How Big Are Shipping Container Homes?

Large shipping container house

Are you contemplating a shipping container house for yourself? It’s worth asking because, although a shipping container can be a viable option to build an entire house, shipping containers come in all shapes and sizes.

Shipping container homes are gaining popularity and for good reasons. They are trendy, affordable, extremely safe, and eco-friendly. But how big can you make these homes? Let’s take a look at how big shipping container homes can be. 

How big is a shipping container house?

Shipping container homes come in multiple shapes and sizes. If you’re interested in exploring your options, it’s important to have a good idea of the average size of shipping container homes. The biggest factor influencing the size of a shipping container home is whether you’re building a single unit or multiple units.

The most common types of homes are:

  • Single-unit homes

These are made from containers and don’t have common walls with any other dwelling. They can be designed with any floor plan, ranging from small studio homes to large family homes. 

  • Multi-unit dwellings

These container-based structures include common walls, similar to townhouses or duplexes. These are usually two-story homes that consist of two containers per unit, but they can be built using more units per level if desired.

How much space do you need?

The size of shipping container homes can vary depending on the number of containers used and how they are arranged. The most popular configuration is a single 40-foot container. This size offers 320 square feet of floor space, enough for a small home or studio apartment. 

However, it is possible to go bigger than this. The most common way to get more space is by using multiple containers.

How Much Do Shipping Container Homes Cost?

The cost of a shipping container home relies on several factors:

  • Size 

You can buy a single shipping container for $2,000 and $4,000. However, a standard container is 8 feet wide, so if you want to build a home that’s wider than that, you’ll have to connect two or more containers. The more containers you use, the higher your costs will be.

  • Location 

Depending on where you live, you might need to pay for permits before you start building — and that can get expensive quickly. Be sure to talk with your local planning department about what your project will entail so that you don’t have any surprises down the road.

  • Design and customization 

If you want to build a pretty standard container home — say, one or two bedrooms and an open common area — then it should cost less than $100 per square foot to build. But if your plans are more elaborate, expect costs to increase accordingly.

  • Materials costs 

As with any construction project, some of the materials used in shipping container homes can be expensive (especially if they’re imported). That said, because shipping containers are made of metal, they’re also inherently resistant to pests and rot — which means they won’t require as much maintenance.


Shipping container houses have a wide range in size, mostly depending on the owner’s needs, although formally approved shipping container home residences must be between 800 square feet and 999 square feet.

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