Shipping crates are housing

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I doubt anyone can think of a better way to make use of old shipping containers — you know, those ones you find on ships that are pretty large and have “china shipping” painted on them? Those ones.

Apparently there are so many of these containers that a wall 8 feet high could be made across the earth’s equator and circled twice around.

Shipping containers are incredible, and provide a fantastic opportunity for people with little money and resources to have an inexpensive, strong, efficient, livable home. I am sure they would make amazing survivalist or even daily living arrangements.

Want To Live In A Shipping Container?

If you’re a regular reader of The Greenest Dollar, then you probably already know that I’m enthralled with the idea of living in a micro home. For the uninitiated, a micro home is pretty much the backlash against the McMansion movement of the past twenty years.

The trend now is in the opposite direction. Hallelujah! We’re going Small. Green. Efficient.

That’s micro home living.

So, it is with the utmost excitement that I share this idea with you. And, the idea is constructing a home using old steel shipping containers.

Now, before you throw your mouse at the screen in disgust because those steel crates are just too ugly to even think about being used as a house, just take a look for a moment at what’s possible and then we’ll talk…

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Pretty amazing, right? All of those images are from, which is the website for Urban Space Management, a group of builders in London who are building entire communities, schools, and farmer’s markets using old freight containers.

They’re funky, green, amazingly affordable, and comfortable. If you want to see more images (all of which will knock your socks off) they have a really amazing portfolio of past projects on their website. Again, which you can find here.

There’s also this really amazing clip from Modern Marvels that you can watch. It’s all about Container City, how the builders did it, and how much it costs to live there (you’ll be amazed at how cheap it is.

Can You REALLY Live In A Shipping Container?

Well, I’m new to this myself. When I originally discovered micro home living, I stumbled across a few people who had transformed shipping containers into homes, but I was so enthralled with the modernist designs of the pre-fab mini homes that I gave the freight homes a blind eye.

My mistake.

I stumbled across them again over the weekend, and this time it was a Eureka! moment. I mean, the idea of living in an recycled freight container is just brilliant. It’s still a mini home because they’re not that big, and they’re way, WAY cheaper than the weeHouse or miniHome designs I was looking at (which were going to set me back at least $150,000, not including the land. Ouch!)

How much are shipping container?

Well, after digging around online this weekend, it seems as if the average is $1,500 to $3,000 each. And, that’s for shipping crates that are 40 ft long x 8 ft wide x 8 ft tall.

Important Addition: After this article posted, a fellow blogger/builder by the name of Ronin wrote in about his experiences building shipping container homes. He offered up some fascinating tips on pricing these out, which you can see in the comments below the article.

Another amazing thing about these shipping crates is that they’re made to stack on top of each other. If you watched the YouTube video about Container City, then you know that every container is made exactly the same, which means they can easily be stacked. This leads to some funky, Lego-like structures that are fun and very interesting to look at.

So How Green Are Shipping Containers?

Shipping containers can be made as green as you want them to be.

Andrew and I are so enthralled with this idea that I think we’re going to go this route instead of buying a micro home. Our idea is to buy three containers, two of which we’ll combine and renovate into a living space, and one which we’ll leave separate for a home office/exercise space.

You can read the rest of this original article at The Greenest Dollar

3 thoughts on “Shipping crates are housing”

  1. I am not real sure about burying a storage container. I know that they are built to stack one on top of another, but what about the side walls? I use them on construction sites for material storage. I have had them broken into, usually through the side walls. I am wondering about earth pressing in on the sides if they are buried and then backfilled. Anyone got any ideas on this issue?

  2. Hey MadMarkie,

    I’ve been building homes with these incredible boxes for years,and your question ranks right up there in the “top ten.”

    ISBU’s (Intermodal Steel Building Units, otherwise known as Shipping Containers) are designed to be STACKED, not BURIED! The skin is just that… skin… to keep the contents in, and dry. The only way to bury them is to reinforce them first, either internally with the addition of a structural beam, or externally, with a retaining system, usually constructed out of lightweight concrete, or heavy lumber.

    I go into further detail on this subject, and many other ISBU related subjects, on my blog, if you’re interested..


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