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Shipping Containers, those long steel containers designed to haul goods to market across the ocean have kind of become a big thing.  Should you consider a home, cottage, cabin, or tiny home made of them?

Shipping Container House

Shipping Container House Sample (not mvi’s)

The smallest shipping container is approx 100 square feet, and if you use a modular build you can build large homes, hotels, buildings of any size.  8 full sized containers attached together make approx 1400 square foot home.

So why the excitement about utilizing shipping containers for homes or cabins, or modular builds.  Well, abundance is one of them.  It is estimated that there are 14 million in circulation.  Also like any trend, there appear to be breakthrough benefits of using shipping containers as prefabricated modular build materials.  People believe them to be an affordable, or even a cheap way to build, on top of that helping the earth by up-cycling what would have been garbage into a home.

Container Home using Modular Construction, BC, AB, Sask

Sample of a Container Home (not MVI’s)


So lets look at why people are so interested in container homes, and see whether it is hype or real.


People believe them to be affordable or even a cheap way to build. This is not really the case.  Perhaps in areas where no insulation or snow loads exist this is true, but if you consider what the container has really replaced you will find out very quickly that the prices are almost identical to Prefabricated Ready-to-Move homes.

The reason there isn’t big savings is simple, all the container does is to replace the siding and plywood of a regular home.  All the rest remains the same.  still requires framing, insulation drywall, flooring, foundation, roof, etc.

Also, because shipping containers are not designed as homes, they still require a roof system to carry the snow loads that exist in here in BC, AB, and Sask. where we fabricate homes for.

RECYCLING / Up-Cycling.

Well, we are all trying our best to reduce our impact.  I separate my garbage, my recycling from the trash, and the organic from the in-organic.  So the notion of taking what would be waste, and making it into a home somehow feels like we’ve done something good for the world.

Well I hate to break it to you….

Most containers used by container home contractors/builders have only been used once.  Turns out no one wants the rusted, dented, and salt corroded containers that do need to be recycled.  They recycle those when they are no longer functional as a shipping container.- this also, unfortunately, means they are not functional for a home, Tiny home, or cabin either.

IN FACT, it is far more wasteful then current traditional homes, or prefab, or modular construction.  That is a lot of wasted steel.  In fact, you could take the steel from just one container and frame 14 homes with steel studs.

Container homes are far more wasteful and far worse for the environment then modular rtm building.


It is true.  A shipping container was built to survive the harshest environments for up to 15 years of service.  They can survive almost anything.

But the tops are not designed a weigh carrying structure like the roof of a house.  All the strength in a container is in the corners and sides.  Much of the strength from the side of the containers come from the corrugated nature of it.  It is this ripple that gives strength to the steel.  Otherwise, it would crinkle like a tin can crushed under the weight.    The first thing that is done in the process of making these homes is cutting large holes in the steel for windows, doors and openings, eliminating the one true benefit to these containers.

alberta,bc,sask -Shipping-Container-House-

Shipping container being made into a home.  – HOW MUCH are you saving? How much are you recycling?


SO, if you are considering a container home for your next a carriage/laneway home, garage suite, tiny house, lakefront getaway, home, cottage, or modular build… Perhaps you need to re-consider RTM, and modular building that Mountain View Industries offers.




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