Hybrid Shipping Container Log Cabin

Case Studies

Hybrid Shipping Container and Log Cabin Home Built Blog Cover

Following the success of our interview series, it’s with great enthusiasm that today we share another interview.

Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Brian Morris from Yellowstone Timber Fusion.

Brian built what is believed to be the world’s first hybrid shipping container log cabin home.

Initial Plan For Container Hybrid Home

How did you get the idea of building with shipping containers?

Truth be told, it was a combination of a weekend getaway with my amazing girlfriend, to Pine Creek Lodge located just outside of Livingston, Montana.

The cabin we reserved for our fishing trip on the magnificent Yellowstone River was a bright yellow 40-footer. It sat among 3 other containers, all equally as bright and beautiful.  It was at this point we settled into a nice evening, that the thought occurred to me. My passion as a log-smith would allow me to really rock one of these out. Not long thereafter, I came to the realization that I must create a model for this concept.

Initial Plan 2

Why did you decide to build your home out of shipping containers?

The reasons for which I built with shipping containers are numerous; for one I don’t know why you wouldn’t build with containers. Due to their ability to have numerous design configurations and finishes, it is a no-brainer. Be different, unique, innovative, and challenged.

What more does one need to justify building with shipping containers?

Containers are structurally sound making for the ultimate building block, from large-scale industrial versions to residential housing, to the mere microstructure!

How did you insulate the containers?

I insulated the container with core bond urethane spray foam; this is the best product on the market. Not only does it have the highest R rating available, once it has cured expanded and set, it becomes one with its backdrop.

Battening shipping container

This allows for peace of mind regarding thermal gain and the loss that can take place.

In my mind, there is no substitute for quality insulating practices.

Can you talk about the process of building your home? What were some of the highlights of the process?

The highlight for me was picking up the telephone and contacting Lockwood storage out of Missoula, Montana and inquiring about an 8 x 20 conex box. The highlight unfolded as the bright green evergreen container was delivered to historic Virginia City, Montana!

Container being delivered

Roughly how much did it cost to build? Can you give us a high-level breakdown?

Here is my breakdown for a 20-foot low cube with a 10 x 20 foot deck with porch roof, which in total cost $16,900.

  • Container – $3,200
  • Door and Windows – $500
  • Framing – $1,500
  • Fasteners – $500
  • Drywall and Tape -$350
  • Plaster Coat Finish – $250
  • Electrical Wire – $800
  • Plumbing – $400
  • Cabinets – $1,300
  • Counter top – $200
  • Sink Basin and Faucet Fixture – $300
  • Insulation Corbond – $1,300
  • Roofing Corten/Porch – $2,600
  • Chinking (Concrete) – $200
  • Timber/Log work – $2,500
  • Materials – $1,000

In your experience, what are the advantages of building with shipping containers?

For me, the advantages are as follows, in order: versatility of design, structural integrity, and the reuse or re-purpose of a seemingly solid piece of steel which has a story all of its own to tell.

The design versatility speaks for itself. It can be seen in every corner of the globe. People are generating amazing new ideas that can be facilitated with containers, creating a very small footprint.

Hybrid Shipping Container and Log Cabin Home Built

Structurally they blow a stick-frame home out of the water.  Containers have a structurally superior framework. Being made out of steel, one may alleviate the use of large volumes of concrete. The use of concrete for many people creates a large expense, an expense that typically gets back-filled and goes unseen.

Last, for all of you Eco-friendly folks, you can simplify it by referring to it as recycle, re-purpose and or reuse. Call it what you want, it is all in the eye of the beholder.

Would you recommend building with shipping containers?

Yes, of course I would!

Gallery of Brian’s Home

fitting window into container home wall

Adding a double window into the walls of the container before the log cabin facade has been added


Placing the roof supports on top of the container

Wooden rafters are placed on top of the container to form the structural support of the sloped roof


cladding the container walls with wooden logs

Wooden logs in the log cabin style of stacking are used for exterior cladding


building the deck in front of the container cabin

Building the deck in front of the container log cabin, with large boulders used as deck post foundations


placing the horizontal beam for the cabin porch support

Placing the wooden beam log that serves as the horizontal support tying the wooden columns to the porch rafters


Inside the finished shipping container log cabin

Interior view of the container log cabin that demonstrates how the log cabin appearance is simply an exterior cladding


exterior view of container log cabin

Exterior view of the container log cabin with deck completed but without the porch

As always, thank you for joining us for this interview, and a big thank you to Brian for joining us and sharing his home and experience!

If you have any thoughts about hybrid container homes like Brian’s, please leave them in the comments section.  

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