The old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” could not ring truer when considering used shipping containers. What were once thought of as egregious eyesores are now in high demand amongst a niche market of individuals who are looking for alternative building materials to construct not-so typical homes.
The notion of building your own house can be entirely daunting when considering the costs of materials and labor as well as the amount of time required to actually build. Many people never even consider designing or building their own home because the undertaking just seems to be too big, meanwhile others dream up creative and unusual solutions to the typical problems of building a house. Recycled shipping containers pose a wonderful solution to many of these problems by being easy to transport, solid in structure, easy to modify, and relatively cheap.
The video below features the build process of a recycled shipping container home designed and built by Tim Steele Design to be a peaceful, countryside retreat. According to Steele’s website, it was his own home, a farm in Livingston Manor, NY, that initially caused Steele to develop an interest in designing unusual structures. “From outdoor summer kitchens to treehouses to dwelling structures,” the website reads, “Tim is combining recycled and new materials to create structures that are both livable and distinctive,” much like the stunning shipping container home below. After having created this shipping container home, along with three others, Steele is now designing modular container structures specifically intended for building purposes.
The home in the video below was constructed using recycled shipping containers, however, not Steele’s special modular design; one 20-foot and two 40-foot shipping containers create the frame of the home. All three were selected from a work yard in New Jersey where they were marked to be cut for window and door openings, and then the cut containers were later transported by flatbed truck to North Branch, New York. Once on-site, the containers were carefully put in place by crane and welded together.
Wondering what a shipping container home like this would cost? There are many factors to keep in mind, such as the size of the container, condition of the container, and how far it needs to be shipped. Prices can range from about $1500-$8000 per container depending on the size, quality, finish, and type of metal, as well as your location — companies such as CubeDepot can provide you with information about available containers and their cost based off of your desired size of container and zip code. Recycled shipping containers that are in better shape and appear to be like-new are generally referred to as One-Trips, while older more tarnished containers are generally referred to as “as-is” containers, and as-is containers are the cheapest option.
Some people who have already built shipping container homes and know first-hand what works and what doesn’t have advised caution in buying as-is containers, however, like a few of the contributors to the blog post 23 Shipping Container Home Owners Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Building My Shipping Container Home” on Container Home Plans’s blog. Architect and designer Mark Wellen, who was in charge of designing the Campo Cinco Retreat in Texas that is comprised of five as-is shipping container homes, admitted, “I wish I had known there were containers available for very little more money that were virtually new… that are in almost pristine condition.”
Perhaps the best lesson to take away from Wellen and other architects and designers like him is to be thorough in all your research before deciding to build a non-traditional home with newer design features and building materials. The benefits of building a home out of shipping containers can be immeasurable, but no one wants to get caught up in technicalities like wishing you had ordered a different kind of container.
Shipping containers offer an interesting and efficient alternative to traditional building methods and can be used to build stunning houses just like the one below – it just takes a little bit of creativity and a willingness to think outside the box.