The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



Homeownership Is A Journey. But Are Container Homes the Answer?

 November 20, 2023 |  DIY, Safety |  real estate, home exterior, windows

The modern home comes in many strange and striking varieties. From the staple Mid-Century Modern to classical Queen Anne homes, the residential market never stops innovating to fit new tastes. One new trend that’s been turning heads and appealing heavily to DIYers everywhere is known as the container home. In other words, homes constructed fully out of shipping containers. That’s right! Although it may sound strange to those unfamiliar with the concept, many homeowners are using those same steel-based boxes used to transport goods across the ocean as bases for their own prefabricated house, or the start of an ambitious DIY project.

So, are container homes just a quirky, trendy home alternative that’ll fade away in a few years, or can these lego houses make a practical impact that lasts? To try and answer that question, let’s take a deeper dive into what makes these homes tick.

What is a Container Home?
Container homes are a newer trend of homebuilding that seems to be cut from the same cloth as tiny homes, appealing to individuals and families who would like to cut down on unnecessary space, while having an incredible amount of input on the construction of their homes. One way that container homes might differ from tiny homes, however, is in their creation.

Shipping containers are designed to be extremely durable and weather-resistant to protect the materials within from the wear and tear of oceanic travels. However, due to the costs of shipping an empty container back across the ocean, most companies opt to sell their shipping containers on arrival. The result? Many large, steel containers are available across the United States for fairly low costs (in comparison to the price of a new, traditionally built home).

Either privately or through a company that specializes in working with shipping containers, homeowners have been using either one, or multiple shipping containers stacking upon each other to create affordable, unique residential properties after a few adjustments (adding insulation, plumbing systems, doors, windows, etc.).

Why are People Choosing to Live in Shipping Containers?
As mentioned, container homes seem, in part, to appeal to the same sort of people interested in tiny homes. For some, having a more direct involvement in the construction of their home gives them a stronger sense of ownership and satisfaction over their property. For others, the low costs and quick construction are enough of a draw for them to opt into this style.

Due to the high availability of shipping containers, some even believe that these homes are a natural answer to the housing crisis that much of the States are facing today (see more on the subject in this article from Container homes don’t just have availability going for them, though! Plenty of people love the style of these modular homes, including the modern vibe. With that said, container homes aren’t without their problems.

What are the Concerns for Container Homes?
Many container home advocates point out the red tape that can often be a hurdle for owners looking to DIY or purchase their own shipping container house, and some areas pose unique restrictions that limit these types of properties. Detractors of these properties aren’t just against the look–their structural limitations might be hazardous.

Obviously, shipping containers weren’t designed for residential occupancy in mind, so when doors and windows are cut into the steel structure of these containers, they become compromised, requiring new and expensive reinforcements as well as renewed sealing to protect from water intrusion. Other problems arise due to the difficulty of installing insulation and basic appliances. Most shipping containers are limited strictly to around eight feet in height, which creates further limitations for adding necessary home systems.

On top of all of this, finding help from contractors becomes more difficult since the best professionals on traditional homes simply aren’t familiar with the nuances of container homes. While these homes have their interesting strengths, the inherent problems seem daunting enough to limit widespread popularity.

Are Container Homes Here to Stay - Or a Passing Trend?
Problems with container homes might be resolved in time through creative innovations or new technologies but for now, most seem to think these homes will be limited in their popularity in areas where weather varies more widely, or hits extremes. That isn’t to say that Container homes don’t provide an exciting option in emergency scenarios or as temporary residences. Overall, container homes show how the real estate market is constantly evolving and is inhabited by some of the most creative minds out there!

For more real estate topics and trends, stick right here! NPI is the nation’s premier network of home inspection experts. To learn more about how your local home inspector can meet your needs, call for a quote today!

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