Figuring out how much a shipping container home costs can be a bit of a minefield. There are a lot of professional companies that will cover every aspect of building a shipping container home. You may also be tempted to try and build one yourself.
In this guide we will cover some of the professional options and give you a rough guide to the cost of making a shipping container home yourself. This guide will not cover any aspect of planning permission. Contact your local government for advice.
Choosing A Shipping Container
Shipping containers come in a few size options, 20 feet long and 40 feet. There are also two main variations in height, 8 foot 6 inches or 9 foot 6 inches. A 40 foot long 9-foot-high container is called a high cube and is a great option for your container home.
Furthermore, containers built by different manufacturers may be slightly different dimensions. Especially if they are second hand. As a result, try to buy containers from the same manufacturer.
Deciding what size container you should build your shipping container home with is quite dependant on your personal needs.
Moreover, it is dictated largely by the space you have available. If you have a large plot of land then by all means go larger. If space is a limiting factor then consider keeping the size compact.
It’s important to factor in the cost of the containers when determining how much a shipping container home costs, particularly if you are going to building it yourself. Second-hand sites like Ebay can be a good place to purchased used containers.
However, it’s recommended that you always view the container in person before purchase. Expect to pay between £2,000-£5,000 per container excluding delivery.
Occasionally the company you purchase the container from can also deliver it at an additional charge. This is something to enquire about before purchase.
Shipping Container Home Design
To decide how many shipping containers you will need, you need to come up with a detailed plan of what you want your tiny home to look like. Computer design programs like Sketch Up can be helpful to do this.
Alternatively, you could do it the old-fashioned way with a pencil and paper. Additionally, keeping your sketches to scale can help you get a better idea of how furniture will fill the space in your home.
If you are only planning on using one container for your home, then you may opt to put your bedroom at the far end. Creating your living and dining space in the centre of the container. Leaving you with space for a bathroom at the opposite end.
To give you more space two or more containers is best. You can stack two containers side by side to give you a double wide arrangement. Alternatively, you could go vertical and stack one on top of the other to create a loft style bedroom above your living and dining space.
While cutting large windows into your container may be an appealing design you will need to consider extra supports if you end up cutting a lot of material away. In fact, this could quickly become expensive due to associated welding and material costs so consider window and door placement very carefully.
The best part about a shipping container home is that you can use normal furniture. The cheapest furniture will be flat pack, like Ikea furniture. Moreover, the advantage with this is that it is modular meaning you can easily add or take away pieces to make it fit your space.
This is definitely the best option for the kitchen in your shipping container home. Ikea modular kitchen units will give you lots of flexibility and help keep costs down. Kitchen cupboards cost between £50-£150 depending on exactly what you want.
Accordingly, budgeting a few hundred pounds for your kitchen cabinets is a good idea. A double bed with storage, and a wardrobe will cost about £300 each and a simple bedside table will be about £50. Have a look at out guide to the best mattresses of 2021 if you are trying to decide what mattress will be best for you.
Using flat pack furniture is one of the best ways to keep costs down when designing your shipping container home. It’s also important to factor in the cost of connecting utilities, like water and electricity, that will allow you to have a hob, heating, and lights.
If you are purchasing land to build your container home, its worth looking into the cost of this before you make any purchases. Luckily standard household appliance will work perfectly in a shipping container home, as you will be connected to mains power and water.
Properly insulating your container home is vital, as metal is a great conductor. As a result, without insulation your home will be freezing in winter and roasting hot in summer.
Furthermore, insulating your container requires you to build out the walls, this can be done on the inside, outside, or a bit of both. Unfortunately building out the walls on the interior will mean the loss of some internal space.
You need to set aside a few thousand pounds for insulation, due to the associated cost of also purchasing cladding materials to create your cavity. Some of the most popular insulation options are spray foam, EPS foam panels, rock wool, cork or fibre glass.
All have pros and cons that would take an entire article to cover but suffice to say this will be a time consuming but vital part of your shipping container build.
How Much Does It Cost For A DIY Shipping Container Home?
I have presented a lot of information about building your own shipping container home. It is a big undertaking but one that is incredibly rewarding. It offers an opportunity to design and build your own home at a fraction of the price of a normal house.
The total average cost of for a DIY shipping container home in the UK is between £20,000- £80,000. Obviously, that is a large range, but the reality is it can be as cheap or expensive as you make it. A shipping container home that uses 4 brand new 40 footers is going to cost a lot more than a small home, made from two second-hand containers.
Luckily if that sounds like far too much work or hassle there is an alternative way of owning a shipping container home. That is to have a prefabricated professionally built container home.
How Much Does A Professionally Built Shipping Container Cost?
With shipping containers catching on as an affordable way of building houses there are a variety of companies that offer shipping container homes. This is here to give you a price comparison and make you aware of some of the most reputable UK based companies.
MAC Shipping Container Homes
MAC are one of the leading container home companies in the UK. As a result, they have some very competitive pricing. They offer a 40’ by 12’ container home that is suitable for a permanent dwelling for £40,450.
This meets building regulations and comes equipped ready for habitation. They also boast a modular system, meaning you can stack their units together to create a larger home, however this will increase the cost.
MAC offer UK wide delivery and can have your container home delivered and installed in 12 weeks, a very impressive turn around time. As a result you save yourself a lot of headache trying to design and build your own home. This is one of the major advantages to purchasing a container home from a company like this.
If you’re moving into the US and taking your family and your dog to build a container we suggest reading this article from dog experts Miniature Friends regarding flying with dogs to the US.
HighCube Shipping Container Homes
Highcube are another leading company that offer a range of shipping container homes. Comparative to MAC a Highcubes one bedroom home is £49,000 so slightly more expensive. They also offer two, three and four bedroom container homes at £75,00, £95,000, and £139,000 respectively. While £139,000 sounds expensive you would probably struggle to buy a four bedroom home for that much anywhere in the UK.
Highcube homes show that container homes can be suitable for a range of living situations. Shipping container homes are not just restricted to couples who want a super affordable, tiny home alternative. In fact, an average family could comfortably reside in a container home.
MAC and Highcube are two of the most reputable container home builders in the UK. As you can see they are significantly more expensive than building a home DIY. However, that is pretty much always the case as the cost of labour is usually a bulk of the overall cost.
If you relish the challenge of making things yourself than a DIY shipping container home could be an affordable way to build your dream home. I hope that’s answered your questions about how much does a shipping container homer cost.
Could you see yourself living in a shipping container home? Let us know via email or Instagram DM @tinyhomehub.