Shipping Container Homes: Understanding the Growing Popularity

by | Apr 27, 2018 | Living Small | 2 comments

Shipping Container HomesWhether you’re a regular renter, a fortunate homeowner, or living with your parents, you’ve probably heard about the growing popularity of shipping container homes.

Why would someone choose to live in a shipping container when there are so many stylish traditional homes and apartment buildings on the market?

Well, exorbitant rent is a factor, of course – but living in a shipping container is also totally hipster!

Shipping container homes are built by redesigning and modifying new or upcycled shipping containers.

Since the 80s, regular brick and mortar houses have more than tripled in price. The average income hasn’t kept up with the rising cost of living  either.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to turn up our noses at cost-effective home ideas, even if they do stray from the norm.

Why Are Shipping Container Homes so Popular?

Rest assured, shipping container homes are no fad.  There are good reasons why these homes have received so much hype: with careful research and planning, your shipping container home could be more cost efficient than a traditional building – with plenty of options for eco-friendly, architecturally flexible, and stylish designs.

Ed: The concept of living small is nothing new. Take a look at the history of tiny houses to see just how far back it dates.

Building with shipping containers is accessible, with options to match any budget. Using containers, you can build a small home for several thousand dollars and a mid-range home for a few hundred thousand.

As mentioned earlier, a huge reason to love shipping container dwellings is that they are, by nature, up-cycled and are easily made very eco-friendly.  Heating is certainly cost-efficient if you are building a small home, and if you budget well, you can use the money you save to buy solar panels to harness the power of the sun – or invest in water tanks and energy management systems.

Shipping Container Home

Photo Credit: Ross Angus

Sounds great to you?  Awesome! Now to break it to you…there will also be paperwork.  Here are a few things you need to consider before building a shipping container home.

Container Type

Would you like a new container, with details about what it used to hold and where it’s been, or have you weighed up the risks coming with a cheaper second-hand container?  What shape of container do you have your eye on – regular containers, high cube containers? What manufacturer do you want to buy from? There are a large variety of shipping containers available to fit your individual needs.


Insulation is one of the most vital ingredients to having a safe and healthy home. There’s a myriad of options available, but it’s recommended you don’t cut costs here.


Consider the best place to set your shipping container – is your building location prone to earthquakes? Flooding? Is the ground soft or hard?


How will you make the most of the available resources and sun around you? Are you totally chill living in a shipping container with its bare and beautiful corrugated face, or would you like to dress your home up as something else? You’ll need external cladding to add extra outer detail, and you’ll most likely need an architect if you want to stack containers together.


Always take some time to research and note your local building rules and regulations.  Some small shipping container builds don’t need permits – and you may just find that building a small container home falls outside of the traditional need for a permit, making things much easier for you.


The biggest thing you need to consider is whether you have time to pursue the build. If you aren’t already blessed with the skills and knowledge to go completely DIY, you may want to pay somebody else to help you out – and if you decide to go for it yourself, allow plenty of time and extra money in your budget for unexpected expenses.

Make sure that building a shipping container home fits your life without question, and that the thought of creating one makes you feel excited and happy, not stressed.  If you work very long hours, juggle many commitments, or often struggle to stay committed to DIY projects, this may not be the build for you.

Building a shipping container home can be incredibly fun and rewarding.  For a fraction of the cost of a building a regular house, you can build a sustainable home to style in infinite ways. All you need is passion and time for research and planning.

As regular housing continues to soar in price and the prospects of home ownership dwindle for many, open your eyes to see why shipping container homes are a popular and exciting option for building your first or next home.

Watch Ang’s TEDx talk!

Who are Ang & Sporty?



  1. Phumlile Bulunga

    Hey! How can I export the containers and use them in my country? For entrepreneurship?

    • Ang

      Hi Phumile,

      Sorry, we don’t know much about shipping containers, other than the fact that people live in them. I’d suggest Googling the topic for more information if you’re in a hurry. Otherwise, check back next week, because I’m planning to write a detailed blog post on the subject. Good luck with your business venture! Ang 🙂



  1. Design Integration – Ashley Leatherman's Mastery Journal - […] Reid, H. (2018, April 27). Shipping container homes: Understanding the growing popularity. In Mostly Mindful: Minimalist made more-ish. Retrieved…

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