40ft Shipping Container Homes: Pros, Cons, and Everything in Between

40ft Shipping Container Homes | Cargotecture

Not a long time ago, 40ft shipping container homes became a popular alternative for building regular homes for individuals. Not surprising anyway because we are always looking for new methods to resolve our constraints, and among those, there is always, of course, the housing challenge.

For many architects and designers, the 40ft shipping container homes are providing this new opportunity to bring to the world of architecture, in general, the next level of creation; Containers can be used to construct building blocks and structural elements for houses, offices, and even towns or cities.

So then, what are the 40ft shipping container homes, and what they are basically used for? This is what we will try to clarify in the next lines. Anyway, it is good to mention that the construction of the 40ft shipping container homes is technically called "Cargotecture".

🛈 It goes without saying that the term "40ft" refers to the length size of the related container in the foot measurement units which equals 12.19 meters, as shown in the section below.

How to Convert a Shipping Container into a Real House?
"Tiny House Village", is a small town completely filled with shipping containers in Germany, Photo: www.waz-wertheim.de

The 40ft Shipping Container Homes' Primary Usage

Though container housing is a new concept, the number of people seeking an affordable cost to build their own property is increasing dramatically every single day, due to the global financial crisis. So then, is it wrong to consider a cargotecture the best option to build a home more cheaply? Of course not!

Hundreds and hundreds of people in various regions around the world are now turning to eco-friendly building systems that can be supplied with 40ft shipping container homes. Moreover, the sea container houses can be used as emergency housing during natural disasters; as it was a good helper in the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami, where more than 90,000 people were left homeless.

They can be used as well as temporary schools and hospitals in the same urgent situations. Moreover, they can also be used by moving people to a different location, as they can transfer all their old fixtures and furniture to their new location easily. The great economic benefits of the green eco-friendly practices of recycling and sustainability create many opportunities for modern architects and builders to develop and improve the container home concept.

Since it is still in its early stages, Cargotecture is a promising industry for the next new era of engineering.

What are the Shipping Container Houses? | Definition

Container Houses are Built with Shipping Containers

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Thousands of shipping containers laying on the ports' yards awaiting, Photo by: eng.wikipedia.org

The shipping containers are mainly used for shipping purposes: many numbers of goods of various types are daily exchanged between countries' ports around the globe. That’s why thousands of those parallelepiped shapes with various colors are found tucked inline within the seaport's yards, ready to be exported or discharged.

The idea to convert those metallic boxes into livable spaces came from the endless need to seek a safer, pollution-free environment for living.

➤ Read more: Related previous article What is Green Architecture?

Therefore, researchers have found many common Cargotecture facts that meet the terms of eco-friendly conditions and requirements. Actually, they are strong enough and qualified for the house framework ideal for running a modern lifestyle, and resistant all the way long. At a glance, the transformation of a shipping container into a container house is quite easy and simple in some ways.

How to Convert a Shipping Container into a Real House?

It can be performed by ordinary people and DIY lovers at home as well. Thus, no need for the bother made with the professional staff which is the majority of the time for many reasons.

In fact, for the best concept results, I highly recommend hiring an architect with a wide knowledge of many design particulars. And the examples are various actually, due to the limited space that requires managing all the reserved areas with no waste of any kind.

The ideal process is to provide the client-owner with the proper relevant drawings that include the construction details needed to complete the building. And who's better than the Architect to accomplish the mission?

Shipping Container Homes
A layout showing a 40ft container concept. Example of a prototype container house that can be arranged in several ways, Photo by dezeen.com

Shipping Container Homes
The same container house prototype is placed over another one; The lower is a terrace for the upper, Photo by dezeen.com

One or several containers are placed onto an organized and regular layout, and the openings are cut in the external walls with the insulation placed inside the modified container properly to resist heat and cold and managed according to the requirements. Here we go! - a container home turned modern home!

The modular structure of shipping containers means that they can be easily attached to each other, which allows architects to create interesting and unique designs.

3 Things to Consider Before Starting the 40ft Shipping Container Homes Conversion Project

  1. Type of house you want to build because constructing a house is a long term investment and it is worst the money spent. For instance, most people discover later and after some years, that they want to spend the remaining period of their life in a usual house instead of the container house they built previously. Hence, and to avoid this mistaken decision, you have to be certain whether you definitely want a container house before you invest thousands of dollars in building this project.
  2. Check the local codes for construction before starting your project. It’s sometimes very useful to follow your local rules or compliances, to avoid the local authorities from rejecting your project later when it is under construction. You are advised to ask the help from professional designers or architects, well knowledgable with the local codes currently applicable. Their valuable advice will make sure that your container house is approved by the authorities. In some regions, the container house might not be accepted as a living routine.
  3. The next thing to take into consideration is The fixed size of the container which will allow you to know the exact number of the containers needed in your project. Anyway, the container is cheaper than the classical method of construction, but still, the transportation might be such an affair; So better to have your budget planned clearly from the beginning.

        What are the 40ft Shipping Container Homes PROS and CONS?

        The advantages and disadvantages can be listed as follows, but the benefits of constructing with shipping containers are more than its downside.

        So let us start with the positives: How much does a 40ft shipping container home cost?

        • The cost of a 40-foot (equals 12.19 meters as mentioned above) cargo container is around US$ 1200, excluding the transportation fees, depending on your location.
        Shipping Container Homes
        12.19 meters container size, Photo by eng.wikipedia.org

        As you can imagine, building a house made from shipping containers is very affordable. In general, the cost of building a container house is half the cost of building a conventional house.

        • Container homes are low-cost but very strong, and have a fast construction time compared to the classic construction method. It is easy to modify, and shipping containers are widely available.
        • They have a customized layout especially when there is more than one container to deal with and manage; there is no limitation for the partition and the rooms’ dimensions in general.
        • Their eco-friendly compliances are cited above.
        • It is prudent to purchase new shipping containers that are rust-free. Different specialized sites on the internet offer new but also used items and subsequently, it is anything but difficult to purchase the one according to your requirements. It is strongly advised to utilize cargotecture experts so as to have a well-built container home. This will ensure that you have an enjoyably structured cargotecture house that will last longer.


        The negatives are on the other hand lesser and can be listed in the following points below:
        • Some researchers discussed that the high heat conductivity of steel requires better insulation for such houses in comparison to classic brick or wood houses. Also, there is a concern about the health risks that may be generated from the original flooring of shipping containers, which are usually treated with harmful chemicals. The original flooring of shipping containers is always removed before construction begins.
        • The quick effect of the natural environment around and its impact on the interior space of the container is an easy receptor of the external weather conditions; This condition can be used against the supporters of usage of the containers in building homes.
        • Ordering old shipping containers instead of new ones may result in health injuries, as required by several medical care personnel. Although it’s cheaper than the new ones, still safety remains our priority.

        Shipping container homes
        Student dorms made from shipping containers, Photo from pinterest.com

        My experience with Shipping Container Houses with some real examples

        I personally haven’t pursued or designed converting container house projects during my whole professional career so far, due to their unpopularity yet in my region of residency. However, if you want to check out some beautiful designs made exclusively of shipping containers, I'm inviting you to check Priscila Azzini's channel on YouTube; it's definitely worth the watch!

        Additionally, you can find a lot of converting projects into homes and professional methods to do it the right way, as well as some tips and tricks to achieve some specific tasks concerning this topic. Visit for more...

        shipping container homes
        Amazing houses made from shipping containers! Photo-Source: pinterest.com

        That's why my info concerning this important topic was until now few or limited somehow; which made me do some valuable self-researches from multiple sources, including the internet; This might depend on many reasons, among those: in my country Lebanon, and some nearby Arab regions, where there is a lack of knowledge about many things that can help to protect our environment from dirtiness and pollution, and preserve it clean and green-friendly.

        Furthermore, the economic and financial crisis can also be part of the solution if this method-system is widely applicable.

        It has been estimated that 86% of the major materials used to build a shipping container house have been recycled. Many people today are exploring the possibility of getting a shipping container house.

        With a little research on the internet, you will be surprised at what is available on the market now.
        The cost of regularly constructed houses can be reduced to half if not even more just with the cargotecture building system. So let us all build a brighter future for our planet Earth and keep our generations protected and safe!

        40ft Shipping Container Homes at a Glance!

        Shipping container homes are becoming more popular each year. They are cost-effective, eco-friendly, and portable. They can be used in a variety of climates, and they are easily assembled and mounted. 40ft shipping container homes are perfect for people who want to move quickly and cheaply. They can be made in just a few hours, and they can be moved to new locations without any hassle.

        Finally, 40ft shipping container homes are also perfect for people who want to live in a sustainable way. They are made from recycled materials, and they are easy to maintain. They also have a low energy consumption, which is perfect for environmentally friendly people.

        Books Recommendation

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        References in this post:

        1- www.dezeen.com The Magazine of Architecture
        2- www.eng.wikipedia.org The Open Encyclopedia
        3- Several Internet Open-Resources

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