Pros and Cons of a Shipping Container Building

Posted in Featured

Want to build your own shipping container home? Start Here.

In this article, we are going to discuss the pros (advantages) and cons (disadvantages) of building your own container home. We have already discussed how to build your own shipping container home.

Many people decide to build a shipping container home because they offer exceptional value for money. There are many more benefits to building with shipping containers. For instance, did you know that building shipping container homes can be environmentally friendly?

Let’s get started by looking at the advantages of constructing a shipping container home.


In a poll which we ran, we asked people if they would live in a shipping container home. We found that the majority of people would live in a shipping container home. They want to do so because container homes are incredibly cheap and offer exceptional value for money.

We previously introduced The Cheapest 5 Shipping Container Homes Ever Built.  Here we will focus on one of those homes, the Taj Malodge.

Taj Malodge Shipping Container House

Courtesy of Larry Wade

The Taj Malodge was built using two 40-foot shipping containers. This provides more than 600 square feet of living space and cost about $35,000 to build. This amount includes the cost to purchase the containers and the cost to convert and decorate them.

You can also see on the photo that the Taj Malodge has two solar panels on the roof. These solar panels provide electricity and warm water for the occupants.

Eco Friendly

Another advantage of building a shipping container home is that it is environmentally friendly.

According to our poll, many of you agree and like the fact that constructing with shipping containers is Eco friendly.

There are millions of shipping containers in the world, with only about one-third of these actually being in use. So there are more than 10 million shipping containers sitting unused which could be converted into homes for people.

Eco Friendly Container Home

For each recycled shipping container, we are reusing more than 7,000 pounds of steel. We are also saving all of the traditional building materials (such as bricks, mortar and wood) which mostly don’t need to be used.

While you could argue that melting down the shipping container and recasting the steel into something else is more environmentally friendly, you would be wrong. Recasting steel requires an incredible amount of energy and it isn’t financially viable. This is why there are so many abandoned shipping containers in the world.

Off Site Construction

Another great advantage of a shipping container home is that it can be built off site and then delivered to your land ready to move in.

We have discussed this before in the article Where Should I Convert My Shipping Container Home?

Sometimes a plot of land isn’t suitable to build on. There can be many reasons for this. For instance, it might not have any electricity, so you couldn’t power your tools there.

You can convert the shipping container at a local workshop and then deliver the finished shipping container home to your plot of land. This is particularly common when people want to live off grid.

Another great advantage of modifying your shipping container at a local workshop is that you don’t need to make your container watertight immediately. If you were converting the container outside, you’d want it watertight so no rain gets inside the container during construction. However converting the container inside means you don’t need to worry about making the container watertight instantly.

Fast to Build

Shipping container homes can be built incredibly fast. One of the best examples of this can be found in Diemen, a city in Holland. The local college wanted to build additional accommodation for its students quickly.

They decided to build a block of shipping container homes out of 250 containers.

The shipping containers were modified in China and then shipped to Amsterdam. In total around five shipping containers were stacked each day. In less than twelve weeks they had successfully built 250 shipping container homes!

The main reason constructing with shipping containers can go so quickly is that when purchased they already have the walls, floor and ceiling. They only need to apply insulation, finish the insides, and decorate them!

Now let’s look at some of the minor disadvantages, or frustrations, of constructing with shipping containers.

Building Permits and Build Codes

When you’re building a new home here in the US, you will be subjected to your local zoning and inspection regulations. You will need to make sure that your shipping container home meets the various local codes.

This certainly can be one of the most frustrating parts of constructing a shipping container home. This issue isn’t just unique to shipping container homes. It is a necessary step for any type of building regardless of their construction material.Not Researching Local Planning Regulations

It’s important that you’re aware that a building permit is required. Permits can take time to be approved. Plan accordingly.

If you’re extremely lucky, sometimes a building permit isn’t required. Some areas in the US are known as ‘outside of city zoning’. This means your land lies outside of the building permit regulation area, so you can build there without a permit.

Always check with your local zoning departments and inspection departments before you begin construction!

Finding Contractors with Experience

Most people want to build their shipping container homes themselves. Sometimes this just isn’t possible either because they don’t have enough time or they don’t have previous DIY experience.

Instead these people will employ a contractor to build the home for them. You want a contractor with experience to advise you and guide you throughout the process. This can be an exasperating and tedious task.

Finding Contractor For Container Home

We often receive requests to recommend contractors. While we don’t recommend contractors since we are not familiar with all areas, we can give some tips on choosing one.

Research your local area and find out if anyone has already built a shipping container home there. If they have, great! Speak with the owner of the container home and see if they can recommend a contractor to you.

If no shipping container homes have been built in your local area, don’t worry, you can still find a contractor. It just takes a little bit more legwork.

Look for the nearest shipping container home and speak with the owners to see if they know anybody in your local area. If they don’t, start by calling local contractors and directly inquire whether they have built shipping container homes before. It can take a few phone calls, but you will find one.


Building a shipping container home can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Two of the advantages of building your home using shipping containers is  the cost savings and the fact that they can be built with incredible speed.

Just like with traditional home building, construction with shipping containers still has drawbacks.

You still require a building permit to construct a shipping container home. Make sure you apply early for your permit to avoid any delays!

Finding an experienced contractor can be challenging, but can be overcome with perseverance.

  1. Bahaa

    Hi, can you help me choosing a contracting company or manufactry to build containers park in lan size 4200sqm, what are the best and guaranteed insulating system for shipping contaners coffee shop or restuarant .if you have any contact please send to me.


    • Discover Containers

      We recommend using closed cell polyurethane spray foam for almost all shipping container building applications. There are certain situations where another solution can work just as well for less money (for instance, if you’re insulating the exterior of the container). As far as recommending a company, we may be able to help, just send us an email via the Contact Us link at the top of the page and let us know where you’re located.

  2. Rick

    Emm… I read somewhere of the toxicness of the interior of the container and how it has to be sandblasted or sth before use .. Is that valid

  3. Pinelo

    Hi I had built a small hotel sweet like directly over the 20 foot container. It’s a one big room 20 feet by 20 feet including a deck.An addition to the front of the container. I did this to take advantage of the ocean view. My question to you is. ..Is this secured? All the 4 steel posts are welded in place to concrete concrete foundation. I plan to use container as a storage. Husband n I live upstairs. Thanks

    • Discover Containers

      Hi Pinelo,

      Without seeing the technical elevations, we can’t say. Did you get the plans signed off before you built the room?

  4. Johannah Tlhomelang

    Thank you very much for this most useful information. My sister and I want to start this business in a country called Botswana. Our worry is, as you said earlier, getting someone to build the homes for us . Or can we import the finished homes direct from you and sell them over her?

    • Discover Containers

      Hi Johannah,

      We don’t sell container buildings ourselves, though there are a number of businesses that do. You’d have to look at the economics of sourcing overseas and paying for shipping to the coast, then whatever transport is required to get them to the interior. The cost of labor may be cheaper in Botswana, but finding skilled labor may be more difficult. And then you have material availability to think about.