How Much Do Shipping Container Homes Cost?

Plan & Budget

The cost of container homes can vary depending on location, size, quality, materials used, type of container used, etc. For this reason, we have broken this post down into two halves. The first half will use examples to show you what you can get for your money. The second half will cover costs in more detail and explain the various factors that impact the cost.

Examples and Costs

Location: San Jose, Costa Rica

Cost: US $40,000 

Size: 640 Square Feet

This home was built a few miles outside of Costa Rica’s capital for a staggering $40,000 and is named Containers of Hope. It has two bedrooms and a sloped roof to allow the hot air to escape on warm summer days. The home was built for the Peralta family who wanted to be debt free and grow vegetables off their land.

Location: County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Cost: US $202,000   

Size: 1,280 Square Feet

Patrick Bradley, a farmer and an architect, designed and built this stylish dwelling for $202,000 slightly over his original budget. However, he said he could have constructed the home for a lot less since he spent a whopping $25,000 on the bathroom and $53,000 on the kitchen! The home was made from four shipping containers and was built on his farm in Northern Ireland.

Location: Curacaví, Chile

Manifesto House

Cost: US $93,000 

Size: 960 Square Feet

Time to Build: 90 Days

The Manifesto House was built back in 2009 in Chile and only took 90 days from start to finish. The two architects, Jaime Gaztelu and Mauricio Galeano, claim the home was made with 85% recycled materials. It features three bedrooms and an outdoor terrace to enjoy the sun.

Source: Design Milk

Location: Brisbane, Australia

Cost: US $490,000 

Size: 6,000+ Square Feet

Time to Build: 6 Months

Here is an incredible example of what can be achieved when you combine shipping containers with a fantastic architect. This spacious pad has three floors, four bedrooms, a double garage, art studio, gym, and swimming pool.The house recently sold for over $1,400,000!

Location: Cork, Ireland

ireland ripple container house

Cost: US $60,000 

Size: 320 Square Feet

Time to Build: 3 Days

This home can comfortably sleep a family of three or four. It can sleep up to six people if you have guests! The home has an outside deck to sit out on during the summer and has been equipped with technology like solar panels and micro heat recovery units.

Source: TheJournal.i.e

Impacts on Cost

The project management triangle paradigm governs container home construction, just like with all other project management undertakings. The paradigm shows us that time, cost, and scope (quality) are constantly in conflict with each other. A crucial thing to remember with this paradigm is that we can typically only prioritize two out of the three: time, scope (quality) or cost.

Factors That Effect Shipping Container Homes Cost Triangle

  • We can build the home quickly to a high quality, but this will be expensive.
  • We can build a high quality home for a small amount of money, but this will take a long time.
  • We can build the house quickly and for a small amount of money, but the quality won’t be incredible.

Regardless of which of the three are most important to you, you definitely need a detailed project plan to get you there.

Below we explain this paradigm and showing exactly how this relates to shipping container buildings.


The first big implication for the cost of your shipping container home is time. How fast do you want to be living in your dream home? Most of us would answer “as soon as possible”, but unfortunately this will drive up the cost of your home.

So, if our deadline can’t move, the only two factors that can be changed are time and quality. If your quality is fixed,which is normally the case, the only factor left which can move is the cost. For example, let’s say you have a time frame of four months to fully construct your new home. Four months is fixed and so is the quality, so cost is the factor that has to give. Costs will inevitably go up because both your time and quality are fixed.

In the event that your quality is not fixed, we can maintain the initial cost of the project. For example, because we have a smaller time frame and no more money, we have to reduce the scope or quality of the project. This means that our three story house just turned into a two story house!

It’s not all bad news though. Time can be your best friend. If you decide you aren’t in a rush and are willing to take more time to build, you can get your dream home within budget! We can allocate a huge amount of time, like one year, to build our home. This will allow us to produce a really impressive container home for a fraction of the cost.

Is it starting to make sense now? Hopefully!


The second factor in the triangle is cost, or the budget. Now practically everyone who has built a container home, or any other home for that matter, starts with a fixed budget in mind. Whether this is $50,000, $200,000 or $1,000,000, it’s usually fixed. Because of this, we can only adjust the scope (quality) or the time it takes to build our house.

For example, you start with a budget of $100,000 and after a month of building your home you realize that you’d like to make your container home slightly bigger. The only way to do this without massively increasing the cost of the build is to extend your deadlines significantly.

Let’s say, again you start with $100,000. After a few months of building you are starting to fall behind schedule due to a few unforeseen events. If your deadline to finish the building is fixed, your only option left is to drop the scope (quality). Then you would decide to install a slightly cheaper kitchen, or make your home two stories instead of three, etc. You get the idea.

Scope (Quality)

The scope is what you are wanting to build. It explains the boundaries of the project such as how many square feet, how many stories, whether it will have a deck or swimming pool, etc.

Scope is the last factor in the triangle. This factor is twofold because it includes both the scope and the quality, but they are often interchangeable.

After you carefully planned your container home building, you begin the construction. Just a few weeks in you discover the project is running behind schedule. You don’t want to change your design because this is what you’ve been dreaming about, so you can change either your budget or the length of time to build the home.

If you increase your budget, you still get the home you designed and chances are you will keep to the deadline.

However, if you’re budget is fixed and you don’t want to change your design, then all you can do is extend the deadline. Allowing the project to overrun on time will keep the costs down. Finally, you can change the quality of your build by buying used shipping containers instead of new ones.

Have you been surprised by any of the cost differences in shipping container buildings?  Let us know in the comments below.

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