The Rise of Container Homes

In ports across the globe, abandoned freight containers are a common sight. These shipping units are abandoned for a number of reasons, such as the cargo being damaged and unwanted to the shipper not being able to afford freight charges.

Over the last couple of years, certain groups have taken on the responsibility of salvaging these shipping containers and finding new uses for them. With the impressive structural integrity of these units, there are all kinds of great possibilities open for them.

Shipping Containers as Affordable Housing Solutions

Abandoned shipping containers are a big business nowadays. They are sold or auctioned off to creative companies and individuals who have ingenious projects in mind.

One of the most common and practical projects involving shipping containers is their use in housing. Many find that a shipping container home is a wonderful alternative to a prefab one. It is quite secure and strong, plus, it is water- and vermin-proof.

In addition, shipping containers also fare better when transported from one location to another. It is worth noting as well that shipping containers offer the following advantages:

  • They can withstand up to 230 km/hr winds – so they can definitely handle a lot of shaking.
  • They are weather resistant – no wonder a lot of research facilities in Antarctica are made of shipping containers.
  • They do not rot or burn.
  • They can bear great weight. The post of each corner of the container can hold the weight of multiple other containers. Plus, the corrugated sides and doors further reinforce the stability of the unit.

With all of these characteristics, shipping containers are a truly great solution for affordable yet durable housing.

Creating a Container Home

Container home communities around the world are growing fast. This is largely due to the fact that shipping containers are already built structures and not a lot of customizations are required to make them habitable.

But while shipping containers do not demand as much meticulous work to turn them into homes as building a typical house does, it can be quite a challenge to place them where they need to be. For this, different kinds of heavy equipment, such as cranes, are used.
Creating a Container Home

Everything from small tower cranes to high-performance hydraulic Potain IGO 50 cranes are necessary to position these containers properly, especially if they will be stacked high.

Surprisingly, assembling the shipping containers using cranes to “form” the house usually takes just one day. It is definitely way faster than assembling a wood-frame house, which can take months.

Typically, what happens when building a multi-level container home is that every container is customized according to its unique purpose.

Windows, doors and indoor stairs are added to them as well as typical home features like kitchen sinks, counters, and bathroom fixtures. When all of these have been integrated, they are stacked and provided with support according to the design intent.

You Are Only Limited by Your Imagination

Container homes are no longer just big blocks of structure that are eight feet wide. Innovative builders are coming up with new ways to create indoor spaces with shipping containers that are wider and also transformable.

A fast-growing trend for shipping container homes is the origami design wherein walls and doors open and close to create a new form for the structure. It is perfect for people who prefer tiny home living.

Essentially, if you have a specific function or design in mind, builders explore techniques and technologies to make it work. So, if you want to “build” a dream shipping container home, you truly are only limited by your imagination.

You can keep it looking raw and industrial, or give it a completely new look that most people will not even know the house was once just a humble shipping container. You can also combine a wide variety of materials to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and make it mobile.

Creative Container Homes

Growth in Demand

With housing being too expensive in most places, more and more architects and building companies are capitalizing on the large availability and cost-effectiveness of shipping containers. For a much smaller cost, they can create comfortable and secure homes that are accessible to low-income folks.

Shipping container homes make perfect sense as affordable housing because, in most cities, building something from scratch or even renovating an old structure can cost significantly more. During these economically troubling times, the affordability of creating a shipping container home or renting one certainly drives up the demand.

At the same time, you cannot overlook the fact that such homes are trendy. Scaled down creative living is quite popular for those who have adopted a green lifestyle as well as minimalists.

Lastly, thanks also to the increased access to better quality and affordable crane hire, giving a second life to a once-discarded object and turning it into a durable home has become a safer, easier and more efficient project.


Hermann Buchberger is the Founder and CEO of Active Crane Hire (ACH). He’s taken the company from start-up to Industry Leader offering the largest fleet of construction cranes in Australia. ACH launched a new type of crane previously unheard of in the Australian market: electric tower cranes.

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