In recent years, people have come to appreciate the creativity and beauty of homes built from shipping containers. Whether you want something portable or a multi-story structure, you can convert a shipping container into a convenient home.

However, the decision to repurpose a shipping container into a home is one thing. Constructing the shipping container home is another thing entirely. It’s an exciting and rewarding experience on the one hand, but also comes with its challenges on the other.

In this article, you will learn how to convert a shipping container into a mini house. But before that, there are a few things you must know before building a shipping container home.


Table of Contents

Things to Consider Before Building a Container Home

Every shipping container home you see out there is much like any other construction project. There’s more to the process than just setting up the structure. Even before researching and budgeting for the project, there are a whole lot of other preparations to be done. So, before you decide to convert a shipping container into a mini home, you need to consider the following:

1. What Does Your Local Planning & Building Regulation Say?

It would be best if you inquired about your local laws and building code restrictions before building a container home. Do your research. You wouldn’t want to be slapped with a hefty fine by the authorities for non-compliance. Planning and property zoning laws differ with location, especially for shipping container buildings. So, confirm from your local planning authority, and find out what permits you need to obtain.  

2. Confirm the Integrity of the Container before you Purchase

The idea here is to make sure you see the container before you buy it. Don’t just take the seller or company’s words for it. Sometimes, the container is faraway where you can’t do a physical inspection, and might have damaging rusts or unpleasant dents. Fixing up those dents will always attract extra costs. So, it’s smart to request a detailed description of the container with enough pictures from multiple angles. Better still, buy a shipping container from a reputable company. For example, Amazon, the $430 billion company sells neat shipping containers.

3. Plan Ahead!

Planning before you build a shipping container home is essential. If you must convert a shipping container into a mini home, you must be prepared. How do you want to execute the project? Would you prefer doing it yourself or getting a contractor to handle the project?

The project will cost you money. To repurpose a shipping container into a home, you must consider welding, insulating, interior decoration, and exterior finishing. So, work with a budget, and make plans for any extra expenses.

Remember to take note of the rain, wind, and the changing weather conditions too. Choose the best insulator for the interior. Look up the wind rating of your region. Does your locality experience flood when it rains? All these will guide you in your design and pre-construction plans even before you build a container home.


How to Build a Shipping Container Home in 6 Steps

convert shipping container into home

1. Design Your Dream Mini House

The first step to convert a shipping container into a mini home is design. Here, you consider factors like the number of rooms, space per room, and how each room connects. 

You also consider the placement of each room, including the kitchen and bathroom, as well as windows and doors. The dimension of the container will be your guide here. Plus, you can always surf the internet to gather some cool design inspiration. Again, if you can’t do it yourself, then consult an engineer.

convert shipping container into home

2. Prepare the Land Space

Clear and level the land. Prepare the foundation. Most times, the practice is to build a shipping container home on an elevated platform. If that is your case, then prepare the platform. You have the option of using a concrete slab, concrete piers, steel plates, or concrete strips. Also, don’t forget to have made the land space accessible for your container to be delivered to you.

3. Get Your Shipping Container Delivered to You

Whether you’re buying a new or used shipping container, the next step is to have it delivered to you. Perhaps, contact a crane or forklift company to help you with moving the container. If you’re doing the moving yourself, then get your equipment ready. Also, be sure that the equipment you’re getting can handle the weight of the container. After getting the container in place, wash it, and fasten it to the platform you’ve prepared. You can do this by welding or hooking the shipping container into place. 

4. Start Cutting & Connecting

According to your design dimension, start cutting the necessary openings to convert the shipping container into a home. Doors, windows, walls, and gaps. If you need more than one container for the home you’re constructing, start connecting the containers according to your design. You could weld, bolt, or clamp the connections. Also, consider internal and external reinforcements for a more solid structure. 

convert shipping container into home

5. Flooring, Framing, Insulation, and Electric Works

Get rid of the container flooring chemicals and decide on how you want your mini home flooring. You could either remove the flooring entirely or just add a subfloor. Proceed to make the internal framework to insulate and cover the interior walls. Finally, wire your mini home. Remember, you can always get an expert to do the wiring for you.

6. Decorate

You’re almost done at this point. What’s left is to put the finishing touches on your home. Decorate and add the peripherals to bring the interior and exterior to life. Feel free to explore your creativity too. Make it fun!

There are so many cool interior design ideas for tiny homes. Read the 25 Tiny Home Interior Design Tips to Decorate Small Spaces article to learn more.


Want to see a shipping container home from scratch? You’ll never guess what this couple did…

Tips to Build a Container Home

As we can see from the couple over at Life Uncontained, it’s quite a taxing journey to convert shipping containers into homes. That’s why just below are a few more container home building tips to help you convert a shipping container into a tiny home:

  1. Avoid cutting the container too much. Stick with simplicity, and work with a design that doesn’t complicate your construction. 
  2. Watch your expenses closely. Cutting down on excessive welding is one of the DIY container home tips that saves cost.
  3. Make plans for electrical and plumbing work ahead. Have an idea of how your plumbing and wire lines will run. You could include it in your design. This makes the work neat and efficient.
  4. Where you find it too challenging to convert a shipping container to a mini house, find a contractor to help out. Sometimes, this approach is a bit more cost-efficient.


Converting A Shipping Container Home Into A Work Space Or Business

Converting a shipping container home into a workspace is not a do-it-yourself project anyone can embark on.  Shipping containers are known to be modern, classy, and durable. It is used today for various purposes ranging from home, office, warehouse, shops, etc.

Converting a shipping container home into an office requires specialists to draw out plans and successfully carry out your project. The cost of carrying out the project depends on the number of units and structure and the fixtures to be included like electrical sockets, plumbing works, etc.

Below are what to consider when you are planning to make an office out of your shipping container;

  • Find the right size for your shipping container office by considering the type of your business, the number of people working in the space, the number of clients or customers that will come into the office, and the need for a waiting area meeting space.
  • Choose an inviting outlook for your container by considering the best color, the need to implement your logo, and external accessories.
  • Draw a plan for the interior design; this is the fun part of it all. The interior of an office should carry a warm, homely, and accommodating look that reflects your brand’s purpose.
  • Once these are in place, kick start your project and bring it to life.



So, that’s just about all you need to know about how to convert a shipping container into a mini home. Remember to weigh the pros and cons before building a container home. Homes made with shipping containers are modular, eco-friendly, low cost, and durable to an extent. However, there’s also a flip side. Al the same, it boils down to planning and finding the perfect container to convert.


Enjoy this Article? You May Also Like: