13 Cheap Shipping Container Homes You Can Buy Right Now

Cheap shipping container homes do not have to be unpleasant to look at and live in. Are you looking for inspiration to build and decorate an affordable tiny home that won’t break the bank?

If so, you’ve come to the right place! Whether a studio, 1-bedroom, or 2-bedroom layout, creativity is key when it comes to planning a tiny home layout made out of shipping containers.

There are many benefits to using a steel container as the main structure of your home. This low-cost home buying alternative is much more sustainable, economical, and flexible. And if you buy prefab modules, the whole process can be so much quicker too.

It’s possible to come up with amazing shipping container home plans even if you’re on a budget. Below, we’ll take a look at 12 of the most beautiful but cheap shipping container homes!

13 Cheap Shipping Container Homes You Can Buy Right Now

1. The Taj Malodge by Larry Wade

Bedroom: 2

Size: 640 sq ft

Containers used: 2 (40 ft containers)

Price: $35,000 (land included)

Builder: Larry Wade

Unique features: solar panels, separate kitchen and dining room

cheap shipping container homes
limited budget container houses

For just $35,000, Larry Wade had built a 2-bedroom container tiny house out of two 40-foot shipping containers. What’s most impressive is that this price includes the land itself, which means the cost of building the home is even cheaper.

Instead of concrete slabs, sliding the containers onto concrete piers can be a more affordable alternative. Then, simply level them both and weld using 2×1/8 inch flat steel bars with a stitch pattern. Welding the floors and doors can also be a great way to add more reinforcement.

Inside, this home features two bedrooms, a large living room, a bathroom, and a kitchen and dining area. The interior adopts a more rustic mountain style, which makes it feel even cozier. There are also solar panels on the roof that can power the water heater and electricity!

2. 2-Story Shipping Container Home by Pin-up Houses

Bedroom: 2

Size: 270 sq ft

Containers used: 2 (20 ft containers)

Price: $25,100

Builder: Pin-up Houses

Unique features: two stories, outdoor patio plus private balcony

beautifully designed converted shipping container

This 2-story shipping container home costs just $25,100 but gives you the illusion of space as it sprawls over two levels. Designed by Pin-up Houses, it also offers a large porch on the ground floor and a private balcony above, giving plenty of outdoor spaces for you to enjoy.

Inside, there is an open floor kitchen and living area, as well as a full bathroom. The second floor contains the master bedroom and a smaller, second bedroom, which is furnished with a bunk bed so that the house can sleep more.

It’s perfect for a small family residence or even a couple, and the second bedroom can be transformed into a home office instead. Alternatively, this will make for a gorgeous Airbnb house.

3. Backyard Bedroom by Custom Container Living

Bedroom: 1

Size: 160 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (20 ft containers)

Price: $39,950

Builder: Custom Container Living

Unique features: minimal layout

one shipping container tiny home

Constructed from a single shipping container, this container home is embracing a minimal and efficient layout. The Backyard Bedroom is built from a single 20’ container and designed for both temporary and permanent housing. It’s great as an Airbnb rental, guest suite, or even as a shipping container office!

The interior features a bedroom, bathroom with shower, and open studio living space. While the original layout does not include a kitchen, it’s possible to install a small kitchenette with the bare necessities to cook a basic meal.

The bathroom itself comes with a walk-in shower, a toilet (opt for a composting toilet to be more eco-friendly), a bathroom vanity, and some additional storage.

When it comes to furnishing and decorating a smaller space such as this, it can be a great idea to choose basic and multi-purpose furniture. Additionally, wood panels for the walls and flooring will also create a sense of luxury.

4. Tin Can Cabin

Bedroom: 1

Size: 480 sq ft

Containers used: 3 (20 ft containers)

Price: $36,000

Unique features: open plan layout, sofa bed in living room

shipping container cabin using recycled shipping containers

The Tin Can Cabin is an affordable shipping container cabin project in Northern Wisconsin. Its builder and owner, Steve, wanted to create a simple yet homey cabin and used three repurposed 20’ metal containers.

The walls between the containers are removed to create an open feeling, which is great for smaller spaces. This home has a kitchen, living room, dining area, bathroom, and a bedroom with bunk beds. Meanwhile, opt for sliding doors to save up even more space.

In terms of heating, using a wood-burning stove can be an easy and economical way to heat up the entire home!

5. Lance’s 20 ft Shipping Container Home

Bedroom: 1

Size: 160 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (20 ft containers)

Price: $10,000

Builder: Lance

Unique features: studio style, rustic interior

one shipping container storage container houses
interior walls with proper insulation

Constructed only from one 20’ upcycled container, Lance’s home is a wonderful example of a country-style tiny house that feels super cozy and clean. It has a studio concept with one open space containing the bed, a functioning kitchenette with a multi-purpose countertop, as well as a bathroom.

Lance’s incredible build has been featured on the popular Youtube channel, Living Big in a Tiny House. The key to making any small space work is to decorate it with care. Here, you can see that the white color scheme is used for a brighter ambiance. 

At the same time, installing medium-toned wood flooring will help establish a sense of warmth and character. This is enhanced by the various other wood accents, including a large branch for added decoration. Of course, ensuring there are enough windows is also a great idea.

6. Studio+ by Luckdrops

Bedroom: 1

Size: 287 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (40 ft containers)

Price: $45,000

Builder: Luckdrops

Unique features: multifunction office and dining area

used containers housing solutions

Luckdrops is known for its innovative container home designs and elegant style, and the Studio+ is proof that you don’t need to spend a ludicrous amount to create a beautiful shipping container home. Its simple architecture reflects the function of a studio: accommodate in a comfortable way.

The long 40’ container allows for a pretty generous layout with the bedroom taking up one end. There is a full bathroom next to it, and the rest of the space is an open area with a lounge, kitchenette, and multifunction office desk and dining table!

We also love how the original design has such a modern and contemporary vibe, which is perfect for any life connoisseurs wanting to downsize. Use vinyl flooring of hardwood for an even more high-end feel.

7. ALT 20’ by Alternative Living Spaces

Bedroom: 1

Size: 355 sq ft

Containers used: 3 (20 ft containers)

Price: $48,000

Builder: Alternative Living Spaces

Unique features: outdoor deck, transformable living/bedroom

floor plan with galley kitchen

Alternative Living Spaces offers the ALT 20’ models as an affordable prefab container home option. The best thing about buying from them is that your house will be fully fitted and ready to be lived in as soon as it arrives! All that’s needed is to place the structure directly on your property.

The house itself features a full bathroom, kitchen, and transformable bedroom and living room. While this is great for an Airbnb rental or in-law suite, it can also make for an excellent resident for one or a couple.

As you can see from the photo, the wall on one side of the container has been completely replaced by a large sliding door with full glass panels. Not only will this ensure that the inside feels large and bright, but it can also be opened to blend the indoors and outdoors.

Furthermore, this connects the interior with a spacious outdoor deck that also serves as an entryway. This is an amazing spot to place a couple of lawn chairs or even bean bags!

8. 355 sq ft Tiny Home by Joseph Dupuis

Bedroom: 1

Size: 355 sq ft

Containers used: 3 (20 ft containers)

Price: $20,000

Builder: Joseph Dupuis

Unique features: outhouse bathroom, off-grid design

eco friendly off grid container home with proper insulation
container homes for up to six people

Constructed in 2012 for a meager $20,000, Joseph Dupuis’ tiny home measures 355 square feet in space. It was made from three 20’ containers with the walls removed to create an open space inside. The house has been insulated with spray foam, while the heating utilizes a wood stove and in-floor radiant system.

Inside, you’ll find a kitchen, dining room, as well as a shower stall. There is even an outhouse containing a composting toilet which also acts as a full bathroom.

Moreover, this is actually designed for off-grid living, which means it includes solar panels! This might be a great example for those of you wanting to try a more sustainable housing alternative and be more in tune with nature.

9. The Model One by Modern Dwellings

Bedroom: 1

Size: 192 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (20 ft containers)

Price: $20,000

Builder: Modern Dwellings

Unique features: rooftop deck, outdoor patio

container house with foam insulation and air conditioning
custom builds with large windows

The Model One has a farmhouse style and is the perfect accommodation for one, or to use as an Airbnb rental home. It’s made out of just one 20’ container and adopts a studio layout, with one main living space including a small kitchenette and bed.

Its main highlight is no doubt the rooftop deck and sprawling staircase access. This can be a fantastic spot to place a couple of chairs and for entertaining guests. Plus, there is a spacious outdoor patio for even more outdoor seating options.

Using reclaimed wood for the interior is ideal if you want to evoke a cozy, cabin-like atmosphere. In the meantime, don’t forget to incorporate sliding doors with floor-to-ceiling glass panels so that you can maximize the flow of air and light. This will help the home seem larger and brighter.

You can even use this studio idea to create your own shipping container apartment!

10. Containers of Hope by Studio Saxe

Bedroom: 2

Size: 1076 sq ft

Containers used: 2 (40 ft containers)

Price: $40,000

Builder: Studio Saxe

Unique features: stilt house, floor-to-ceiling windows

eco friendly two bedroom with sprayfoam insulation
converted shipping container homes that cost less

Who says that cheap shipping container homes have to look shabby and outdated? Containers of Hope utilizes only two 40’ containers and cost roughly $40,000, but is an example of how you can create a lot out of a little.

The architect, Studio Saxe, has spaced the two containers apart and closed the gap with a metal roof for a more unique silhouette. Placing them on top of small concrete pier foundations also produces a stilt-like effect for a grander illusion.

There are a lot of large floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the house that can create an open and more elegant feel. Plus, these glass panels help the interiors blend in with the picturesque landscapes.

In terms of rooms, there are two bedrooms, an open concept living and dining area, and a bathroom. Not to mention the skylight windows that will maximize the natural light inside!

11. The Weekender by Custom Container Living

Bedroom: 1

Size: 160 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (20 ft containers)

Price: $51,900

Builder: Custom Container Living

Unique features: towable, loft bedroom

affordable shipping container home
interior walls and 2nd story of container house

The Weekender is just as its name suggests. It’s extremely portable and easily towable, making it a great tiny home on wheels for those wanting to travel freely in comfort. Or it can simply be a gorgeous in-law or guest suite in your backyard.

This prefab container home retails at $51,900, though this can certainly be cheaper if you build it yourself.

It comes with a unique loft area that can fit a queen-sized mattress. The headroom measures around 40 inches, whereas the side windows make sure that this space feels bright and uplifting!

Meanwhile, the ground floor holds the main living area. This is where you will find access to the bathroom, a fully functional kitchenette, and a cozy lounge.

12. MODS 40 Foot Tiny Home by MODS

Bedroom: 1

Size: 320 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (40 ft containers)

Price: $36,000

Builder: MODS International

Unique features: double patio doors

container home finished product
container home interior with proper insulation

Did you know that you can purchase a prefab container tiny house from Amazon? The MODS 40 is one such example! Built from one 40’ container and measuring 320 square feet in livable space, this simple but practical home is ready to be shipped to your land, wherever it is.

Best of all, it actually comes furnished and ready to be lived. This includes base plumbing, side electrical, and useful connections for water supply. Not to mention a secure safety system with special locks that will keep your home safe when you’re away.

Inside this home, you will find a bedroom, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, a kitchenette, and enough living space for a cozy lounge. The double patio doors can also be fully opened for those who enjoy a semi-outdoor atmosphere. 

13. MODS 20 Foot Tiny Home by MODS

Bedroom: 1

Size: 160 sq ft

Containers used: 1 (20 ft containers)

Price: $11,500

Builder: MODS International

Unique features: fitted with plumbing

cheap shipping container houses

An even smaller and even more inexpensive alternative to the MODS 40 is the MODS 20. This 160 square feet home is made of one 20’ container. It’s compact and extremely simple, but very much livable for one person or a young couple!

The interior features a small but functional kitchenette, a bathroom with a shower, and a bed. Its studio-style layout is perfect for those embracing a minimalist lifestyle.

What makes it better is that the price already includes full furnishing, sleek and decorative flooring, lighting, and plumbing! All you need to do is place this on some concrete footings or a concrete slab to ensure a solid foundation.

FAQ

What is the cheapest shipping container home?

The cheapest shipping container home on our list is Lance’s 20 ft Shipping Container Home, which measures 160 square feet and has a surprisingly cozy interior. It’s also fitted with everything needed for someone to live alone.

Of course, building your own container home instead of hiring a high-end architect will cut your costs significantly. It’s possible to buy a standard 20×8 feet container for $1,200 or even less if you can find a suitable supplier.

In addition, don’t be afraid of using recycled materials for the flooring and ceiling, as well as thrifting the furniture and appliances. You can even install a solar panel to power electricity and heat water, which will help you save more in the long run.

What is the best foundation for a shipping container home?

A pier foundation is possibly the best foundation for a shipping container home. It also happens to be the most popular choice as it’s low cost, easy to build, and super durable. A pier foundation consists of several concrete blocks that can improve the tension in your steel reinforcement.

You will typically find these piers underneath each corner of the container, although we recommend adding even more for longer 40’ containers. This will ensure that you have a solid and stable foundation for your home.

Other types of foundations include the pile, slab, and strip foundation.

What are the drawbacks of shipping container homes?

We have probably talked a lot about the benefits of living in a shipping container home, but we also have to acknowledge that there are some drawbacks. The main one is that figuring out and obtaining building permits can be a hassle and challenge in itself.

Plumbing and electricity can also be difficult to manage. You need to find a trusted and experienced electrician who is able to understand the unique structure of your home. This is because the electrical setup for a container home is different from regular houses and has to be customized with each project.

Finally, shipping container homes also require reinforcement to be durable and long-lasting. You can’t just place a bed and some tables inside an old container and call it a day. Things like cutting holes for windows, reinforcing the walls, and installing a rooftop will take some effort.

Are container homes toxic to live in?

In general, the answer would be no. Container homes are not toxic and are safe to live in. Depending on what it was used for, there may be some remnants of chemicals and toxic fumes, but there are some steps you can take to fix this.

The easiest method is by removing the flooring, and be sure to wear masks and the proper safety equipment when doing this. Alternatively, you can cover the old flooring with new floors, but don’t forget to install a non-breathable layer in between for extra safety.

Do I need a permit to put a shipping container on my property?

Yes, you do need a permit to put a shipping container on your property. However, it’s important to note that every state has its own rules and regulations about this matter and your best bet is to do your research depending on where you live.

Our main tip is to learn more about property zoning permits and building codes, as well as HOA rules. It is especially pertinent to obtain the right permits if you are using the container home as a permanent resident, though some rules still apply for storage.

Which cheap shipping container homes are you getting?

That wraps us the best cheap shipping container homes we could find on the internet. Did any of these inspire your own build? Or are you planning to buy a prefab container home instead?

At the end of the day, your budget should not restrict what is and what is not possible with your tiny home. As long as you are creative and willing to put in both work and research, creating a comfortable and stylish home is not out of the question!

We hope these photos and examples could help you in your home buying and building journey. Make sure to pick out the right layout, furniture, and details so that you can make a tiny house that feels like a home.

Indeed, shipping container homes are looking like the future as the interest continues to grow. So, are you ready to build your affordable container home?

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

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