Gone are the days where everyone strived to own an apartment in a bustling city. Shipping container homes are now the wallet-friendly alternative to a goldfish apartment or the white picket fence home in the suburbs. With the added benefit of being eco-friendly, customised and glamorised on shows like The Block, it's easy to see why more than 2.5 million containers are moved in and out of Australia each year. Before you swap brick and mortar for your very own shipping container home, today's article covers all the logistics you ought to know. 


Is it Possible to Live in a Shipping Container? 

Let start with the burning question everyone’s likely wondering. Is it possible and equally important, is it legal, to live in a shipping container home? Living in a shipping container, whilst not conventional, is entirely possible and legal. In fact, shipping container homes are beginning to pop up everywhere the more people are becoming aware of them. However, whilst possible, there are some rules around it that are important to be aware of. Depending on where you live in Australia, the rules vary to each local government area. To avoid being out of pocket, we suggest you approach your local council before buying. 


Are there Regulations in Building a Shipping Container Home? 

To provide some insight, most councils in Australia view container units like a permanent building on your property. Regardless if it's used as a shed, a pool or a home, you will need a reputable engineer and building plans, inspections and other approvals signed off before you jump into constructing your shipping container home. Adhering to council regulations and building codes isn’t a quick process to get approved, especially when it's applied to unique structures like a shipping container home. So we suggest acknowledging the process will require some time and effort when you accept the project. 


What is the Cost of Building a Shipping Container Home?

Whilst the affordability of a shipping container home is widely appealing, building a container home is not as "cheap as chips" when you remember to factor in the range of considerations your new home will need. Some of the expenses that should be considered in determining the overall costs include: 

  • Plumbing
  • Electrics 
  • Flooring and roofing
  • Building plans 
  • Insulation 
  • Modifications (if more than one container needs to connect to another) 
  • Doors and windows 
  • Painting 
  • Transportation of the shipping containers to your property 


How Covid-19 has affected container home costs

The past couple of years has seen the costs of containers rise. What's to blame? Primarily the weak exchange rate, increased costs in freight and the shortage of second-hand containers. Add Covid-19 in the mix, and there is even more pressure on container availability, with freight fulfilling the world’s toilet paper shortage.

As you can see, the costs associated with a shipping container can add up. Despite these costs, you’ll need to factor in a shipping container home that can still be cost-effective and as little as $10,000! With fewer building materials and manual labour required, they still take first place as the more cost-effective home building option. If you also happen to be handy in the DIY department, you can lower your costs further. So in the grand scheme of things, we still things it's quite the bargain that undoubtedly ruffles the feathers of landlords across Australia! 


How Long Does it Take to Build a Shipping Container Home? 

With design and construction materials sourced, planning approvals given the green light and no delays on the delivery of your shipping container, it can take just four to ten weeks to build your own custom container home! Compared to the time it takes to build a single-family home, which takes on average seven months to complete, this is exponentially fast. So if you’re not looking to wait around on the completion of your home, then a shipping container home might be the answer. 


Three Ways to Prepare for Your Shipping Container Home

Now with the logistics out of the way, here are our top tips you can implement to help prepare yourself for your very first shipping container home. 

  1. Plan your build: Regardless of the shipping container model, you will need to convert those to suit your design. Although they come with pre-made walls and a roof, there’s no ventilation, so consider this when designing your plans. Whilst shipping containers do an incredible job at insulating; this can be a double-edged sword in sunny Australia. To combat the heat, windows and doors (internal and external) and even an aircon system will need to be well thought out. Luckily there are thousands of designs available to see online; you won’t be short of inspiration. 

Tip: When you design your floor plan, we suggest considering glass doors or even skylights. Not only do these designs create a contemporary and spacious element, but they’ll also allow the interior of your container to look and feel brighter and open. 


  1. Recognise any limitations: While it feels like the skies are the limit when you're designing your shipping container home, there are some limitations, so it's important to recognise these before you get carried away in the exciting design stages. This will help you know what is possible and guide you to finalising your container design. For example, since shipping containers consist of heavy steel, some window and door designs might compromise the home’s integrity. While it's disappointing to realise your design might be the most accommodating, an experienced and reputable builder on your side will help guide you with what's possible. 


  1. Make a budget: To complete your unit without unexpected fees or expenses, we suggest creating a financial plan. That way, you can account for all the necessary finances before your begin. With a budget in place (which you can overestimate in case your budget goes over), you can better prepare for the financial requirements of undergoing a home container project. Although these limitations exist, the good news is that shipping container homes are durable and are capable of withstanding a range of harsh weather conditions better than traditional housing. 


Whether it's going off-grid or building on your suburban plot, constructing a shipping container home is an exciting project that can provide you with the home of your dreams, all within a more attainable budget! Factoring in the sufficient knowledge and planning this article covers, you can expect a smooth sail. If you’re set on joining the growing shipping container homeowners, know that if you end up reselling, later on, a well-maintained shipping container home can retain its resale value, just like a traditional white picket fence house. 


How Tiger Containers Can Help You Build Your Dream Home

As one of Australia’s leading suppliers in shipping containers, Tiger Containers prides itself on keeping up with industry trends to meet our client's container requirements. For more information on the endless ways you can repurpose a shipping container, our blog is the place to visit. For more information about shipping container use, renting, or purchasing, contact the team today. With our guidance, Tiger Containers can help optimise your shipping container, so you can own the home of your dreams.