Home: Eleven Amazing Shipping Container Homes

If we’re talking housing affordability, well Australia has a bit of a crappy record at the moment.  This recent piece by the ABC says that we are reaching crisis point, and that we’re going to run into all kinds of problems a bit further down the track when retirees are forced to rent (when previous generations were living in the home they’d paid off by that stage.)

It’s all a bit upsetting really.  And we need a rethink about housing altogether.  I’m all for setting up new style communes, where groups of people buy up parcels of land and build separately (but together!)  I think the benefits of having a little community, sharing the financial load and creating bespoke spaces are pretty obvious. But I am a bit of a hippy like that.

I know this is a complex problem, and there’s no ‘quick fix’, but perhaps these container homes would be a good place to start?  Sort of like a repurposed version of a kit home, these ones are super fancy and totally innovative.  It think they’d work really well as part of a mini community…  And we’ve got to start somewhere, if we’re going to address the housing crisis and build affordable homes.  Do you think this is a good place to start?

Would you live in one of these amazing container homes? Or do you have some bright ideas of your own about innovative housing?

x Pip

  • Jeanne

    fantastic, very solid.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      They are amazing, aren’t they? Such a great idea!

      • Anthony

        sea containers are meant for just that.
        I spent a month stuffing 3 of them them and no way I’m gonna live in 1
        There are much cheaper materials for housing like insulated panels.
        Come on Ikea start selling flat pack homes in Australia

  • http://twitter.com/ClareLucyVox Clare Lucy

    Funny, I was discussing this idea with a friend only a few days ago. To me it seems like a great idea – simultaneously reusing existing materials and questioning our need to have massive houses. Some of those designs are great too – I especially like the Costa Rican home.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      I’m really into this idea too! I think that we need to rethink the whole housing industry. And we need to innovate more and make things happen (if we can’t afford the mainstream homes, let’s make our own!) x

      • Nick

        As usual, Europe is way ahead – using them as student accommodation, emergency shelters and so on. Overseas they are making them “foldable” so they can be quickly moved by cargo plane etc to disaster areas and set up as makeshift medical facilities. They are sitting around cluttering up ports all over the world. Crazy that we don’t make better use of this resource.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanessadelacy Vanessa De Lacy

    I’ve been looking at these modular houses for a few months now and I love them! I’m a single mum and I’m thinking of putting one of these on my parents land and then one day (fingers crossed) when I can afford my own land I can move it! Renting is horrible and expensive!!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Renting IS horrible. Mortages are big and fat and horrible too! There has to be some middle ground, right?!

  • Sarah Davies

    I love these. Not sure if you have seen, but the main area in Christchurch nz was devastated by the quake and they have used shipping containers as shops. Is very cool!!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      That IS so cool, Sarah! What a clever solution to a horrible situation!

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.morys Patricia Morys

    Does anyone know of a builder in country Vic that builds these? I’d love to put a few containers together and build a family space to suit my family’s needs but I’m not sure how our bank would agree to finance it!

    • CheezyK

      Patricia, look up the shipping company Royal Wolf – they supply containers for refurbishment so probably have contacts in the building industry that you could talk to. Good luck!

  • Roni

    I agree they look fantastic… I am a widow and cannot afford the rents these days. We definately need to do something about affordable housing.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      I agree, Roni. I pay way too much of my income in rent… and I know LOT of other families/people are in the same boat as me. NOT good. We need clever solutions like this, don’t we? x

  • karen

    I think its a great idea, i think the gov should get on board and fix this gov housing problem, also being a single mum it would be fantastic to actualy be able to afford a home with out the stress of having to move one day, more to the point some where we can call home and make it a home.

  • Mark (Firstangle)

    Pip great article. As a sustainable building designer i spend my days arguing with local & state government over the need for smaller & more cost effective housing. whilst this is one response to that there are many other forms out there that do not get the publicity they deserve. I would be happy to share my experiences in the design industry & the resistance we encounter from all forms of government & also industry within when it comes to small cost effective housing.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Oh wow! I would love to hear more. Perhaps you could email me? pip@justbaustralia.com.au x

    • Connie

      Hi Mark,

      I’m thinking about one of these homes myself, and would love some more info and ideas. I live on my own, like things that are different and low maintenance, and funky, and am curious about the cost.

      I am getting a smallish settlement from a past relationship and wondering if this an option.

  • Ruth

    If people can live in them as rooms in mining areas, i think its a great idea to have them as a home. I just work in a kitchen in a mining area and live in one of the rooms for 2 weeks at a time would love one of these

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Wowee. That’s so interesting! What’s it like living in a room made from a container, Ruth? I am guessing you have good air conditioning? x Pip

      • Ruth

        Its great pip, Just a nice carpeted room with an ensuite air con heating windows exhaust fan fridge tv bed desk cupboard, i love the idea of living in one or more as a home. :)

        • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

          So great! Like your own super awesome cubby, with all the mod cons!!! Thanks for telling us about it! x

  • Didee

    My Lord! All these comments could have come straight out of my & my husbands conversations of the past week. We are just in the process of downsizing after selling our Bisbane home at the bottom of the market. Our budget would be looking so healthy if we could buy 3/4 containers a put them on a block of land, but as previously stated – getting them passed by a local council would be virtually impossible. Such a crime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leanne-Bertram/100000286617153 Leanne Bertram

    I like them.
    But then, we spent years living in a caravan .. not one of those swish homes on wheels, but a tinny tiny caravan with no toilet or shower etc. So maybe i’m a bit weird :)

  • CheezyK

    My husband is a sparky and one of the things they do on a semi-regular basis is fit out old shipping containers (with power points, air-con etc) for use as offices or housing. We’ve been discussing lately buying a block of land and using one as temporary housing while we build (we figure if we’re doing it all ourselves it could take a while!). Looking at these though I’m tempted to simply set a couple up permanently instead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Container-Home/100001572272233 Container Home

    Its just fantastic to see the continued interest in Container based Construction.

    I have a free book featuring the 30 most influential Shipping Container Homes ever built that you might like to review.

    Feel free to download your free copy here.




  • Debt Free Teen

    Wow! I would love to have one of these modern shipping container homes!

  • Peter

    Hi Pip
    I have already built a 7 x 40′ container horse stable with a large 2 bedroom
    unit above it & I’m also in the process of building a 12 x 40′ container
    house on the same property. It’s been a fascinating experience & we have loved living above the stables now for approx a year. I’d be happy to provide some information to anyone interested in building with containers.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      You are amazing, Peter. Do you live in Australia? x

      • Peter

        Yes, in Sydney. The link below shows a picture of the stables, I used Royal Wolf to do the modification to the containers; they were great I can highly recommend them. The house is architect designed but based on using containers. Royal Wolf is about to start the modification for the house as well, hopefully building will start early in the New Year.


        • Tina

          Hi Peter, did you build your shipping container house would love to see photos. My family has built a container house in southern NSW thought you may like to see it. Every one is different isn’t it! I built a website about it if you are interested. http://www.ourcontainerhouse.com/

      • Anish Morris


        • Anish Morris

          Sorry I just wrote on wrong post

    • Craig

      Hi Peter , what cost is involved with converting a container into a weekender for a family of 5 . I imagine you may need 2 or more containers to make it comfortable enough.

    • sandandra

      peter i have been trying to find all the information i can about container houses , i love the idea and like pip can see they are very valuable in assisting low income and disadvantaged australians , i live in the yarra valley and would love to do battle with the local council on setting up several on the one block , like units but more personal space around each , due to the low cost of building they could be rented out at incredibly affordable prices , but i am having some trouble just getting good basic information , is there any sites or information you could possibly forward , thank you , and no im not a money hungry land lady , i actually buy old dumps do all the labour and renovating and then rent at the lowest price possible to the ppl that real estates refuse to give a go , i have so many ppl knocking at my door desperate for somewhere to live that it breaks my heart , i really feel like this could be a solution but i need more knowledge first .

      • ciemichael

        hi. we have just read your post and would like to do the same in the yarra ranges. How did you go with council approval. we are very serious about this type of build as it makes sense in terms of fire threat and of course, white ant threat. we would love to correspond. cheers, cie and michael

      • Tam

        Hi Sandandra, two years down, how have you gone with your local council approval for container style housing?

    • Leon

      Hi Peter,
      We have always rented on acreage and I want to buy rural land to build a home for our extended family (6 bedroom needed, indoor and outdoor covered living areas, 3 bathrooms and office. Separate 4 car carport/garage, workshop/storage and stables for 3 horses ) if you have any ideas or designs.
      I expect it to take 12-24mths as a part time building project.
      Also any building tips and planning approval problems I may encounter with councils etc.
      I plan to raise it enough for under floor plumbing/power/gas/data services access.
      Regards Leon

    • T C

      Hi Peter,

      I am someone who is very interested in building a container house in rural Victoria. I’m only in the research stage at the moment and I’m really keen to hear about other people’s experiences and get as much information as I can. I’m hoping I might be able to build a mid size 3 bedroom container house for around 150K. If anyone wants to share some info feel free to email me at 972ea3a2@opayq.com



    • Willow

      Hey Peter, sounds great. Can I please get some info from you? Would be muchly appreciated. My email is Willtoid@hotmail.com cheers :)

    • Sonja

      Hi Peter. I’d be interested in any information you are willing to provide regarding building with containers. I am keen to build a container house and possibly stables in the near future. Any advise and tips would be greatly appreciated.

    • Jacqui Broekhof

      Hey Peter,
      I would love to talk to you … I’m building a shipping container house in Castlemaine… 2 storey… 2 x 20ft & 1 x 40ft on the ground level and 2x 40ft on top.

    • Christine Walters

      Hi Peter. I’m interested in building a container house with stables. Just wondering how you did the stables …are they one-container wide? If so, do you find them a bit narrow? And I imagine 2 joined together, would be unnecessarily wide.

  • Graynomad

    I’ve been designing a container home for quite some time now. We downsized 12 years ago into a 6×6 Army truck (see http://www.robgray.com if you are interested in the nomadic lifestyle) so moving into 2-3 containers would be up-sizing by about 300% for us.

    We own 25 acres in central QLD and I think that there is already a container house in our district so maybe the local council (Bundaberg) is inclined to be less obstructive than the norm.

    One thing I have in my design is a 20-footer mounted vertically, I’ve not seen that before so hope there aren’t any regs against that.

  • Beau Cornerstone

    Hi – further to Pip’s article – If you’re considering building a container home you might like to look at my blog entry here – http://beaucornerstone.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/sea-container-architecture-affordable.html. This entry is a summary of some background info we used in an (unsuccessful) submission for funding to build a prototype affordable home for homeless people in our area.

    If you live in rural or remote Australia I’d say go for it! We used to live in a mining town (Laverton, W.A) and a neighbour lived in a sea container home. She had four containers butted together in a square – together they formed a central private courtyard with a garden (where her children played in safety). I was envious of her setup as our family were living in a 26 ft caravan – and she had heaps of room compared to me! When her family left town – the four containers were loaded onto trucks in about an hour and there was no sign a home had ever been there except for the remains of a garden and a sewer point. Try removing a conventional home as easily!

    A word of warning if you live in suburban or regional Australia however – find out your Shire’s/Council’s attitude towards container homes early on – before you design your home and definitely before you buy the first container.

    Hundreds of Australian families are living it rough in our region (outer Perth suburbs). There are families sleeping in sheds, in storage units, caravans, in cars, in tents even. One family died in a tent fire in a caravan park last year.

    Hubby (a builder) and I wanted to build a display container home as a prototype of an affordable housing solution for the homeless and those who couldn’t afford conventional accommodation in our local area. We got so much Shire opposition however that we gave up the not-for-profit project. There are around 50,000 Western.Australian low income earners on the Homeswest waiting list. I’m convinced that figure would be halved if Councils permitted more housing diversity in metro and regional W.A.

    Suburban councils seem to have a mindset that all container homes are scrappy – even if you plan to make the external appearance of the home aesthetically pleasing by cladding it with materials used on conventional homes. If you are going to approach your council about building a container home I suggest you go well armed – with dozens of photos off the net.
    Happy home-building, Beau

    • http://www.facebook.com/ann.quinn.1865 Ann Quinn

      Councils have way to much power, and we let them get away with it. Sack the lot of them, they are supposed to be working for us the people who elect them..How would they like to be homeless. shame on them. I think your idea is brilliant…

  • Pingback: Confession Time: Shipping Containers | Just Add Geek

  • haiqu

    The building code in Australia doesn’t allow for flexible thinking, sorry.

    • Tina

      I don’t where you got that idea from we built a shipping container house in Australia with no trouble with the building code.

  • Nicole

    I have long been interested in sustainable building types and am just looking at buying a container for my own home extension / container conversion project. Getting it past council is my biggest concern, but I am seeing more and more high quality container homes, so fingers crossed.


  • Aves

    I have been researching shipping container homes :) thanks for the great pics… Now just have to find cheap land lol…. maybe the land rent sheme is the way to go

  • Tom

    Love the pictures. We’re looking at doing a shipping container design for a church project. Does anyone know of any good shipping container projects that have been done in the Sydney area as I’d love to take a look at one.

    (Incidentally, my understanding is that shipping containers are no cheaper or more sustainable than other building materials. We’re using them because they are appropriate for the area we are building in).

  • imtheway

    Amazing designs. Never thought they can be like these. http://www.azteccontainer.com

  • bushboy

    you should do a story on the container people who do amazing things in our backyard here in australia container homes designer domain, you should look them up and their you tube cool stuff

  • bushboy

    ps their site is the one that comes up first on google when you search container homes http://www.containerhomes.net.au

  • John

    Take a look at this cool container style beachpod … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEBwtIqK640

  • Francis Karlo Rushman

    Shipping container architecture is definitely the in-thing today, and used cheap shipping containers for sale at PortContainerServices.com.au or any other provider are perfect. They are relatively cheaper and can conveniently be converted to living structures. The radiant heat can be alleviated through the use of an efficient insulation system.

    Those shipping container houses are definitely amazing.

  • Frank

    Can you get BCA approval for shipping container conversion dwellings?

  • gfulton

    You are welcome to add any of our projects to your gallery of container homes

  • Craig

    Very. very impressive, each design is unique and different. I was inspired by some of these houses to make my own container house from 8x 40ft high cube containers. http://www.odpod.com.au This house is in progress and hopefully we will be finished in 6 months.

  • David

    Does anyone have any info on how to do this in the UK? Interested in planning rules around this?

  • kelly

    i would love more information on structural engineers with experience in certifying modular/container homes. kellysummer81@gmail.com

  • adam

    modular container house is so popular now. our factory main produce flat pack modular for accommodation and office, foldable container house for storage or emergency rescue, portable toilet for construction site or public works etc. any requirements, please can send email export3@ace-source.com to me. or check our website http://www.acecabin.com please remember me, my name is adam

  • Patrick Kaa

    I hope NZ does not bring tighter laws in to prevent ppl from building such wonderful homes like this, DIY your own shipping container home http://howtobuildashippingcontainerhome.blogspot.co.nz/

  • Genevieve Machado

    Understand everyone…..it is not the houses that are expensive in this
    country it is the LAND which apparently is worth more than a house. Yes,
    an area full of dirt is worth more than that of a house. The house is
    worth half or less than that of the land because the cheapest material
    is used. Anyone can afford the Australian Dream but the developers gets
    away with the prices of the land and the government (like many
    countries) should address this and end this B&**%T!!!!!

  • Christine

    I have just noticed this page and thought I would have my say. We live in Australia and have 10 acres. A house for us ( we are pensioners ) was way too expensive. We found http://www.novadekomodular.com.au and have purchased the KIEV at the sale price of $60000. They are imported from China but completely finished to a high standard and ready to move in. The price of a conversion here was twice as much and half the quality.

  • http://rockindiy.com Ronnie Piston

    All of these are awesome, but I prefer the shipping container conversions that are simple. The ones that approach too artsy kind of lose a bit of appeal to me. Shipping Container Ideas

  • John Romeo

    Can anyone please help me?
    I’m located in Mildura, Victoria and I am wondering the way about to build a home out of shipping containers and the laws for our state to make this dream into a reality.
    The photo below is the style I am chasing but on a larger scale, like 8 40ft containers @ 9.6 high.
    Any information is greatly appreciated.
    I’m aware of the minimum requirement for the energy ratings but just lost on the other stuff.

  • Shawn

    I just love what you can create with a container.

  • Pingback: Confession Time: Shipping Containers - Nathan Russell

  • Rachel

    I am in the early stages of planning a container home myself. I’m looking into a using 5 shipping containers all together. 4x 20′ and 1x 40′ in a U shape. If anyone can email me some tips and hints/advice. It will be taking place on a property near stanthorpe. I need to know things along the lines of council, best type of footings, best field of tradie to speak to about welding/fabrication. Any info will be greatly appreciated. My email is rarw@hotmail.com.au

  • Tina Dean

    Hi Pip and everyone,

    This is an amazing discussion about building a shipping container house. It is great that there are so many interested in building one. My family built a shipping container house in the past few years in southern NSW, we actually prefabbed it at home in Victoria then put the 4 containers on trucks and set it up on stumps on our block of land there, it is used as a holiday house.

    Many of you are concerned about the shire regulations, we had no problems at all, I know each shire will be different. Shipping container houses are regarded as the same as a steel frame house. What you must do is get archtectural plans then take them to an structural engineer to approve all the changes you are making to the containers eg. large openings, doors windows, adding a deck. I have made a website about our house that may help you with ideas etc.
    Shipping containers are very strong in the floor and corners, when they are cut for doors etc, then their strength is compromised therefore they need to be reinforced.
    I would be happy to answer any questions as we found it an extroadinary experience, a lot of hardwork as it was mostly diy and tradies when necessary. It was an amazing experience!

  • Steve

    Hi Pip, no not a good idea. It’s a brilliant idea might go so far as to say a phenomenal idea. In fact where I come from in the UK there is a huge shortage of first homes for the new young married couples or singles. It’s surprises me the local housing authorities haven’t cottoned on years ago. I’ve been interested in container houses for years but trying to get the idea across to local planners has been a nightmare. I think a more high profile campaign is required.

  • Ryan Junghenn

    There are some great shipping container home architect plans offered at http://shippingcontainerhomefloorplans.com/ and they are working with an Australian engineer to bring the cost of engineering down.