From shipping container to dream home – How and why?!

From shipping container to dream home – How and why?!

All over the world, shipping containers are being converted into homes, shops, bars and restaurants; with their affordable costs being one of the main factors. Here, shipping container experts Cleveland Containers, speak with both a designer and homeowner, to discover the benefits these converted units bring.


From Shipping Container to Luxury Home

Seattle-based company Cargotecture design residences made from containers, in addition to selling DIY versions, which can be bought and assembled.

Speaking with architect, co-founder of HyBrid Architecture, and owner of Cargotecture, Joel Egan; he compared these types of residential projects to a Lego-style approach when it comes to design. Anything can be achieved: whether it’s a sophisticated, sleek apartment, a cosy family home, or anything in between.

Cleveland Containers: Arguably, converting a container into a residence is more difficult than a free design build, because you’re tied to working within the dimensions and materials of the current units. Would you say this is a big restraint?

Joel Egan: It’s actually quite easy to design a residence built entirely from containers, provided you pay attention to the width at all times. I like to use double-wide containers, but single-wides work just as well – as long as their floorplans are well laid out.

CC: So, width is the primary limitation, and the reason behind such a rigid design process prior to beginning the conversion. However, you and your business partner Robert Humble started working with containers more when you began Cargotecture. Why did you choose to do this, instead of designing a home from scratch?

JE: Well, containers are secure, sustainable, durable and can be easily relocated if and when needed. They’re also extremely affordable, when you compare them to other homes of the same size. And with shipping containers, there’s such a wide variety to choose from – you could build a micro-home, or something much bigger, yet they’ll cost 10% – 20% less than a conventional construction. Sure, it may not be half the price, but it’s still a great saving.

CC: Whilst the shipping container was originally built to be used as a transport vessel for goods, pioneering designers like yourself have developed them into domestic spaces. Why do you think they’ve become so popular in recent years?

JE: This is a rapidly growing industry, and I believe these homes are particularly appropriate for anyone who is looking for something different, sentimental, special and relocatable when it comes to their home.

The Benefits of Shipping Containers Homes:

The Designer’s Point of View

The fact is, you are repurposing something that may otherwise have become a redundant storage unit, into something that can be used and enjoyed over a long period of time – and that has huge environmental benefits. Anyone who is concerned with reducing their carbon footprint may want to consider a container converted house.

But the financial benefits are clear too, as they are small, yet affordable – perfect for those on a tight budget. Alternatively, they could work well as a part-time residence or a small holiday home.

The main thing to remember when converting a shipping container into a domestic residential, is to take the needs of the homeowner into account, and turn the limitations into opportunities to create inspiration homes.

What Life Is like Living in a Converted Shipping Container:

The Homeowners

Whilst we found it extremely interesting finding out about the transformation process from the designer’s point of view, we also wanted to hear from someone who actually lives in a converted container home.

Enter Tammi and Stuart Jonas: owners of Jonai Farms; an ethical pig farm located in Daylesford, Australia.

When they originally decided to move to this new farm in Daylesford, they had three key challenges that they needed to overcome:

  • They had to move across Australia
  • Whilst they travelled to America, they needed storage space
  • They wanted a three-bedroom house on-site to support their expanding family

They found that the solution to these three points was to simply convert a shipping container into their dream home.

The shipping container fulfilled all of these uses: originally working as it was meant to, to ship the family’s belongings across the country, before being used as a storage hub upon arrival at the farm.

From there, the container became an extension of the family home, which is where they still live today. Tammi and Stuart spoke of this whole experience:

“We planned our move to the farm around our future accommodation needs, so picked the 40′ HQ container to move all of our belongings from the city to Daylesford, with the idea being that we would then convert the container into additional accommodation, once we’d moved into the small house that currently existed on the farm.”

“Essentially, we left the house to the kids, and then built a ‘parents retreat’ within the container. We installed large double-glazed windows all around the container, which now makes it a much more pleasant space to reside. It’s so nice being able to look at the sky in any direction from the comfort of our own bed.”

“Since this project, we’ve converted four containers, used for accommodation, a butcher’s shop and a commercial kitchen. We’re looking forward to building our very own cottage out in the paddocks, which will be used for further overflow accommodation.”

Ultimately, shipping container converted homes can bring many benefits from both the designer’s and homeowner’s point of view. For anyone looking to buy a home that’s good value for money, sustainable and environmentally friendly, these can be a very good option.


From shipping container to dream home – How and why?!