The Truth about Container Homes


There’s a growing trend on the internet with posts showcasing custom-built shipping container homes. You’ve no doubt seen the headline: “A shipping container costs $2,000- what these couples did with them is beyond epic!” These posts go on to feature pictures of amazing homes built from containers. Truly, they are amazing. And we applaud them. But the thing is that even though a used container might cost $2,000- there are certain things that must happen to make the container inhabitable. Adhering to protocol, codes, regulations, and engineering will affect the price.

We’ve spent the last seven years honing the art of creating amazing container structures for pop-up retail, food service, and experiential marketing tours that are as safe as they are cool. Here are four things to consider before you go out and buy a shipping container to build your next house.


We’ve had the privilege of doing some amazing work for global clients. And sure, while some of our ideas start off on the back of a napkin, our concepts are put through rigorous tests before ever seeing the light of day. Our team-approach design means that we look at each project from a range of disciplines. Traffic flow, electrical needs, and structural reinforcement are just a a few of the variables we take into consideration before our design team gets to work on creating the coolest (and safest) shipping container structures possible.


The second a welding torch meets a shipping container, the integrity of the structure dissolves. Shipping containers are not meant to house humans; rather boxes of sneakers and other items for transport. Yes, shipping containers are tough. Yes, they’re durable. And yes, they can be ‘stacked.’ But they were never intended for human habitation. That’s not to say you shouldn’t modify a shipping container to become your home. It just means that structural integrity needs to be a main consideration point for your general contractor and your all-in cost might be higher than you originally thought. We design and build our creations to the highest building code in the US, and our projects are “wet” stamped by engineers before any human enters them. Do not cut a few windows and a door in a container and expect it to be a comfortable or safe living environment. Talk to someone with experience using containers as home-building material, and take their advice.

Quality Fabrication

As with most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. And too often, the right way costs more than the wrong way. Can you buy a $2,000 used shipping container and cut it up with a blow torch? Absolutely. However, if you intend to spend any time in the structure we recommend following the correct protocols. That means doing things safely. Here at Boxman Studios we have not only developed best practices based on proprietary techniques, but our professional fabricators are skilled in crafting shipping container structures that are architecturally sound and as safe as possible for human beings.

Permits and Codes

So you’ve built your container home and you’re ready to move in. But wait-have you built it to code? Did you pull the proper permits? Did you utilize proven fabrication techniques? Did you check with your insurance company to guarantee that it’s even insurable? These are important questions to ask before you invest your time and money into a shipping container dream home.

Do you think that all the cool shipping container houses you see on the internet have gone through these rigors? Maybe. But probably not.

If you’re interested in the basics of building with shipping containers, download our eBook below!