The Pros and Cons of Building a Shipping Container House

The average cost for newly constructed homes is $385,200. Many people are turning to alternative building materials such as shipping containers to ease the cost of new construction. 

They are so popular that even hotels like the Flophouze Hotel in Round Top, Texas are constructed entirely from shipping containers. These prefabricated boxes may be the perfect solution to creating your dream home. 

If you are considering building a shipping container house here in Houston, there are a few pros and cons you should consider first. Keep reading so you can make an informed decision. 

Pro: Speedy Construction 

Building with shipping containers is much faster than traditional construction methods. Smaller homes can reach complete fabrication within three weeks in offsite fabrication. Larger homes can be completed in a few months.  

Many of the small details and modifications can be done at the production site before the containers ever reach their final destination. 

Shipping containers are also much friendlier to the DIYer. However, it is smart to consult with a design firm or an engineer before embarking on your container home. 

Pro: Cost Effective 

Building with shipping containers can save you money when compared to traditional shipping methods. One man used two containers to create a rustic cabin that is completely off the grid for $35,000. 

Depending on the quality of the container and its location, a container can cost anywhere from $1,400 to $4,500 and sometimes more. You may be able to find one for cheaper, but you’ll want to make sure you can actually build with it. 

Con: Not Quite Eco-Friendly 

The general theory is that if you use old refurbished shipping containers, you are doing the environment a favor. However, these containers typically have wear and damage making them unsafe for new home construction. 

If you do decide to use refurbished construction you need to ensure the structural integrity of your home. 

New shipping containers offer you the freedom and structural integrity to create any building you can dream up. 

Harmful Chemicals 

Used shipping containers may have held toxic chemicals or other materials. They have also been treated to prevent corrosion during transit. 

Remember, containers are made of steel and spend most of their time near and on the ocean. Saltwater and metal is a recipe for corrosion and rust. 

Make sure you inspect your refurbished container to confirm that it has been adequately treated to be safe for use in home construction. You will also want to check for rust as this will compromise the structural integrity. 

The Eco-Friendly Part 

If you decide to use a refurbished container the most significant impact you will have is with the use of steel. The average 40-foot container has more than 8,000 pounds of steel. 

You are also reducing your use of other traditional building materials such as wood and masonry. 

Pro: Mobility 

Whatever your reason, maybe you don’t want the home to stay at its original location permanently. With traditional construction, you don’t have the option of moving your building. 

Containers can have your completed building moved to a new location as many times as necessary. 

Pro: Creative Freedom 

Shipping containers come in a variety of different sizes which gives you the freedom to create a home as large or as small as you wish. You can combine multiple containers to create a larger space. 

You can create large windows to open the space up and bring in a lot of natural light. Or you can install large glass doors that you can open up and bring the outdoors in. 

Using shipping containers lets you express your personal style. With the rules of traditional construction and architecture out the window, you are free to create. 

For the most freedom, try to stick with high cube containers, they are 9’6″ tall. This will make it easier to add insulation and still have room for a ceiling fan. 

If you aren’t worried about this, you could use a standard height container; they are 8’6″ tall. 

Cons: Permits and Codes 

Container homes are still relatively new in many municipalities. Because of this, many permits and building codes are not designed to work with them. 

Do your research to ensure you are legally able to build a container home. Then you need to make sure your home complies with all current zoning and construction regulations. 

Here in Houston, the best place to start is with the Building Code Enforcement office. If you do not comply with planning regulations, you may find yourself having to take the home down even if construction is complete. 

Pro: Toughness and Durability

Containers get manufactured with durability in mind. Their original purpose is to survive many months and thousands of miles out on an ocean tanker exposed to the elements. 

They often far surpass the minimum specs for new homes when it comes to strength and durability. 

To retain this strength, you need to be careful about how much steel you cut away. If you plan to make significant cutaways for doors, windows, and room openings, then you need to install reinforcements. Additional steel beams can carry the load. 

Construct Your Shipping Container House

If you are ready to start building your shipping container house here in Houston, Texas, we can help you get started. We have a large inventory of both new and used containers. 

We can help you create the container building of your dreams. This could be a home, office, or any other structure you need to have built quickly.  

Contact us today and let us help you create the shipping containers you need to build your dream shipping container home. 

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