Container Houses – An Affordable Option To Own Your Own Home

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As you already know, housing is the biggest expense and the toughest problem to solve for most families these days.  This is why we need a solution for those who are struggling to make ends meet but also want to give up the apartment lifestyle.  Today we are going to talk about an often overlooked solution – Container Houses.

Shipping Container Home Made Easy

Housing Expenses Are On The Rise

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  housing is the biggest expense and it’s on the rise.  Year over year, housing continues to eat up more and more of the average family’s monthly budget.  Check out this chart showing up to 27% of expenditures related to owned or rented housing costs.  Not only that, but the percent change from 2015-16 to 2016-17 was 2.6% to 5.3% respectively.  Bottom line, it’s getting harder and harder to find a place to live and it’s not likely to reverse course.

chart showing consumer expenditures up to 21`07
Housing expenditure is on the rise according to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics

Options For Coping With Increased Housing Costs

As I mentioned before, if you already have a house, there are things you can do to reduce your costs, like conquering your heating bills.  A lot of those gains have to do with improving the efficiency of your house such as stopping leaky windows and adding insulation.  That’s all great of course, but what do you do if you can’t afford a house?

You might downsize like I did, or you could consider a shipping container house.  A container?  Really?  Why would I want to do that?  Well things have changed in the past few years and container houses are going mainstream.  

As any Smart Penny Pincher knows, it’s what you pay for things that matters the most.  Now, I have to explain this carefully.  I’m not talking about being so tight that you have to live uncomfortably.  There is a balancing act between maintaining a good lifestyle but not paying so much that you have trouble making ends meet or saving for the future.  You should always spend less than you make so let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of container housing.

Advantages of Containers for housing

Reduced Costs – Depending On The Design

If you ever built a house before, then you already know that this is a lot of work.  Not only that, but it’s costs a lot, is extremely time consuming, and complicated.   This is where container houses have an edge.  Depending on how you choose to proceed, you could start with something very small like a single container.  It’s already waterproof because it was designed from the beginning to survive under harsh conditions like being exposed to constant sea water spray.

Simpler And Quicker Construction

You can put containers together in a variety of ways to open up the interior and create different rooms and living areas just like a regular house.  This can be as simple as 2 8×40’s side by side for 16’x40 interior space, or something much more complicated.  It’s up to you how to proceed based on your needs and budget.  In the end though, the construction is easier because a lot of the structure already exists.

Flexible Design

This is a no brainer.  The sky is the limit here.  Want a 2 story house?  No problem, you can stack them on top of each other.  Need extra width?  Attach them side by side and open up spaces as needed for your design.  You can also start off really small and get a pre-fab single unit that’s simple to install.  It’s all up to you and your budget.

Disadvantages of Container Houses


One of the problems you might encounter is resistance at the permitting office.  This is where you need to have a good design such that you new house doesn’t look much like a container, if at all.  It also needs to be structurally sound and meet building codes.   An open and honest conversation with the planning office will go a long way toward obtaining the permit.  Fortunately, this problem can be solved with a little help from someone who has done it before.

Energy Efficiency

Containers houses need to have insulation installed to increase the structures R Value.  This can be achieved by attaching interior studs on the exterior walls to allow for added insulation.

How To Get Started

A site like BuildaContainer is a great place to start.  They have a great guide to help you step by step with all of the planning and design to streamline your construction project.  This guide will show you how to make a modern and stylish home that is affordable, attractive, and comfortable.  It’s written by a container designer and is a good resource to help you avoid common pitfalls.


Container homes have come a long way in the past few years.  You no longer have a limited number of options for your new home.  You can design and build a modern home full of all of your amenities as desired that is energy efficient and a joy to live in.  

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