Shipping Container House Plans

There has been a lot of shipping container house plans and ideas hitting the web and to be honest the majority of them are simply not practical. The design of a shipping container is for interlocking into other containers but often you will find architects and design enthusiastic letting their minds run wild without thinking of the practical uses of the shipping container and if the house plans will actually be usable.


Twisting out the side of the container such as the 3D image above is typical where the modular form of the shipping container is stepped away from and instead a second section added in a strange shape. Not only is this difficult to join onto the existing container its also likely to suffer with problems with the roof structure including leaks as you will have to alter the original design to make it work. As well as the issue of weight and the welds all hanging in mid air.


Adding to this is this shipping container house plan in sketch form. Although obviously an idea the staircase costs and issues of development of the shipping container building with its crane simply don’t make any sense.

Ideally when looking for shipping container house plans they should be based on interlocking containers into each other in the way containers were designed. Or on spans using the containers as exterior walls as this is also practical. Generally if it seems more hassle than its worth it probably is and likely to be more expensive than you need to be investing. Architects do have a habit of going overboard as chasing a prestigious award that brings them in more business can often be on their mind more than giving you a practical and functional home.

LoftCube Modular Home

An interesting concept for “roof sitting” by dropping these on top of empty roof spaces of buildings that are under utilized but for the most part not practical for most other places due to not being stackable and the size limitations. The weight limit of 9 tons though does mean it can be lifted by helicopter or crane into position which does make it a good idea if you have an odd space that it will fit.

For me though the video is more about the utilization of the space within and its glass walling more than the actual building itself. It does show what can be done within a small home.

Shipping Container Car Showrooms

These car showrooms are a practical example of how a shipping container module can be used. I have also worked with a company in the UK previously that use the outer steel frames you see here that form an open sided shell that slot walls drop into. This is probably based on the same technology but still using the shipping container size and weights for transportation. A small 7.5 ton truck with attached crane can move these and deliver one at a time. Making it not only cost affective for construction but also transportation.

Shipping Container Car Showroom Shipping Container Car Showroom

 Shipping Container Car Showroom Shipping Container Car Showroom

Football Club Facilities House built from shipping containers

This container conversion was for a Football club who required a building to facilitate both themselves and the away team.

Requirements needed :-

shipping container changing rooms

Due to the location of the of the Changing rooms and shower block security was one of the main priorities of this building as well as not being to undesirable to the eyes which could cause problems with local planning officers especially on a sports field. From personal experience within the UK although most of the time you don’t need planning permission for a “temporary structure” or a garden out building but when it comes to easily seen or easily accessible things start to get more complicated. Anyway back to this project.

shipping container openings cut

Two 40 Foot containers were altered at the company’s workshop in Essex. Which involved removing two sides to give an open area of 40ft x 16ft. Then internal walls and doors were fitted. Externally security shutters,windows and doors were manufactured and also installed.

windows installed in shipping containerAs you can see from the photo the shutters and windows are now installed. Time for the painting to begin.The containers are totally fitted out and then spray painted in house. There are several reasons but the main ones are a controlled environment to work within for painting and installation wise it cuts down on the time spent on site and the number of people and equipment needing sent out to carry out the work.

The large internal shower areas were built to an ‘open plan’ design. This maximises the space and in keeping with sports facility shower blocks.

shower block in shipping containerThe showers heads and controls are all fed from the water tank to eliminate any fluctuations in water temperature or pressure. The showers are in a fully tiled waterproof area of the main shower room.

Site Work Begins

ground works begin on construction site

Preparing the ground before the units arrive is paramount. As you can see from the photograph a simple block foundation was built at the far ends of the container units base.

Crane lifting shipping container

As you can see a large crane was used to deliver the units to site. Not only does it give you the advantage of easily offloading a truck but also the ability to drop the units exactly where you want them. I have also seen movement of containers by using two forklifts one at either far end but on terrain that’s uneven as shown in the photo its unlikely this would be done easily. Although is a much cheaper option unless your hiring cranes regular.

shipping container with covered sides to protect from the elements first shipping container in position

Once the first container is in place and perfectly aligned its quick and easy to drop the second unit in and quickly begin the final stages to construct the new facilities  block.shipping container building begins to take shape

shipping container changing rooms

After the weather proofing and a connection to mains services the units are ready to go. All prefitted to customers requirements.

This building are provided by

Why build a house with shipping containers?

In this question i can only answer for myself and it has many reasons for me choosing the shipping container route.

Firstly economically the shipping containers here are a little expensive at P160,000 refurbished for a 40ft container compared to people struggling to sell them for around P14,000 in the UK at least before the recession. But the Philippines has its ports in balance or at least it may seem to as the prices may fluctuate but end up around the same price most of the time. At the same time I would estimate a basic concrete structure of the same size costing around P200,000 which is basic hollow block that does have a tendency to crack and also the fact its concrete it holds heat. I do hear skeptical people out there often telling me how I should compare a shipping container building at 12.00 in the afternoon but if you want the hottest time of the day its around 3pm. But my whole idea is based round the environment of the home. If its built down a slope in a way that directs it away from the sun or under the shade of trees no doubt that would be called cheating at the same time this is the problem I am looking for a home that is environmental at the same time cost affective.

Add to that the headaches i have had with builders and to be honest easiest option is to drop a container on top of another for me as i would only need to guide a crane in on the next floor and do the work myself without relying on other people to cock things up. This also means i save money considerably on lost labor as sitting there watching them as is common here in the Philippines means i am not working doing what i normally do resulting in 2 wasted salaries as no doubt i still won’t be happy with the end result because as soon as i go for a pee or to grab a sandwich they will rush to do something stupid destroying the whole job. Shipping containers can be done modular which means i can build a ground floor reception room one month and a bedroom or bathroom next because firstly containers are solid structures with nothing that can be stolen and secondly i can work it round me. Which also means if i am broke for a few months doesn’t matter as the roof is already on the building regardless of if there is a roof or not the structure is designed to withstand the elements so no risk of over expansion and contraction of concrete because there isn’t any.

Noise is also another issue that really is starting to annoy me here in the Philippines to the point i am tempted to move at the moment as for some reason the landlady has had 8 fighting cocks (birds!) pitched outside my kitchen and sitting room windows. No doubt rented to someone else but i find the constant noise beyond annoying as generally i am easy going but they are literally a couple of feet away from my windows. At the same time trying to rent out a couple of apartments to help the landlady out is now looking at seeing mine empty as well. Shipping container ever spent any time in one? not a lot of noise rattling around only get the outside elements when you start adding windows which from now on will be long but UPVC sliding doors with solar reflective film. Something I haven’t mentioned before i spent 18 months installing solar film in government buildings on a contract out of Bromsgrove many moons ago yet as Graeme said to me himself he can’t understand why people aren’t using it here as it would cut down on electric bills as well as heat. But like most things is it supposed to make sense in the third world?

Anyway on a final note the other reason being is i spent most of my life in construction and engineering which makes an industrial unit more like home than anything else as i spent up to 16 hours a day on sites for most of my life. Industrial modern is a look i like and feel at home with at the same time a keen interest on the environment has now also caught my eye so combining the two will give me the home i can call home.

Shipping Container Transportation & Handling

shipping container handling If looking to buy your shipping container always be aware where the seller is and the distance they are from you as well as the transportation options and cost to get it from the location of the shipping container seller to your place of construction. Buying without taking this into consideration can be an expensive mistake to learn. Trucking has never been cheap and adding to that you may need a crane or some other way of unloading the shipping container you need to way up the options of if its practical or better to wait until someone nearer has one for sale.

You really need to go over this list of things to consider when transporting a shipping container and be able to tick them all off before you get into a sales transaction :-

  • Discuss within your neighbourhood with your neighbours in advance as you may be able to smooth disputes over before they happen as often its just a case of a “nosey neighbour” wanting to know what your up to rather than anything personal.
  • Check the local town planning and regulations as discussing it with the people that may block it in advance lets them have they’re opinion and even as a temporary building just giving them the heads up they appreciate it and likely to leave you to it. Also as a temporary structure which is generally how shipping containers are seen your exempt of many of the legal requirements and standards of a "normal" building structure.
  • The container will no doubt arrive on a semi tractor trailer which slides the shipping container off the back of the trailer so having a place set aside if you don’t have the final location ready such as the bottom of a dead end road or somewhere else its not going to be obtrusive until it can be relocated. I plan this even if I do have a crane due on site incase they have a breakdown or some other reason to reschedule. Access is also going to be an issue so make sure the road can take the weight and length of the truck and trailer as it will need to have enough room to get in and out.
  • Height clearance for not only unloading the shipping container but also if a crane is needed to drop into final location. Power cables and telephone wires are a common issue. Contacting your power and telephone company if the wires are in the way should be done long in advance to find a solution.
  • Be nice to the driver! Can’t say this enough as I after a long drive the driver may be unsociable but a cup of tea and a few biscuits go a long way as does maybe a little bribe to put the shipping container where you want it. Just be aware if putting it on the ground the risk of moisture and if possible try and get it situated off the ground. If its not going to be on the main road make the company aware in advance as they may request it to be lifted from the road side due to risk of the truck becoming embedded in soft ground and stuck.
  • If its being situated somewhere temporary try and get it in a location that is suitably stable and even as well as having good drainage. The door ends twist which is why its important to get a level location as the doors will bind otherwise. On the drainage front try and get it sat on concrete footings, railroad sleepers or gravel something allowing water to drain away.