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Raise your hand if you want to build a house out of Legos!
OK, that probably wouldn’t be the best idea in most climates, but with shipping container homes, we can make our Lego dreams come true! Yes, as grown ups.
Today, at The Wayward Home, I’ll be diving into the pros and cons of container homes and sharing the best shipping container homes plans on the market.
Who am I? Oh, just a former real estate agent and current tiny house consultant who loves container homes with all her heart. So I won’t steer you wrong, OK?
Let’s do this!
Need help building your own shipping container home? This guide will help:
- Recommendations on building elements like foundations, insulation, walls, roofs, and more
- Instructions on how to correctly prepare your site for the delivery of your containers
- End of chapter checklists to help keep your planning/building on track
- An example budget with pricing breakdowns
Plus, you can add on a book of plans for 50 container homes to get started with your dream build.
Table of Contents
What Is a Shipping Container Home?
A shipping container home is a house that gets its structure from metal shipping containers rather than traditional stick framing. You could create a home from a single container or stack multiple containers to create a show-stopping home design the neighborhood will never forget.
Is a Shipping Container House a Good Idea?
Benefits of Shipping Container Homes
Traditional homes aren’t for everyone, and shipping container homes plans allow you to create an eco-friendly dream home in any style you desire.
Container homes are often constructed using upcycled containers, and this is awesome because used shipping containers are often abandoned- even ones in good condition!
They are also extremely durable.
Downsides of Shipping Container Homes
Container homes are awesome, but don’t let the pictures on Pinterest sway you before you get the facts.
The internet is littered with houses made of shipping containers that feature stunning interior design elements. Like, for instance, a master bathroom flooded with natural light that looks out over a private pool. (One that’s also built out of shipping containers).
But while this image is an easy project using design software like SketchUp, it’s harder to build in reality.
The downsides include difficulty permitting, flack from neighbors, and the fact that containers rust if not cared for properly.
Here’s a pros and cons list for easy reference!
What Are the Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes?
Pros of Shipping Container Homes
- They are environmentally friendly.
- You can stack and create more living area with a second floor.
- They provide flexibility to transform a home’s interior to make the most of (sometimes) limited space.
- They are earthquake, hurricane, fire, and pest-resistant.
- They can be on-grid or off-grid.
- A flat roof makes it easy to build a roof deck.
Cons of Shipping Container Homes
- Finding a good builder can be hard.
- Finding good plans can be hard.
- The cost to build a house out of containers could be more expensive than you think.
- Neighbors may complain if your house doesn’t fit their “vision.”
- A container project may face permitting issues.
Now, (grins wickedly), don’t let any of that discourage you because I think your dream of building a shipping container home is an excellent idea.
And plenty of people do it, so why not you?!
Here are my favorite container home builders, and the best designs they offer.
Custom Container Living Shipping Container Homes Floor Plans
This container house builder is one of the best in the business.
They have done their research and can answer complex questions about stacking containers and the permitting process.
They also have a ton of designs to choose from!
Sure, they can build you a living space with a cozy master bedroom, a dining room, a third bedroom, a full bathroom, and a front door to die for, but their container home floor plans don’t end there.
Custom Container Living can also build an office, a garden greenhouse, or an in-law suite!
They are also transparent when it comes to price, so when you describe the layout and features you’re looking for, they will be able to quote you a realistic cost estimate.
OK, I can’t wait any longer! Let me tell you about their floor plans.
The Professional Shipping Container Home Floor Plan
This design by Custom Container Living will let you enjoy the container home life while keeping things simple.
At just 160 square feet, this micro-unit can be placed just about anywhere, but the size doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out.
The Professional has a sleeping loft, a cute kitchenette, a bathroom with a shower, and a small living area to call home.
The Empty Nester Shipping Container Home Floor Plan
The Empty Nester is Custom Container Living’s most popular floor plan.
This 320-square-foot unit has one bedroom downstairs plus an additional loft space. The dining area is a little small, but the comfortable living room more than makes up for it.
Anyone who lives tiny will tell you that layout is everything, and as someone who lives in 267 square feet, I can tell you I would be very happy living in this container house!
The Double Duo Shipping Container Home Floor Plan
If you’re looking for a little more room, the Double Due could be the design for you.
This plan features a large kitchen/dining area, a small living room, and a bathroom with a bathtub. The Double Duo is a one-bedroom unit, although a two-bedroom version is available if you need more space.
The best part about this home design is the master bedroom. It features a walk-in closet, a small office area, and an open flex space on one side of the room to use as you see fit.
My least favorite part is the front door would usually be at one’s back.
Is that just me, or does everyone think about that? If a burglar comes in, I want to see them quickly!
Well, at least with this floor plan, the burglars can come for you while you enjoy a full kitchen.
Relevant Buildings Shipping Container Home Floor Plans
It’s hard to choose a favorite Relevant Buildings floor plan because they are so talented and versatile.
This team seamlessly blends rustic, luxury, and industrial design elements to create homes that range from “cabin” to “luxury Airbnb rental.” But since I have to choose…
This container home floor plan offers 760 square feet of living space.
If you’re a TV watcher, this may not be the floor plan for you because the main living area faces the kitchen.
Personally, though, I love to cook, and looking at an open-concept kitchen makes me happy. If you’re the same, this interior will not disappoint!
Curious about the price?
Price-wise, this container home is estimated to cost 225k USD if built in a shop or 275k if built on-site.
If you love the Tea House but want a floor plan with more room, there is also a 998-square-foot version of this space with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The De Lux River 40′ is constructed using two shipping containers and has a striking multi-tiered roof line! Inside, stunning beams steal the show.
This model includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and 1,173 square feet of living space.
This container design has city energy with a touch of cabin vibes that makes me think of Colorado or anywhere known for glamorous, rustic living.
From the outside, you’ll totally see the container, but from the inside? You’d never know you were in one.
Do you need a guest house but don’t have a lot of space? The SADU City 20′ floor plan by Relevant Buildings is the perfect compact ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) for your backyard.
This single container hosts an open living room and a downstairs bedroom, which is key if you plan to use containers as vacation rentals.
And speaking of vacation rentals, here’s a SADU City Airbnb in Portland, Oregon, you can stay at!
Now, you can try out containers before investing in your own.
Honomobo Shipping Container Home Floor Plans
If you love luxury houses as much has I do, you need to know about Honomobo.
Honomobo homes have things like indoor/outdoor common areas, floor-to-ceiling windows, and bedrooms that come with an ensuite bathroom!
If you want a cabin vibe, Honomobo is not for you.
But if your best life involves eating shrimp cocktail in a house that feels ten times as expensive as the price you’ll pay, you’ll want to learn more about what these containers can offer!
Behind door number one is Honomobo’s HO2 floor plan.
This unit is the company’s least expensive model and comes in at just over 215k for 640 square feet of pure luxury.
The HO2 is a two-bedroom, one-bathroom model, but if you need two other bedrooms (or even three!) Honomobo can deliver.
Honomobo’s HO5 model is the largest house they offer. It’s built using five container modules!
This floor plan offers three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. And like all Honomobo structures, the HO5 has an open-concept main living space that is to die for.
Case-in-point: The main living room wall is all glass and opens up to a deck. So if you’re a fan of indoor/outdoor living, this design could suit your needs perfectly.
Do you really want to take containers to the limit? If so, you may want to consider Honomobo’s HS8 plan!
The HS8 has a living room with wrap-around windows for a view that will probably land you a magazine feature.
If this model had a downside, though, it’s the narrow bedroom.
This is a four-bedroom unit, and only one bedroom was pictured on the website. So maybe the two other bedrooms or master are wider?
Honestly, I’m not questioning it. I was too blinded by the gorgeous living room to even see the bedrooms!
DIY Shipping Containers
Sure, you could hire a builder, but if you’re good with tools and have the patience necessary to work through the permitting process, why not build your own container house?
DIY Shipping Container House Guide
If you plan to DIY, the first thing you’ll want do research everything you can about building with containers.
DIY Shipping Container House Plans
Discover Containers also has a book of fifty DIY container home floor plans to help you get inspired.
But remember, just because you have plans doesn’t mean your city will approve them!
Legal DIY Shipping Container Houses
Before you build a DIY container house, it’s important to talk with your city’s planning department.
Be sure to have the city confirm in writing that you can build your container house the way you envision, OK?
There is nothing more devastating than a beautiful house you aren’t allowed to live in.
Buying Land for a DIY Shipping Container House
If you plan to buy land, it’s important to work with a real estate agent. And if there aren’t utilities on the land, you’ll want an agent with development experience.
Were you thinking off-grid would be easier? it’s not. Trust me.
How to Choose the Best Shipping Container House Plans
Eventually, you’ll have to make choices. But how do you choose? Here’s how I made decisions.
Container Home Builders
The builder was the first thing I looked at.
More specifically, I looked to see if the builder was still in business. Everyone on this list was at the time this article was published.
Container Home Building Standards
Second, I looked for references to container home building standards. Legality is everything.
Container Home Designs
Finally, I looked for variety.
On the list above, you will find everything from affordable container houses to ones that make luxury feel limitless.
Shipping Container House Plans Conclusion
So what do you think? Are you going to build a shipping container home?!
Containers provide a unique vessel to build any style of house that speaks to you. These homes come with challenges, but I have faith in you and I’m cheering you on! May your container home dreams come to life!
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