Cost Of Building A Shipping Container Home

Cost Of Building A Shipping Container Home

This is for informational purposes - always check with your permitted authority or regulatory body first.

The tiny home trend hit the world by storm and hasn't let up. In fact, the CAGR rate from 2022 to 2027 is expected to be 3.5%. A common option for tiny homes is to build a shipping container home.

If you're considering building a shipping container home, you'll need to see how it fits into your budget. Let's take a look at how much one may cost, the factors that affect this, and the steps to take if you decide a shipping container home is right for you.

Related: What Is The Cheapest Way To Build A House?

What Is the Cost of Building a Shipping Container Home?

The cost of a shipping container home can vary. But, on average, you can expect to spend between $10,000 and $35,000 to build one. 

Shipping container homes will almost always cost less than a traditional home of the same size. This is usually true even if you add the finest features to your new home. For example, a traditional home may cost around $90,000. A shipping container home of a similar size would cost around $30,000.

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Shipping Container Home

While $10,000 is usually the minimum amount you will spend on a shipping container home, a few factors affect how much it will end up costing.


As with most homes, a larger container home means a larger price tag. Most often, you get this extra square footage by adding on more containers. If you use multiple containers, the price for your new shipping container home can jump to over $100,000.


Most people choose to go through the process of designing and building their homes themselves. However, you can opt for a pre-built shipping container home. 

This option can save you a lot of work and effort. You don't need to worry about choosing what features you want to include. These types of homes come with everything you need. You just have to choose which options suit your budget.

While these are easier, opting for a pre-built home does increase the cost. These tend to run between $20,000 and $50,000.

Features and Upgrades

We all want our homes to be comfortable and beautiful. For this to happen, it means adding helpful features and changes we love. But getting these will drive up the cost a bit.

The exact price of features and upgrades will vary drastically based on what you choose to add. You can make simple changes or elaborate ones. Just make sure to leave room in your budget to customize your new home to be just how you want it.

Should You Choose a Shipping Container Home?

Colorful shipping containers

Shipping container homes offer a few positives. One of the biggest is that they are much more affordable than a traditional home of the same size. Even if you aren't looking for a tiny home and are instead looking to move into a more moderate-sized one, a container home could help you get more bang for your buck. 

This affordability can also make getting into your own home much easier. The traditional home-buying process means you usually need to save and borrow a lot of money. In sellers' markets, it gets even harder to afford a home. The option to build a lower-cost home means that even if you couldn't afford a traditional home, you might be able to afford a container home.

In addition, customization is a big part of the container home experience. Since you are building the home from the ground up, you can choose the layout and features you want. Many companies offer templates that help get the process started. 

While shipping container homes are quite durable and can stand up to all different types of weather, they don't last as long as traditional homes. Most last around twenty-five years with proper upkeep. If you don't properly maintain your home, its life expectancy may drop to about fifteen years. 

Whether or not a shipping container home is right for you will be a balance between the cost and how long they last.

Steps To Build a Shipping Container Home

When building a shipping container home, you'll have a few different steps to work through. Each one comes with different costs that will add to the total expense.

Related: Is It Cheaper To Build Or Buy A House?

Find Land

You'll need a plot of land to place your future home. According to the USDA, farmland costs, on average, $3,800. However, you may end up paying several thousand dollars more per acre.

Farmland does not usually have access to utilities and other utilities, which you will need to add. In addition, it usually costs more to live closer to a city or more populated area.

Build a Foundation

The foundation is a critical step in building your home. It keeps it stable and helps protect it from potential damage.

With a shipping container home, you can choose from either a trench, slab, or pier foundation. Pier foundations cost the most, while trench foundations are the least. The average foundation will run about $4,500.

Find a Container

You can choose to go with either a new or used shipping container. Most new shipping containers cost between $3,000 to $5,000. However, some may reach up to $8,000.

Used containers will usually cost less, but their price will depend on the company you buy them from and how much damage they already have.

Just remember these prices are for an empty container without any features.

Add Insulation

Installing insulation is a critical step in making your home comfortable year-round. It will keep it cool in the summer and warm during the winter. 

You can measure your container to get an estimate of how much insulation will cost. In general, it costs about $2,000 for insulation in a 2,000 sq. ft. home.

Related: Essential Features of All Plot Plans

Install Amenities

Adding amenities will make your home feel like home and more liveable. You'll want to start with plumbing, electricity, and other utilities. Then, add flooring and wall coverings.

After this, you can add all of the other features you need. This can include lighting, appliances, and built-ins. The exact ones (and costs) will depend on what you want out of your home.

Will You Choose a Shipping Container Home?

Shipping containers turned into a home on a slope

When choosing whether to build a shipping container home, the cost is certainly a factor you need to consider. Your new home will cost a minimum of $10,000 but could exceed $100,000, depending on your plans. 

Make sure to get quotes and build a budget so you can decide if a shipping container home is the right choice for you!


FAQ Answer
What are the potential disadvantages of building a shipping container home? While the article highlights affordability and customization as advantages, potential disadvantages include limited space, the necessity of structural modifications, potential difficulties in obtaining building permits, and challenges related to insulation and temperature control.
How does the resale value of shipping container homes compare to traditional homes? The resale value of shipping container homes can be lower than traditional homes due to their niche appeal and potential buyer reservations about aspects such as longevity and structural integrity. However, unique or well-designed container homes in desirable locations might maintain a good value.
What are common regulatory challenges faced when building a shipping container home? Common challenges include zoning laws, building codes, and permits that might not be standardized for non-traditional housing types like shipping container homes. Each locality can have different requirements, making the approval process potentially complex and time-consuming.
Can shipping container homes be expanded or modified after initial construction? Yes, shipping container homes can be expanded or modified by adding more containers or creating cutouts for additional windows, doors, and room transitions. However, structural integrity must be maintained, and modifications should be done under the guidance of a professional.
What are eco-friendly practices to consider when building a shipping container home? To enhance sustainability, consider using recycled or upcycled materials for interior finishes and installations, installing solar panels, using rainwater harvesting systems, and choosing eco-friendly insulation materials. This not only helps the environment but can also improve the energy efficiency of the home.

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  • Ryan Crownholm