The Pros and Cons of Building a Shipping Container Home or Business

I am sure most of you have heard about shipping container homes or have seen workplace sites with offices made from sea cans. It is not new for shipping containers to be used as buildings; they are only getting more popular. A big reason container homes are becoming more popular is because they are less expensive to build than traditional houses, and they are marketed as eco-friendly. But are container homes as hyped up as they're presented to be?

Here is a list of the pros and cons of building structures with shipping containers.



Although a shipping container seems very limited, it can be customized in many ways to create your dream home. Containers are modular, so you can make your house wider by placing them side-by-side, or you can place them on top of each other for multiple floors. You can cut out pieces of metal to add doors, openings, windows, vents and whatever else you need to design your house or office the way you want. There are many avenues you can take to customize your container to fit your needs.

Many businesses, like The Container Guy, modify containers for different projects


The housing and leasing market is changing every day, but it is not getting any cheaper to own a house or lease business/office space. The soaring prices are a huge reason why small businesses and younger adults are moving away from traditional housing or leasing to modifying a sea can. But the price range does change drastically depending on what you want your house/business to look like. A modified container can range from $20,000 to well over $150,000. So if you decide to go this route, make sure you are getting what you want on the budget you have.

Strong and durable

Shipping containers are built to withstand the elements when out at sea, so it is only natural that container houses and businesses can stand strong against the wind, rain, snow and different climates/ temperatures. Its durability is why many people use them as storage units—they know their stuff is safe.

However, if you are going to live or work in a shipping container, make sure it is insulated and ventilated and has AC. Otherwise, your office/house will get extremely hot during the summer and very cold in the winter.


A huge plus for shipping container homes and offices is the ability to move them from one place to another. For companies using shipping containers as offices, portability is a huge benefit. If their site or project is moving from one location to another, having a portable office saves them both time and money. It eliminates the need to make new offices for every project or travelling back and forth between a worksite and an off-site office.

A portable house is also great for homeowners because they can easily bring their house with them if they ever move. Or, if they decide to sell it, the new owners can relocate it to a new area.


Another pro is the speed at which container homes and offices can be built. The site prep work, such as ground levelling, can be worked on at the same time a container is being modified. This cuts down on months of construction time in comparison to building a traditional house or office building.



Temperature and humidity concerns

Shipping containers are not designed to be lived/worked in. If a shipping container is unmodified or modified incorrectly, condensation, heat and humidity can build up to degrees that are unlivable and harmful.

Used containers could cause problems in the future

If you are using a used shipping container, make sure that it has been refurbished thoroughly and has no damage that could cause problems in the future, such as rust. 

Before purchasing a used container, you should have it inspected by a professional to confirm it is safe to use for office/home construction. Without a proper inspection, you may end up using a container that stored toxic chemicals or hazardous materials, which could cause lasting harm to whoever lives/works there. 

It’s also important to note that all sea cans are treated to prevent corrosion during transit. So make sure the used container has been sandblasted and is safe to use as building materials.

Lack of flexibility

Although containers can be modified and stacked together to create a unique building, it does have its limitations that some people may not enjoy. Most container homes use 20' containers that are 8' wide and 8'6” in height. You can get high cubed containers that are 9’6” tall if you need that extra space for the ceiling.

But, because all containers are shaped the same, there are restrictions you may hit that you wouldn’t with traditional housing. Insulation can take up a lot of the container’s space, and with it already being so narrow, that leaves little room for organizing your furniture just the way you want. And the more you cut into a container’s wall, the more reinforcement you need to keep the structure strong.

Although you can modify a shipping container in many different ways, you cannot change the shape of the container. If you have a specific vision for your house or business, traditional building materials may be your best choice.

Building permits

Container homes/businesses are still relatively new, so building permits may not be readily available for people who want a container home. Before deciding to build a container home, check to make sure you are legally able to. If you don't check beforehand and start building, you would be forced to take it down.

Not eco-friendly

One of the selling points that a lot of people love about container homes is that it is eco-friendly. However, many used containers are too damaged and unsafe to use as building materials. Because of this, many construction companies use only new containers. This means containers are repurposed as building materials before they are used for transport. Although container homes are marketed as eco-friendly, depending on what containers are used, it may be taking from an industry that could use it for trade.


Container structures are a great solution for building homes and offices. They are more affordable and take less time to build. And although there are construction companies that only use new shipping containers, many people build a container home themselves using only used containers for their eco-friendly home. But beware that used containers come with risks. If it is dented or damaged, the foundation could be unstable, and depending on what was previously stored in the container, there could be toxic fumes still inside from chemicals or hazardous materials. 

Before purchasing a used shipping container or working with a construction company, make sure you are getting exactly what you want and that is it permitted where you live.

Be cautious and do your research.



Container businessContainer homeOffice