Are Container Homes for Real?

Recently I have been doing a little research into shipping container homes. After a quick Google search, it is clear that shipping container homes are feasible. A couple of questions that came to mind were the insulation, cost-effectiveness, and legal issues. I decided to do a little digging.


On they discuss 3 methods for insulation including foam insulation, insulation panels, and blanket insulation. Each method has its pros and cons, but the recommended (and most expensive) method is the foam insulation. To cover four walls and the ceiling of one unaltered 20-foot long container would require enough insulation for 476 sq feet. One bottle of Touch ‘n Foam insulation that covers 200 square feet would cost $333. Doing the math, it would cost $493 to insulate each container in the house. Of course, a large consideration is the athletics. Spray insulation has a distinct look compared blanket installation, which can be hidden in the wall.


Container homes

Credit: David Nunn

Part of the allure of making a shipping container home is having the ability customize it. For pricing purposes, however, I was able to find Montainer located in Montana that will build and assemble the house for customers. The homes range from 200 sqft to 960 sqft and cost between $60,000 – $160,000. One idea looking through the floor plans of Montainer was that a family could start with one of their homes and expand on the home with additional containers as they want additional floor space. For the DIY homebuilder, according to a 40 ft container itself can cost between$3,500 and $4,500. If a person knows what they are doing, they can save a lot of money by doing a lot of the work themselves.


Assuming the customization is appealing and the home is cost-effective, the legal issues seem like they could pose problems. According to Noah Arroyo of San Francisco Public Press, “Owners of a controversial collection of shipping container homes removed them from their West Oakland lot after city building inspectors threatened fines.” Unfortunately, there is no one way to go about getting a container home approved. Ryan Herr of explains, “First, communication. Speak with the local authorities about your plans, explain the designs and benefits, and have examples of other container homes built (ideally in your area or state, or worst case any good example you can find).”

Final Thoughts

Through my research, I feel comfortable with the idea that a container house is realistic in a lot of areas. I know my questions are not an exhaustive list of issues when it comes to container homes, but they are some of the main issues that I found online. I intend on continuing to follow the trend of container homes going forward.

Featured Image Credit: Edward

About Justin Boucher

Since 2011 I have been working in the financial industry. I worked for three different financial advisory firms before going independent. In working for various firms I was able to pick and choose what I did and did not like about financial advisory practices and incorporate it into Justin Boucher Advisory Services. Coupling asset management with a dynamic financial plan is key to financial success. Nowadays it is common for entrepreneurs to be college dropouts, but I, in fact, did graduate from the University of Nevada with a BS in business administration. I enjoyed college so much I decided to go back to the University of Nevada and received my MBA with a focus in finance. I put together a 5-step process that helps professionals make sure they get where they want to go with their finances.