Container Homes

Container Homes: Worth It Or Just Hype

Due to the rising cost of living, building a home is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for people whose pockets aren’t well-endowed. There are several ways you can cut costs on construction materials but if you’re on a tight budget, container homes are a good alternative to realizing your dreams of being a homeowner.

It’s not surprising that container homes are gaining popularity given that they are significantly cheaper than other types of homes. Additionally, container homes have come a long way from their inception days. They are uniquely stunning if well-designed and executed which is evident from the many beautiful designs you can find online. However, container homes have received mixed reactions with some arguing that they are just another internet fad while others believe that they’re worth it.

Before deciding whether they’re worth it or hyped, you need to understand what a container home is.

What are container homes?

Container homes use a very simple concept. You can either source a shipping container on your own or approach a specialist to assist you. Typically, there are two sizes of containers to choose from; 20 feet or 40 feet. Depending on the size and design of the home you want, you may need both sizes.

Some important steps you need to keep in mind include:

  • Check with local authorities whether you can build a container home in the location
  • Come up with a plan
  • Get official approvals and permits
  • Prepare your land
  • Put in a foundation
  • Purchase, deliver, fabricate and install the shipping containers

Once you find a suitable firm to work with, they will set up the foundation, cut frames, doors and everything else to suit the design you are going for. You can also take matters into your own hands and take on the project by yourself. However, this is only possible if you have knowledge and experience in construction and metal works.

The time period for construction of a container home is usually short but the period depends on the complexity of the design. As for costs, a container home is pretty inexpensive compared to other types of home. The costs depend on the design and customization. The more complex the design the more expensive.

Though it’s pretty simple and straightforward, container homes have their pros and cons which you should also consider if you’re thinking of building this kind of home.


  • Cost-effective – It can cost as low as Ksh 900,000 for a one-bedroomed house. A three-bedroom house can cost around Ksh 1,800,000.  However, the costs vary and there are some additional costs which can affect the overall budget such as Permits, Stock availability, Condition of the container, Delivery, and Site Preparation
  • Highly customizable – You can choose from a wide range of floor plans and layouts or completely design a custom layout with the help of an architect. Since shipping containers are easy to modify, you can let your imagination run wild.
  • Environmentally friendly – Using recycled shipping containers keeps large chunks of metal from being disposed of in landfills. Additionally, traditional homes use a lot of wood which promotes logging and harms the environment.
  • Fireproof – Container homes are less prone to catching fire than other traditional homes since they’re made out of steel which is fire resistant.
  • Portable – One of the biggest advantages of container homes is you can move them. Whether you’ve decided to relocate or you want to pass it on to a different owner, container homes can be easily transported anywhere around the world.
  • Durable – A well-built container home can withstand harsh weather since it’s reinforced with additional steel beams.
  • Fast to build – It can be constructed in as little as 2 weeks and installed in 2 days. Simple designs also take around 4 to 10 weeks while complex designs take a few months.


  • Prone to damage – It’s hard to buy a shipping container in perfect condition. It most likely will have a few dents here and there. Some people like the rustic look but if you’re a perfectionist, this might irk you.
  • Limited living space – Container homes are often tiny. Most container homes are built with 20- or 40-foot containers, which doesn’t give you much space. You can modify them to create more space bt this will increase costs.
  • Lots of additional costs – Unlike traditional homes, building a container home isn’t so straightforward. You may encounter a lot of hurdles that require extra costs.
  • Weak roof – The roof of shipping containers isn’t made to hold a lot of weight. Therefore, you need to keep this in mind and reinforce the roof especially if you plan to build a multi-storey home.
  • Hard to control the temperature – It can be hard to control the temperatures in a container home since they’re made of metal. It can get really hot or really cold.
  • Finding skilled workers – Since building container homes requires a specific set of skills, you need to work with people who have experience starting with the architect, engineers and construction workers.

Mistakes to avoid

  • Setting an unrealistic budget
  • Buying the wrong container size
  • Buying containers in bad condition
  • Choosing the wrong builders
  • Cutting too much steel from the container
  • Failing to insulate your container

Are they worth it or overhyped?

It’s important to ask yourself whether container homes are another overhyped trend that people are into simply because everyone else is. The idea of living in a repurposed shipping container may not appeal to everyone. Also, there’s always the looming feeling that the deal is too good so there must be something wrong with it.

However, container homes have stood the test of time and proved that they’re not another overhyped trend that will blow up in people’s faces. Even before they became trendy, shipping containers were still used in construction. Whether you’re on a budget or not, if you’re looking to build your own home, rentals, a commercial complex or an Airbnb, container homes are a great option.