If you've never heard of people turning used ISO shipping containers into residences, then you're in for a real surprise that may be of some use to you! Shipping containers are the large steel rectangular boxes that are used worldwide everyday to move goods and products from one country to another. They are typically lifted by cranes onto and off of cargo ships and then stacked.If you've ever moved your home from one state or country to another, there's a good chance you've spent some time packing all of your worldly possessions into one of these metal behemoths also known as ISBU for inter-modal steel building units.

Cheap Used Shipping Containers For Sale

There are a number of advantages to having your home made from one of these special containers. For one thing, you'll never have to worry about exterior damage to your house again. These things are super duper tough, and meant to withstand the occasional bludgeoning at sea or bump in a crowded loading bay. This same strength will translate to your house when you live in a shipping container. Hail and wind storms will no longer damage your home's exterior. 

Important Considerations Before Living in A Shipping Container Home:


One thing that's important to remember is that these containers shouldalways be placed above ground when they're going to be used for residential purposes. This is due to the fact that moisture from the ground as well as runoff can quickly become problems when your basic housing structure is a big metal box. For this reason, many experienced shipping container residents prefer to lay a stable foundation of concrete before having their container placed. 

You will require special tools or need to hire a professional to come out and help you install your windows where you want them; after you buy used ISO shipping containers you will notice that they do not already have portholes or windows of any kind! Because you are dealing with strong corten steel, which is specifically designed to be stronger than regular steel, you will need special welding tools or torches to cut through the metal. 

Some people that live in storage container homes use the doors to their shipping containers as is, meaning that they just open and close the outer compartment door as they please. Yet some house plans for used shipping containers require an extra door to be added, or for parts of the floor to be cut or blowtorched open so that they can form the entrances to other levels. Yes, some ISO container homes are complex enough to feature more than one level with internal staircases!

Perhaps more than anything else, storage containers that are converted into living spaces are praised for their durability and strength, because they have been intended to live through all the abuses that constant transport on the high seas can serve up. These homes have been known to withstand hurricanes, rust, high winds, hail and debris. You can rest assured that your used shipping container based home will keep you safe and dry no matter what kind of extreme natural event you may experience. 

Check Out London's Entire City of Container Homes

How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost?

Obviously, another important consideration you should make before trying to live in an ISO container is the cost of your new home. One of the reasons these storage boxes have become so popular as residences in recent years is the fact that they can be purchased cheaply. It is possible to get a 20 foot container for as little as $2,000 at an auction, with some posted prices going as low as $500 but you can expect that any container this cheap will have sustained some signifcant wear and tear. 

One of the most standard prices for a used but mostly undamaged shipping box that has been retired from life on the high seas is $2,500. This quote would cover a 20 foot high dry storage container that may or may not have a wooded floor panel already installed. Considering that many ready-t0-build home kits from retailers like Lowe's or Home Depot cost anywhere from $35,000 to $75,000, you're getting a very cheap starter home and you can always renovate and expand by adding additional units in the future. 

You can also find expanded extra wide or long containers. 40 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft containers usually run about $3,500 on wholesale or up to $4,500 retail. You can buy refrigerated shipping containers of similar size for about $6,500 to $8,000, and these give you some added flexibility and potential when it comes to installing a full HVAC system in your shipping container home. 

That doesn't mean the deals stop there. The history channel's special on alternative uses for retired shipping containers pointed out that we currently have enough of these boxes on Earth to make an 8 foot high wall that would stretch around the ecuator, two full times. That's a lot of excess shipping containers that need re-purposing. And with housing becoming more and more scarce for our planet's ever increasing population, it's no wonder that folks are flocking to these unique building materials. 

The final element in the equation of why storage containers that once shipped products between countries are rapidly becoming one of the most widespread means of alternative housing is the fact that global trade and commerce put so many of these boxes into production and deployment. The staggering number of containers that exist today in the world is due to the demand in the global marketplace for physical products that had to be transported securely through major shipping routes. 

The Advantages of Living In A Shipping Container Home

For one thing, making your domicile out of a shipping container automatically elminates some of the more tedious, costly and unpleasant tasks that go into making a traditional style home inhabitable. For example, whereas traditional homes will require expensive flooring unless you want to live on a natural dirt floor, shipping containers already have their flooring installed. 

In order to facilitate the constant on-loading and off-loading of transported goods that were secured on pallets, most shipping container manufacturers included full wooden floors in their container boxes so that workers could easily use pallet jacks within these spaces. That means you can keep money in your pocket for decorations, furniture and utilities that would otherwise have been spent on flooring costs. 

The next advantage of using shipping containers as residences is the fact that they are standardized in their manufacturing processes. Because so many different companies and countries have to rely on these containers daily for facilitating trade, they have been designed and produced with standard measurements and building codes in place, meaning that you never have to worry about buying an additional box to add onto your first container only to find out that it won't fit. 

Thanks to the manufacturing processes behind these corten steel marvels of durabilty, you can simply buy additional containers as you grow funds in the future. Many converts to the shipping container lifestyle enjoy placing additional units on top of their original structure and cutting spaces in between so they can install staircases. 

A Sample Container Home

As you can see in the above video, single unit container homes are small but can be quite comfortable. This particular unit features a bathroom with a toilet and shower, a small kitchen and a living space in the center. The front of the container door has been converted into a fold-down deck that can be deployed when you place the container on your land.