The Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

Imagine this: the end of the world is looming over us. What are you gonna do to escape it?

Running away to the woods without shelter won’t save you, but going off the grid can. And one of the most popular ones is a shipping container home.

Curious how this can serve as your fortress when the apocalypse is upon us?

Here’s everything you need to know about using shipping container homes for when SHTF:

What Are Container Homes?

You’ve probably seen those steel shipping containers carrying goods everywhere on trains, trucks, and ships. If it ain’t apparent yet, those giant blocks make up container homes.

A shipping container home isn’t your average dwelling place; it also makes a pretty good emergency  shelter when SHTF. Since shipping containers are primarily made of steel, their durable and robust material can hold out against the strongest storms and unexpected threats.

This inherent strength made them so popular as a building material that shipping container architecture—a form of architecture using steel intermodal containers—has become a thing among many folks.

Shipping containers aren’t only used to build homes, either. Structures like office spaces, recording studios, and even garages take advantage of these steel boxes for their wide availability and affordability.

There are fourteen million out-of-service shipping containers worldwide, so why the heck not, right? Besides the fun of playing with these life-sized Legos, using shipping containers is a green way of saving money on construction and maintenance. That’s a win for preppers who want every penny accounted for in building their safe house.

Pros of Shipping Container Homes

The one thing a survival shelter should do is ensure your safety. Shipping container homes have their advantages, and it’s up to you to decide if they’re the right choice for you. Consider these facts before you go full-on prepper with storage containers:

Many shipping container homes are prefabricated

Why are modular or prefab homes number one on the list? Simple: construction time will be cut short. The factory takes care of building code inspections. You’ll have a fun pre-built structure to work with for your DIY off-grid home.

Shipping containers usually come in three standard sizes, such as:

  1. 10-foot containers
  2. 20-foot containers
  3. 40-foot containers

20 ft. and 40 ft. containers are the most common for homes, while 10 ft. containers are ideal for small areas and tight corners. If you want a much bigger space to customize, you can always pile them on top of each other. 

There’s no sweat in transportation

Moving around storage containers is as easy as finding one. An existing system is in place for transporting these bad boys to your desired location.

Shipping containers are typically transported to your build site using a semi-truck or large flatbed trailer pulled by a huge passenger truck. The cost of delivery will range from super expensive to relatively affordable depending on the following:

  • Distance
  • Container sizes
  • Number of containers being delivered
  • Number of transportation companies in your area

They’re eco-friendly

A lot of folks view shipping container homes as environmentally friendly for their sustainable properties. Upcycling used storage containers means you’re conserving metal resources.

Transforming shipping containers into homes is basically a sustainable solution since thousands of these metal boxes are left empty in US ports each year and are too expensive to ship back empty.

Durability ain’t a problem

Shipping containers are designed to survive the harsh travels of land and sea while filled with tens of thousands of products. Not to mention, these heavyweight blocks are stacked on top of each other.

It’s pretty safe to say that shipping containers are as strong as the Man of Steel himself—as every emergency shelter should be.

Some shipping containers are also made from aluminum and fiber-reinforced polymer or a combination of both. You can check the video above to see how shipping containers are created.

They’ve got a longer lifespan

Shipping companies take containers out of the rotation after 10 to 12 years, but when you repurpose them into homes, container houses can easily last over 50 years with proper maintenance. Not too shabby for an off-grid home, eh?

They’re cost-effective

A shipping container home is the type of off-grid home you can build for a low price while still serving its purpose when SHTF. Shipping containers cost only a few thousand dollars and maybe slightly more depending on the quality and location.

We’d say they’re 30 percent cheaper than a traditional house of the same size built from the ground up.

They’re safe and secure

Off-grid homes can invite possible break-ins, but shipping container homes are made from solid steel, making infiltration almost impossible.

They’re easy to resell

Folks who wish to resell their shipping container homes may easily do so. Well-maintained ones can retain their resale value and be resold fast since it’s possible to ship them anywhere.

Cons of Shipping Container Homes

a bunch of shipping container homes

As with any survival shelter, shipping container homes come with downsides. It all depends on the threats you want to keep at bay. Read on so you can make an informed decision:

A good foundation is required

Before you plant your shipping container home on-site, a strong foundation must already be established to secure it to the ground. A foundation may cost you a few more bucks, but a solid, well-built one will ensure the weight is appropriately distributed and that your shelter will stand securely.

Temperature control

Steel absorbs and transmits heat and cold well. Shipping containers are made from this same material, so this is where controlling the temperature inside a container home can be a pain in the butt.

Your only solution is installing the correct type of insulation, which can downsize your already limited living space. But you have to make it work if you want a livable house.

Shipping containers may contain harmful chemicals

Since these large steel boxes were initially used for shipping, chances are they might have carried hazardous industrial materials and toxic chemicals.

Before you put your money into shipping containers, inspect them carefully to confirm they’re safe for home construction.

Rust build-up

Shipping containers are created out of metal. It’s a no-brainer that this material rusts over time, especially when exposed to saltwater or humid and wet climates.

To protect your container home from rust and corrosion, keep your place clean and dry because water is enemy number one.

Not suitable for underground use

It might have crossed your mind to build an underground home using a shipping container, but a large amount of force exerted horizontally by the soil into the steel box would cause some structural issues.

Underground living may protect you from many threats, but using shipping containers as underground homes is a busted myth.

On-site construction can be a challenge

Shipping containers are massive in size and weight and require heavy machinery and equipment during construction, which could be a problem for off-the-grid locations, or if you want your bug out location to stay under wraps.

Final Thoughts

Living off the grid in a shipping container home ain’t a bad option when you build it right. If you’re looking for an affordable yet sturdy house that will ensure your safety and keep you alive when disaster strikes, then a container home might be the one you’re looking for.

Of course, you must involve proper planning to enjoy a self-sufficient home’s benefits to the fullest! You want to get out of dodge safely, not stay in an off-grid rust bucket.

Are you convinced about building a shipping container home? Let us know in the comments below!

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