Contain Yourself

Monthly Archives: October 2018

Return On Investment of Container Homes

Building a vacation rental home in a popular tourist location and renting it out by the night is an increasingly popular way to gain a home away from home and is also an attractive way to gain a year-round income. Yet despite this rising trend, one unique form of construction is poignantly missing—shipping container homes!

Shipping container homes are growing increasingly popular for people looking to live a minimalist lifestyle, but they also have great appeal to anyone hoping to find a unique weekend getaway. Trends show increasing numbers of vacationers only have the resources for short-term vacations, and the more unique the experience, the better.

Doing the Math

So how much money can you actually make by renting out a container home? A survey by short-term rental marketplace, HomeAway found the average owner who rents out a second home collects more than $33,000 a year in rental revenue. At rival company Airbnb, a common figure for renting out a single room or portion of a home, consistently reached $11,000 a year.

“With the strength of the housing market where it is today, I do believe vacation rentals are a good investment,” says Nick Winikoff, co-founder of Vuepeer, a search engine for vacation rentals. Many people use vacation rental platforms to at least break even on their investment in their first year while waiting for the home itself to appreciate.

Airbnb provides an online tool that enables users to calculate average daily rental rates, occupancy rates and revenue. Using these projections, you then can subtract items like principal, interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance expenses and management fees to come up with a cash-flow forecast.

Keep in mind that its best to begin small, starting with a 20-foot unit. This can be rented out or sold quickly. Container homes maintain a very high resale value (100 percent and up) and being able to load them on a truck and deliver them anywhere makes them very attractive.

Location, location, location

Regardless of your financial situation, one key factor that will affect how much income you can produce from a vacation rental, is its location.

Is your home located near a popular destination, such as a beach community or a ski resort? If so, then you’ll likely generate a generous income from rentals. Christian Bryant, president of IRC Enterprises, says he knows of investors who’ve made two to five times more on a well-located property that’s a short-term rental versus a traditional long-term rental.


On the converse side, you won’t make a lot of money if your location has just three months of sun and only happens to attract tourists during the summer months. Bottom line: A vacation rental requires more market research than a typical real estate investment does.

Appreciate the Lifestyle Value

Aside from the investment value of a vacation rental, there is, of course, the lifestyle value – a value that’s priceless to many owners of vacation homes. Plus, it’s a value that you’ll never gain from stocks and bonds or even long-term rentals.

Simply put, you can extract that priceless value from a place you can call your second home – at the beach, in the mountains or anywhere else you love – when its not being rented out. Most owners can’t afford a vacation rental without generating some income from the property, so offering short-term rentals enables you to enjoy your dream of owning a vacation home.

Vacation rental spaces are just one of the many ways you can use a shipping container to turn a profit.  Next week we’ll discuss more investment opportunities for shipping containers. What about you? We’d love to hear your ideas as well as tips for success in the comments section below.

Container Homes Around The World

When you think about living or staying in a Container home, you may think that the experience will feel minimalist, cramped, or even like you are “roughing it”. These Container Home owners around the world beg to differ!

Our first Container home we will visit is in Brisbane, Australia. Using over 30 shipping containers to construct this container “mansion”, the architects included 4 bedrooms, a gym and an art studio. While this isn’t your typical container home model, it is a testament to the shipping container as a viable, sturdy, and even luxurious building material. This home cost around $450,000 to build, but was well worth the investment, as the owners eventually sold the house for double the build cost! That’s called smart investing, mate!

Graceville Container Home

Graceville Container Home in Australia

The next Container Home we will explore is called The Caterpillar House, located just outside Santiago, Chile. This home was built by world renowned architect, Sebastián Irarrázaval. Constructed out of 12 shipping containers, this house was built to render electronic air conditioning unnecessary. This house uses the cool, natural mountain breeze to pass through the house in a passive cooling system!

Caterpillar House

The Caterpillar House Container Home

The last home on our quick tour is located in Kansas City and was designed by a former toy designer, Debbie Glassberg. She built this house from five shipping containers, with the main goal in mind to show that building out of shipping containers doesn’t have to be super-industrial or minimalist. In fact, it can be playful and quirky. She painted the walls in Tiffany blue, and adorned the ceilings with hand-sculpted tiles!

Kansas Container Home

Debbie Glassberg’s Custom Container Home

More than anything, these home designers and architects have shown the versatility of shipping containers and the customization that is possible when you are building your own Container Home! What is on your wishlist for your dream Container Home? Let us know in the comments!

Five Things You Should Know Before Building With Shipping Containers

Constructing a shipping container home is an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it can also be a challenging experience. One of the main things to keep in mind is, shipping containers are unique as far as building materials go. As such, they have their own confounding issues as well as fascinating advantages

I want to address some key issues here that you’ll need to know before you construct a container home and is supplementary information to our recent blog: Are Shipping Containers DANGEROUS to live in?

Not All Containers Are Equal

This is a very important aspect you’ll need to keep in mind before purchasing your container. The most common types used for buildings are high cube, standard and refrigerated. In addition to determining the type of shipping container that will be best for your situation, you will have to decide on the condition of the container that will be most appropriate. Shipping containers are available to be purchased as new, used and one trip containers.

One aspect to keep in mind, is that a high cube container will give a smaller space a deceivingly roomier feel, an aspect that many container home owners say is a game changer. The high cube containers are approximately 50% more expensive than standard containers, but most agree that the extra foot of height is indispensable.

Know Your Local Zoning Laws and Building Regulations

No matter whether building a shipping container home or a traditional building, it is extremely important to know the local regulations. Failing to do this research in advance can spell disaster. It is especially important when constructing a shipping container home, since your local zoning commission may not be familiar with this type of construction.

Once you’ve finalized your plans, but before construction has begun, go to your local planning office. At this meeting, you can determine how receptive they are to your plans. Without prior experience with shipping container homes, some may need some persuasion prior to accepting your ideas.

The only time you don’t need planning permission is when you’re outside your city’s zoning laws. In this case, you generally have the freedom to construct whatever you want, providing the structure is safe. We still recommend speaking with your local planning office to confirm you are truly outside the zoning limits. For more information on shipping container zoning laws and regulations visit our recent blog post.

Don’t Change Your Design During Construction

One of the biggest reasons why all types of homes take longer to build and cost more than expected is because the design gets changed while the building is under construction. The time to change your design is during the planning stage. It is very important to commit to your final design before you begin construction.

Make sure to do as much research as possible before building and ideally, visit several container homes to get inspiration before you commit to your design. A good architect will not only produce the 2D elevations, but many can product 3D renderings as well.

Don’t Cut the Containers…Too Much


Like most building materials, shipping containers can be used to build anything from inexpensive homes to multi-million-dollar mansions and everything in the middle. However, most people decide to use shipping containers because of the cost savings benefits.

Maintaining as much of the container’s structural integrity as possible will save money. Any time you cut steel out of your container it costs you both time and money. Not only will you have to pay to remove the steel from your containers, you will also need to to reinforce the opening.

If you look at the cheapest container homes built, one thing they have in common is that they have not modified the original structure extensively.  Of course, opening for doors and windows have been cut, but they haven’t removed large sections from the walls of the container.

Finding Contractors Can Be Difficult

People use contractors because they don’t have either the time or the skills to construct the building themselves. This applies to traditional building as well as shipping container homes.

Since shipping container homes are a relatively new building model, the number of contractors who specialize in this type of construction are somewhat limited.

Of course, you can purchase an already finished structure from the different models offered by CargoHomes. These structures arrive pre-finished and the only aspect you will need your contractor to complete is the final set-up and site preparation.


After reading this article, you should be in good shape to begin your container home adventure! Be sure to check out our other blog posts on this subject and leave your ideas in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Dallas Fort-Worth Constructs Plans for First Neighborhood of Shipping Containers in US

A Rendering of the New Development

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News tells of a development going up in the neighborhood community of McKinney Texas made completely of shipping containers. The project, initiated by Habitat for Humanity is looking for a solution for low-income residents in the DFW area.

When complete next year, Cotton Groves neighborhood will contain 35 homes made from repurposed shipping containers, a community center and a playground. But first Habitat must raise the 4.5 million required to complete the project.

To make the homes as affordable and low maintenance as possible, each will be outfitted with solar panels on the roof to help keep energy costs low. The exterior walls will use fiber cement siding and reclaimed wood for balcony fascia, as well as thin veneer stone for accent walls. The cantilever roof system has a low slope to aid rainfall drainage and gives an accent to the otherwise boxy-looking exterior.

“It says we are forward-thinking. We are innovative. We are willing to look at something different so that we can maximize a piece of property because property is getting very expensive and very scarce,” says Celeste Haiduk Cox, CEO of North Collin County Habitat for Humanity.

The template uses four 8×40 shipping containers that together equal 1,280 square feet, arranged in a couple different configurations for the different models planned. Each home will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a walkout, a second-floor balcony as well as a covered car port for two vehicles. It takes approximately six to eight weeks to construct this re-imagined version of a modular home.

So far, the organization has received a grant of $877,521 from the McKinney Community Development Corp. to complete engineering designs, construct roadways and lay sewer and waters lines for the largely undeveloped property.

Does this sound like a neighborhood you’d like to live in? Habitat will sell the homes to qualified, low income residents at 30 percent of their gross monthly income. Appraisals will determine the market value of these newly constructed homes, so an estimate for the final cost is still in the works, says Cox.