Container Homes: Do They Really Make Sense?

If you like tiny houses, you’ve probably seen homes made out of shipping containers. It seems like a pretty cool idea. And some of the container homes I’ve seen are works of art. But do container homes really make sense?

I was excited the first time I heard about shipping container homes. I imagined buying a container for a few thousand dollars and moving it out into the woods. Presto! I’d live simple in a stripped down container home.

The Downside Of Container Homes

Recently, I did a little more research on container homes. I found that making a container home is a lot more complicated and expensive than you’d first expect. Here’s a short list of some of things you need to do to make your home livable:

  • Buy the container
  • Move the container
  • Build a foundation
  • Replace the container floor (due to chemicals)
  • Cut walls, doors, and windows
  • Frame the container
  • Wire the container
  • Insulate the container…

It’s a crapload of work, and that’s just a short list. To top it off, most articles I’ve read about container homes highly recommend that you hire a contractor to do it all. In the end, a simple container home will cost $35,000 or more. The elaborate container homes we see on all the cool blogs cost more than $200,000. I fail to see the practicality of it all.  

Why Build Tiny When You Can Buy Small?

Last year, in my article, 5 Reasons The Tiny House Movement Is Doomed To Fail, I questioned the whole tiny house movement. Rather than trying to find practical inroads to the mainstream, the movement seems to be made up of rebels who prefer to evade taxes and building codes.

As cool as some container homes look, a single container is really too small to be practical and will still average $35,000 on the low end. On top of that, you need a piece of land to put your home. This doesn’t make sense to me when there are thousands of low-priced, small homes and condos that already exist.

Either Way, You Live In A Box

I’ve been keeping an eye on the prices of small homes and condominiums for future retirement options. In many Midwestern cities, I could buy a quality 500-700 square foot condominium in a downtown high-rise building for less than half the price of a fancy container home.

I could buy a modern loft in Downtown St. Louis within walking distance of Busch Stadium for less than $100,000. I could watch Cardinal’s Baseball all summer.    

There are thousands of one and two-bedroom homes under 800 square feet starting at less than $25,000 in towns all across America. Still, people want to spend more than twice that much to cut up a container and put in hundreds of hours turning it into a house. I don’t get it.

Let’s Use What We Already Have!

As one who appreciates minimalism and simple living, I think it makes more sense to use homes that already exist. Let’s not waste resources. There are thousands of small homes and condos on the market. With a little research, you’re bound to find one that will fit your price and style.

See All Posts


James Ewen
Articles: 362