low-cost house

Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

Today, we will cover the pros and cons of shipping container homes. The idea of shipping container homes only started to touch base a few years ago. Most would only see a cargo container as a transportation tool and nothing more. But with this new revolution, shipping containers have immensely changed the world of architecture and real estate.

With very little information about them, many people are hesitant and resistant to invest in them. Plus it would only be right to properly understand this new entry. So why don’t you dive into this article and learn about what’s good about them and what’s not?

shipping container home apartment
Shipping container home apartment made out of 3X40 shipping containers

Advantages of Shipping Container Homes

To kick things off, let’s start with the brighter side of things. Here are the best features of shipping container houses:

  • Eco – Friendly

Shipping containers undergo the process of modification to adequately transform them into habitable spaces. The fact that it takes a lot of energy to recycle the corten steel that containers are made from — corten is a toughened type of steel — only makes them much more environmentally conscious. They are all about reusing, recycling and repurposing.

For a 20 feet shipping container, you are reusing about 4,000 pounds of steel. This figure goes up to about 8,000 pounds of steel when recycling a 40 feet container. You will also be saving on the wood used, hence making an impact by reducing the rate of deforestation done to compete with the demand for wood and other materials.

In comparison with brick and motor houses, they are less pollutant to the air as well. Cement and bricks used to make traditional houses produce the highest amount of poisonous gases including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other inert gases.

  • Structural Rigidity

Shipping containers are not just made with ordinary steel. They are constructed with Corten steel. The strongest, most durable type of steel in the mechanical industry. Not only is it able to withstand high quantities of weight, but also resistant to extreme environmental conditions.

One container can comfortably carry over 70,000 pounds of weight. Placing in the contents of your home, this container is not only suitable but capable of holding down the fort.

Weather calamities like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tremors cannot defy the structural integrity of these containers. This, in turn, provides an adequate safety net for you under harsh climatic conditions.

  • Low- Cost Housing

We can’t rule out the fact that they can as well be pricey. But not more than the traditional housing methods. They incur fewer materials and fewer labor costs.

That amounts add up to approximately 25 percent less expensive than other housing solutions. On average, the cost of one home could be from one million shillings ($10,000). This price is inclusive of the container, labor costs for the professionals, materials and other miscellaneous factors.

Contact Ishibox Limited here for further details and custom designs.

As for the brick and mortar building, they can cost up to over four million ($40,000) without the inclusion of other factors like interior designing and landscaping. The land over which you build such traditional homes could also lead them to not be as cost-effective as you want them to be.

Shipping container apartment
Shipping container apartment detailed view
  • Turnaround Time

Depending on the plan and design of the shipping container home, the construction, assembly and designing phase of the home could take a maximum of one month to complete. This is contrary to brick and mortar housing.

Starting from the foundation up, it could take months or years for apartments and story houses to be completed. This is a fast and quick way to own a home in less anticipated time.

Such homes have their work cut out of them with the structure already in place and all that’s left is to modify it into something cozy and habitable. That’s why even for a double or triple story home, 6 months is too much time waiting.

  • Versatility

One disadvantage with other types of housing is the fact that construction and designing have to be done on-site. Everything will be permanently placed at one area and erected from the ground up.

As for shipping containers, all the works can be done off-site in a factory. All you need are your contractors and subcontractors to take lead on the project and once it has been finalized, transport to the destination can be arranged.

Their mobility is what has made them such a kick in the industry with some work areas requiring constant movement every now and then. A field office on the move will need such a modification that is stress-free, economic and easy to handle.

Floor plan of a container apartment
Container apartment floor plan
  • Customization

These shipping containers may have standardized shapes and sizes. But with a properly laid out plan, it could allow you to transform the home to just about anything.

Every home is unique in its own way. You could opt for an open layout for your home or something enclosed and secluded. Windows and doors are placed where you want them to be with all other features.

From a bungalow to a mansion, bedsitter, abolition area, separate guest house. The power is in your hands and the capabilities are limitless.

You can also decide to build your own shipping container home — although not advisable — but here’s an article on How to Construct a Shipping Container Home in Kenya, and indeed, the rest of the world.

  • Ready market

It’s quite easy to find shipping containers now more than ever. A simple search through the internet and several options pop in allowing you to get your home solutions the quick and easy way.

Engineers and architects have embraced this new possibility of shipping container homes and they are ready to share their expertise. Containerization has become more common now than before.

This means a decision to switch to this eco-friendly low-cost home could be as easy as one, two, three with a click of a button and an enthusiastic mind.

While the business sector sees this business opportunity as lucrative and profitable as it is, the target audience can obtain such services without great hustle.

Inside a container home
Inside a container home apartment
  • Security Measures

The rate of crime has increased rapidly this previous year with the economy becoming less stable every day that passes. This leads to young people turning to harmful and unjustified ways to survive hard times. Theft, armed robbery among other crimes are just but a few of them.

Luckily, the structural material doesn’t just allow for longevity, but also safety. Steel needs high-grade equipment to break into. Probably a dynamite, strong, high-level cutting tools.

Something as noisy as a stick of dynamite may not even completely break apart the structure of the container. Instead of causing alarms and suspicion from neighbors. Living in remote areas, such a home can aid protect you from theft among other rampant crimes locally.

Disadvantages of Shipping Container Homes

It’s disheartening to find out that all that glitters is not gold. Same case with shipping containers. While they have numerous advantages, there are certain features that could render them unworthy to invest in.

  • Additional Costs

The containers have much to boast about with its physical features. On the other hand, this precisely could be its downfall. These steel containers require you to invest a little further to install insulation and heat control factors.

Steel boxes used in the construction of cargo containers have high conductivity and transmission of temperature. This means that they can go from extreme heat to extreme cold. This could be a problem, hence requires a fix to control the internal temperature changes.

Besides the other costs incurred buying the container, the perfect modification for your home could be expensive to install. That means more money from you could be required and this can discourage you from investing in such homes.

Shipping Container Bedroom
Inside a shipping container apartment bedroom
  • Structural Limitations

The weakest link of these shipping containers comes with the roof. While the body structure is perfect for withstanding climatic conditions and harsh weather extremities, the roof is actually quite unstable when large portions of the sides of the container are removed.

That’s why modifications of these containers require them to be modified with the cutout sections being supported with a type of bracing. This is especially so for homes that will require double story designing. The roof has to be structurally corrected to withstand the weight.

The procedure to protect the rigidity of such homes takes much more than engineering. This means that you will need experts such as Ishibox Limited to handle this for you.

  • Limited Spacing

Most containers used for shipping container homes have a standardized shape and size that can only be added or reduced by cutting or welding them together. While welding could cost you additional costs, one might prefer to stick to one container.

This leads to limited spacing which is further reduced by the installation of insulation in the home. Interior walls can take over several inches from the containers original size.

Transporting cargo limited them to train like designs that may not emulate the designs of homes where certain rooms need to be wider and more accommodating than others.

container home kitchen
Container home kitchen
  • Limited Building Permits

These low-cost homes are versatile in that they can be moved around and even shipped over different states. But building codes for every state differs. You may be allowed to move, but not all place is accessible. 

Certain areas have strict permits that have to be followed to the latter or else risk losing your home. It is best to look over the internet and know about these codes. Especially if it will be affecting your area code as it can limit you from being closer to the people you love.

Certain areas require you to pay a substantial amount similar to permanent structures while others have not entirely grasped these homes therefore, don’t require you to pay as much.

  • Ecological Damage

While using these shipping containers is advantageous, they could cause damage to the environment without notice. Take an example of a used cargo container. Before any refurbishments are done to the container, it has to be cleaned, cut and scraped off unwanted chemical elements.

The elements from the flooring replacement, roof replacement, sandblast used and cuts made, can be falsely disposed of causing damage to the environment.

  • Poor Container Quality

Most people tend to use old and wasted containers to modify shipping container homes. While they are cheaper, they also mean more work will have to be done to properly perform the change you desire.

Dents have to be hidden, scratches and other spots have to be fixed and the container itself has to be protected from rust and other harmful toxins from the end of the container of the lifecycle.

Refurbishing of the container could cost you more money to fix and maintain.  That’s beside the point of low-cost housing solutions. Read more on What is a Low-cost House?

New containers could also be a problem where they have intensified chemical levels and strongly scented paint. Many upcoming manufacturers could also produce fewer quality containers that damage quickly.

  • Health Matters

Over the History of Shipping Containers, you will learn that from way back then, containers have been used to transport anything over the sea. From clothing to food, animal products, and chemicals.

Besides the chemicals and paint already used to maintain the physique of the container, the products being transported could contain hazardous chemicals.  These chemicals are unsafe for humans.

They could include lead used in rust-free paints, phosphorus, chromium for pest control and other toxins. These toxins could also exist even after you have decided to modify the container.

Without proper removal of such toxins, your health could fast deteriorate causing you to have breathing problems and conditions as well as other unidentified issues.

We at Ishibox Limited only ensure to use properly vetted containers by keenly studying their cargo history.

  • Engineering  Concerns of Shipping Container Homes

Shipping container modification is a new thing in the block. Trending firms are embracing the new revolution and accepting jobs under this criterion. Business must go on. And while other companies assume to know about such homes, they risk taking advantage of you.

In layman’s terms, the contractors you employ could end up doing a shoddy job with your home. This will definitely cost you much more money to reinvest in such homes again.

shipping container home plan
Shipping container home plan


The economic status is fast deteriorating. Things are much more expensive and with the dream of owning a house seems to go further and further away, it’s only right to think like a minimalist.

A shipping container home has much to give, even for the shallow-pocketed people. There’s no dream not worth pursuing. With the affordability, fast turnaround time and structural competence, these homes could be the next best thing under the real estate industry.

Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes
Article Name
Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes
The idea of shipping container homes started to touch base a few years ago. This article will cover some of the pros and cons of shipping container homes.
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Ishibox Limited
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3 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes”

  1. I am thankful that your article mentions how shipping container homes are at a lower cost than more traditional types of housing. My spouse and I are interested in moving in a few years but we are unsure of where to go. We’ll get into contact with shipping container modification services, as moving into one of these types of houses is appealing to the two of us.

    1. Hi, Lloyd. Thanks for stopping by. We’re glad you enjoyed reading the article. All the best in your new container home. You can contact us at info@ishibox.com for further queries or advice on location choice and choosing a suitable house plan for your location.

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