Shipping Container Homes Prices
What is a shipping container home?
A container home is a type of modular or prefabricated (prefab) home that is manufactured off-site in a factory environment.
The modular unit is comprised of shipping containers that have been refitted for use as a modular property.
The unit is then transported to the property location, where it’s either assembled by tradespeople or by the property owner (for a basic DIY unit).
Shipping container homes can be customised to fit specific size and design requirements both inside and out.
Why are they popular?
Whether it be a used container or a sea container, they’re almost indestructible, capable of withstanding practically any kind of weather, economical to build and ready to move into in a matter of weeks. And, you are doing the planet a favour by recycling thousands of kilograms of steel.
How much does it cost?
Depending on the size, structure and design, a shipping container homes’ price could range from $15,000 for sale as new with a basic fit-out, to around $50,000 for a 12m two-bedroom container.
Depending on the size, whether it’s used or not, what the purpose of the shipping container was originally intended for (if used), high ceiling or its dimensions, each shipping container homes cost will vary in price, in accordance with whichever retailer you choose.
A modern 40ft refurbished shipping container used could be about $25,000, whereas a 20ft used shipping container could cost around $15,000.
Is a shipping container a cheaper option than a home build?
The general consensus is that shipping container homes are cheap in comparison to building conventional housing.
Ted Crowe says that it really depends on the situation, but shipping containers reduce costs dramatically in areas where it’s difficult to erect regular housing, such as sloping blocks of land, unless you’re planning to live in ‘container luxury’ or use a specified container build group.
A large house built from shipping containers and fit out can range in price from $150,000 to $175,000, which is about half the price per square foot of a conventional home. On the other hand, those who are experienced with construction and are building a tiny home can finish and furnish a shipping container home for as low as $15,000, especially if they’re portable, hidden costs may lower due to variance in permits.
On the other hand, those who are experienced with construction, who’ve renovated before or are even well acquainted with deciphering building designs can finish and furnish a shipping container home for as low as $10,000.
Are there any extra hidden costs?
The more add-on’s or customized features you choose, the more you are going to pay. Features like electricity, plumbing, windows, and floors will cost you anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour in contractor fees, just like a traditional build.
Other factors that impact cost include:
• Permits – Cost will vary based on your area and types of permits required
• Site prep – Foundation that is rocky, uneven or prone to flooding will increase cost
• Delivery – Price varies by number of units to be delivered and distance travelled
• Availability – Most containers ship directly from China (known as one-trippers); so available stock will affect price
Do regulations vary from state to state?
Almost all councils treat a permanent shipping container almost exactly like they would any other building on your property.
That means you will need all the proper approvals, engineering, plans, and inspections just as you would for a granny flat or similar building, but in some ways states do vary in the stringency of their regulations.
Queensland's Sunshine Coast Council just reinforced its own rules around converted containers, meaning no approval is needed for 30 days' use in an urban area and up to 90 days in more rural areas.
An exception is made for construction workers using a container as storage, but once construction is completed the container has to go.
In Victoria, Cardinia Council requires a permit if you put a container on your own property, while South Gippsland Council does not allow them in any residential area.
In New South Wales, Wollondilly Council went to the Land and Environment Court in 2016 after someone refused to move an "unauthorised" container from their front yard.
In north Queensland, Mackay Regional Council has threatened people with fines over unapproved containers in a rural area.
The common theme here is that neighbours complain and councils respond.
It effects cost through potential fines, extra stringency in certain states can drag out engineering plans, and end up costing the owner more money.
Is it hard to qualify for finance?
In Australia, it can be challenging to qualify for finance to construct a shipping container home due to the limited options available. Lenders tend to be conservative with this type of construction and most banks won’t lend you funds for a property that isn’t permanently fixed to the site.
While these types of applications are handled on a case-by-case basis, you may be able to qualify for finance if you communicate well with your lender, and demonstrate that you have financial discipline (e.g. a strong savings record) which indicates that you are in a sound position to service the loan.
Here are some challenges associated with financing a container home:
• Strict lending guidelines. Unfortunately, most lenders have strict guidelines about when they can release funds for a modular home. Many lenders will not provide funds before a certain building stage has been reached, such as after the property is connected to services or once a certificate of occupancy has been issued by a surveyor. In some cases, a lender will only provide you with the funds once the home is completely installed.
• Loan security. As banks have no security over the container while it's in a factory, they can be reluctant to provide progress payments to the builder.