Following up on my Recycled Houses… post, my focus today is on container living, or topic 2. There are so many alternative housing choices today that I find fascinating.  Especially since I’m on a budget, my quest for my own little house may end up being one that follows an unconventional path. Here are my three topics that I’m covering in detail:

  • Topic 1: Converting old buildings, such as train depots, post offices, and even grain silos into a house.; I like the idea of repurposing an old building and making it livable. The silo idea is fascinating, too bad there aren’t many in my area.
  • Topic 2: Container houses; I’ve come across this topic a few times while looking at prefab houses. I think there are some great plans out there.
  • Topic 3: Building homes out of recycled materials; I’ve posted about this before, Phoenix Commotion is just one company that builds homes out of recycled materials for a very low cost. I really like the idea of incorporating recycled materials in a home.


Container Living (photo from Jetson on Green)

Topic 2 – Container Living; Reusing, Recycling, Reducing

You see them chugging along the train tracks, large Maersk containers carting all our crap, I mean stuff, to places like Walmart and Target; large silver, red, and blue cargo containers filled to the brim. But what happens to these containers when they’re empty? Often times, they’re shipped back to where they came from, usually China. Is that cost-effective though? Shipping large, empty metal containers back on a barge clear across the world? What if instead we found a way to repurpose these containers that didn’t take as much energy as it does to ship them across the ocean? A few companies were obviously thinking this same way. On my search through Google, there was a plethora of information and photos, here is just a taste of what can be done with an empty shipping container:

  • Individual homes: Instant Built House (whose website it under development, unfortunately) is creating individual container homes for temporary housing purposes. According to some statistics, 250 million containers exist in the world and 5% (that’s 12.5 million!) are idling sitting around collecting cob-webs. This particular company is turning these unused containers into beautiful homes. Jetson on Green posted about this a few years ago, click here to view photos and his article. (update: The website never materialized, but you can still find container homes here.)
  • Mother-in-Law homes: Your parents may be getting older and their house is just too cumbersome for them to take care of in their golden years. They begin thinking about mobile homes or perhaps they’ve hinted to you they’d like a small guest house in the back corner of your yard. For around $2,000 for the container (whoa…completely doable!) and a little help from an architect, you can design a terrific home that your parents (or you) can live in. Quik Build, (now called Industrial Zombie) located in New Jersey, can help you design and build your container home. (You can also download a PDF file from their site that details the design package and average price, which is under $200K)  Green Living Ideas have some fabulous interior photos of container homes.
  • Apartment Living: Are you adventurous? Do you want to live in something unusual, or different? A Container City might just be for you! Stacking multiple containers together, work, office, and living space has been created in various areas of  London, England.

Would people call your house style boxy? Well, yes. But the concept behind reusing already constructed materials is something more people should investigate. For more information on container living, check out the Web Urbanist.

Would you consider living in a shipping container? Do these designs inspire you to think “outside the box?”

*photo: The main image is the Nederland Colorado shipping container home.


    • @Lean Life Coach – One of the site’s, Quik Build, offers green elements like solar and rain water collection, in their container home designs. Might be something that could be added to container living (or any building for that matter)!

    • @Money Reasons – Adding a basketball court would be a great idea! And in such a large building, finding space wouldn’t be a problem. Another advantage to purchasing an old “work” building!

    • @Steve – I like the idea of concrete/block structures. I know someone who lives in one and it stays cool all year long, even during our hot summer months.

  1. You may be interested to know ISO shipping containers of 20ft TEUs have been identified as Temporary Shelters for Humanitarian Aid / Disaster Relief in Haiti and elsewhere there have been earthquakes and other disasters where people have lost there homes or been displaced.

    • @Jeffrey – Thanks for that information. I did see that online, and they do work great as a quick and temporary living need.

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