Construir con contenedores - Строительство с морскими контейнерами - Bau mit Schiffscontainern - Construir com contentores - Building with Shipping Containers

Constructing a home using shipping containers is an exciting and rewarding task, but it can also be challenging. Shipping containers are unique building materials, having their own construction challenges as well as fascinating advantages. This article covers the essential information you need to know before building a container home and serves as complementary information to the article “Common Mistakes to Avoid.”

Before Building with Containers

One of the first things you should know when considering building a container home is that not all containers are the same. There are various types of containers. The most common types used in construction are high-cube, standard, and refrigerated containers.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that there are high-cube containers. High-cube containers essentially have the same dimensions as standard containers but are one foot (about 30 cm) taller.

High-cube containers are approximately 50% more expensive than standard containers. However, most agree that this extra foot of height is invaluable, especially if you are insulating the container’s floor. Refer to container types for more information.

Research Local Planning and Building Regulations

Whether you are building a container home or a traditional building, it is always necessary to be aware of local regulations. Failing to do this research beforehand can lead to disaster. This is particularly crucial when building container homes because not all areas have dealt with this type of construction before.

Recently in England, Robert Fidler was forced to remove his $1.5 million house because he did not seek planning approval before building it.

To avoid such disastrous situations, always start your project by conducting thorough research in your area. Investigate if there are already unconventional buildings. If there are, someone before you has gone through the process. If you can’t find container homes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t build one. This construction method is relatively new, and perhaps no one in your region has attempted it before.

Once you have planned your construction and before you start building, visit the local planning office. In this meeting, you can assess how receptive they are to the idea. With no prior experience with shipping container homes, some offices may require more persuasion than others.

The only time you won’t need planning approval is when your property is outside the city’s planning zones. In this case, you generally have the freedom to build a container home as long as the structure is safe. We still recommend contacting the local planning office to confirm that your property is indeed outside the zoning boundaries.

Do Not Alter Your Design During Construction

One of the most significant reasons why all types of construction take longer than expected and cost more than planned is changes in the design during construction. The right time to make design changes is during the planning phase. It is crucial to commit to a final design before starting construction. Remember that when building with containers, if you remove a container wall, it disappears.

Replacing the wall after cutting it is incredibly costly and time-consuming. Ensure you conduct as much research as possible and, ideally, visit several container homes before committing to your design. A good architect will not only produce 2D elevations but also 3D elevations. This will help you get a sense of the space in your new building. One tip you might consider is building a model with Lego blocks.

Avoid Excessive Cutting or Modification of Containers

Like most building materials, containers can be used to construct everything from budget-friendly homes to million-dollar residences and everything in between. However, most people choose containers for their cost-saving benefits.

Preserving the structural integrity of the container as much as possible will save you money. Each time you cut the steel of your containers, it incurs both time and expenses. Not only do you have to pay someone to remove the steel from your containers, but you are also likely to have to pay to reinforce the opening with a steel beam. If we look at the cheapest container homes built, one common feature is that they have not extensively modified the containers. Of course, openings for doors and windows are cut, but large sections of the container walls are not removed.

Choose Insulation Wisely

When building a container home, you not only want your insulation material to help with temperature control but also to create a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from entering the containers. For this reason, the most popular choice for container homes is spray foam insulation.

Spray foam insulation is not only thinner than insulation panels, but it also acts as a vapor barrier when applied correctly. Typically, the interior walls and exterior base of the container are sprayed. These two layers combined usually provide more than sufficient insulation.

The only drawback to using spray foam insulation is that it is more expensive than other types of insulation. If your budget is extremely tight, you can opt for another type of insulation, but keep in mind that others do not provide the same vapor barrier as spray foam.

Finding Contractors Can Be Challenging

People hire contractors because they lack the time or skills to build the structure themselves. This applies to both traditional buildings and container homes. Since container homes are still relatively new in the mainstream, the number of contractors specializing in this type of construction is limited. Of course, if you intend to do it yourself, this should not be a problem.

Some have emailed us asking if we can recommend contractors. However, our recommendation is that you try to manage the construction yourself. Hire separate contractors for various tasks where you need assistance, such as welding and electrical work. This approach will help you save money and provide an incredibly satisfying experience.


After reading this article, you are well-prepared to embark on your container adventure. Be sure to read about how to plan your container home as you progress with your project.

As a reminder:

  • Not all containers are the same.
  • Just like with other products, different manufacturers produce containers of varying quality.
  • Additionally, high-cube containers are typically the preferred choice for residential or office construction.
  • There are various types of insulation available, but we generally recommend closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation for most applications.

Have you built a container home? What do you think is the most important information you need to know before embarking on a container home construction? Please leave a comment below.

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