Shipping Container Home (Costs & Regulations)

20 foot/6 metre Shipping container home in Australia

What Is a Shipping Container Home?

There is no doubt about it – shipping container homes are just what their name points to. This type of home is made from a shipping container that would otherwise be used to carry goods from one place to another. The containers come in various shapes and sizes and can be easily turned into a stylish, uncommon living space.

One of the reasons why some people have turned to these types of homes is because they are practically indestructible, they are not affected by weather conditions, they are very affordable, and you can easily move into them in just a couple of weeks.

Another reason why people choose to have a container home is that they are far more affordable than a conventional home. Some more handy people choose to design their container house themselves, which saves them even more money. The unit, when you first get it, is like a blank canvas both outside and inside – what you need it a bit of imagination and creativity to turn it from an interesting project to your dream home.

Still, there might be some hidden costs, but a container home is easily one of the most affordable housing options at the moment.

Cost of a Shipping Container Home

As we have already mentioned, the shipping containers come in various sizes and designs. Therefore, the prices might vary from one container to the other. Usually, the prices for the smallest container homes with no separate bedrooms are around $15,000 whereas, for the larger two bedroom shipping container house, the price can go as far as $50,000. If you have experience with design and construction, you can easily finish and furnish a home like this for only $10,000.

Sometimes, people go as far as combining several containers do get a larger container home and such a home is, understandably, a bit costlier. But the price of the home can generally be based on factors like size, layout, and maybe the design. Then, we have the costs for plumbing and electricity to be brought in the container, as well as the finishes in the rooms, the doors, windows, the insulation, and much more that should be taken into consideration when creating a shipping container home.

Additional Shipping Container Home Costs

After going over all of these costs, there are some hidden costs that we should also mention before going any further. First of all, you might need a permit to set the container in a certain area. There are different types of permits that vary from one country to the other, so make sure to check the requirements before making a final decision on your container home.

Then, we have the site prep which can also cost you a lot. You will need to have an area with an even foundation that is not prone to flooding to set the container on.

You will also need to check if a container is available at the moment and if it is your prefered size and shape. Another thing to look out for is the cost to bring the container unit to the area where you are planning to have it permanently stay. Last but not least, there is the cost for the construction workers. In Australia, the contractor fees are from $50 to $150 per hour.

Also, it can depend on the finishes you choose, items such as choosing flooring, where it be a cheaper vinyl sheet solution or a more expensive solid timber flooring solution for the fit-out, picking a wall cladding system & potentially external rendering can all add to the cost

What Are the Regulations in Each State Across Australia?

In Australia, nearly all councils look at permanent container homes as they would with any other type of property. Before you can start preparing with the building and designing process, you will need to obtain all permits, make plans and preparations, and pass all the inspections. However, the regulations can sometimes vary between some councils.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council does not require a 30-day approval to use a shipping container as a home when it comes to urban areas, while you will not need such a permit for as long as 90 days if you are planning on staying in the countryside.

Cardinia Council does not allow people to add a container unit to their property without a permit, while people are not even allowed to use containers in a residential area in South Gippsland Council. Mackay Regional Council demands that people get a permit for their containers even when it comes to rural areas. In New South Wales, Wollondilly Council does not allow any containers on a front yard that have not been approved by the council.

The reason why some people do not follow the rules when it comes to these types of homes is that they do not want to pay the extra costs. However, there are lots of fines that would cost them a lot more money compared to a situation where they pay for a permit and approval of the container beforehand.

What Are the Advantages of Shipping Container Homes?

Some of the advantages of having a container home are these: 

  • They are inexpensive.
  • They are durable and strong.
  • They are highly resistant to pests and bugs. 
  • They are efficient and eco-friendly.
  • They are easy to design and complete in a short amount of time.
  • They are easy to transport. 
  • They are easy to customize both on the outside and the inside. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Shipping Container Homes?

Some of the disadvantages of using shipping containers as homes are: 

  • It could be difficult and costly to obtain all permits. 
  • Installing electricity and plumbing in the container could be difficult.
  • You might need to think about making some reinforcements to the container before moving into it.
  • The container could be limiting in terms of the necessary accommodations for comfortable living. 

How Can You Avoid Having Problems With Your Container Home?

There are a lot of things to think about before turning simple shipping containers into a house. It is best to talk to someone who is experienced in living and designing containers. A quality shipping container building & construction specialist can help you will all aspects of your build project.

Are Shipping Container Homes Trending in 2021?

Container homes are certainly trending this year! People generally like that they come at such a low price but they are so customizable. These types of homes are the perfect choice for all those who want to show their creativity and personality through their property.

Related Housing Resources

Prefab Homes Prices Australia

A modular home may be a money-saving alternative if you’re searching for a new house. Read more…


Verandah vs Pergola

Most homeowners would want to build a verandah, patio, or pergola so they may entertain outside on pleasant days. Read more…


Building Inspection Cost

Before you buy or sell a house, it’s a good idea to find out whether there are any underlying flaws, safety concerns, or other problems. Read more…


Skylight Installation Cost

Skylights provide natural light into your house. Natural light may help to distribute natural heat to the living areas of your home. Read more…