Are Container Homes Safe?

When we think of a container home, a big metal box is what may first come to mind.  Something that’s durable, and deals with shipping freight and other things that comes from overseas.  

The last thing we think of is that it’s unsafe.  But like everything, no matter how safe we think something might be; safety precautions should always be considered. 

Strengths of a Container Home

Storm Surge

A shipping container is very sturdy.  It’s made of thick metal to prevent any kind of puncture or damage to freight coming overseas.  

This also includes the strength to handle natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, snow  - you name it,  it should be able to handle it.  

This doesn’t mean that the container won’t be tossed around to and fro, but it means that the container is more likely to handle these conditions rather than a regular conventional home. 

A shipping container weighs roughly 5,000 to a little over 8,000 pounds when empty.  Adding in other features to reinforce the unit will only add to that weight.

And that is BEFORE you are talking about flooring, appliances, counter-tops, bathrooms, lofts, etc... 

That’s a lot of weight to be moved.  A container home is incredibly strong and sturdy.

Old or Used Containers

The good thing about buying a used container is it’s cheaper than a new container.​

Although cheaper, used containers may require some maintenance.  It may not be considered livable in its current condition.  

If someone decides to purchase a used shipping container to turn into a container home,  they should remember that a used container might need a make over.  

A few issues regarding used containers are that the container is old, and it’s most likely been used thoroughly.  

Meaning, there could be rust, rust holes, chemical residue from spills, punctures from forklifts or other heavy industrial machinery or even mold.  

These issues make the container uninhabitable by not meeting many cities/counties building codes. 

One thing the prospector for a used container will want to do about rust holes or punctures is hire a good wielder to patch the holes. 

Another thing to consider is that the company you plan to purchase from, make sure that they clean the container.  If not, the owner may need to abrasive blast the container.

This consists of sanding the paint off the container and having it repainted with a non-toxic protective paint.  

On top of this, you can request to have the old flooring removed and cleaned from any previous chemical spillage.

Heat Concerns

A container home is made of metal and metal is a good conduit of heat.  This means that the container can become quite hot in extreme heat conditions.  Since a container can do that, having it properly insulated can help to reduce the heat.  There are a variety of methods and materials that can be used to achieve this.  

For instance, a cheap Eco friendly method is using some recycled material such as denim, cork, recycled newspaper, wool, straw, or cotton.  These are just a few of the alternative materials that can be used to help reduce heat for a container.  

There are more costly methods and materials such as using fiberglass, polystyrene, rock wool, closed and open spray foam.  These will help insulate better than the Eco friendly material and last longer but many of these options are more hazardous to the ozone and your health.  

Is a Container Home Less Likely To Get Broken Into?

A large container is hard to break into.  It has only one entrance through a front locked double, sometimes-triple locked entrance. 

It’s meant to be airtight but, once you’ve converted a container home into a home, it may consist of windows, a front door, and back door. These are all break in entry points for a thief.  

Now, if you’d like to retain the same protection as an unmodified container, than yes it would be very hard to break into,

But, as it’s modified to be a home, it would be just as likely to  get broken into as a conventional home.  

So, make sure you have your home locked down properly and it will lessen your chances of getting broken into.   

These are some of the entry points:

  • Front door
  • First-floor window
  • Back door
  • Garage
  • Unlocked entrance
  • Second floor

Tips to Help Prevent Break-ins

Some tips to help prevent a break-in  when you’re not home is to shut the blinds.  Don’t make it easier for an intruder to see into your home.

If they see something they want, they’ll try to find a way in.  Keep that investment blind from wondering eyes.  

Another tip is simply to lock your doors that lead to the outside.  Lock them when you’re at home and when you leave.   

The list provided even shows that it’s possible for a break-in through the second floor, so keep those blinds and doors locked.  

Another tip to help prevent or lessen the chance of a break-in is to own a dog or have an alarm system.  Burglars observe these things and are less likely to enter when these are present.  

Using a Container As a Home

Turning a shipping container into a home requires some modifications.  As stated before, this may require regulating heat by insulation; repairing rusts by abrasive blasting of old paint, patching holes by welding and cleaning previous conditions of old containers that could have residue from chemical spillage.  

If you’re lucky to get a new container, it may not have to be cleaned like an old container.  You would still be required to make some modifications, especially if you want to regulate heat for living conditions.  

Your container home is just like a conventional home but constructed from metal.  It will require its fair share of maintenance to keep it clean of rust, mildew, wear and tear - but it's worth it!