot shipping container is already quite reasonable.

This is especially true in light of the growing tiny house movement that typically has home floor spaces within the range of 10 square metres, which itself is a bit smaller than the floor area of the 12 square metres of a 20 foot container).

Another reason for using shipping containers for building a house is expandability – shipping containers can be put next to each other or stacked one on top of the other as a very easy way to expand the total floor space of your shipping container home.

small living room setsmall kitchen table set

This, container home proponents say, can also be done quite cheaply, especially as a grounded or decommissioned shipping container can be bought from a container yard for around a couple thousand dollars or even less. Then transported for affordable rates through a tilt tray hire, with any quality of life modifications you want to have done to the container can be had for not much more money.

At this point, you might already be imagining yourself in a shipping container home, what with all of the advantages it has over the more traditionally built kinds. But before you hear down to your local container park, there are a few things that you might have to consider first.

The Cons

Before we go into our first point, have you ever wondered why decommissioned shipping containers are decommissioned in the first place? Well, most if not all shipping containers are taken out of service because they have sustained damage due to sea water corrosion, collisions with objects or other containers, or some other forms of damage that affect the container’s structural integrity or its ability to protect the objects it houses.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the structure that would eventually become your home probably wouldn’t have the same kind of integrity that a properly built house would, and to fix that issue would need you to spend additional time and resources that would have otherwise been spent on the interior of your house.

small queen bed setsmall shower stall

In addition, you should also be aware of the fact that a shipping container is, as its name suggests, designed for shipping and not for habitation. As such, your typical shipping container would not come with many of the creature comforts that we’ve come to expect when we think of a house, such as human sized doors, windows, insulation, and probably most important of all, utilities like electricity and water – so unless you are willing to effectively live like a caveman, you are probably going to want to have your container renovated and outfitted with these essentials.

Now, you might be thinking that, although it can be a bit more expensive to buy, reinforce, and renovate an old shipping container to make it livable – or alternatively buy ‘portable offices’ which are effectively shipping containers with a door and a couple of windows – it probably won’t come anywhere close to the building cost of a full blown house built the right way. And in many cases, that is true. However, though budget might not be that big of a concern, the paperwork might very well be.

Most places throughout Australia, companies such as Reef Group, treat shipping containers like standard houses, and as such are also set to the same stringent building standards as standard houses. Because of this you will need to get the approval of the city engineer before you are authorized to construct your shipping container house. However, another hurdle to jump over is the approval process, which can be more difficult if you bought a used shipping container to use as your home.

small patio sofapatio set for 4

Because one cannot really be sure where a container has been, it is difficult to assess its structural integrity and can be potentially hazardous for habitation – not to mention the possibility of the container being previously used to store chemicals, food, or other substances that can pose a hazard to anyone entering it.

Now, we aren’t trying to discourage you from building your next home out of shipping containers. Shipping container houses aren’t becoming more popular by accident – living in one can in fact feel quite rewarding as you are living in a repurposed home that looks quite unlike most of the other houses in the neighborhood. That being said, it is important to be aware of the additional effort and preparation that goes into shipping container living, and that it, if you aren’t careful, can be quite dangerous.

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