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Shipping Container Housing Guide
Jan 17, 2019

Shipping container housing, also known as ISO container homes, are created out of any type of shipping container usually used for transporting goods across the globe.


Why Shipping Container Housing is a Super-Hot Trend

Whether you’re looking for an intimate beachfront getaway, a compact urban abode or a larger, sprawling home on the open range, you may be able to find the perfect fit with shipping container housing. Once considered undesirable housing units for those who simply couldn’t afford the traditional brick and mortar option, storage container houses have become the hot new trend for, well, just about anyone.


ISO Container Homes Explained

While shipping containers are constructed to be used again and again, many eventually fall into disuse and end up sitting around the ports in China, northern Europe and the United States.

It is reported that an estimated 17 to 20 million of these ISO containers are peppered across the globe at any given time, with as many as 1 million of them simply sitting around taking up space.


Names to Know in Shipping Container Housing

Shipping containers have a host of other names, both officially and unofficial, depending on their use. When they’re used solely for shipping, they may be called:

· ISO Container, with ISO standing for International Standards Organization

· Cargo container

· Conex box

· Ship container

· Sea container

· Shipping crate

· Steel container

· Storage container


When the containers are used for building, you may hear references such as:

· ISBU, or Intermodal Steel Building Unit

· ISBU module

· Green Cube

While many of these terms are used interchangeably, it is rare to hear houses built from shipping containers called shipping crate homes, but you would not be incorrect using the term. Throughout this site the terms are used interchangeably.


Instead of letting the containers continue to clog up the environment, creative folks and firms have taken to repurposing the containers into eye-catching, economical shipping container housing. We’ve been online following sea container houses since 2004 and we can tell you the trend has been growing heavily since at least 2010.


Countries across the globe are embracing the container home movement, with container conversion projects in regions that include the US, the UK, New Zealand, Chili, Canada, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Norway, Switzerland and Australia – just to name a few.


Storage container houses are particularly popular with the eco-conscious crowd, thanks to their environmental benefits – but those aren’t the only advantages of living in ship container homes. We note a number of pros and cons of modern container homes.


Shipping Container Housing Benefits

· Repurposes the thousands of unused containers scattered around global shores

· Economical, with empty shipping containers costing anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 each

· Strong, durable and made from galvanized steel, shipping containers are typically stronger than wooden frames

· Easy design plans stem from the modular design, with the ability to place containers side-by-side or up to 12 empty containers on top of each other

· Reinforced and ready for action, people have assembled pre-built homes in as few as three days

· Resistant to mold, fire and termites

· Can be converted into homes wherever is most convenient, and then easily transported and assembled at final destination

· Materials age well and require very little maintenance

· When building a house with shipping containers homes can be modified later on to include new modules

Despite their differences in purpose or characteristics, all shipping containers have dimensions regulated by the ISO.

· Height: Standard containers are 8 feet, 6 inches in height, although other containers can range from 4 feet to more than 9 feet, 6 inches high.

· Width: Most containers are 8 feet wide, although some are wider.

· Length: The most common lengths are either 20 or 40 feet, but you can find those that range up to 56 feet long.


Shipping Container Homes - Cost

Comparing the cost to standard building practices, shipping container homes cost less. The actual price says you can expect to pay about half the price per square foot than a conventional home would cost. Shipping container housing can run more expensive than traditional construction; however, depending on the experience of the people building the house and the level of design and decoration that goes into home. Considering that in some cases shipping container houses cost much less than traditional construction as well as offer so many benefits, it’s no wonder the trend has been on the rise.

Don’t forget the cost of installing electricity, plumbing and other creature comforts, which could range from $50 to $150 per hour plus materials. You also need to keep in mind the cost of the land and any necessary permits to ensure your shipping container housing project is approved and built following local regulations.

One final tidbit to keep in mind is the attention you’re sure to get. With a shipping container home, you’ll be in the thick of an eco-happy trend that can be as earth-friendly and economical as it is just plain cool.

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