Used shipping containers as homes

Craft & Design
Used shipping containers as homes

SF Gate has an article about architects turning used shipping containers into homes – “In this era of scouring the earth for the magic bullet in home building, few ideas can compete with the weird, pragmatic beauty of the used shipping container. Cheap, strong and easily transportable by boat, truck or train, these big steel structures now litter the ports of America as mementos of our Asian-trade imbalance. (Many more full containers arrive on our shores than depart, so ports either ship them back empty — to the tune of about $900 per — or sell them.) Hurricane proof, flood proof, fire proof, these metal Lego blocks are tough enough to be stacked 12-high empty — and thus can be used in smaller multistory buildings.” Thanks C! [via] – Link. & CNN has a video.

Pictured here, Adam Kalkin’s 12-container house – Link.


  • Build A Huge Cheap Home with Shipping Containers – Link.
  • Selected projects utilizing shipping containers – Link.
  • Amsterdam’s container park – Link.
  • “How much is inside” a 40 Foot Shipping Container – Link.

22 thoughts on “Used shipping containers as homes

  1. ehrichweiss says:

    I have been thinking of this for a while. I am about to make a move to the big island of Hawai’i and we are going to have to ship everything in a container(or 3) anyway so I’ve considered just buying 4 of them, bringing my welder and a generator and having an instant house(well in a couple weeks time anyway). Anyone got any other links for good ideas to use with these?

  2. Mesach says:

    Here is a really good resource of people doing just that same thing

    Its the FabPreFab Forums, I have had this idea for quite a while, however my g/f is a tradational type of home girl, as I am more of a modern/mid century modern type.

    Guess who wins out in the end.

  3. Stokes says:

    I wonder, though: how much structural stability is lost when you cut windows or ventilation holes in the containers?

  4. Mesach says:

    As long as you are not stacking them 10 high like on cargo ships, I dont think you will have an issue with structural stability. 2 High in these instances should be fine, 3 high should be OK too, but I’m not a structural engineer.

    Remember when stacked for a house, you are putting ALOT less weight on them than when they are packed for shipping.

  5. DGary says:

    Most areas don’t have issues with them being used for homes beyond the typically canned response of “Homes need to be designed and engineered to meet standards set by the building department”

    So you still need an architect to design it, but construction with them is easy otherwise, if you have a crane/forklift and a plasma cutter.

    Supposed to be a prefab home company outside San Diego that builds with these, but I haven’t been able to find a name, number or reference since the last link I had went 404.
    But these are great for prefab, make modules where the containers are cheap, and ship em on a flatbed, beauty.

  6. cwegscheid says:

    Designing houses around shipping containers is a huge fad among architects these days — but few actually exist beyond drawings. Containers are appealing on a lot of levels (they’re modular, ubiquitous, transportable, and they have a nice industrial aesthetic) but actually making a habitable house of them is a bit dicey. Somewhere in the process of adding a foundation, a roof membrane, wall and roof insulation, vapor barriers, all the interior finishes, and making all the necessary openings for doors, windows, utilities and vents, you might start wishing your shipping containers had arrived stuffed full of 2×6’s and wood trusses. Having said that, though, you can’t find a much better spot than Hawaii for trying something like this; the forgiving climate will eliminate a few headaches right off the bat. If you try it, good luck! Here’s the best link I’ve found:

  7. Blacksmen says:

    I want to build my home in a container, I can´t find any draw or sketch about how windows are sealed into container wall…if there is any gentleman who can explain to me I thank in advance.

  8. says:

    Container homes for sale!

    My company GlobalPeaceContainers dot com is the first built-on-site container housing company in the US. We are unveiling new models for sale at this time and we will also build to suit. I am one of the first container house proponents in the U.S. (13 years experience). Look for us on the news in the future. If you still need your questions answered, please email admin at globalpeacecontainers dot com and I’ll happy to assist. Soren Ludwig, CEO.

  9. ARIF says:

    Are there any suppliers in the UAE, Dubai Jordan, India or have representatives in these geographic locations, please email me at dallas_male_007 at
    We are interested in Prefab and delivery of these containers.
    Thanks in advance.

  10. Philip Mast says:

    For all the container enthusiasts out there, just thought id give you guys the link for our container house project we’ve started in east austin.
    We’re posting pictures of the progress, and discussing all of the issues we’ve come across.
    Philip Mast, Owner, Intermod LLC

  11. Lai Saetern says:

    I a thinking about writing an article about container homes for my school magazine: [x]press. Because I just recently found out about this and i don’t think this is a fad in the bay area, at least not to my knowledge. I would love to speak to anyone who is willing to share some info about this innovation that i think others who have no knowledge of would really like to learn about. Please contact me at
    People who are living in container homes, or are thinking about building one, architects, corporations–anyone who can share useful info with me please contact me. I would gladly appreciate it! Thank you!

    contact: or

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

current: @adafruit - previous: MAKE, popular science, hackaday, engadget, fallon, braincraft ... howtoons, 2600...

View more articles by Phillip Torrone
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).