Affordable Housing: Why Shipping Container Is Your Best Option

by Silvia Novak
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The world’s current population has now reached 7.7 billion, and this already massive number is still growing each day. Consequently, humanity is now encountering different issues concerning basic needs and resources. One of them is shelter, where people across the globe still can’t find decent housing due to poverty and the high cost of living.

Governments try to address this issue through affordable housing developments where they provide modest homes to the less fortunate. While this may be good for those who can’t buy their own property, other people who are looking to build their own home may have a great option they should be considering: shipping containers.

Addressing a need has led to enterprising and innovative individuals to look at other means to provide low-cost housing for those who need it. With shipping containers providing an economical way to build a home, it has been a stellar option not only for the price but also for a host of other benefits that make it appealing.

What’s a Shipping Container Home?

A shipping container home is any building, either a home or an office, which has been constructed from shipping containers. It can be brand new or used and can be positioned and designed to create pretty much any style you want.

Shipping containers are similar to prefabricated homes where you already have walls that are ready to be turned into rooms. With careful planning, you can actually build the home of your dreams without breaking the bank. It’s truly an innovative solution that addresses housing problems while giving opportunities to others to achieve their dream home.

Benefits of a Shipping Container Home

There are a ton of benefits you can get from constructing a home using shipping containers. When used appropriately, they can be fantastic building material, offering several advantages over traditional construction materials and methods.

  • Durability and Toughness

The durability and toughness of shipping containers are often overlooked. But if you think about it, these heavy-duty steel containers are used to transport cargo through extreme and often dangerous weather conditions. When at sea, these containers can take a pounding from 100-mile-per-hour winds and over 50-foot waves.

This kind of durability and toughness that shipping containers provide is generally considered “over-spec,” which means they are more than strong enough to be used in building homes, particularly when compared to other eco-friendly materials.

But to maintain their toughness, it’s recommended to minimize cutting out too much steel from the containers. Removing sections to build doors, windows, and room openings can compromise their structural integrity. You may need to add additional steel beams to carry the load from areas where you’ve removed metal.

  • Flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of using shipping containers is you can convert them off-site. So if you’re planning to live in a remote area, building on your preferred site can pose challenges: contractors are hard to find or costly to have them travel to far-flung locations; shipping all your materials and supplies are expensive; and the availability of power and water needed for construction are limited.

  • Environment-Friendliness

Another great advantage is its environmental benefit. Each shipping container that’s reused saves the earth over 7,000 pounds of steel. Folks who are concerned about the planet would prefer to live in a home made out of shipping containers for its eco-friendliness.

People have been more environmentally aware over the past few decades, so they are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and become more eco-conscious. One good way to do this is building a home from recycled materials.

Keep in mind that when you recycle a standard 40-foot container, you save around 3,700 kilograms of steel. With an estimated 500,000 shipping containers abandoned yearly and an additional several million already abandoned, there’s a lot of construction materials out there waiting to be utilized.

  • Affordability

One of the biggest reasons why people use shipping containers is its affordability. A used but still cargo-worthy 40-foot high cube container costs at least $3,000 and provides around 320 square feet of floor space with an extra foot of ceiling height. If you put three of them together, you’ll have almost 1,000 square feet for just $9,000.

In a time when many people are struggling to build their own homes, it’s a great option to consider shipping containers.

  • Portability

Depending on your design, shipping container homes can be built to be portable. To make this happen, you’ll be needing two things:

  1. Bolt the containers to the foundation or other containers. Welding them together is out of the question.
  2. Keep cutting to a minimum since taking out huge sections of a shipping container can compromise its structural integrity, preventing it from being transported and stacked without additional support.
  • Easy to Build

Another excellent advantage of shipping containers is their easy assembly. You can finish building a home considerably faster than standard construction methods. One of the reasons why shipping containers tend to be quicker to build is that the main structure of the home is usually complete when the containers are delivered.

  • Unique Style

It’s fairly obvious that shipping container homes have a distinctive look, with most folks describing it as either industrial, rugged, modern, or anything in between.

It could be best described as a love-hate relationship; there are those who love it, and there are some who can’t stand it. But one good thing to note is if you don’t particularly enjoy the outside appearance, you can always have the choice of installing external cladding, such as wood, to give it more character.

While the installation of external cladding is mainly for aesthetics, it offers other benefits as well, such as insulation, depending on the type of material used.


If you’re looking for affordable housing that’s easy to build and won’t break the bank, using shipping container for building homes offers a multitude of benefits. This is a fantastic option when looking for housing solutions for those who need shelter. It’s recommended that governments should look into this for a more sustainable way to help their homeless citizens.

If you want to get creative, you can use shipping containers to play around with designs that suit your taste. You can even explore unorthodox builds, so you can own your unique dream house that’s going to last for a long time.

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