Eight Tips for Building a Shipping Container Home

Eight Tips for Building a Shipping Container Home
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Posted On: August 29, 2022
  • Updated On: July 10, 2023

Using recycled shipping containers as the primary structural elements of a building is one of the most offbeat sustainable design trends of the past few years. Shipping containers offer excellent housing because of their compact size and modular design. They are strong, durable, cheap, sustainable, and more customizable.

Why Consider Shipping Container Homes?

Reusing shipping containers to construct a house saves money and reduces the environmental impact of building compared to using raw materials.

By using one or more shipping containers as the framework for your home, you are effectively working within the confines of a single or set of modular modules that simplify the construction process. Building with containers is like playing with Legos, except on a much larger scale.

Due to the doubling of house sizes over the past 50 years, the scarcity of available land, and the ever-increasing housing expense in suburban regions, many individuals are considering downsizing to tiny homes. In this economy, owning a home, let alone having it built your way, is nothing short of a dream.

Consider the housing situation in Australia, for example. The average home in Brisbane, Australia, cost $548,260 in March 2021, while in Sydney, it was $1,186,518—amounts considerably out of reach for the average Australian family.

So it is no surprise that more and more people are looking for shipping containers in Brisbane and Sydney to build their homes.

So if you’re considering building a shipping container home, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are some tips to help build a shipping container home you will love and be proud of.

Have a clear-cut plan

Planning is perhaps the most arduous thing to do regardless of what you do in life. When planning, you have to go over a myriad of things, like labor costs and expenses.

Without proper planning, your shipping container project can turn into a disaster. Even when constructing a container home from scratch, you must plan wisely to avoid any major unforeseen expenses or mishaps. Proper planning will ensure efficiency without compromising on quality.

Have a budget in mind

The budget is what determines everything from start to finish. Your budget gives you an idea of what type of home you will be able to construct. Your budget determines what you can and cannot afford and helps cancel out possible options.

Moreover, all interior or exterior expenses must be within your budget to avoid any hindrances later. Don’t go overboard with your expenditure, as that will create a huge problem for you. Make a clear-cut budget in mind without affecting your daily expenses that are indispensable.

Find the right contractor

Having the appropriate contractor, especially if skilled with the type of home you’re imagining, may go a long way toward smoothing out the building process and ironing out any kinks that may arise along the road.

You may also choose to deal with a single individual for all of the work, rather than two or three distinct people for interiors and exteriors, for example.

However, to save money and be sufficiently confident, you should become the general supervisor and hire contractors for various sub-tasks such as welding, plumbing, insulation, etc.

Change the shipping container floor ASAP!

Most people who own a shipping container home decide to maintain the floor even after the house has been built to save money. However, this is not a sensible choice because the shipping container floor is composed of tropical wood, which attracts bugs.

Strong pesticides are typically utilized to keep these pests at bay when shipping. However, utilizing such strong chemicals in the house might be hazardous to your health. So even though it will cost you a little more, it is preferable to change the flooring of your container to floor tiles as they are comparatively safer.

Plumbing and Insulation

Spray foam insulation is the most preferred alternative for container houses. That’s because you want to insulate your home and create a vapor barrier to keep moisture out of your containers.

The only disadvantage of spray foam insulation is that it costs more than insulating panels. So, if you are on a tight budget, you can consider insulation panels, which work the same but take up considerable interior space (about an inch on each wall).

The general appearance and feel of the property may be quickly altered through the use of paint, furnishings, and décor, but plumbing is likely to be done once.

Therefore, knowing all accessible solutions and their long-term benefits and drawbacks is a good idea. Invest more in the plumbing, insulation, and structure of your home rather than the interior to keep it in good shape long term.

Smartly modify, but don’t change the structure

How cleverly you converted a shipping container into a home distinguishes your container house. This is why you should adapt every aspect of your shipping container house in a more intelligent, creative, and considerate manner. Plan the container’s construction and dividers carefully.

Don’t make too many structural modifications. If you add too many windows, holes, and cut-downs, the container’s construction will become weak, and you’ll need to provide additional support to stabilize the structure.

Find out about building rules and regulations

Various localities (and maybe even different sections within a city) have distinct rules and restrictions for creating a shipping container home. Therefore, before beginning the home-building process, understand the legal limits and insurance information.

Minimize welding and stick to one layout

Welding will cost you both money and time. Therefore, design the construction to minimize the amount of welding necessary. This is also a continuation of the preceding advice.

Each cut has a cost, but cutting off a piece of a shipping container includes a high cost and time to rebuild it, so avoid turning back on a choice. Instead, visit as many container houses as possible in person to gather ideas for your design, and then try to stick to the one you prefer.


Beautiful examples of shipping container architecture are springing up throughout Australia and the rest of the world.

Architectural and design professionals have to “think beyond the box,” so to speak, when creating plans for buildings of all sizes, whether for homes or businesses. So remember, the world is your oyster, go ahead and build your dream home!

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Author: Mohsin Khan

Mohsin has worked as one of the experienced editors with ConstructionHow since 2020 with a total span of 5 years of experience in business PR, boasting a remarkable professional trajectory, he has collaborated with entrepreneurs and startups, and certain publications over the last few years. His unwavering interest lies in the construction industry and related materials. He believes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, and homes that fall under the right budget. With a wide range of experience in construction, he also tapped into DIY and home improvement projects based on his extensive set of knowledge in the industry.