Shipping Container Homes vs Conventional Homes

Shipping container homes have taken the real estate market by storm.   Before, the construction of these living spaces was prohibited in the United States, but more and more states have modified their zoning requirements and building codes to make way for this type of alternative living.

Most people opt for shipping container homes over conventional homes for a lot of reasons: they are cost and energy-efficient, promote simple living,  and are environmentally friendly. 

There are also a number of reasons that set apart shipping container homes from conventional houses.   But first, we must distinguish the two to have a better grasp of which among them is the better choice.

What Are Shipping Container Homes?

Shipping container homes are made from steel shipping containers that function as the shell of the home.  This large piece of metal is primarily used to transport goods through trains, trucks, and ships.

Nowadays, the Tiny House Movement supporters recycled shipping containers and transform them into livable homes after they have outlived their primary purpose. 

The smallest containers have 100 square feet while the larger ones are up to 1,400 square feet in space.   If you combine eight shipping containers, they may form a building that is referred to as micro-apartments.

People use shipping containers not only as a home but also as an office, studios, cabins, and bar structures. In fact, there are about 14 million units around the world to date!

What Are Conventional Homes?

Conventional homes are referred to as the standard American type of housing.  They are constructed according to municipality zoning standards and building codes. 

It is the most common type of home construction and is flexible for home design. They also have floor trusses, wall panels, and roofs.  Some newer models even have factory-built bathrooms. 

Some conventional homes are pre-built in factories.  They conform to a higher quality of construction components and are made in a controllable environment. 


The Difference Between Shipping Container Homes and Conventional Homes

Container homes are modular homes that are prefab by the providers of shipping containers.  The nature of their structure makes it easier for a person to use it to build a house.   In fact, some companies may deliver shipping containers as a complete home package in just a matter of 10 days!

The providers furnish shipping containers according to industry standards.  The large steel even undergoes governmental inspection before it can be ready for purchase.  Thus, it is simpler to assemble shipping container homes than conventional homes; but it is still important to check with your county and state building and zoning codes to make sure that shipping container homes meet their requirements.

If you are a do-it-yourself-er and want to construct your house from the ground up, this option is more viable than opting for a conventional home.  The shipping container’s mobility and limited size make it easier for you to design it according to your preferences without worrying about misconstruction.

In fact, shipping container home providers deliver all the necessities that your home would need: bathrooms, windows, doors, a kitchen, and sometimes even a shower.   These are the basic necessities that you would need in day-to-day life and are meant to be compliant with the building codes laid out by law. 

Mauna Kea Container Home

Shipping container homes also follow a worldwide system wherein you can order them online from any point of the globe.  Once they reach your doorstep, it’s quite easy to set up.  In fact, providers may provide you with an instructional manual or give you information on who to contact in your area to help with any construction or assembly concerns. 

It is also quite easy to limit your budget if you choose to build a shipping container home.  The prices laid out by providers are inclusive of everything that you would need – plumbing, electric, insulation, the structure itself and shipping fees.  You will be responsible for transporting the container home to your site or location and whatever assistance you need in assembling, hooking up or making the appropriate connections to get your home fully functional.

On top of this, the variable costs rarely exceed the median price.   For example, if you order out a shipping container home, the cost for added insulation or additional incorporation of innovative sections or appliances is half the price of the product acquired.   Let’s say you ordered a $45,000 package for a tiny home.  The added amenities if not built for luxury could only reach up to an added $10,000-$15,000. 

Unlike conventional homes, shipping container homes allow you to save on a lot of things.   First, it makes you a herald of an Eco-friendly living since it promotes recycling.  The structure alone, if not brought brand new, is a manifestation of participation of the Green Movement.   It saves the planet from incurring more and more scrap metal that destroys the environment!

Other shipping container homes also use composite toilets as an initiative to go green.  Those who choose this alternative living as an environmentally friendly option use recycled materials such as used tubs, roofs, and scraps of metal to form artistic ornaments or counters of the living space.  Thus, shipping container homes make you conserve metal resources. 

Conversely, building a conventional home would require you to use truckloads of timber, numerous bags of cement, and other building materials that are not only wasteful but also costs significantly more.  Since shipping container homes are tiny, they help you limit the use of materials and thus, helps you conserve natural resources, especially trees. 

The cost of building a shipping container exclusive of added insulation and other extra features is at a range of $10,000-$45,000.  Constructing conventional homes, on the other hand, would cost you a minimum of $45,000 exclusive of loans for the land area, interest on those loans, the materials used, and the labor. 

The significant difference between the prices is truly obvious and explains why shipping containers have become popular nowadays.  In fact, several businesses choose this option in building their establishments because it allows them to manifest cost-cutting strategies without sacrificing the comfort and functionality of their offices. 

Most people would believe that conventional homes are better than shipping container homes when it comes to quality.  This is not always true.  In fact, there are container buildings or micro-apartments that have exterior cladding and interior walls that conceal the metal from the naked eye.

This not only improves the quality of the structure but also enables you to protect the home from environmental hazards.   Additionally, container homes are just as comfortable to live in as conventional homes if they are structured and assembled properly.

In fact, shipping container homes clean the steel from toxic substances before they would be viable for sale.  This is the company’s compliance with governmental regulations.  Therefore, the quality of both structures is the same with proper management and maintenance.  The difference is – you get to spend less with shipping container homes.


In fact, shipping container homes do not only provide living quarters – it has everything that you’ll ever need in a conventional home.  The law requires that they must have a bathroom, kitchen, sometimes a living room, and bedrooms.  These are the basic necessities of living in a conventional home.   Most importantly, shipping container homes allow you to avoid losing your residence to high-intensity storms.  In fact, there are models that were made to withstand Category Five winds. 

Most people also believe that shipping container homes are only for the poor.  This is clearly a myth!  Shipping container homeowners are free to design their homes for the purpose of luxury!  In fact, there are those that have microwave ovens, with their counter-tops and other amenities made of high-quality wood or even marble!

Some shipping container homes are also equipped with advanced technology gadgets and appliances.   With proper insulation, you can heat or cool your living space, enjoy a hot or cold shower, or even incorporate a flat-screen right inside your house!

Shipping container homes also allow you to opt for energy-conserving sources of energy.  They are either powered by generators or solar panels – both of them reduce your carbon footprint making you an Earth saver.

Conventional homes can also utilize these sources of energy.   However, it would generally cost more because you would need to sustain a larger amount of space.  It would still make you use more energy than a shipping container does. 

The Bottom Line

Shipping container homes are better than conventional homes for a lot of reasons.  They allow you to save on a lot of things - energy, money, construction time, and the environment.  You can have it all, in a smaller footprint without sacrificing comfort, functionality, and even luxury!

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