This 40-foot shipping container house is the Intellectual Tiny Home, designed by Maggie Hartje at Revival Designs, named for the exterior paint color, and now for sale at $62,000 in Longmont, Colorado. The wood bolted onto the side is cedar, meant to enable a green wall, a picnic table, or shelf space.
Through the smart-lock-equipped double French doors the container has been left open except for the bathroom and a bedroom alcove at one end. Flooring is bamboo, again except for the bathroom, which is tiled. There’s an electric fireplace in the middle living room section.
The kitchen includes all the major appliances other than an oven – a full-sized refrigerator, induction stove, microwave and dishwasher.
A washer/dryer sits unobtrusively under the wide bathroom counter.
The bedroom fits a queen bed and space to store clothes.
When we looked at Custom Container Living’s log cabin style shipping container a few months ago, we mentioned that the Missouri company had lots more options available. This is one of them, a 40-footer with a cutout porch and a more universal aesthetic. If you look closely above the painted lap siding, you’ll notice that they’ve raised the roof and given it a slope, which allows for a row of clerestory windows, more room in the lofts, and a higher ceiling in the rest of the house. Forty feet, of course, is plenty long by tiny house standards, so even minus the porch there’s still a lot of free space inside, especially since the kitchen and bathroom are both confined to the opposite end. They’re both pretty tricked out, too: the kitchen boasts custom birch wood cabinets with laminate tops, a 15-cubic-foot fridge, a full-sized dishwasher, a washer/dryer, and a microwave oven overhead, while the bathroom has a full five-foot bathtub, a large sink and vanity, and a flush toilet. Storage stairs lead to the master loft above them; access to the storage loft above the porch is by ladder. It’s a nice design, nicely done, and cost a reasonable $47,900. With homes like these, Custom Container Living looks to be an emerging leader in the field of shipping container tinys.
It’s always great to see a tiny house from somebody with a background in boat building. These guys know so much about making long, narrow spaces livable – and even luxurious – that the results are always interesting and often spectacular. Not all that many of them make the attempt, though. Maybe a road-bound THOW just doesn’t compare to a yacht that can cross oceans. But now a shipwright called Evans has created something that’s actually mobile over both the highways and the high seas. It’s a 20-foot shipping container home, and because Evans didn’t modify the exterior structure at all, it can still be transported just as a home-less shipping container could. If Evans wants to move to another city, he can hire a truck; if he wants to move overseas, he just has to book space on a container ship. The house isn’t picky about where it’s delivered, either: while it has utility hookups, it’s also off-grid capable with a solar setup and water tanks. The wood-finished interior looks great and is so well designed that it makes 20 feet look like plenty. At one end is the bathroom, which has a full-sized shower stall and sink and a macerating toilet. At the other is an ergonomic triangular kitchen that lets you access the refrigerator, food prep counter, stove, and sink just by turning from one to the other. (It also has a washing machine hidden in one of the cabinets.) In the middle, a long sofa and a bunk bed look out through glass doors when the container is open. Evans built this one for himself, but he’s open to making them for other people; get in touch if you’re interested. Shipping worldwide, of course!
Kate Schnippering is one creative lady. She’s a software designer by day (for IDEO, a ‘global design company’), and she also paints and does art installations. Now Kate has made a 20-foot shipping container cabin, the Halfway House, which is something of an art installation itself. Built in the gritty heart of downtown Oakland, the container has street cred galore and a style that’s skid row squared, with the original green paint and rusty metal standing out proud in the places they’re not covered with mismatched, unfinished wood boards. There are glass doors and a couple of windows on one side. A ladder and a guardrail around the top allow for roof parties. Inside are a platform bed, a few shelves, a built-in table, a mini-fridge and a propane stove. And that’s about it for the moment. Although the Halfway House does have wiring, there’s no plumbing, and hence no kitchen sink or bathroom. Kate’s selling it for $17,000 as is. Of course, as is, it would probably be more appealing to an art buyer than a tiny house buyer. If you like the style but would like it a little more livable, Kate figures she could do the plumbing and weatherproofing for another five to eight thousand.
(And if you like the idea of a cabin container but prefer a more traditional style and more amenities, check out Custom Container Living, a Missouri company that makes a bunch of them, some not much more expensive than Kate’s.)
“The tiny house movement is really about doing it yourself and being off-grid—trying to do things as cheaply as possible. Our customer[s]… they basically don’t have to do anything.”
— Patrick Collins, CEO of Montainer
Patrick’s got a point, to be sure: the prefab shipping container homes his Missoula, Montana, company builds are anything but DIY, they’re connected to utilities upon installation, and a larger model can cost you more than a regular house in many areas. But the tiny house community is a pretty big tent, and there are surely a lot of people inside it who’d be interested in a ready-made (and well-made) small home that’s absolutely hassle-free.
And you can take that “absolutely” literally, because when you make a reservation for a Montainer house they don’t just start building it. No, the first step they take is to acquire the necessary permits to ensure that you’ll actually be able to put your new home where you want it. When you think of the trouble many tiny homeowners have with zoning and building codes, you’ll realize that this is a very important and often overlooked consideration – but if you’re buying from Montaineer you can overlook it to your heart’s content. If they can’t get permission for your house on your site, they’ll refund your deposit, all of it.
If Montaineer does get the green light from your local authorities, they’ll work with you on finalizing a custom design before they begin the build. They make everything from 200-square-foot single-container units to 960-square-foot three-container models, and can build in one or two stories. Standard amenities include electric baseboard heat, closed-cell spray foam insulation, kitchen sink and cabinets, mini-fridge, stove with hood, bathroom sink, shower and flush toilet. Air conditioning, washer/dryer, dishwasher, full-size refrigerator, oven and kitchen/bathroom tiles are available as options.
Montaineer continues to handle everything once your house is ready (usually in 6–12 months). They’ll prepare the site and put in a foundation, deliver the house on a flatbed truck and put it in place with a crane, hook it up to utilities and hand you the keys. It’s hard to imagine an easier way to get a brand-new, 100% legal tiny house in your yard.
But what about the price? Well, yes, Montaineer’s bigger models cost a minimum of $160,000. On the other hand, single-container houses start at $60,000, which is in the same range as many of the quality THOWs on the market today.
This interesting hybrid from Custom Container Living of Archie, Missouri, aims to combine the visual appeal of a log cabin with the sturdiness of a shipping container. It’s a largely successful effort. While you’d never mistake it for a real log cabin, the board-covered exterior looks anything but industrial. Standing inside, the bare metal of the ceiling and bathroom are your only clues that the house might not be timber-framed. Wooden walls, flooring, cabinets and storage stairs cover everywhere else, and the stone-topped kitchen counter and leather sofa in the living area add to the comfortably homey effect. With panoramic flat-screen TVs both across from the couch and at the foot of the queen bed in the loft, this looks like a great place for cozy cocooning. If it’s not quite your style, Custom Container Living has a couple dozen other floor plans available in various sizes and configurations ranging from family homes to weekend cabins to studios. Prices range from around $25,000 to $80,000.
This tidy charcoal-grey shipping container seems to be the first build from Walker Wilderness Enterprises. The company, which is located near Denver, plans to specialize in shipping container cabins and hunting lodges. This model is resolutely plain – minimalist, even – outside and in, but despite its simplicity the interior finish work is so well done that you don’t have any sense you’re standing inside a 40-foot metal crate. With 3+ inches of closed cell spray foam insulation throughout, you’ll also remain relatively unaffected by outside temperatures, which is always an important question for shipping container homes. Walker’s house is fitted with RV-style plumbing and electrical hookups, although the toilet is a Nature’s Head composting unit and the electrical system can also be taken off-grid if desired. Water for the nicely tiled shower can be heated with electricity or propane gas. Walker has this listed for $65,000 or best offer, with Gizmag suggesting that you may be able to get it for fifty if you ask nicely.
Danny Weber says he doesn’t believe in spending a lot of money on a tiny house – and he’s proved that you can get something comfortable and sturdy without needing to. The 8×40 shipping container house he built next to his full-sized house near Austin cost him only about $20,000 thanks to his use of basic construction materials and his habit of salvaging wherever possible. The result has some rough edges (at least for now – Danny plans a little more finish work), but the design is anything but pedestrian. There are doors on each end, huge sliding glass windows in front, a second-story deck covering a weatherproof patio, and a rear awning and false roof over the interior living area to give much-needed shade from the Texas sun. With high-grade materials and a little more polish, you could easily imagine seeing this in a glossy architectural magazine (probably at five times what Danny built it for).
The house is on-grid except for a composting toilet, with standard wiring and plumbing, including a septic tank hookup. Appliances include a mini-fridge and electric water and space heaters. Cooling was a priority; aside from the exterior shades, there’s a powerful ceiling fan in the bedroom and an air conditioning unit in the main space. Danny sprayed open cell insulation into the walls and under the wood laminate flooring to help regulate temperature. The bathroom is noteworthy for its jumble of salvaged elements which turn out to go together quite well: cedar-trimmed walls of leftover exterior siding surround a corrugated metal shower stall with a pebble floor.
Ello mates! Today we venture down under to share a beautiful container home. Better Homes and Gardens from Australia teamed up with Richie to help make his dream come true. He lived in the city and always wanted to move to the country, eventually scraping together enough money to buy a plot of land. There was just one problem – he didn’t have much money left. So he decided to look into alternative housing solutions and thought a container home might be the perfect “mobile” home. With help from a few of the guys at Better Homes and Gardens he was able to build a strikingly beautiful home for under $50k. Take a look at the pictures below, and be sure to watch the video if you want to get some great insight into the entire building process, where they share all sorts of clever ideas; everything from the insulation installation to hidden storage, flooring, and much more is covered in the show.
The Tin Can Cabin looks like a successful shipping container project, and it is – but interestingly, owner/builder Steve generally advises against following in his footsteps. Steve, a computer programmer, built the cabin to serve as a weekend getaway in the woods of northern Wisconsin. Wanting to add to the publicly available information on shipping container construction, he also carefully documented his experiences. His website has a lot of helpful insights, and he’s even prepared a step-by-step guide on How to Build a Shipping Container Cabin.
Here’s what he started with:
Getting help from a crew to move the containers into place
Those suckers are heavy!
Fast-forward to the finished product
Now it’s looking a lot more like a place to call home!
And Steve is perfectly satisfied with how the 480-square-foot cabin turned out. Composed of three 20-foot shipping containers, the building is simply finished and lacks hot water and an indoor toilet (there’s a waterless urinal and an outhouse), but it’s quite functional for its intended purpose – not to mention stylish. It’s off-grid because it has to be due to the location, but does have a well and solar panels that provide running water and electricity.
If you need strength and security, though, Steve allows that shipping containers can be a good choice. That’s why he used them – he’s only in the Tin Can Cabin occasionally, so break-ins are a concern – and why builders in hurricane- and tornado-prone regions might also want to consider container housing.
So why shouldn’t you build something like it? You can go to Steve’s website for his complete thoughts on the subject, but the brief answer is that using shipping containers makes construction more expensive and more difficult. While Steve spent about $36,000 on the Tin Can Cabin, he estimates that the bill would have been just over $20,000 if he’d used conventional materials. He also points out that having to work around the structure of the containers makes framing, wiring, and plumbing a lot harder than usual and limits what you can do with the design.