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.
Did you like this home? Be sure to check out more shipping container builds here.