With average home prices rising all over the Country these past few years, the cost of home ownership blocks many from achieving this dream.  This has prompted some people to look for alternative ways to build affordable homes. One solution for low-cost living spaces?  Shipping containers.  This cargo container architecture has several benefits for residential homes, particularly in light of some recent innovations.

What Are Shipping Container Homes?
Shipping container homes are exactly what you would picture in some cases.  In others, they are infinitely more.  These homes are built from either 20′ or 40′ shipping containers, which can often be purchased for less than $1,000 each on the used market.

A shipping container home can be assembled from just one of these containers, making it similar to a tiny home.  Many choose to combine several containers, either side-by-side or stacked, to create a larger living space.

The Advantages of Shipping Container Construction
The main advantage of these modular dwellings is their affordability.  The cost to build a shipping container home will vary depending on your location.  In some places, you can build a single module 20′ home for well under $30,000.  In more expensive areas of Australia, they are building three-bedroom shipping container homes for just $138,000.

Shipping container homes are also eco-friendly, giving owners a sustainable living solution. The containers themselves are cheap because it is often too expensive to ship them back across the ocean empty.  Instead of scrapping or melting them down, they can be re-purposed into affordable housing. If you really want to pursue sustainable living, many of these homes also incorporate solar panels and rainwater harvesting solutions.

Shipping containers are also amazingly durable.  They are built to carry heavy loads and withstand some harsh conditions on ocean-going vessels.  They’re also tough enough to handle being loaded and offloaded by cranes as well as being knocked around.  These containers are incredibly resilient and make for some of the safest and most durable homes you’ll find.  Ben Loh, one of the owners of ModernBlox, reports that an anchored shipping container can withstand wind gusts up to 200 mph.

Recent Shipping Container Home Innovations
One complaint about shipping container homes is that they’re “boxy” and limited in their application.  Some early homes that you see are simply a few containers stacked on top of one another or shoved together.  Fortunately, some recent design innovations have breathed new life into these inventive housing solutions.

For example, architect Sean Burke has worked on ways to make shipping container homes feel more open by lifting up part of the roof and letting in more light.  Burke uses building information modeling tools to design these projects, his latest being a small home with a long bank of windows, with a budget of just $25,000.

The designs of these homes now vary widely, but anyone who has dreams of a modernist structure on a scenic hilltop, on a cliff overlooking the ocean, or in the middle of a bustling city, now has an affordable and unique option.  Designers and builders are hoping to take shipping container homes mainstream, employing their innovative juices to create ultra-modern and functional tiny homes, single-family homes, apartment buildings, and condos in cities and rural areas around the world.


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