The Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

Imagine this: the end of the world is looming in on us. What’re ya gonna do to escape it?

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

Curious how this could serve as your fortress when an apocalypse is upon us?

Here’s everything you need to know about using 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 obvious yet, those giant blocks make up container homes.

Shipping container homes are not just your average dwelling place; they also make a pretty good emergency shelter when SHTF. Since shipping containers are primarily made of steel, their durable and robust material could 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, became a thing among many folks.

Shipping containers are not 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 in the world, so why the heck not, right? Besides the joy of playing with these life-sized Legos, using shipping containers is a green way of saving money in construction and maintenance. 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, and they are:

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

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

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 any of your desired locations.

Shipping containers are typically transported to your build site using a semi-truck or large flatbed trailer pulled by a large passenger truck. The cost of delivery will range from very 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 we’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 what 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 made.

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.

Shipping container homes are the type of off-grid home you can build for a low price while still serving its purpose when SHTF. Shipping container cost is 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 with the same size built from the ground up.

Safe and secure.

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

Easy to resell.

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


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Cons of Shipping Container Homes

As with any survival shelter, shipping container homes come with downsides, too. 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, you must already set a strong foundation in place to secure it to the ground. A foundation may cost you a few bucks more, 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 very well. Shipping containers are made from this same material. And 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 gotta make it work if you wanna have a livable house.

Shipping containers may contain harmful chemicals.

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

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

Rust build-up.

Shipping containers are made out of metal. It’s a no-brainer that this type of 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’ve 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 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 home 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! We wanna 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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