What’s the Cost of a Shipping Container Home?

The one almost impossible to answer question that we get asked is “How much is a shipping container home?” Our answer is that this is very much dependent on your specification. Shipping container homes are not ‘off the shelf’ items – each one is built to a defined specification and/or plan provided to us by a client or their architect.

Costs for a shipping container home will vary along very similar lines to a standard home. How big is it? How well finished do you want it done? Are you spending £3k or £30k on your kitchen, and bathroom? Are you building this yourself, or do you have builders doing this for you? For those investigating from around the world, the country and its own laws and processes will vary a lot. Even within the UK, planning areas and regulations can vary a lot making it difficult to offer a single guide that covers all bases.

For those new to the topic of shipping container homes, we hope the following will help guide you on the path to understanding what they are and to the creation of plans and detailed specifications.

What is a shipping container home? Shipping Container home with cladding

It’s simply a home made from shipping containers.

Homes can be made from a number of shipping containers of varying sizes to produce the home you specify. Given the flexibility of this concept, your architect can literally think outside the box! Depending on the specification of your design, they can be more affordable than a traditional home and if you chose the right materials, they can be very eco-friendly especially when you make use of green alternatives for power, heating, and water.

In the UK, we are suggesting that a shipping container home will work out very cost effectively for a self-builder, but much less so if you want someone to do everything for you. The reason for this is that most building companies will not have experience in building container homes. In general, we feel you will likely be paying someone to learn how to build with shipping containers, and construction estimates that we have seen to date suggest you may be paying a very similar price to a traditional building (in which case, what benefit will you get from working with shipping containers?)

What size containers do I need for my shipping container home?

Standard shipping containers come in lengths of 20 and 40ft and two different heights DV (8ft 6’’ externally) and HC (9ft 6’’ externally). Outside of the standard container lengths, we can make containers of different lengths to suit your needs. What we can’t do though is alter the width or the height of the containers.

We would suggest the more you can work with standard sizes of shipping container, the more cost-effective the space you will get per spare foot or similar.

When constructing a container home, we would suggest you use one trip containers rather than used units. We advise this as used units will be some 10 – 15 years of age and whilst structurally sound, these used containers are likely to have some variance in construction.  They will likely be from a range of different factories over a range of years.  We suggest one trip containers that will have a better lifespan and also come from the same factory run, giving you a more consistent product to work with.  The choice is yours of course!  One trip units will have some scratches and other surface imperfections as they’ve been through the Intermodal transport system to get them to the UK, but they will be considerably less worn than a used container.

Do I need planning permission for a shipping container home?

As this will be a permanent structure the answer is yes, you will need planning permission and this is best discussed with your local planning office. We cannot offer you any advice regarding planning, as we are not versed in the requirements of any of the planning requirements in the UK.

Can you offer advice on where to locate my shipping container home?

Whilst we cannot offer advice on where you could locate your home, we can advise you that the containers must be sat on hard-standing ground and be raised off the surface to ensure good air circulation beneath and to avoid the containers sitting in puddles of water. You don’t have to do to the expense of concreting the entire footprint of your container home you just need to have concrete pilings under each of the corner posts.

Please note that our delivery vehicles must stay on hard-standing at all times including access to the drop point and at the drop point itself. If you are building a home in the middle of a field you will need to organise your own transport for the final leg of the operation.

What do windows and doors cost?

This very much depends on the size and type of window and door you require. In some cases, it may be better to have all glazing fitted on-site rather than take the risk of the glass getting damaged when the units are lifted and transported to the site.  Shipping containers can bend and twist slightly and it is this movement that could cause the glass to crack.

Are there any other costs to consider?

There are a number of other costs you and or your architect need to factor into your plans.  These include:

  • Insulation
  • Internal fit-out– boarding, lights, electrics, and gas
  • Furniture
  • External access to gas, electricity, water, and sewage
  • General advice

Creating a home using shipping containers can provide great value if you intend to carry out the majority of the work yourself.  If you use external contractors, the cost of a shipping container home will likely be as much as a traditional brick and mortar property. We also advise that the majority of builders and contractors will have little – if any – experience in dealing with shipping containers and this could impact the cost and even finish of your container home.

We hope the above gives you some ideas as to how many factors need to be considered when planning a shipping container home and why we can’t simply give you a price for a container home or even a rough estimate.

If you’ve got detailed plans and specifications for your new shipping container home, please send them to us and we’ll give you costs for what we can do and best advice if we think some aspects of your build would be best handled on-site by your contractors.  Please be advised we can’t offer a quote for a ‘3 bedroom container home’ or similar without detailed plans.

You may like to read our articles on ‘are the floors of shipping containers contaminated?’, ‘Could I live in a shipping container?’, ‘how do you insulate a shipping container?’, ‘new vs used shipping containers‘.

Budgetshippingcontainers.co.uk offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 5pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).

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