Shipping Container Houses For Sale

Shipping Container Houses For Sale

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Shipping container Houses For Sale

I’ve often wondered what the shipping container house craze is all about. So I decided to do a little research into the trend of constructing a home from a re-purposed shipping container and why people like the square-box style of houses.

This article provides an insight into the advantages of shipping container houses, along with disadvantages and other points to consider such as planning permission and costs.


  • What are shipping container houses?
  • Why people build shipping container houses
  • Points to consider
  • Planning permission
  • Costs
  • Off-grid residences
  • Shipping container Air-bnb listings
  • Prefabricated shipping containers for sale
  • Innovative uses of shipping containers
  • Shipping containers for sale
  • Conclusion

Shipping container homes for sale

Image source

What Are Shipping Container Houses?

In the simplest sense, a shipping container house is an old, decommissioned shipping container which is either used on its own to make what is known as a tiny house, or stacked with multiple other containers and converted into a decent sized house.

Whilst some of the re-purposed shipping containers look fairly rugged and exposed as a house, there are people who have worked alongside architects and designed properties you wouldn’t even know were old shipping containers.

A shipping container house can be as complex and luxurious as you can imagine or they can be used as an ultra-cheap off-grid cabin.

Why People Build Shipping Container Homes

There are many advantages to constructing a home from shipping containers, which we’ll look into shortly.

However, one of the main advantages seem to be the ease of construction – with a solid plan in place, a set of re-purposed shipping containers can be built into a fully functional house in a fraction of the time that a brick and mortar house would be completed.

So, what are some other advantages that draw people into building shipping container homes?

  • Eco-friendly – Each steel shipping container saves over 2,000kg of steel from being scrapped
  • Modular & customizable – It is simple to add and fix many containers together. They are also like a “blank canvas” and thus allow for all of the latest eco energy systems to be included in the design.
  • Speed of construction – Compared to brick and mortar houses, shipping containers can be quickly fitted together to construct the shell of a building. This is advantageous if a temporary building is required in an emergency.
  • Strength – The containers are able to be stacked on top of one another and still provide structural stability.
  • Cost – Compared to brick and mortar houses, shipping containers can greatly reduce the overall build cost of a new building.
  • Pre-fabricated – Many companies offer pre-fabricated homes with lead times of around 12 weeks – a much shorter time than building a brick and mortar house from scratch.
  • Ease of transport -Since the containers are designed to be transported on lorries and ships, transporting a container is a fairly simple process.
  • Availability – There are thousands of shipping containers which are available for sale all over the world.

Points to Consider

Considering the number of advantages which there are to constructing a shipping container house, these do not come without disadvantages.

There are a number of downsides, which should not go unnoticed;

  • Heat conductivity – Steel has high heat conductivity, meaning that you’ll need to sufficiently seal and insulate the interior, otherwise you’ll encounter high humidity and condensation.

  • Reshaping – The side walls and roof play a part in the overall strength of the container. If you plan on cutting through a side wall, you’ll need to construct additional structural support around the opening.

  • “Fuzzy” planning permission laws in the UK – Many people believe that shipping containers are classed as a temporary structure and thus don’t require planning permission (see more below)

  • Structural issues – Many shipping containers are decommissioned from use due to structural damage and corrosion. These containers should be avoided for use in a building as they’ll require extra structural support.

  • Harmful treatment and spillages– Shipping containers are treated with harmful chemicals so as to pass various quarantine requirements. The container may also have been used to transport toxic chemicals and may have encountered a spillage – thorough cleaning is vital if used in the construction of a house.

Shipping Container House Planning Permission UK

There seems to be some confusion surrounding the planning permission of shipping container homes in the UK. Under section 55 of the Town and Country planning act of 1990, a development is defined as, “The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or operations in, on, over or under land”.

There are many people who believe that shipping container homes do not constitute a development, but merely as a temporary residence, such as a caravan.

For example, a landowner was sent an enforcement notice due to having a shipping container sitting in one of his fields, without planning consent, and was ordered to remove it. However, it was not fixed to the ground or connected to any utilities, although it had not been moved for over 18 months.

If you’re thinking of constructing a building from multiple containers, it won’t be considered a temporary building, and thus you’ll be required to apply for planning permission.

If however you are simply using a shipping container as a storage unit, such as a garden shed, it is unlikely you’ll require planning permission.

Shipping Container Cost Considerations

While the cost of constructing a house from used shipping containers is fairly low compared to traditional brick and mortar, things can start getting costly if you begin removing sections of the containers, such as the corrugated walls;

The walls actually play an important part in the overall structure of the container, and without them the strength would be severely compromised.

Due to this, those who endeavor to cut through the steel walls will end up spending large amounts on reinforcement structures within the container.

Another consideration you should note is that joining the steel containers requires a high level of metalworking skill – a good metalworker may come at a premium cost compared to brick builders, unless you yourself are skilled in metalwork, which will greatly reduce your build cost.

Completely Off-Grid Residences

Many people have unique design ideas for constructing shipping container buildings, such as the one below;

[image Source – Moercar container home design]

However, I find the idea of completely off-grid cabins a perfect use for shipping container houses. For one, they can be pre-fabricated off-site, meaning that all you’ll need to build is the foundations and transport the house to the site.

Another reason they seem appealing is that they are ultimately a large piece of up-cycled steel and hence could be better for the environment than being melted down under extremely high temperatures.

Due to the outer steel shell, using the containers to construct a building is like using real life Lego – whatever design you can conceive can be put into work.

Further to the above, as you’ll be saving money on the cost of construction compared to building a brick and mortar house, this leaves you with surplus funds which could then be spent on incorporating all of the latest green energy systems into the design – such as solar panels, heat recovery systems, air-source heat pumps and water recovery systems.

You could in theory have a house that has everything a “normal house” has, except you won’t be connected to mains electricity.

[Image Source]

Shipping Container Accomodation On AirBnb

If you’re skeptical about whether you’ll like living in a converted shipping container house, there are various listings on Airbnb in which you could take a weekend break to test the waters.

Here is a few which we found in the UK;

The shipping container, Springwell

Converted shipping container nestled in a private meadow

Unique container let – Stellar View

Prefabricated Shipping Container Homes For Sale

If you are looking at living in a shipping container home, rather than constructing your own from scratch, there is another option – purchasing a pre-fabricated shipping container home from a construction company that specializes in the area.

There is no tie-in for keeping your prefabricated container house in one location – the majority of developers that specialize in container housing design the layout so that they are able to be transported to various locations.

Mac Container Housing, based in the UK, have an established track record of building shipping container homes. Prices start from just £12,995 for a studio flat! Mac delivers your tailor-made home within 12 weeks and they include a 10 year structural warranty.

[image Source. MAC Container Housing]

Other Innovative Shipping Container Builds

Shipping containers are not only limited to use as residential buildings. There are many applications which shipping containers are suitable for. Below is a list of projects that up-cycled containers have been used in;

Wenckehof Student accommodation – Amsterdam.

The accommodation compromises around 1000 recycled shipping containers. Initially it was an experimental project, however due to the success of the project, the local authorities granted permission for the structure to remain permanent. Search for more property for sale in Amsterdam.

[image source – The Guardian]

Cargo 1 and Cargo 2 – Bristol.

Located in Wapping Wharf, Cargo 1 and 2 compromise of a selection of restaurants, cafes and shops – all of which are built from reused shipping containers.

[image source – WappingWharf]

Spark:York – York.

Similar to Cargo 1 and 2, Spark:York is a urban development which has been constructed from shipping containers. Here, you’ll find various independent businesses, as well as places to eat and drink. There are also live events which take place at Spark:York.

[Image source – Spark:York]

Shipping Containers For Sale

There are various sites online which offer new or used shipping containers for sale. You’ll also find various companies which will prefabricate a container house to your own unique specifications.

If you have a shipping container house for sale, or are in the process of constructing one which you’ll be selling, sign up with us for free and use our 100% free property advertising service.


Due to their low cost and shorter construction timescales compared with conventional building techniques, shipping container housing could solve the ever increasing housing demand within the UK.

Various companies and organizations have successfully installed shipping container buildings and are in still in use today. Do you think that there is a future market for these life sized Lego brick houses? If so, should there be more of a push to construct many more low cost housing developments from the containers?

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