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’ve worked alongside professionals who were feeling “cautiously” optimistic about retirement. What if you had a financial plan that showed you when you could retire and how long your money would last? I decided to create a process that makes financial planning fun and makes sure people like you get where they want to go with their finances.