A Guide to Shipping Container Homes

If you’re looking for an easy, compact way to live in a home of your own without causing as much environmental impact, shipping container homes may be for you. Explore everything you need to know about owning one of these unique houses in Michigan and what to expect when buying one.

What Are Shipping Container Homes?

Shipping container homes are houses made of new or upcycled shipping containers. Because these containers are made with corrosion-resistant steel and other heavy-duty materials, they make great building materials for houses after they’re done hauling cargo across the ocean and the country.

These unique homes are easy to customize, as they’re stackable and combine like other types of modular and manufactured homes. However, because they use existing materials and keep containers out of the scrap piles, they’re also considered sustainable housing.

As experts in creating safe, modern homes of all types for residents in West Michigan, Preferred Homes is proud to offer shipping container houses from Blox, one of the top manufacturers in the industry.

Shipping Container Home Building Process

Design Discussions

We offer container homes in multiple sizes and styles, but suppose you want to add onto an existing home or pair multiple units together to make a larger living space. We can help you out with the logistics and tell you what to expect, no matter what you have in mind.

Factory Prefabrication

Much like other types of modular homes, shipping container houses are converted in large, enclosed facilities that give workers complete control over their workspace. Whereas traditional homes are subject to weather conditions and the availability of crews and materials, these facilities are climate-controlled and have equipment available on site.

Meanwhile, a crew will prepare your foundation to make the next steps as smooth as possible.

Module Delivery

Once you’ve chosen your dream house design and the builders have finished converting your container into your future home, our staff will deliver it. Delivery times vary depending on availability.

On-Site Assembly

Once your shipping container home is on site and placed on its foundation, the rest of the setup tasks will begin. Among other things, this includes:

  • Hooking up utilities
  • Installing stairs and handrails, if applicable
  • Finishing drywall and repairing any cracks from transport
  • Installing cabinetry and furniture
  • Testing utilities
  • Laying flooring

How Much Is a Shipping Container Home?

Generally speaking, this is one of the most affordable housing options available today. While they typically cost less than other home types, pricing depends on several factors:

  • Size: Stacking or attaching multiple containers for a full-size container home will generally cost more than buying single-unit tiny homes.
  • Design: Generally speaking, intricate layouts and custom floor plans will cost more than some of the standard options we have available.
  • Customization options: Including bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen layouts, and appliances in your converted container space will generally cost more than buying one unfurnished.

To learn more about the pricing options for specific models, reach out to our staff and we’ll help you know which options might be best for you.

Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

If you’re thinking about making a house out of recycled shipping containers, it’s important to get familiar with the pros and cons of using them to build your dream home. 

Benefits of Choosing a Shipping Container House

Some of the reasons why you might choose a shipping container home include:

  • Affordability: Container homes cost a fraction of the price of regular homes while still offering many of the same amenities and benefits. This makes them an ideal solution in markets experiencing a shortage of affordable housing.
  • Sustainability: Instead of scrapping shipping containers at the end of their service, converting them into container homes allows people to upcycle them for better energy efficiency while using fewer resources.
  • Customization: Even true tiny homes made from single shipping containers can be customized to include the comforts you’d expect from a designer home, such as balconies, multiple floors, and modern interiors.
  • Mobility: Much like other manufactured houses, shipping container homes are as easy to move as putting them on the back of a semi and taking them to your new property.
  • Quick delivery: Compared to traditional homes and even some types of modular or manufactured homes, container houses are usually available with faster delivery times, making it easier to move into your new space.

Challenges of Choosing a Shipping Container House

Like any other housing type, shipping container homes come with a few unique drawbacks you might not experience with other types of housing:

  • Smaller space: Shipping containers may require more customization if you desire a larger layout.
  • Zoning difficulties: Shipping container homes typically require very specific types of zoning permissions and permits, since most agencies consider them non-permanent structures.
  • Additional requirements: Shipping containers may require reinforcement and installation of hookups for plumbing and electricity.

However, it’s important to note that at Preferred Homes, we can work with you to accommodate these drawbacks. We have years of experience helping people move into homes of all sizes and types. We’re proud to work with Blox, a dedicated shipping container home manufacturer, to make sure these drawbacks aren’t a problem.

How Long Do Shipping Container Homes Last?

As mentioned, these containers are designed to survive some of the worst storms the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans have to offer. Because they’re durable, homes made from shipping containers can last 25 years on their own at least.

However, this estimation assumes that you aren’t carefully maintaining your home, or you let the steel exterior be the only siding on the house. If you add external siding or take other steps to prevent rusting, they can last even longer.

What Makes Shipping Container Homes Safe?

Shipping container homes offer great security compared to traditional and manufactured homes. They’re less likely to experience the wear and tear manufactured homes might experience during transit and are easier to move than traditional manufactured housing. 

Are Shipping Container Homes Safe in a Tornado?

There’s a reason why converted shipping containers are also frequently used as emergency shelters in tornado-prone areas. Unlike traditional manufactured houses, shipping container homes can withstand tornadoes because they’re too heavy for most winds to move.

Shipping containers were built to withstand 50-foot waves and winds exceeding 130 knots per hour on massive ships. While we still recommend sheltering in a basement during a tornado warning, your shipping container house is far more likely to withstand a tornado than a traditional home.

Pre-Built Shipping Container Homes in Michigan

Pre-built and new shipping container homes are allowed in Michigan, and we have years of experience navigating the regulations and local requirements throughout our service area. While there may be some local zoning regulations in place, Michigan does not have any statewide laws preventing the construction of container homes.

Why Choose Preferred Homes?

At Preferred Homes, we understand that your home is your sanctuary—a place perfect for your growing family and an ideal spot to relax after a long workday. We strive for excellent service and an incredible experience while you’re looking for your new home. We’ll work with your budget and requirements to customize the perfect shipping container home for all your needs.

Find Shipping Container Homes for Sale Near You

Ready to find a shipping container home to call your own? View our available container home floor plans and then schedule a tour with us to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Shipping Container Homes Hot?

Although their exteriors are usually steel, container homes can be easy to keep cool during the warm summer months, especially when they’re outfitted with heating and air conditioning units, awnings, and a larger roof to insulate the house from the heat during Michigan’s hottest August days.

What Building Codes Do Shipping Container Homes Adhere to?

Shipping container homes are subject to state-level building regulations. While some local governments may have specific requirements for homes that aren’t set on permanent foundations, Michigan’s state-level requirements for manufactured and modular homes also apply to container houses.

Posted in

Find Shipping Container Homes for Sale Near You

Ready to find a shipping container home to call your own? View our available container home floor plans and then schedule a tour with us to get started.

Let Us Help You Find Your Dream Home

Preferred Homes has a variety of homes available, with options for all types of budgets. Check out what we have available, or if you're ready to take the next step—schedule a tour today!