Shipping Container Home Prices: How Much Do Container Homes Cost To Build?
Thinking about building your own shipping container home? Well you’re in the right place to get the answers. Our blog “The Gateway Gazette” focuses exclusively on shipping container solutions. But one thing is curiously missing from many shipping container websites – and that’s shipping container prices when it comes to any type of home building project.
And there is a reason for that – it’s hard to put a price on many shipping container projects due to a wide range of variables! Manufacturers of prefabricated shipping container homes sell them for anywhere from $20,000 – $265,000 plus, depending on layout, fittings and other variables. As with any building project, the sky’s the limit.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of estimating shipping container costs for a build, it’s important to note that Gateway Containers does not build shipping container homes but we will gladly advise and supply quality shipping containers for your build. In addition, we also provide a full modification service which you can learn more about on our shipping container modifications page.
This guide is by no means something that should be relied on for accurate costing. As with any project, almost anything can result in a project increasing (or decreasing) in costs, such as a higher-end bathroom, engineering and architect fees, compliance costs when dealing with local councils or problems with the construction site.
Let’s assume you already own the land you are building on, and are able to do your own construction work. With that in mind, here are some basic costs.
Estimating the Costs of a Shipping Container Build – What You’ll Need to Consider:
There will always be articles online about people who have built shipping container homes for just a few thousand dollars on top of the initial costs of purchasing a used shipping container (which might sell for anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000+ depending on quality and location).
First the bad news – unless you are doing all of the work yourself, are not concerned about quality or appearance, and are using 100% free or recycled parts – a few thousand dollars is an unrealistic price to pay for the average person. The conversion probably won’t be legal or meet building codes either.
Here are some of the costs you’ll need to consider.
Compliance costs, fees and taxes from local government
As this varies from place to place, it’s impossible to predict what these might be. In rural areas, they may be non-existent, while in urban areas they will likely run into the thousands.
Unless you plan on building a completely off-grid shipping container home, you are going to want to consider connecting electricity, water supply, sewerage, gas and a phone line or internet connection.
Once again costs will depend on location and pre-existing infrastructure. It might be as simple as connecting to the services in your street, or as complex as building an expensive substation to provide electricity. Make sure you do your research and accurately cost this out to prevent any surprises.
In QLD you can find more information on connecting water and sewage on your local council’s website.
Architect and engineer costs
This is something you don’t want to cut corners on. Make sure you have a qualified engineer and architect go over your container house plans with you. Sure there are plenty of plans available for free online, but how do you know that the person who created them actually knows what they are doing and that they are structurally sound?
Find someone who is qualified and registered locally who understands local building codes (and environmental conditions) who can ensure that your shipping container plans are suitable for your needs.
All types of shipping containers are exceptionally strong, but once you cut them they will need to be reinforced to retain their structural integrity. The engineer will ensure this is done right so that you don’t run into problems in the future.
Second hand shipping containers
The number of shipping container units required for your build will depend on the size of the shipping container home you wish to build. This is why it is important to consider all of the additional features you might require.
To ensure you have an accurate price or the most affordable option for your budget, you need to consider the largest impact – size. The average shipping container home you will see pictured online generally consists of two or more 20 ft to 40 ft second hand shipping containers that are in good condition. A 20 ft container provides a floor space of 146 sq ft (13.86m2) while a 40ft container extends that to 320 sq ft (29.724m2).
You don’t need to buy new, used doesn’t necessarily mean poor condition or that it isn’t water tight. Plus, second hand shipping containers are an affordable option when it comes to construction materials. They can also leave you some budget for advanced features, like additional doors.
If you are going to buy a used shipping container, then this video will walk you through some of the considerations prior to purchase. The team at Gateway container sales will be able to discuss the specifics of the quality in more detail of any used container that you purchase.
Once you have your containers, you are going to want to modify them to make them habitable. This means cutting holes for doors and windows and reinforcing these areas. If you are an experienced builder, this is an area that you might be able to save money on by doing it yourself, otherwise – it’s probably best to have these modifications done by the people you are purchasing your containers from to ensure that they are done to a professional standard.
While this will be an additional cost, here at Gateway Container Sales we always strive to ensure our customers have full transparency and control over the entire modification process. We offer a range of options when it comes to modifications, and can give an instant quote on the average price of shipping container modifications in most cases.
Our efficiency comes from helping hundreds of customers complete a wide range of shipping container modifications – you could say we’ve seen it all! Most importantly, we can ensure that all modifications are up to standard.
Interior walls and insulation
A home constructed from two to three containers is going to require anywhere from $500 – $1,000 worth of batting style insulation.
You will also need to add wood framing and interior walls to your shipping container home before plastering and painting. Budget anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000, plus the cost of labour, to install interior walls and insulation.
Once again, by the time it’s all done – it could work out far more cost-effective to have the professionals do it during the container modification stage.
Electrical fitout and plumbing
This will depend on the size of your shipping container house, how complicated your kitchen and bathrooms are, whether it is being cabled for IT equipment or any other variable.
Gateway has years of experience modifying containers for both residential and commercial uses. We can install power points, lighting fixtures and air conditioning on-site.
Kitchen and bathrooms
Again, this cost is a huge variable. Are you going to use a simple flat pack kitchen and bathroom from a company such as Ikea, a second hand kitchen or something more extravagant?
These tend to be the two most expensive rooms in any home with kitchens costing around $7,000 – $20,000 and bathrooms costing around $4,000 – $10,000 depending on amenities.
Windows and doors
Depending on the type of project you are embarking on, you will need to decide on the how, what and where of your windows and doors.
Do you need a double door along the length of the container for ease of access? Do you need windows all around for ventilation and to let in sunshine?
Consider how many windows and doors you need, what style you want them to be, and where you are going to install them.
How much does a shipping container home cost?
Prices fluctuate depending on availability, but you’ll want to budget $2,000 to $5,000+ per container and get second hand shipping containers in the best condition you can find. Depending on the size of your container, and taking into account the cost of materials, you can be looking at as little as $20,000 to as much as $110,000 (but again the sky’s the limit).
When planning a shipping container building it’s important to do all the budgeting before you start your project. Take into account every single aspect of the job and then add in a contingency for any unforeseen expenses. Do this, and you’ll have an amazing shipping container home, without any surprises – one that meets and exceeds all of your requirements.
Are you ready to plan your shipping container home?
We can give you accurate pricing across a wide range of containers and point you in the direction of qualified tradespeople, architects or engineers who can build you an amazing container home.
Are you ready to start planning your own shipping container home? Give our friendly team of experts a call at Gateway Container Sales to discuss your dream build. We’ll help you out to decide exactly how many standard containers you’ll need, what sizes to use and the sort of modifications that you might want.