How to Build your Dream Container Home

black shipping container home in the woods - how to build your dream container home

Container homes are surging in popularity these days. They seem to be the ultimate way to build a green home. You can recycle a shipping container by making it your new homestead. Container homes offer unique style and design options for people looking to stay green. If shipping containers have caught your eye, we’ve put together this list of things to consider when building these types of homes.


One of the things that can be challenging about designing a container home is that you do not have many options for angles and curves. Containers are not very malleable. However, you can stack them, turn them, and combine them in fascinating ways. You will need to decide what type of spaces you want to have and how you want to position your containers to achieve these goals. You will also need to decide how many containers you need to design your dream home.

Plan for a green lifestyle while building your dream container home. You can consider the insulation, water treatment and sources, heating, energy and lighting options you might adopt when using old shipping containers. This is your chance to make your home sustainable from the ground up, from greywater recycling to green house cleaning services.

How to Get Your Container

There are several ways to get shipping containers, but the most popular ways are auctions and contacting shipping companies or storage facilities. When you are purchasing shipping containers, be sure to consider the age of the container.

One-trip containers will be in better shape, which can impact your home’s structure and sturdiness. Older containers may be rusted or have other defects that come from normal wear and tear. Most of these containers have been exposed to salt-air due to trips across the ocean. However, they are designed to withstand much of that.

Types of Containers

You should opt for one-trip containers if possible. However, you also want to be on the lookout for containers that say “original” or “factory paint.” Containers that have been repainted or have older paint have usually been refurbished and may be weaker than new containers that have only been used once.

In addition, containers that say that they are cargo-worthy are in the best condition. If you can find one that doesn’t have a shipping label it may not have a logo on it, meaning you would not necessarily need to repaint it for your home.

Use a Good Designer

shipping container home in valparaiso chile - how to build your dream container home

You will need to allow for electrical, plumbing, and maybe cable. You cannot merely dig or place wires and pipes anywhere. You need to use a designer who will know how to do these things without compromising the home’s design or the integrity of the containers.

You will also want to hire an expert construction crew. While you will not be using many of the more conventional building materials, you will need to ensure that the welded joints are stable and of excellent quality. You will also need to consider climate and weather patterns for your area. Wind and rain will affect your structure, so you will need to ensure that it is constructed to withstand these things.


Container homes are unique building materials, but you will still need to consider your budget. You will want to carefully plan for expenses related to decoration (outside and in), plumbing, electrical, land, and construction just as you would for any home.

However, since these are built from recycled materials, you will also need to have room in your budget to cover structurally compromised containers, adapting them to fit the design and landscape, and adding windows or doorways. Cutting into the sides of containers will change the strength of those sides, so you will need to budget for whatever extra labour and materials are required to keep your home structurally stable and up to local building codes.


You can customize your structure to your needs and wants. You can design it to be more like a tiny home or to give you as much space as you want. You can also add siding, flooring, and drywall so that the shipping container hiding inside is nearly unnoticeable.

The containers only have so much space inside, so you will need to combine two or more containers when you want to have rooms with more space. While this can be done relatively easily, you have to be precise with the design of these homes. In addition, you must consider how each space will be used.

The kitchen needs appliances and furniture, and you will need to make sure that you plan your space to fit both without feeling cramped. One of the biggest complaints from homeowners is that their spaces are too small. Again, to properly customize your space, you will need to consider the uses and items in different rooms.


Like any building project, you will need to make sure that you follow local regulations. Getting permits for modular, mobile, or shipping container homes may require specific protocols. They may not be allowed in city limits or zoning areas. Be sure to check with your local municipalities for their regulations before beginning construction.

Add Green Options

Since you are recycling building materials, you can make your home a masterpiece of green living by adding other green options to your home. Use rainwater and groundwater runoff for your water supply, install solar panels on the roof, and harness wind power to supplement the solar power.

You can also plant gardens and raise farm animals if you want in most rural areas. By growing your own food, composting, recycling and treating water and harnessing power from natural sources, you will be able to have a green home outside and in.

Final Thoughts

Building a container home can be a fantastic way to reuse materials and recycle for your home. You can purchase these containers on eBay, Amazon, or other auction sites but make sure that you ask for new containers with factory paint. This will ensure that you have a structurally sound container from the beginning.

When you begin building, be sure that you hire contractors familiar with the complexities of this kind of home and with the permits you’ll need to acquire. This type of home can be designed to fit many needs and desires, so have fun with it, but make sure that you have the resources to make your home as strong as any other.

Feature image: ANGELOXWU; Image 1: Patrick Minero

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