How Much Does It Cost to Build a Shipping Container Home?

how much do shipping containers cost

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how much do shipping containers cost

Shipping container homes have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering an affordable and sustainable housing solution. If you’re considering building a shipping container home, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “How much does it cost?” In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the factors that influence the cost of building a shipping container home and provide you with valuable insights to help you plan your budget.

Understanding the Cost of Building a Shipping Container Home

The cost of building a shipping container home can vary significantly depending on various factors. On average, a shipping container home can cost between $15,000 and $35,000 to build. However, if you opt for a larger home using multiple shipping containers, the cost can escalate to over $100,000. Let’s delve into the key factors that contribute to the overall cost of a shipping container home.

Container Size and Type

The size and type of shipping container you choose will have a direct impact on the cost of your home. Standard shipping containers are typically 8′ 6″ high and 8′ wide, with lengths ranging from 20ft. to 45ft. High Cube containers offer extra height, measuring 9′ 6″ high. The price difference between a 20ft. container and a 40ft. container can be around 34%.

Condition and Usage History

When it comes to purchasing shipping containers, you have the option of buying new or used containers. New containers, known as “one-trip” containers, are generally more expensive than used ones. Used containers come in various conditions, such as water/wind tight, cargo-worthy, or IICL-inspected. The price difference between a used 20ft. container and a new one-trip container can be around 77%.

Modifications and Customizations

Customizing your shipping container home can add to the overall cost. Common modifications include insulation, plumbing, electrical installations, and the addition of amenities like flooring and wall coverings. The cost of modifications will depend on the extent of the changes you want to make and the condition of the container. Modifying a used container in poor condition may be more expensive than customizing a new one.

Location, Shipping Destination, and Delivery Time

The location from which you purchase your shipping container and the shipping destination can affect the cost due to transportation expenses. Container prices may also vary based on market conditions and demand in specific metropolitan areas. Additionally, the delivery time of the container can impact the overall cost. Customizations or bulk orders may require a longer lead time.

Building a Shipping Container Home: Step-by-Step Process

Now that we have a better understanding of the factors that influence the cost, let’s explore the step-by-step process of building a shipping container home. Each stage involves different considerations and expenses. By familiarizing yourself with the process, you can plan your budget effectively.

1. Research Land Options

Before embarking on the construction of a shipping container home, it’s essential to research and acquire suitable land. The cost of land will vary depending on the location, proximity to amenities, and the size of the plot. Factors such as zoning regulations, permits, and utility access should also be taken into account. The USDA reports that the average cost of farmland in 2021 was approximately $3,380 per acre.

2. Prepare the Foundation

Once you have secured the land, you will need to prepare the foundation for your shipping container home. There are three common types of foundations:

  1. Trench foundations: These involve digging a hole and filling it with concrete.
  2. Slab foundations: Concrete is poured on the ground, and the container is placed on top.
  3. Pier foundations: Columns elevate the container off the ground, providing stability and protection.

The cost of laying a foundation can range from $2,500 to $6,000, depending on the type and size of the foundation.

3. Purchase Shipping Containers

After preparing the foundation, it’s time to purchase the shipping containers. You can choose between new or used containers, with used containers being more affordable. The price of a new shipping container can range from $2,800 to $7,800, while used containers typically cost between $1,200 and $3,500. Keep in mind that prices may vary based on the condition, size, and manufacturer of the container.

4. Install Insulation and Utilities

Insulating your shipping container home is crucial for maintaining comfortable temperatures and energy efficiency. The cost of insulation will depend on the size of your home and the type of insulation you choose. On average, insulation for a 2,000 sq. ft. home can cost around $2,000. Additionally, you will need to budget for plumbing, electrical installations, and other utilities based on your specific needs.

5. Customize Your Container Home

Once the basic structure of your container home is in place, you can focus on customizing the interior and exterior. This includes selecting flooring, wall coverings, fixtures, and other amenities to make your home comfortable and functional. The cost of customization will vary depending on your design choices and the materials used.

How Long Do Shipping Container Homes Last?

One of the advantages of shipping container homes is their durability. A well-maintained shipping container home can last up to 25 years or more. These structures are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, making them a sustainable and long-lasting housing option. However, regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity of your container home.

Pre-Built Shipping Container Homes: An Alternative Option

If the process of building a shipping container home from scratch seems overwhelming, you have the option to purchase a pre-built shipping container home. These homes come fully equipped and can simplify the construction process. Pre-built shipping container homes typically cost between $20,000 and $50,000, depending on the size and customization options. It’s important to consider your specific requirements and budget when deciding between building or buying a pre-built home.

Is Building a Shipping Container Home Worth It?

Building a shipping container home can be a worthwhile investment for the right individual or family. These homes offer cost-effective and sustainable living solutions, making them attractive to those seeking an alternative to traditional housing. Shipping container homes can be easily sold if you decide to move, providing flexibility and potential return on investment. However, it’s important to carefully plan and budget for the construction process to ensure that it aligns with your needs and financial situation.

The Bottom Line: Cost Considerations for Building a Shipping Container Home

While building a shipping container home is generally more affordable than constructing a traditional home, it’s important to budget accordingly. A small shipping container home can cost a minimum of $10,000, while larger homes using multiple containers can be significantly more expensive. By considering factors such as container size, condition, modifications, location, and customization options, you can estimate the total cost of your shipping container home project. Additionally, working with an experienced and reputable shipping container supplier can help you save money and ensure a smooth building process.

In conclusion, building a shipping container home offers an exciting and cost-effective alternative to traditional housing. By understanding the factors that influence the cost and following a step-by-step process, you can turn a shipping container into a comfortable and sustainable living space. Whether you choose to build from scratch or purchase a pre-built home, shipping container homes provide a unique opportunity to create a dwelling that suits your needs and reflects your personal style.