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This blog is about getting answers to some basic questions about trending alternative of the shipping container as homes. Like, Is it really cheap to build? How Durable are they? How Flexible are they?  According to one survey, there are 14 million ex-service shipping containers in the world right now ready for recycling. And 97% of all shipping containers are manufactured in China.


Standard Shipping Container sizes available are 20 x 8 x 8.5 feet and 40 x 8 x 8.5 feet cubical modules.One 40′ Container weight is equal to 3700kg which also makes it easy to ship on the site. One 40 feet container can be easily turned into 1 or 2 bed compact home with basic facilities. But, for making bigger houses or apartments they can be clubbed together in different ways like a lego modules. Prefabricated doors and windows panels can be easily installed by cutting the sides of the container.

Fig. 1: Plan of 40 ft Shipping Container 1 bed home
Fig. 2: 1 Bed Container House in Ireland


Other than building free standing homes, shipping containers are also used to build apartments, farmhouses, workshops, office and retail space. Sometimes they are also used to create links and bridges between the buildings. This element of flexibility makes it as a substitute to the modular homes.


Most of the shipping containers are being made to protect its freight against weather and other wear and tear while traveling time and to withstand heavy loads while stacked up in the vessels. The side of the containers is made of 2 inches thick corrugated steel sheets which are a good shape to bear the load. Paint applied on the surface is also for strong weather protection. But, while installing the door window panels or clubbing two containers together, it needs to be punctured from the sides which weaken the overall structural strength. Which requires additional steel reinforcement while building depending upon the size of the overall structure.

Fig.3: Reinforcement have been put for strength


Average price range for used 40 feet long shipping container is between 1500 – 5000 GBP. This acts as a basic frame for the building. Total cost for the final product depends on various factors from which the location is the most important one. But in compare to conventional houses, it takes less time and labor to construct. Final price includes all the reinforcement to be added, paint, roof, and interior. Price range starts from 13000 GBP which makes a good option to buy or make your own according to your design for less price.

Fig. 4: Container Apartments


Recycling these containers for creating habitable space at an affordable price is a good idea. Especially in government schemes for homeless people, places which lack in building materials, temporary accommodation for refugees or private schemes and dwellings.


“Facts About Shipping Containers”. Billie Box. N.p., 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.

“How Many Shipping Containers Are There In The World?”. Budget Shipping Containers. N.p., 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.

“Ireland’S First Shipping Container Home Was Built In Just Three Days”. N.p., 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.

“Shipping Container Dimensions – Standard Container Dimension Info”. N.p., 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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