11 Best Examples of Shipping Container Cabins

In the US, building a home  can cost anywhere between $200,000 to $500,000, depending on the state you’re living in.  This figure will only increase as the national demand for real estate continues to climb.

For those of us who can’t afford six-digit homes without taking out a lifetime mortgage, the future seems bleak. But don’t despair just yet. A shipping container cabin might be the answer to the expensive housing dilemma.

As the name suggests, shipping container cabins are homes made from steel shipping containers. It’s available in 10 feet, 20 feet, and 40 feet options, but you can merge multiple containers together to create a bigger house. They’re a great way to cut costs on housing without compromising comfort.

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of inspirations to build your very own shipping container cabin. I’ve also noted some important pros and cons to consider before getting one yourself.

Let’s dive right in!

11 Examples of Shipping Container Cabins from Around the World

best shipping container cabins

Here are some examples of shipping containers that make full use of the limited space given:

1.    The Rugged Hunting Cabin

  • Price: N/A
  • Features: R-13 insulation, marine-grade wood flooring, solar power, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchenette
  • Location: N/A
  • Number of Containers Used: 2
  • Year Built:  N/A
  • Architect(s): Berg Companies
recycled shipping containers cabin
Source: Rugged Cabin

Living off the grid is liberating, but one can’t deny that it poses security issues intensified by environmental factors.

The folks at Rugged Cabin acknowledge this fact when they built the Rugged Hunting Cabin, a model built with a focus on security and weatherproof capabilities.

It’s designed with R-13 insulation with 3-4/8-inch thick heat-resistant fiberglass, 2×4 framing with a vapor barrier, and sufficient power and data passthrough to live comfortably for years.

It’s decked with high-quality linoleum floors and plywood finishes, giving it a modern but lived-in feel.

2.    “The Joshua” Model Studio 320 by HYBRID

Price: N/A
Features: Solar panels, large shatter-proof windows, off-the-grid utilities, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchenette  
Location: Enumclaw, WA
Number of Containers Used: 2
Year Built: 2004
Architect(s): Robert Humble, Joel Egan
Architect Website: Berg Companies

Studio 320 Container Home
Source: living in a container

Constructed in 2004 by Hybrid, the Joshua Model Studio is one of the company’s first-ever hunting container cabins and their most successful project to date. The project has been featured in numerous magazines, books, and even Netflix TV shows.

The 320-square-foot container cabin is designed to be completely off-grid. It produces its own power through solar panels and collects its own water, making it as sustainable as it is functional.

The Joshua Studio has a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchenette, and a living room. It has multiple large windows to bring in natural sunlight and make the space appear bigger. 

3.    The Lily Pad by Creative Cabins

Price: N/A
Features: Motorized garage door, air conditioning, indoor fireplace, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchenette
Location: Old Man’s Cave, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
Number of Containers Used: 2
Year Built: 2019
Architect(s): Dianna and her husband from Creative Cabins
Architect Website: Check out their Airbnb listing

alternative living spaces using repurposed shipping containers
Source: Airbnb

Living off the grid is often a compromise between luxury and safety, but the Lily Pad is one of the few container cabins that offer both. If anything, it looks like a luxe contemporary cottage!

Nestled on 30 acres of woods, the Lily Pad is a sight to behold. It has a cozy bedroom with a large window, a private bathroom, a kitchenette equipped with a cooktop, and a living room with a fully functional gas fireplace.

But that’s not all. Outside, you’ll find a motorized garage door, a swing bed, and even a hot tub! You’ll also find a propane grill for when the mood to eat something filling strikes you.

What I love most about the Lily Pad is that it perfectly balances luxury and functionality. Though cozy with only one bedroom, every bit of space is used efficiently.

4.    ArchitectChin Cabin

  • Price: $160 for the design
  • Features: Modern outdoor aesthetic, large living room, two floors, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
  • Location: N/A
  • Number of Containers Used: 2
  • Year Built:  N/A
  • Architect(s): ArchitechChin
  • Architect Website: View them on Etsy
cabin shipping container home by architechchin
Source: Etsy

The ArchitectChin Cabin looks straight out of a sci-fi movie. It’s an impressive feat of architecture, with sharp corners and dynamic lines.

Made with a 20-feet long shipping container, the ArchitectChin Cabin has two loft beds, a cozy living room, a bathroom, and a kitchenette with a huge window. It’s a comfortable space for those looking to live a more minimalistic lifestyle.

5.    Two 20′ Container Cabin

  • Price: N/A
  • Features: Sizable outdoor deck, closet and pantry space, off-the-grid utilities, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchenette 
  • Location: N/A
  • Number of Containers Used: 2
  • Year Built: N/A
  • Architect(s): AustralianHousePlans
20ft One Trip Converted Shipping Container
Source: Selfcontained

The Two 20′ Container Cabin features a spacious bedroom, a kitchen, a living room, and a bathroom. It also comes with a large, 96-square-foot deck that you can furnish with patio seats and tables.

With roughly 416 square feet of space, this container cabin can comfortably fit two adults. The living room takes up most of the space, followed by the bedroom and the kitchen which are of the same size. The bedroom comes with a walk-in closet, while the kitchen has a pantry.

6. Nordic Cabin

  • Price: $32,800
  • Features: Weather-proof container, shatter-proof full wall window, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchenette 
  • Location: N/A
  • Number of Containers Used: 1
  • Year Built: N/A
  • Architect(s): SummerHouse24
Nordic Cabin container house
Source: Nordic Cabin

Next up is this gorgeous 144-square-foot Nordic Cabin. Inspired by modern Scandinavian design, this cabin is a minimal, clean approach to beauty and functionality. It uses every bit of space to its advantage to create a versatile home that can be used throughout the changing seasons.

Robust and durable, the Nordin Cabin is entirely weatherproof and can easily withstand harsh winters and storms. It has a shatter-proof full wall window in the bedroom, making the space look bigger than it actually is. It also brings in a lot of natural light to the home. 

This container home is large enough to fit a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

7. Liberty 200 Container Cabin by MEKA

  • Price: $43,500
  • Features: Off-the-grid utilities, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, storage area 
  • Location: N/A
  • Number of Containers Used: 2
  • Year Built: N/A 
  • Architect(s): Meka Modular 
  • Architect: Website 
Shipping Container Based Remote Cabin
Source: TinyHouseDesign

The Liberty 200 is a 200 square-feet shipping container cabin with a large outdoor terrace, a bedroom that fits a queen bed, a kitchenette, a bathroom, and a small storage area.

It comes with off-the-grid utilities like an internal water tank, composting toilet, battery bank, and solar PV and solar thermal.

The indoor area isn’t the most spacious at only 160 square feet, but it’s big sufficient for one person to live comfortably. The deck space is roughly 40 feet; enough space for patio chairs and tables.

8. The Hunt Camp Container

  • Price: N/A
  • Features: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchenette
  • Location: Channelview, Texas
  • Number of Containers Used: 1
  • Year Built: N/A 
  • Architect(s): Square1Containers
  • Architect Website: Square1Containers
used container home turned into off-grid cabin
Source: Square1 Containers

The Hunting Camp is the embodiment of, “don’t judge the book by its cover.”

On the outside, the Hunting Camp looks like a standard shipping container with a few window holes. But when you enter the container, you’ll be met with a fully functional home, complete with off-the-grid utilities.

Compared to the rest of the cabins on this list, the Hunting Camp isn’t anything special. To be frank, it’s not even all that pretty.

However, its functionality speaks for itself. It has a decently sized bedroom, enough to fit a queen-sized bed or two small bunk beds, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. It also has several shatter-proof windows to add a bit of natural light inside the cabin.

9. The Canadian Container Cabin

  • Price: $42,000
  • Features: waterproof oak flooring, sauna room, seating/resting area, storage/dressing room
  • Location: N/A
  • Number of Containers Used: 2
  • Year Built: N/A 
  • Architect(s)Summerhouse24
custom container cabin

Shipping container cabins aren’t only limited to modern-style homes; they can be anything you want them to be, as proven by the Sauna Cabin V7.

The single shipping container Sauna Cabin V7 is a family-sized sauna room that’s large enough to accommodate four to five bathers at a time. The living area is decked with waterproof oak flooring, while the shower and sauna room feature waterproof teak wood flooring. The windows are double-glazed for privacy.

This 157-square-foot cabin comes with everything you need to take a sauna, including a sauna heater, a shower, and a 50L boiler. It also comes with a dressing/storage area. It’s fully insulated to prevent steam from escaping the sauna room.

10. The Tin Can Container Cabin

  • Price: N/A
  • Features: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, spacious living room, kitchenette
  • Location: Northern Wisconsin
  • Number of Containers Used: 2
  • Year Built: 2012
  • Architect(s): TinCanCabin
container house made from old shipping containers

Despite what the name suggests, the Tin Can Cabin is anything but small. In fact, it’s actually quite spacious!

This cabin has an open kitchen layout. The kitchen and the living room are essentially in the same room, but it’s designed so masterfully that the transition looks seamless. It also makes the space a lot larger than it actually is. It opens up a home and creates better traffic flow, which is perfect for this type of home.

The bedroom is the smallest area in the cabin after the bathroom. You can’t really do much other than sleeping and changing in the bedroom. It’s separated from the kitchen and the living room with wall dividers and uses thick curtains as doors.

11. Tajma Lodge

  • Price: $42,000
  • Features:2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room, kitchenette
  • Location: Cookson, Oklahoma
  • Number of Containers Used: 1
  • Year Built: N/A 
  • Architect(s): N/A
  • Architect Website  
Tajma Lodge alternative living tiny house
Source: Airbnb

The Tajima Lodge is one of my personal favorites on this list. I love everything about it: the use of space, the color combination, the “old-fashioned” furniture, and its overall summer cabin vibe.

Built from two shipping containers, the Tajima Lodge is a two-bedroom, three-bed cabin with a spacious living room and a single bathroom. It has all the essentials you need, including a washer, a dryer, a microwave, a TV, an AC, and even an indoor fireplace.

The furnishings have an almost Victorian feel to them, with a chandelier hanging in the kitchen to illuminate the space. There are plenty of windows too, bringing that much-needed natural light into the cabin.

Pros and Cons of Container Cabins: Should You Get One Yourself?

alternative living spaces pros and cons
Source : Decoist Amazing Container Homes

Building a shipping container cabin can be a costly endeavor. Although not as expensive as newly constructed homes or fully-equipped RVs, it’s not something you should invest in head-first without considering the pros and cons.

Here’s why you should (or shouldn’t) invest in a shipping container home:

Pros of Shipping Container Cabins

Here are some of the biggest advantages of building or buying a shipping container home:

Cost-Effective

The biggest advantage of shipping container homes is that they’re much more cost-effective than traditional housing.

Brand new 20-foot shipping containers can cost between $3,500 to $7,000, depending on the state and availability.

Recycled shipping containers can cost between $1,500 to $5,500 on average.

Prefabricated shipping container homes with built-in off-the-grid utilities (solar power, internal water tank, composting toilet, etc.) can cost as low as $10,000 if you’re going the DIY route.

This makes them the ideal home for outdoor enthusiasts and low-spenders.

Easy to Build

shipping container homes easy to build
Source: ToughNickel Building Shipping Container Homes

If you’re a home DIYer looking for a long-term project, constructing your own shipping container cabin should be on the top of your list.

Shipping container homes require fewer building materials and labor to construct, making them relatively easy to build. Most DIYers complete them in under six months. If you don’t have six months, consider hiring professional contractors.

With the right team, you’ll have your shipping container home ready in under a month.

If you’re planning to build the home all by yourself, do consult an engineer for building advice to prevent costly mistakes. Better yet, avoid hefty construction costs altogether by purchasing a prefabricated container home from a company that specializes in building off-grid homes.

Durable Construction

two containers offer structural integrity
Source : Decoist

Shipping containers aren’t only well-built; they are immensely durable as well.

After all, they’re originally designed to safely store and transport materials from location to location, regardless of the weather conditions.

They can easily stand up to swirling water, high winds, rough weather, and some of the worst-case scenarios imaginable, like fire. Though can be scratched and dented, they’re virtually indestructible.

This strength makes them a great choice for off-the-grid living. They’re arguably tougher than wooden cabins, as wooden cabins are susceptible to leaks and wood rot.

Easy to Modify

custom builds shipping container homes in the woods
Source: Dwell

Shipping container homes are surprisingly easy to modify. If you’re not satisfied with the size of the home, you can add several additional containers to create a larger home.

Some shipping containers have four to five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living room, a kitchen, a dining room, and even a second floor.

As long as you have the space and permit, there’s no limit to how large you can build the shipping container. Even if you’ve already built the home, you can easily attach additional containers without altering the original container too much.

Can Be Moved

moving containers
Source: Curbed

If you’re a traveler at heart and can’t seem to live in one place for long periods of time, shipping container cabins have your back.

Shipping containers are originally made to transport items from place to place, so they already have a dedicated shipping transportation service.

Simply ask for pick-up and relocate your single-container home anywhere in the world—yes, even across the Atlantic sea.

Best of all, transportation isn’t even all that expensive. Moving container companies charge around $3,000 to $4,000, depending on the size and distance. 

Cons of Shipping Container Cabins

Now that we’ve discussed the advantages of a shipping container cabin, let’s take a look at the disadvantages:

Needs a Building Permit

alternative living spaces still need permits
Source: House Homes And Gardens

Shipping container cabins being used as homes is a relatively new phenomenon, and since not a lot of people build them, it can be difficult to obtain the required building permits.

Obtaining a permit is relatively straightforward in some parts of the US (California, Oregon, Colorado, and Texas, to name a few), but some states require you to go through a lengthy process to start building.

A lot of places also have building codes and zoning restrictions, preventing you from completing your project in a timely manner. So before you get a shipping container home, make sure your area permits it to avoid complications.

High Internal Temperature

As you already know, shipping containers are predominantly made of steel and metal. If you don’t insulate it, the internal heat of your soon-to-be home can be unbearable. It’s not so much of an issue during the winter, but insulation is an absolute must during warmer seasons.

Unfortunately, adding insulation is not only costly but also takes up quite a bit of space in your already small home.

Modern Appliances Can Be Tricky to Install

custom container living can be tricky

Regardless of whether or not you’re planning to live off-the-grid, you still need a reliable licensed electrician (with a lot of experience with shipping container homes) to install the modern appliances and electrical setups for the cabin.

This can be a bit tricky because shipping containers don’t have built-in sockets and wiring. You’ll likely have to depend on solar panels, which aren’t always reliable.

Plus, you’ll need to hire an experienced plumber to install the required plumbing work.

You’ll essentially need to build all the wiring and plumbing from scratch, which wouldn’t normally be an issue in a traditional home.

Final Thoughts

Building a shipping container cabin is a great way to cut some costs on housing. It’s reliable, easy to build, easy to modify, and can be moved anywhere you want. It’s quite durable, as well!

Prefabricated shipping containers cost anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the size and construction of the 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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