Shipping container homes have recently jumped to the top of the popularity list for new affordable home options. Due to its durability and low price tag, consumers have begun to gravitate towards these personally customized metal containers.
There are currently 15 states that allow shipping container homes, including:
However, future shipping container homeowners must contact their county to find out regulations, codes, and zoning laws when purchasing a shipping container home. Rules vary by state.
While a shipping container home at first glance may seem like a no-brainer for an affordable home, there are several pros and cons all consumers should consider before signing the dotted line on any deed. Keep scrolling to find out which states allow shipping container homes, the laws for owning one, and other information you may need to better guide better your decision on purchasing a home.
States That Allow Shipping Container Homes
The states that currently allow shipping container homes are as follows:
- New York
- North Carolina
While these states currently do permit shipping containers to be converted into homes, always check with the local county or government agencies to clarify the specific laws pertaining to owning a shipping container as a rental or single-family home.
What Countries Allow Shipping Container Homes?
Other than the United States, countries such as England, New Zealand, France, and Denmark also allow for shipping containers to be converted into homes.
What is a Shipping Container Home?
What was once used as a means to transport goods such as cars, liquid materials, international goods, and foods, shipping containers have now been converted into spaces such as offices, bars, shopping malls, stores, and even homes.
Typically made from steel, a shipping container can also be made out of wood and aluminum. As a rental or housing property, a recycled container can be made to be eco-friendly, cost-effective, and stylish for anyone looking for alternative ways of living.
Most shipping containers come in two sizes but can be made to be bigger by combining multiple containers together, providing a larger living space.
The two sizes are:
- 40 x 8 feet
- 20 x 8 feet
When converted into a home, a shipping container can be customized to your personal liking by removing walls, adding structures, combining other containers to make a bi-level or extension, and insulating for heating and cooling. A good thing to keep in mind is that insulating does take away from the overall square feet of the container.
Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes
Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar home consisting of its own pros and cons depending on age, condition, renovation needs, and inspection findings, a shipping container home also comes with its own unique list of pros and cons.
While financing is usually the reason buyer’s especially young adults, can’t or don’t purchase homes, a shipping container can appear to be an alternate option. These high costs of owning a home are partially why some states have allowed for alternative housing, combined with recent job loss due to covid and increased rates of homeless individuals.
Here are some of the pros and cons associated with a shipping container home:
- Steel is extremely durable
- Low-cost housing
- Saves on heating and cooling costs
- Approximately 15-25 years of durability
- It can be customized to personal tastes in a month
- Cost-effective ranges from $1500-$5000 depending on size
- It needs to be tested for possible dangerous chemicals and gases
- Limited space
- Costs rise with customizations and transporting
- Permits can be hard to get
- Not eco-friendly-can have traces of lead and arsenic
- Insulation requirements may take up already limited space
- Electricity and plumbing is difficult to install
Resale Value of Container Homes
According to the current market, the resale value of a shipping container home is about 100% and up. Buyers can have the container shipped anywhere in the world with minimal hassle, which is an attractive selling point.
Guidelines For Owning a Shipping Container Home
For those states that have not passed a law permitting a shipping container to be used as a home, as of recent new regulations have been created and in the process of being passed by the International Code Council to allow for more states to be added to the list.
It is imperative to contact your town in regard to zoning and building laws to make sure a shipping container is accepted as a home. Just because your state says it is allowed does not mean that the town’s municipal laws agree.
The International Code Council is accountable for creating and maintaining all building codes when it comes to what requirements are necessary to obtain a building permit.
Where To Purchase a Container Home
After you have sufficiently educated yourself on the ins and outs of a shipping container home, and the idea still appeals to you, the next step is to find out where or how to purchase one. Like almost anything in 2021, the first place to look would be the internet.
Websites such as containerdiscounts.com are your one-stop shop for purchasing a container ready to be converted into a home. Shipping and delivery are typically coordinated by the company you are buying from. If you want to build a container from scratch, websites such as Metal Building Homes are a great starting point.
Most shipping containers can be customized into a home within a month. Total costs for a basic single container home can range in the ballpark of $10-30,000 depending on fixtures, size, renovations, transportation, and eco-friendly add-ons. Containers that are customed to have add-ons and levels can range in costs anywhere from 30-100,000 and up.
Educating yourself on the laws and regulations of building a home is always a buyer’s most important step in purchasing any type of home. Once you have established that your state is on the list that allows shipping container homes, your next step is to contact your town zoning department. If all is a go, the fun part begins!