Contain Yourself

Monthly Archives: September 2018

3 Incredible Container Homes on A Budget

These days it seems that if you want to realize your dream home, much less create something with the environment in mind, you must be willing to spend a life’s fortune. Yet here are 3 lavish homes that were constructed with extremely low budgets that turned out incredible. Let’s have a look:

Containers of Hope

Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta dreamed of living out in the country on a piece of property they bought just 20 minutes outside San Jose, Costa Rica; where they could be with their horses and enjoy the beautiful landscape. The sunrise and spectacular views were important to them, as well as creating a feeling of comfort and home.

Together with architect Benjamin Garcia, they explored the possibility of creating a home from disregarded shipping containers that would allow them to be debt free and live the life they had imagined.

A roof connecting the two containers, made from scrap pieces of metal, not only creates an internal sensation of openness but also provides a cross ventilation which is surprisingly cool enough to never need air conditioning.

The final cost of the house ($40,000) is lower than the cost of government-assisted housing provided for the poor in Costa Rica. Perhaps this project goes to show that there are viable, low cost, passive alternatives of temperature control for very intense tropical climate.

Casa El Tiemblo

From the outside it may not look as ornate as some of the others, but a quick look inside this house will certainly impress. This home, located in Ila Spain, was built utilizing four 40-foot containers for about $190,000. It includes a lavish kitchen, two bedrooms, a massive open living space with large, picturesque windows throughout. Even the landscaping is top-notch.

The home was designed to face the south and the imposing view of the valley and nearby mountains, while also receiving the direct heat of the sun in winter to heat the home. Large trees around the exterior provide cooling shade during the summer. Given the family’s low budget and taking advantage of the brutalist beauty of the containers, this home uses this aesthetic to maximize this natural heating system.

The construction was based on a modular concept, with all prefabrication done in a workshop that allowed limited pollution on site. The design also allows for extensions in case the space needs of the client change over time.

Container Studio

An art studio made of recycled shipping containers in Amagansett New York was built on a budget of just $60,000. This homeowner needed a space close to her home that would be both inviting and reflective.

MB Architects’ solution was to use two 40-foot shipping containers perched over a 9’ foundation wall/cellar. By cutting 75% of one of the container’s floor, they were able to move the painting studio to a lower level via a wide staircase, while a high ceiling gives a deceivingly spacious feel. The staircase also serves as a transitional space for viewing artwork, while the upper floor provides a more intimate work and sitting area.

The containers were painted dark charcoal to maintain continuity with the original house and to recede in the shadows of a densely wooded site.

Can Living In A Tiny Home Save You Money?

At the onset, investing in a Tiny or CargoHome can seem quite daunting. Yet the long-term benefits of living in a smaller, more efficient home will pay off.

Many families already living in a large home find they first need to make a mindset change by decreasing their personal possessions and adjusting their priorities. These are some of the more difficult hurdles to overcome before making the leap.

Living in a compact structure with minimal storage space can be challenging. As is the case with many tiny homes, open familial spaces make for great gathering spaces, but aren’t very conducive to privacy.

The benefits?

For Gabriella Morrison, the biggest perk is no longer being financially stressed. Their family built a tiny home in Ashland Oregon in 2011, and they estimate that in 5 years the home will have paid for itself in savings just from not having a mortgage. Not to mention having no utility bills due to their solar panel array and water sourced from a well on the property.

If your ambitions include going off the grid, the savings can pile-up even faster. Because of the energy-conscious design of a CargoHome, a relatively small solar array can fuel an entire home very easily. Rainwater harvested from the roof or utilizing a well from your property can both save your pocket and the environment in the long-run.

Think outdoors. People who gravitate towards tiny houses often tend to be outdoor-oriented. Tiny houses are also natural fits for rural spaces or vacation rental opportunities. And if you live in a tiny house with favorable weather, outdoor living on decks supplements the inside spaces.

Using less fossil fuels, less non-renewable resources; just deciding to make your existence in a tiny house is a win for the environment and your decisions to help the planet will just cascade from there. Every day is a green day. Of course, living with less translates into more for other areas of your life – more time, more money, more balance…


Simplify Your Existence

It’s all the rage these days: decrease your carbon footprint, simplify your existence, go eco-friendly. Yet is it just a fad? These two families sought a simpler lifestyle by downsizing their homes. Let’s see what they have in common…

The Longneckers were living the American dream, with plenty of material items and a giant home to boot. Yet they found themselves wanting more–or rather less. A desire for adventure and spending more time together prompted this family to sell the home and much of their possessions.

A shiny 1972 Airstream Sovereign was the perfect solution for their sustainable dreams. In just six months, the couple transformed the vintage home on wheels into an off-grid living space, complete with plentiful storage, modern décor and a workshop.

Despite its 220-square foot size, the trailer is fully functional for the family of six. The kids have fold-down bunk beds, which can be changed into two couches. A luxurious kitchen and dinette allow the family to eat and cook together, and at night, with just a few maneuvers, the dinette can easily convert into a king-size bed.

Now, the Longneckers live and work wherever they feel the need to explore, with all the comforts of a single-family home in a sustainable “adventure mobile.”

The Heeringa Family

Matt & Ilse Heeringa of Hawk’s Bay New Zealand were living in a 5,000 square foot home complete with swimming pool and tennis court. Yet they found themselves buried under the constant maintenance required to keep their home and gardens intact. They were so busy keeping up their home, they had no time to spend together as a family!

After selling their large home, the family purchased two used shipping containers and set off on a trek to make them into a home. Placing the containers side by side and opening-up the two halves enables the space to have a deceivingly spacious feel. A galley kitchen runs the entire length of one container and a large living space gives this family of 5 the space they need to spend time together.

Solar Panels placed on the roof produce all the energy required for the home, while a custom rain collection system and compostable toilets all work together to make this home the eco-conscious haven it was intended to be.


What about you? Is your large home secluding you from spending time together as a family? Thinking of downsizing into a more efficient home? Let’s get this conversation started…shoot us an email or write us in the comments below. Cheers to a simpler life!

A Shipping Container Prefab Lab Is Built in Only 4 Hours

When classroom space was becoming limited at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, representatives from the school looked to MB Architecture for a fast, effective fix. By utilizing prefabricated structures based out of 4 retrofitted shipping containers, the architects were able to design and deliver just that.

“The budget required that we explore options beyond conventional construction,” said MB architects. The project arose out of a grant of only $100,000 and was prefabricated, delivered and installed in half a day at a cost of slightly over $200,00. What’s more, is the structure was fully operational just a few days later!



The design stems from MB Architecture’s prototype prefabricated Insta House – a two story home (also based out of 4 modified containers) with a bedroom upstairs and a main living area on the ground floor, built in the Hamptons in 2009.

The new Media Lab on the middle of campus exemplifies the speed and efficiency of prefab cargotecture. Built double wide and double tall, the boxy two-floor building offers 960 square feet of adaptable meeting spaces and performance areas for the Department of Experimental Humanities.


Installation of the Media Lab in only 4 Hours!


Following assembly, the team, directed by lead architect Maziar Behrooz, added trim boards between the upper and lower floors and connected the electrical and plumbing lines to the site utilities.

The architects expressed the multiple functions of the Media Lab through designing flexible and open-plan spaces that cater to meetings, lectures, workshops, performances and more. A glazed garage-style door swings up to open the double-height main room to the quad, while also creating a stage for concerts and theatrical events.

Large windows and doors were installed to allow-in copious amounts of natural light while also framing campus views.



While reconfigurable furniture includes chair seating for up to 16 people, the stairs can also be used as auditorium-like seating for lectures. The downstairs space of the Media Lab is open for reservations to the Bard community, and offers a variety of products, including sound recording equipment and a television.



Bard’s example of urgent space requirements only goes a little way to exemplify the many uses of shipping container construction. Since the installation of the Media Lab, other universities have considered the container route for educational spaces as well as student housing. The possibilities are endless.

Got ideas? Shoot us an email or reply in the comment section below…we’d love to hear from you!


Are Shipping Containers DANGEROUS To Live In?

Lots of people come to our site and see shipping container homes and fall in love with how incredible they look and how eco-friendly they are. But one question normally lingers in the background of their thoughts, “Is living in a shipping container safe?”

First off, we need to define exactly what kind of fears are lurking in the minds of these potential buyers and then address those issues one by one.

So today, I am going to address some of the most common concerns and how your CargoHome can be the desirable haven it is intended to be.

Question: Do Shipping Container’s Container Harmful Chemicals?

This is the most common question for any potential container home buyer and it mainly stems from the possibility of hazardous chemicals either in the waterproofing of the flooring material or the paint which may contain phosphorous or chromate.

While a simple solution to any of the above-mentioned concerns would be to simply buy a new shipping container directly from a manufacturer, this would also take away your eco-minded dreams.

Some simple solutions are the most practical. Spray foam insulation on all the interior wall panels greatly improves your container’s ability to maximize efficiency and also produces a vapor barrier against any potentially harmful toxins in wall paint.

If you want to be completely safe from possible toxins in your flooring, you could remove the original wooden flooring and replace it with marine plywood from your local hardware store.

In the example below, a simple non-breathable flooring underlayment was laid straight over the original wooden flooring and then the desired finished flooring material could be laid directly on top of the vapor barrier.

Vapor Barrier Installed Above Existing Flooring

Question: Are Shipping Container Homes Hurricane Proof?

These questions are no doubt inspired from the photo’s we’ve seen of hurricane Katrina. In the photos it shows wooden homes which have been completely annihilated by Katrina, however lying on top of the wood are completely intact shipping containers.

Containers Survive Hurricane Conditions

Shipping containers are designed to be stacked up to nine high when fully loaded with over 26 tons of cargo in each container. It’s not surprising these containers stood up to the test of Katrina.

We are now seeing a spate of shipping containers being used as emergency disaster housing- this is because they are so tough. The most well-known occurrence of this being in New York.

In April 2014 New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program. Guess which prototype won the program?

You guessed it… A Shipping Container Home.

New York aims to use shipping container homes as stackable apartments which can be used as post-disaster housing. The fact that these homes are stackable makes them perfect for densely populated areas such as New York.

You can read more about the post disaster housing program in our recent blog post.


Now you know exactly how safe shipping container homes are to live in, what are you waiting for!? Let us know what you use your shipping container home for in the comments section below!