Inside shipping container homes

July 9, 2016

Dallas architects Matt Mooney

Inside 5 Shipping Container Homes Blog CoverI often receive emails from people who visit our website asking: what is it like to live in a shipping container home? Personally, I think living in a shipping container home is amazing!

Instead of trying to explain this, I thought wouldn’t it be easier to show them tours of other shipping container homes, so they get a feel for what shipping container homes are like.

If pictures speak a thousand words, then how many words do videos speak?

So I decided to find my favorite 5 shipping container home tour videos, and I’ve collated them to this page. With each home tour video I’ve added a small description about the home, including why the home was built and how much the container home cost to build.

Tiny Shipping Container Home

This is certainly one of the most popular shipping container homes we’ve seen to date. Built by Brenda Kelly in 2014 this example really shows just how affordable shipping container homes are. In total the 106 square foot home was built for $24, 000USD.
However it wasn’t the price which first attracted Brenda to container homes, it was their structural integrity. In our interview with Brenda she commented that: “The structural integrity of shipping containers is second to none. Not only are they fire, earthquake and hurricane resistant but they are affordable, easily transported”.

After she had designed the home it took Brenda around 3 months of evening and weekend work to build her home.

The home has been built off-grid, meaning that it isn’t connected to mains electrics as it generates its own electric using solar panels.

If you watch the video tour above you will see that Brenda really does have a creative mind. She has fitted a mezzanine floor above her bed to create an upstairs lounge area!

The DeWitt and Kasravi Sea Container Home

Check out the video as it shows one of my favorite features of the home: nine skylights fitted into the containers roof to star gaze!

The home was built using four high cube containers which provides more than 1000 square foot for the family of four.

Initially they looked at buying a prefabricated home but soon realized that this wasn’t possible as the roads that lead up to their land are too narrow.

So instead they turned to shipping containers and had them pre-fabricated off-site before getting them delivered to their plot of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Once the containers were delivered they were re-assembled in less than 6 hours to create their new home.

In total Connie says they saved around $50 per square foot when compared to traditional home building.

However it wasn’t all plain sailing.

They had difficulties with their contractors because they had to use two separate contractors: one to modify the external aspects of the containers, and another to convert the inside of the containers.

This meant two separate construction firms had to work together.

In our interview with them they commented: “The one thing we would have done differently would have been to find one contractor to help the whole process”.

The SurfShack

As the name suggests, The SurfShack, is a beachside hut which is used by Hartman Kable during the weekends when he comes down to Seattle to surf.

He built the container home back in 2013 to use as a weekend retreat from his busy city job.

If you watch the video you will see some great space saving and innovate design ideas. I think my favorite is the fold down table and bench which, when combined, make the dining area. Can you imagine a home which Hartman and Brenda Kelly design together!?

We got in touch with Hartman and asked him what he wish he’d known before building his own shipping container home. He commented saying that you need to frame the internal walls of the container to make them flat so you can paint onto an even surface.

Taj Malodge Container House

Affectionately known as the ‘Taj Malodge’, this two-container home was built by Larry Wade in 2012.

Larry built the entire home himself and he estimates it costed him approximately $35, 000USD. Please note this figure doesn’t include the cost of the land.
He decided to use two standard 40 foot containers which provided him with over 600 square foot. He divided this space up into two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, kitchen/diner and a storage pantry.

What I find very impressive about Larry’s home is he has created an earth mound around one of the corners of his containers to keep his storage pantry cool during the summer months. Also he has fitted the roof with solar panels to provide electricity and hot water.

We reached out to Larry to talk to him about his container home. He mentioned that you should make sure to see your containers before you buy them. Larry purchased his containers without seeing them and when they arrived they were in pretty rough shape!

Fortunately, Larry was able to work around the dints and prangs and has created a pretty stunning container home. He also recommends purchasing one-trip containers instead of used containers if you have the extra budget.

Lego Shipping Apartment

For all of you who are fans of larger shipping containers homes we have included Broadmeadow, also affectionately known as the ‘Lego’ apartment.

Broadmeadow was designed by Christian Salvati, an architect from Marengo Structures.
Back in 2012 he built a smaller ‘trail’ container home which was a two story home and then in 2014 he decided to build the lego apartment.

This huge container complex was built using no less than 27 shipping containers, and was separated into six different apartments.

The apartments are now currently rented by students and young professionals in the New Haven area.

Christian mentions that: “building with shipping containers can be challenging and the aggravation is still the same as traditional construction, however the costs are reduced”.

He also commented that in addition to reduced costs, “shipping containers make great building blocks, and in time, he hopes it will become an affordable and quick method of building homes”.


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