Building a Shipping Container Home? 8 Things You Need to Know
Sep 2019

Building a Shipping Container Home? 8 Things You Need to Know

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With the overall average price of a home in the GTA being over $800k, it’s no wonder people are looking for alternative housing options. That’s where shipping containers come in. Currently, it’s becoming popular to convert shipping containers into homes thanks to their availability and affordability.

Thinking of making a shipping container your new home? Before jumping right in, there are a few things to consider, as well as some benefits to note. Buying a home, whether a shipping container or a traditional home, is a big decision and should be researched well in advance.

Benefits of a Shipping Container Home


Shipping container homes have a lot of benefits to offer. The first and foremost would be the price. While houses in Canada can average upwards of $1 million, shipping containers can be bought for about a tenth, or even less, than that. If you want a place to call your own but can’t afford a house just yet, a shipping container home may be for you. The container itself is quite affordable; however, as you continue to make container modifications, the price will go up. Yet even after alterations, your shipping container home won’t come close to the average price of a house these days.


Right now, shipping container homes are on-trend. You could even consider purchasing a shipping container home and renting it for additional income.? It’s more affordable than buying a whole house and renting to several tenants at once.

Alternatively, this could be your first home. After living there for some time and saving up, you could buy your forever home and keep this one to rent out or use it as a vacation home. Even if you’re not completely sold on the whole “shipping container home,” trend, it might be a wise investment to make or that first stepping stone to owning a house.

Though shipping containers are on-trend and affordable, there’s definitely a lot to know before you decide to purchase one and turn it into your new home. Here are eight of the most important thing you need to know before building a shipping container home:

  1. New or used?

    One of the first things to think of when considering a shipping container home is whether to buy a new shipping container or to repurpose a used one. Typically, the reason for getting a used shipping container is for environmental reasons. These include using less cement and concrete during construction and keeping them from piling up and taking up precious green space in cities.

    However, if the environmental impact isn’t huge to you and you’re simply doing it for budget purposes, buying a new one is definitely worth it. A used one, as seen below, will need a lot of work done before you can even start your container modifications.

  2. Clean Before Use

    If you ultimately decide to go with a used shipping container, there are a few things to do before you can live in it, let alone start construction. The first thing that will need to be done is to have the whole unit sandblasted. Not only that, all floors need to be replaced, and any cuts or openings must be taken care of. Shipping containers were meant for a life at sea and are filled with very strong, harmful chemicals. Finally, you’ll have to use heavy machinery to move your shipping container to the land you’re planning to live on.

    It’s important after considering all this just how eco-friendly buying a used shipping container for a home really is. You’re not simply reusing something; you have a lot of work to do before making it into a livable space. However, if it’s for cost reasons, then a shipping container is definitely a good option to consider. Just keep in mind if you are going down the eco-friendly route, that you will need to consider the work and fossil emissions that come with container modifications.

  3. Insulation

    Shipping containers don’t come with insulation, meaning they’ll be extremely hot in the summer and freezing in the winters. If you’ll be living in a place with even slight weather changes, insulation is a must.

    There are many different options insulation options, from spray to blanket to even sheep’s wool. However, to find out what insulation is best for your home, you should discuss the various options with your contractor.

  4. Get a Good Contractor

    When renovating your shipping container, you’ll need to make sure you have a good contractor. Preferably, one who can be there with you from the beginning until the end of the renovation, rather than hiring several contractors for several different things.

    Shipping container homes are only now becoming a trend and are still quite new. This means the contractors who specialize in container modifications for your new home are few and far between, so it’s essential that you find the right contractor for your modifications

  5. Look into Zoning Laws

    Before you buy a shipping container home and make all the modifications to call it home, ensure that you’ve looked into zoning laws. Imagine spending all that money and time to find out you can’t even live in the city you want to! So before getting your heart set on a shipping container home, make sure you research the zoning laws in your city.

  6. Consider the Climate

    Is it super rainy? Are you okay with that echo of “drip, drip drip,” throughout the days and nights? These are some things to keep in mind when considering making a shipping container your home.

    If where you live is prone to hurricanes or very strong winds, this can be a hazard. You’ll have to ensure your home is securely fastened to the ground and add extra anchors. Shipping containers were made to last through the sea, not the wind.

  7. Plumbing

    When you’re designing what your future shipping container home will look like, it’s good to have an idea about where you want the plumbing and electrical to go. Before the interior design is completed, ensure that your contractor has made the necessary openings for plumbing and electrical lines. The worst thing would be making wrong cuts and then having to change your design or fill the holes, which are both costly.

  8. Think Before You Cut

    Before you make a huge cut out for a door or window, keep in mind that you can’t undo it. When it comes to designing your shipping container home, it’s better to be overprepared. With such a small space, every cut you make also adds more complications to the process.

    Not only that, cutting into a shipping container is expensive. When researching homes, you’ll find that the houses built on the tightest budgets have the least amount of cuts in them. Not only that, if you make a cut and realize you no longer want it, it’s very expensive to go back and fill the hole. Obviously, you’ll need a door and windows, but if you’re on a budget, it’s better to save on this part of the construction.


In conclusion, a shipping container home comes with many benefits. However, before jumping the gun, there’s a lot of things to consider. These range from plumbing, insulation, zoning laws, and more. With their affordability and all the container modifications that can be made, owning one as a house can be a good option for those on a budget.

If you’re thinking of making a shipping container your home and would like more information, call Sigma Containers at 855-228-1993 or visit our website.

1 Comment

  • Posted on 09-05-2022 by Freddy Ellis

    Container homes are really nice and I live in one myself. The thing is living in one may seem great now, but few years down the line, you may find that the novelty wears off. So before you put the money down into building one, you really need to be 100% sure you’re gonna be pleased with your potential living situation. Sure, a container home is a smart, eco-friendly alternative to living in a traditional home, after a while however, you may find yourself hankering for the comforts of the latter. If you’re 100% set on it, then awesome. Don’t forget to take into account your space requirements before commencing with construction. If you have a large family, or you’re simply interested in having a lot of individual rooms, you’ll likely need multiple shipping containers, which means a ton more work and customization compared to a house made out of a single cargo container. They are many other considerations of course. As for me personally, I tremendously enjoy living in a container home. In general, container homes are inexpensive, efficient, and their environmentally friendly structures make for a truly unique place of residence. Still, like very much all major projects, it’s absolutely vital to anticipate every single snag that could get in your way. So be sure to plan ahead to ensure that your shipping container home project gets done right. The reference materials presented here will help you plan ahead, figure out the snags, and get pretty much everything in your potential project done properly.