Five Cheap Shipping Container Home Examples

Case Studies


With US house prices back on the climb and many people being unable to afford rent, it’s no wonder that countless people are now starting to look for a cheaper, more affordable way to build their own home.

It’s one of the main reasons why the ‘Tiny Home’ movement has continued to grow and is now more popular than ever before.

For lots of people, shipping container homes can be a cost-effective solution for their housing needs. They can be built quickly, affordably and can be Eco-friendly.

Today we are going to look at the five cheapest shipping container homes ever built.

#1: Joseph Dupuis’ Container Home – $20,000

I’ve no doubt that if you’ve seen much of the news recently you will have already seen Joseph Dupuis’ home.

Joseph is a 29-year-old engineer from Canada who researches renewable energy at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Back in 2012, he was looking for a way to build his own home without racking up debt in the process.

He decided to purchase three shipping containers and build a home on his family’s land which is about 35 miles west of Ottawa. The shipping containers had previously been used to ship cargo from Asia and were purchased from a port near Toronto for $2,600 each.

Dupuis built the 355 square foot home during the summer of 2012 and in total it took him three months.

He said building his home was like a giant science experiment.

You can see in the photos, Joseph has removed the interior walls of the containers to create one large open plan room. The home contains a kitchen, dining area, and a shower stall. Dupuis has made an outhouse that doubles as a complete bathroom.

What makes this home so impressive is the fact that it’s completely off-grid, which means it isn’t connected to local utilities such as electric.

Solar panels on the containers’ roof provide electricity and there is a wood-powered stove to keep the home warm.

Joe is planning to add a fourth shipping container to the home. This container will have a glass ceiling to allow him to stargaze.

It appears he is a container fanatic. He also made a workshop out of two shipping containers to allow him to build his motorbikes.

The total cost of this home is $20,000.

Source: Daily Mail

#2: Shipping Container Cabin – $35,000

Shipping Container Cabin One

Courtesy of Larry Wade

This shipping container cabin was built by Larry Wade for $35,000.

Larry’s original plan was to build a shipping container home/cabin that would be suitable to use as a weekend or holiday home. He wanted the home to be self-sufficient yet have all the normal comforts of home associated with it.

This meant Larry was looking for ways to make the container cabin off-grid.

He started off by purchasing two 40-foot shipping containers for $2,000 each. The containers were delivered and sited onto several concrete piers. Concrete piers were used instead of a full concrete slab, due to them being both cheaper and quicker to build.

Once the containers were leveled, they were welded together. To weld the containers Larry placed 2″ x 1/8″ flat steel bars along the gap between the container roofs. These steel bars were then welded using a stitch pattern.

Shipping Container Cabin Two

Courtesy of Larry Wade

In addition to the roof, Larry welded the floors together and also the doors of the containers, to prevent any wind blowing through them.

Foam insulation was then sprayed on the outside of the containers and also in the air pocket between the two containers. Internally, rock wool insulation was rolled out in between planks to provide an additional layer of protection.

You can see that inside the containers there is an arch that connects the two containers and creates a living room. In addition to the living room, there are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen/dining area.

The roof of the containers has been fitted with solar panels that provide the home with its electricity. The solar panels are also used to heat the water.

The total cost of Larry’s home was $35,000. This figure includes the cost of purchasing the land.

Source: Sea Container Cabin

#3: Tin Can Cabin – $36,000

Tin Can Cabin is based in the beautiful countryside of Northern Wisconsin.

Steve’s primary concern was security and he said that shipping containers’ large steel doors can be locked to keep his home secure and free from vandals while he is away.

Unlike the two homes above, Steve opted to build his home using brand new shipping containers. He chose to use new containers because they are in better condition which makes them easier to work with. Also, he mentioned that the risk of chemical contamination in new containers is reduced.

The brand new 20-foot shipping containers cost $2,600 each. The delivery of them from China was free because Steve let the freight company ship goods inside his container (this is commonly referred to as ‘one trip’ containers).

The containers were insulated internally with spray foam insulation which was sprayed 3 inches thick.

Similar to Joseph Dupuis’ container home mentioned above, all the internal walls were removed to allow for a single open-plan home. Inside the house, you will find a kitchen, lounge, dining area, and a bathroom. The lounge area features a sofa that doubles as a bed to save on space.

For heating, Steve installed a wood-burning stove that is capable of heating up to 800 square feet. His container home is 480 square feet so the stove is more than powerful enough.

The total cost of Steve’s container home was $36,000. This price included all the fixtures, furnishings and fittings.
Source: Tin Can Cabin

#4: Containers of Hope – $40,000

Containers of Hope is by far one of the most famous shipping container homes ever built. The home was designed by Benjamin Garcia Saxe architects for the Peralta family.

Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta wanted to live in the countryside, but they were worried about rising property costs and getting themselves in debt. They decided to build their home out of shipping containers so they could lead a debt-free lifestyle that would allow them to spend the majority of their time out in the countryside.

With a plot of land in the suburbs of San Jose, Costa Rica, they wanted a home that would provide them with lots of views of the beautiful natural surroundings.

They decided to purchase two used 40-foot shipping containers and space them 3 feet apart on top of concrete pier foundations. This gap is covered with a roof that was made from scrap metal taken from the containers.

You can also see on the photos the home has several large glass windows that provide the Peralta family with stunning views out into the countryside of San Jose.

Insulation and heating aren’t as much of a concern in San Jose because their weather rarely goes below 64 degrees F. The roof provides cross ventilation which means they rarely have to turn their air conditioning unit on.

In total, their 1,000 square foot home cost around $40,000.

If you want to find out more about Containers of Hope, we interviewed them here.
Source: Benjamin Garcia Saxe

#5: Ireland’s First Shipping Container Home – $60,000

This shipping container home was the first built in Ireland and was completed in 2014. The total cost of the home was $60,000. And if you think that it sounds expensive, wait until you see the spec inside the home!

The 360 square foot home was coordinated by Carol Tallon from Ceardean Architects. It was a low-cost model of housing which she says “was inevitable after the property market crash in 2008”. Carol goes on to say that container homes “are new housing solutions available to accommodate different lifestyle choices”.

This home can sleep up to six people at once; however, it’s primarily designed to sleep a family of four people comfortably.

The majority of the home is made up of the living area and kitchen. In addition to these rooms, the home also has a bedroom and a bathroom.

There is also an outside deck that could be used in the summer.

As previously mentioned the $60,000 price tag seems expensive, however, the home is fitted with solar panels and micro heat recovery units which generate hot water and electricity for the home.
Source: The Irish Journal

Let us know in the comments below if you’d consider living in a shipping container home.

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