May 23, 2018
Home Design

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shipping container cottage the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Shipping container houses are the hallmarks of architectural recycling. These are Intermodal Steel Building Units, or ISBUs, that are reused as structures for any place and for any purpose. Be it a home, a studio, a port or a palace, shipping containers are inexpensive and durable buildings for residential, commercial and even industrial use.

Herein is a comprehensive guide for turning shipping containers into homes, their prices and how to buy them. First, let’s get inspired by some of the benefits of having a storage tank as a home and some examples of some homes people have constructed.

  • They are extremely easy to build into a home. Storage containers usually stand superior in the face of building codes.
  • Properly insulated, they can make for a warm and cozy home in the winter. There are also effective ways at making them resistant to excessive heat.
  • Since they are originally built for transport, they can be easily moved when they need to be.
  • They can withstand practically any extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Standing alone, an ISBU can handle 100 mile per hour winds. Securely anchored, it can take winds up to 175 miles per hour. You can also rest assured that it will never collapse during an earthquake. By far, they make for the safest storm shelters.
poteet architects the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Via Poteet Architects

modulus the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Via Modulus

paul mccredie the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Photo by Paul McCredie

eco pod the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Via Eco Pod

logan macdougall pope the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Photo by Logan MacDougall Pope


container dimensions the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

ISBUs are made of 100 percent Corten Steel, and there are a range of different sizes for them. However, the popular choice for shipping container houses are former sea containers that come in two standard sizes:

  • 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall, equaling to 160 square feet.
  • 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall, equaling to 320 square feet.

Alone, these can be suited as a tiny house. Even so, some people put multiple containers together for a bigger house. Others have even built entire commercial marine ports out of shipping containers, as well as big company headquarters, student housing and homeless shelters.


<<Discover How to Build a Container Home Step-By-Step>>

How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost – Shipping Container Prices

For a used 20-footer in good condition, the cost can range anywhere from $1,400 to $2,800. A 40 foot shipping container will cost $3,500 to $4,500. Depending on where it is bought, some containers come with building kits and plans for personal customization.

There are also a growing number of manufacturers that are designing prefabricated shipping container houses for $15,000 and up. Bigger shipping container homes cost as much as $215,000, which is still only a fraction of the price of some conventional homes.

Those who buy a shell and opt to hire a contractor for the rest of the technical work are looking to spend $50 to $150 an hour. This can run the whole bill up to $15,000 or more. On the other hand, those who are experienced with construction can completely finish and furnish a home of steel for less than $10,000. Some handy folks even manage to do it for less than $4,000!

Now, more than likely the container will need to be transported to you. The price of delivery varies considerably depending on how many are being transported and far it has to travel.

Turning A Storage Container Into A Livable Space – Shipping Container House Plans

Shipping container house plans are relatively simple to build. They go up in almost no time at all and are built to last – forever. They are, in fact, storage containers designed to hold up to 57,000 pounds. There is a good amount of preparation, construction and tune-up projects necessary for turning a shipping container into a home. This includes setting a foundation, cutting frames for doors and windows, insulating, installing utilities and adding a roof and flooring.

Building A Foundation

concrete foundation the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

There are essentially three types of foundations: a traditional concrete block, a crawl space and a basement. Factors that influence this decision are the overall shipping container home plans and design, water tables, soil type, climate, presence of radon, type of bedrock and the entire shipping container cost.

Traditional concrete block – by far the cheapest, easiest and most efficient foundation. The containers are usually faceted to the corners and welded to embedded steel reinforcements.

Crawl space – these are useful for a certain amount of extra storage when building a full basement isn’t feasible.

Basement – when water tables, soil type and bedrock allow, a basement is a good way of making use of more vertical storage and having potential living space.

In this sense, the foundation follows the same protocol as building a conventional home. Although usually mandatory for building codes, it is possible to forgo a foundation in some areas.

Cutting Frames For Doors And Windows

grinder sawzall plasma the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

It sounds easy enough, but how do you cut through the extremely thick and heavy steel? This is an important detail, and there are three possible options:

  • Cutting disk (top left in photo) – very rudimentary, but it works. Expect lots of sparks, shards and shreds of shooting metal flying every which way. Also, expect to replace the blade multiple times.
  • Reciprocating saw, also called a “sawzall” (bottom left in photo) – as long as it’s industrial strength, most of these will make it through the entire build without burning out.
  • Plasma cutter (right in photo) – these compress air and electricity to such a degree that they melt the metal as they cut. Definitely the most efficient, although costly. They require an air compressor and sometimes a special plug or outlet. The tips of these burn out easily and are expensive to replace. The machine itself sometimes fails and will require some troubleshooting. All in all the plasma cutter is the quickest way to get the job done.


insulation the ultimate guide to shipping container homes

Simply applying a closed-cell foam layer to the inside and outside walls of the building will work wonders for insulating against most problems of heat, cold and moisture.

Hot climates, or at least hot summers, might require reflective paint on the outside of the building. A “cool roof” coating helps reflect the sun’s UV rays and prevents too much heat gain.

Supertherm and NASA-type ceramic-based spray paints are the other option. They are cheaper than foam and leave more welcome room in an already compacted living space. They work well because the adhere strongly to metal.

These paints inhibit mold, mildew and rust from forming on the building. After several layers of application, ceramic paint can provide for very substantial insulation.

With the exception of ceramic-based paint, don’t expect other “insulating paints” to provide for much insulation. Mixed with extra chemicals and additives, they have been debunked for any real insulating value. They are just too thin for any noticeable effect on cooling, heating and moisture compared to ceramic paint or an inch of foam.

Dry wall is often installed to hide the corrugated steel, wiring and foam and give the building a more homelike feel, as well as for added insulation.


This is similar to installing utilities in any conventional home. Plumbing is usually restricted to one, two or three locations. Gas can go to the kitchen, the water heater and maybe a vented fireplace. Often, wiring runs behind dry wall and below the flooring.

Installing A Roof

One advantage of a shipping container is that it already comes equipped with super-strength and weather-tight roof and walls. However, the tank was initially designed for storage, and the roof is not the best fixed structure when two or more containers are joined. This is because the water run-off design of a single container is negated by that extra join. Water begins to build up on the roof and serious corrosion can occur.

In only a matter of hours, a conventional hip roof can be installed by metal straps, welding and clamps. The advantages of this are better water run-off, potential rain harvest, solar heat reflection and extra shade over the doors and windows.


Shipping containers already come with ½ inch plywood floor. One thing about this, however, is the hazardous chemicals that the plywood is treated with, such as insecticides, fungicides and preservatives. Many studies conducted on this subject have confirmed that these chemicals are harmful to humans. They are easily transferred to anything touching the floor.

For a shipping container home plan, it is a good idea to either remove and replace the floor or cover the existing floor with an industrial epoxy or polyurethane paint. For a 20 foot container, it will take about 5 sheets of plywood and double that for a 40-footer. Otherwise, an epoxy or polyurethane coating completely seals the chemicals and off-gassing into the floor, rendering the container a safe place to live.

How To Find Shipping Containers For Sale

There are places all over the world to find used shipping containers for sale. Of course, it is best to try and find someone locally, since the container can be personally inspected before buying. It will also considerably cut down on delivery costs.

If there’s no local option, and you’re unsure about who to buy such a formidable product from, the safest bet is to find an ISBU association member. You can buy shipping container with complete security and satisfaction. These are certified dealers that supply quality tanks with a history of business.

Otherwise, there are plenty of other dealers. This is a good online resource for finding a variety of companies, small and large, where you can find a shipping container for sale.

When there is no way to personally inspect the container before making the purchase, ask for high quality photos of the entire structure. That is, all sides, top and bottom, inside and out. Make sure it is structurally sound and not twisted, crooked or corroded. Ask about its age and find out if there is any documentation.

Don’t buy a used container if it’s been recently painted. It could be hiding damage, such as corrosion. Usually, rust, scrapes and small dings don’t affect the overall quality and function. Corrosion does, however. Even with a discount, it isn’t worth buying a corroded container because it’s too expensive to repair. Corrosion could also mean that the container isn’t even real steel.

Shipping Container Homes For Sale

New Generation Builders is a Lakeland, Florida-based company that sells customized, prefabricated storage container homes. They specialize in the smaller 20 foot containers for efficiency and sustainability.

Rhino Cubed is based in Louisville, Kentucky. They have completely decked-out and artistically created shipping container homes for living on or off-the-grid.

Cargotecture is a Seattle, Washington-based company building very affordable prefab storage container homes. They also sell shipping containers with Do-It-Yourself kits for an even cheaper approach.

The recycled use of shipping containers for homes and other buildings symbolizes a pivotal point in our industrial culture. We are moving towards a more sustainable approach to using resources. Many people have taken to reusing existing materials, either from financial restrictions or from conscious choice. Shipping container homes offer offer an extremely sturdy foundation for building an environmentally friendly future.

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house trailers for sale how to find the right house trailer for your tiny home

A trailer is the gypsy wagon of your tiny house. It will be carrying everything; all your dreams and hopes of a tiny home will rest upon this trailer. Finding a sturdy house trailer for sale that suits the size of the house is essential, and it’s probably the most important purchase you will make. Here, we will be considering the highs and lows of finding house trailers for sale.

New And Improved

There are new house trailers for sale that are designed specifically for tiny houses. The good ones come flat decked with steel flanges that make it possible to attach and build a house on without going over the sides. They carry the weight with heavy duty tires, axles and steel beam decking and come equipped with running lights and electric brakes.

These are high-end trailers that usually run for about $2,000 and up. Buying one of these babies takes the load off of your mind and puts it onto the trailer, where you can be sure that it’s safe and secure. However, finding someone who manufactures them locally might be the challenge, and it could require a long drive to pick one up.

Used And Affordable

For those who are wary of spending too much and would rather buy a used trailer, there are still plenty of good options. What most people recommend is a standard flatbed, often called a utility trailer. These almost always come with side railings on them, and they will more than likely have to be taken off to fit or build the tiny home.

Trailers have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or GVWR, which is how many pounds it can hold. This depends on the axles. Some axles can hold 3,500 pounds each and others hold 5,000 pounds. There is a good chance that the trailer you find will come with two axles, so the total weight that it can hold will either be 7,000 or 10,000 pounds.

The average size hitch ball will be around 2 to 2 5/8 inches. These are easily manageable and can be replaced for about $30. Of course, the brakes and break lights will also need to be hooked up to the hauling vehicle.

Trailers can be found by searching the Web, the newspaper or by asking around locally. There is no shortage of them, you just have to be persistent. A trusty old trailer usually averages around $500 to $1,500. Here are some extra tips for trailer searching:

  • Browse the internet daily – this never ceases to be a useful tactic. New things are uploaded on the Web daily, so a routine search through Craigslist, eBay or Pininterest will inevitably yield some interesting results.
  • Use the right keywords – trailers have many names. Try “car trailer,” “utility hauler,” “tiny house trailer” or just “trailer.” People tend to be either very descriptive or not descriptive at all.
  • Cruise local camper, RV and marine sites – there are so many trailers for sale that never make it public at all. Camper and RV camp sites can potentially have left behind trailers, and marine sites can provide phone numbers and other good leads.

The trailer is to a mobile home what a concrete slab is to a stationary abode. Invest wisely. This is nearly 18 percent of the total cost of building or buying a tiny mobile home.

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get away from it all with prefab cabins and prefab cottages

It turns out that affordable dreams do come true – they’re called prefab cabins and prefab cottages. These simple living, modern prefab homes come with all the necessities and conveniences that make for a cozy house. They are small, efficient and affordable and are built to fit on any sized land for the purpose of lasting a lifetime.

What It Is

Prefabricated homes are cabins and cottages constructed in a factory. They are built with strong frames, are completely weather-proof and are tailored to the customer’s needs. They are fully equipped with insulation, plumbing and wiring, so these humble abodes are completely ready for residence all year long. With a kitchen, bathroom, living space and bedroom, they’re totally suitable for modest living or retirement.

Small prefab homes average around 18 feet wide by 26 feet long, making them have some of the tiniest environmental footprints. Interior space averages about 300 square feet, with an extra 100 square feet below in a crawlspace or basement. Of course, they can be built bigger. Prefab cabins can be up to 835 square feet or more, and the prices can range from under $10,000 to $72,000 or higher.

How It’s Done

Customers are the designers, and they work with a team to build their home. They usually customize standard models until their ideal design has been seen through. Designing the cabin is usually the longest part of the process. Once the actual building begins, it may only take a matter of days before it is delivered to the permanent home site. Each one of these old-style homes rarely come out similar, and they always come out sturdy, reliable and perfectly suited to the customer’s liking.

Modern prefab homes are built to each state’s individual building standards and certification requirements. The building is even insulated, plumbed and wired! This means instead of a sub-par weekend retreat or hunting shack, it is a completely suitable place for calling home.

The customer is only responsible for the local end of building, such as securing a building permit from the local municipality and laying the foundation. The foundation can be piers, a concrete slab, crawl space or a full size basement, depending on what local building codes require. The owner is also responsible for connecting the house’s utilities and building a septic.

Some tips to remember for designing a prefab cottage are:

  • Take advantage of vertical space. Using an upper loft as a sleeping space, for example, can free up an entire room for other purposes. Incorporate plenty of built-in cabinets, shelves and storage areas all the way up the walls.
  • Keep the cabin shape square or rectangle. This can keep the building cost significantly down since the more corners there are, the more support will be needed to build it.
  • Add more windows. This not only provides more natural lighting, it can significantly reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the cabin in the winter.

Designing a small prefab home and teaming up with a specialized crew to build it is the easiest way of obtaining those old country living dreams. Once it is built, the cabin can be shipped to practically any place in North America, no matter how far or how remote. Some companies even ship overseas.

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what is the tiny house movement

How big of a home do you need, really? Some people believe they can’t live in anything smaller than 20,000 sq ft. For most Americans, it’s probably closer to several thousand square feet.

But for a growing minority, a home can be even smaller. Think 100-600 sq ft. They call them “tiny houses.” And they could be coming to a neighborhood near you – eventually.

Less Is More

The Tiny House Movement is dedicated to encouraging miniaturized dwellings with low energy requirements, reduced furnishings, and minimal expenses. The price range for tiny homes is comparable to the recreational vehicles (RVs) market.

Small-scale housing affords a parsimonious lifestyle with an impressively tiny carbon footprint. Inspired by sustainability and minimalist concepts, tiny homes combine thrifty design and energy efficiency with cultural notions of the simple life, reduced to its bare essentials.

According to Jay Shafer, who identifies himself as one of the movement’s founding thinkers, there is a spiritual dimension to the idea of tiny living, too. “Necessity exists in all of nature,” he says. “People are really into the idea of what they really need to be happy and comfortable and surviving, and a small house really encapsulates that.”

“Extra stuff and extra square footage dilutes a sense of vitality.”

Shafer sells pocket home plans to people interested in the concept of ultra-downsized quarters. He is the founder of the Four Lights Tiny House Company, based in California.

A History of Small Houses

It’s worth noting that small-scale housing is not all that new in the U.S. As proponents point out, most American families lived in households that were less than 1,000 sq ft. at the dawn of the industrial economy – back when most of the population lived in the rural countryside.

America has a long and enduring history of emphasizing sustainable housing, simple residences, portable dwellings, and back-to-Nature lifestyles. Once upon a time, it inspired Henry David Thoreau and the transcendentalists. It’s why we still speak with pride of Abraham Lincoln and his log cabin. It’s why Americans love boondocking, think gypsies are fascinating, and buy more RVs than any other people on the planet.

Today’s Tiny House Movement traces itself to the late 1990s, when a disparate group of authors, consultants, designers, artists, educators and community activists, many living on the West Coast, began to collaborate on their common interest in small-scale living. The Small House Society was founded in 2002, emphasizing the utility of portable tiny homes on wheels.

Legal Obstacles

The Tiny House Movement aims to transform the typical, sprawling American residence into something much more modest. But there’s just one, not-so-small obstacle the movement must defeat to survive and thrive: tiny homes are largely illegal.

Most jurisdictions have minimal size requirements for residential units. Even when very small habitats are allowed, they cannot occupy their own lot, but must exist only as accessory dwellings beside a larger structure.

It’s also hard to get a home loan or insurance on minikin homes. Banks and insurers seem reluctant to invest in the structures. And while conventional water and sewer systems are required and often desired, they are prohibitively expensive compared to the actual size of the home – which defeats the purpose, some say.

These are all serious and significant obstacles. Restrictions on permanent small homes built on a foundation have pushed many aspiring tiny homeowners to put their pad on wheels and call it an RV, semi-trailer, or mobile home. Although not viable everywhere, doing so can make it possible to get registered and live within the bounds of the law – sort of.

Once you’ve got a pint-sized home on wheels, however, there are parking issues aplenty. Short-term limits govern how long you can live in an RV in a single location. A semi-trailer cannot legally be used as a dwelling. A mobile home has to sit in a park full of them. Many tiny homeowners aren’t interested in traditional trailer parks, and there aren’t any ‘tiny home parks’ – not yet, anyway.

Role of Ingenuity

Ingenuity is a strong suit of the movement. Creative pioneers have come up with enough alternatives, workarounds, and loopholes to keep the movement going in spite of institutional inertia. Some progress has been made in Portland, Oregon, considered one of the movement’s hot spots. The City recently waived certain development charges for tiny homestead builders.

Meanwhile, advocates say there need to be changes in the law to allow petite houses to proliferate. Others suggest tiny houses need their own intentional communities to bolster their legal standing and local clout.

The movement is definitely still in its infancy. Under the current circumstances, advocates and homeowners face more than one uphill battle. As more people join the tide of micro-housing, though, there could be some interesting legal conflicts and changes in the years to come.

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your guide to finding a quality teardrop camper for sale

Teardrops are the most efficient little travel trailers on the road. They are the most light-weight, accessible and affordable campers the market today. Finding a teardrop trailer for sale isn’t even as hard as it may sound, either.

In the last decade, small travel trailers have re-emerged in popularity. Before about 2008, big and luxurious RVs had out-competed many teardrop trailer manufacturers simply because of the lack in demand. The rising tide of gasoline prices and other nationwide economical problems have suddenly made teardrop campers look so much more attractive.

These are small, teardrop-shaped campers that have one room for a queen or full size bed and a back trunk. Most people use the truck as a kitchen, with a table, stove and some built-in cabinets. Some people even manage to put in an oven and a sink. Teardrops are usually framed with wood, aluminum or fiberglass.

Many people are looking for teardrop campers for sale where some are building their own. Both of these are very achievable. For the sake of an ideal price range, we will be focusing on a teardrop camper for sale to build below $5,000.

Finding Teardrop Trailers For Sale

Quality teardrop campers for sale can average anywhere from $2,900 and up, depending on how complete the camper will be with comforts and amenities. The more luxuries it has, the pricier it will be. It is better to simplify as much as possible. Buying a teardrop shell that is personally furnished after purchasing it is definitely the cheapest route.

Also an option is to buy a vintage teardrop that needs refurbishing. These are used campers that were built anywhere from the 1930’s to the 1980’s and are in dire need of repair or remodel to be used. Sometimes all they need is a little love and attention, with some luck. Often, the cost of what goes in a refurbishment still comes out less than buying a new teardrop camper.

To really get the best deals, it is necessary to frequent the right sites. Some sites, like Pin Interest, provide great leads to great teardrop trailers for sale. Otherwise, stay on the lookout on eBay and even Craig’s List. There are also few manufacturers out there that have teardrops on the cheaper side. With time, ardent online searching can yield very good results.

Build It Yourself

Those who opt to build their own teardrop can do so for under $2,000. It is relatively easy for someone familiar with simple math and wood construction. With the right tools and resources, a teardrop trailer can be built within 3 to 6 months, assuming that it would be worked on 18 hours every weekend.

These are some of the materials needed to build a teardrop trailer:

  • towing trailer,
  • vent,
  • screws,
  • hinges,
  • plywood or aluminum,
  • wood glue and
  • paint or aluminum molding.

Many of the materials can be purchased online. It is especially possible to find and use recycled materials. Teardrops manufactured after World War II, for instance, were built from old jeep tires and aluminum salvaged from the war.

Just as important are the tools necessary for building the camper:

  • framing square,
  • wireless drill and drill bits,
  • wrenches, depending on the size and model of the trailer,
  • saws, like jigsaw, sabre saw, scroll saw, coping saw or table saw,
  • C clamps,
  • belt sander and
  • a router.

Well worth every amount of effort is either finding a teardrop camper for sale or building one. They are the most portable trailers and can be pulled by almost any vehicle, even a few motorcycles. They are also very comfortable for camping in year-round, so long as they’re well insulated. Once you have one, it might be hard not to sleep in it every night!

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wet basement whats the best flooring for basement

Dealing with a wet basement is a real nuisance. It can turn a potentially usable place into a dank, dark and uninhabitable cave. Even regular storage becomes unlikely because the floor is too moist. With some of the the best flooring for basement options, the lower level environment becomes less of a cavern and more like a manageable and even livable room. Luckily, there are plenty of types of flooring to choose from.

To start with, let’s consider the worst options, such as basement carpet, solid wood and laminate flooring. Sure, basement carpet is warm and cozy, but where there’s water, there’s going to be armies of nasty mold and mildew collecting inside of it.

Hardwood floors exposed to moisture, let alone fluctuating humidity, will eventually swell and ruin.

As long as the laminate flooring is glued, it will at least be slightly harder for water to enter the underneath “wear layer”, but if it does, it immediately splinters and destroys itself.

Now, let’s talk about what is actually viable for semi-moist to damp basement conditions:

Engineered wood – this is only moderately resistant to water. It has a sturdy plywood base, but it”floats,” meaning there will be a layer underneath that water can sneak into. In the event of a flood, the flooring affected will need to be replaced. It is also hard to find extra pieces from the manufacturer if only part of the floor needs to be repaired.

Linoleum tile and sheet – being oil based, this floor is more water resistant. The tiles, however, are composite material, so water will find places to seep into. Going for sheet linoleum is a better choice because there are less seams and the whole floor becomes flat and solid. However, in case of a flood, it will be impossible to make a seamless fix.

Vinyl tile and sheet – an excellent choice for the purpose of water resistance. Nothing sheds water like vinyl, but there is again the problem with the vinyl tiles as a potential entry way for water. Furthermore, if water does happen to get behind the sheet, it will cause the floor to raise and fixing it will be somewhat unsightly because of the irregularity.

Epoxy paint – very affordable. This stuff seals thick and hard, making it durable and reliable against water damage. They come in a few decent colors and can turn the basement from a moldy mess to a functional space.

Ceramic and stone tiles – this is the floor most commonly used in showers, bathrooms, pools and so on. It is one of the pricier choices, but it will last for a very long time since it doesn’t corrode or rot, no matter how much exposure to water there is. It can also be installed on the walls where there might be some extra water exposure, and it looks great. Compared to the previous choices, ceramic and stone make cleaning up water seem fun and easy.

Concrete – by far the best flooring for basement choice. Not only is it super affordable, properly sealed concrete will not let a drop of water into the floor. It is a good idea to pair concrete with a waterproof paint. Not only does it make a wet basement completely waterproof, adding a flair of dye for a tinted, stained or stamped look makes concrete look way more elegant than one would think.