Shipping Container Home Myths Debunked

Shipping Container Home Myths Debunked

Although they have been popular in various parts for the world for years now, shipping container homes are beginning to draw some interest here in Canada. There is a lot of information available on the internet regarding container home construction, but not all of it is as accurate or true as the authors lead you to believe. In this article we will briefly discuss the single most popular misconception when it comes to shipping container housing: THEIR COST.

A look at what the Hamilton Shipping Container Home will look like once complete - waiting for door and window install before site installation

A look at what the Hamilton Shipping Container Home will look like once complete – waiting for door and window install before site installation – Designed by Jason Halter of Wonder Inc, fabricated by Storstac in Toronto, Canada.

Shipping Container Housing Costs “a lot less” than traditional home building – FALSE

The cost of shipping container housing is the most popular misconception related to container housing that exists today. From internet articles, to news paper and magazine articles to TV shows, various sources have claimed that a shipping container home is an inexpensive alternative to traditional housing that will “save you thousands”.

Here are the facts: Shipping container housing costs nearly as much, if not as much as traditional home builds when you are comparing apples to apples. Let’s say you are building a two story home with a basement. If you were to build a two story home with a basement out of shipping containers, and then you were to build the same square footage home using traditional building methods, the end costs will end up being nearly identical. Using shipping containers to build your home or cottage comes with a number of advantages, but unfortunately, significant cost savings is not one of them. Compared to traditional building methods, a shipping container house could save you upwards of 5-10% of the structures overall cost once the build is complete.

Queen Street West Container Home Extension - Installed - Built at our Toronto, Canada modification facility

Queen Street West Container Home Extension – Installed – Modified at Storstac’s Toronto, Canada modification facility

Why do people claim Shipping Container Housing Costs “a lot less” than traditional home building?

There are various reasons why people claim Shipping Container Housing Costs “a lot less” than traditional home building. Reasons range from using used containers vs new containers, the other costs associated with home building (floors, electrical, plumbing, kitchens, washrooms ect), unaccounted costs of personal time invested in the project. When it comes to using New vs. Used containers for housing/living purposes, we always encourage our customers from to go with new containers instead of using used shipping containers for housing or living in for two reasons.

  • Age: Used containers are typically anywhere from 12-20 years old. They have most likely been around the world a number of times and thus, have been exposed to some of the harshest environments on planet earth. This adds wear and tear to all parts of the container including the exterior, interior and floors. Using a used container is a great way to save money, but the expected life of your shipping container house or cottage will have a much shorter life span with used containers
  • Contents: There is no way to track the contents of a container over its life span. Everything from harmless baby toys, right up to nuclear waste can be transported inside of a shipping container. The last thing you want is to live inside of a home that has transported hazardous materials across the globe.

Shipping containers only account for part of the homes overall costs. Shipping containers make up the structure of a home. Although the structures accounts for a chuck of the overall project cost, things like windows, doors, electrical, plumbing and most importantly final interior finishing (washrooms, kitchens, hardwood floors etc.) vastly outweigh the cost of the structure when all is said and done. Don’t forget that whether something is being installed in a shipping container home, or whether that same something is being installed in a traditionally built home, the costs are the equivalent.

Another dynamic people don’t take into consideration is the “sweat equity” that is put into the build. From shipping container cottages and homes, to “tiny homes”, when a project is undertaken by an individual, the material costs may be the only major element that is factored into a builds final price. What they don’t factor in is the hundreds, and even thousands of hours of their own time they put into their project. This again, significantly impacts the projects final costs further emphasising the misconception that container housing is an inexpensive alternative to shipping container housing.

In this article, we have discussed a few of the factors that contribute to the general misconception that shipping container housing Costs “a lot less” when compared to traditional home building methods. Factors can range from using used containers vs new containers, the other costs associated with home building (floors, electrical, plumbing, kitchens, washrooms ect) and the unaccounted costs of personal time invested in building out the project. If you want to learn more about the services we can offer, feel free to get in touch with one of our shipping container modification experts to discuss your next potential project.

Rendering of what the Queen Street West Shipping Container Extension will look like once complete

Rendering of what the Queen Street West Shipping Container Extension will look like once complete

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