Cost of building a shipping container home

April 9, 2017

Cost Of A Shipping Container

How To Plan Your Shipping Container Home Blog CoverIn today’s blog we are going to look at exactly how to plan the build of your new shipping container home.

As you already know, planning is the most important part of any project, and shipping container homes are no different. Have you ever heard the famous expression: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”?

The average new home tends to run over its budget by around 15-20%, so it’s crucial you make a solid plan and stick to it, to avoid overspending whilst building your container home.

Not only do you risk overspending but you also risk the construction running over on time as well.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly how you should correctly plan your shipping container home.

Set Your Budget

The first and most crucial step to planning the build of your container home is to set your budget.

There is not much sense in planning to build a 4000sq foot home if you only have $50, 000 available.

So first, sit down, and work out how much cash savings you have and also how much money you can loan from the bank. Add these two figures together and you have your total budget.

Setting Your BudgetYou then need to allow for a contingency fund of 20%. A contingency fund is a reserve of money that is used when you meet unexpected expenses/delays during the construction of your home.

It’s a sad reality of home building, but the majority of builds overrun and cost more money than originally expected.

Let me show you how the contingency fund is calculated with a total budget of $150, 000. Twenty percent of $150, 000 = $30, 000.

So your budget to build your container home would be $120, 000 and you would have a contingency of $30, 000.

Decide and Finalize Your Design

Here comes the really fun part, it’s time to actually design your shipping container home. You need to calculate your budget before this step so you can plan realistically.

You can design anything, from a single container tiny house, all the way up to a three story mansion! The combinations of shipping containers are nearly endless, and they can be designed perfectly around what you need from your home.

I find the best way to plan is to think about the logical questions first before you start worrying about: “how many shipping containers should I use” and “how should I layout the shipping containers”.

Instead you should be asking yourself questions like: “How many bedrooms do I want” and “what will the home be used for”.

Shipping Containe Home Floor PlansRemember, the more specific your answers are, the better your design will be.

It costs a lot of money to change your mind about the design halfway through building your container home.

I remember a friend of mine, who was building their own container home, decided to remove an internal wall of their container. Subsequently they decided they didn’t want the open plan room and put the wall back in. In total the changes cost them $5, 000 in wasted material and time.

Better planning would have avoided this expense!

Who Will Build It?

Once you’ve decided on the design of your shipping container house, you need to think about who will build it.

Lots of people choose to build their shipping container home themselves. This is far cheaper and I think it’s also far more rewarding. If you want to build a shipping container home yourself, you need to think about whether you have enough relevant experience and practical skills.

If you don’t have the practical experience, or don’t have enough time, then you should instead think about hiring a contractor to build the home for you.

Contractors tend to be more experienced and can build the home in a shorter time, but they will be far more expensive. If you’re thinking about employing a contractor, make sure to:

  • Ask for references.
  • Do they guarantee their work?
  • How long does the guarantee last for?
  • Do they have liability insurance?

Where Will You Build Your Shipping Container Home?

So you’ve set your budget, designed your container home and have decided who is going to build it, it’s now time to find a piece of land that meets your needs.

The reason I tell people to design their container home before they find land, is so they design the actual shipping container home they want and don’t design a container home which is restricted by a particular piece of land.

To find a plot of land I prefer to first, identify a particular area that you are interested in. This area should be no more than 15 miles across- any bigger than this and it becomes increasingly time consuming and more difficult to research.


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