Why shipping container homes are a scam?

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Shipping container homes might look cool and economical solution to everyone, even there were many projects that were aimed to turn slums into container-based housing schemes. But none of them turned into reality, do you know why? Then read why shipping container homes are a scam and understand what are the issues.

Note: Shipping container homes may be a reliable option for those who look for an affordable housing option. This article just covers the downsides and how it is a scam for those who think this is the ultimate solution.

Shipping container home

1. The size constraints.

The very first reason why shipping container homes are a scam is the size constraints. Standard shipping containers are 20 or 40 foot long and 8-foot tall (and wide). Want something little big? You can, by ordering custom ones that are 9.5 foot tall, but that will make it super expensive. Honestly no one will choose an 8-foot tall container.

Shipping containers

Think an average user’s height will be 5.5 ~ 6 foot. Considering decorations, internal flooring and roofing will eat almost a foot. Now you’ll be left with only a single more foot height, which is not a comfortable height at all.

So, it is clearly a scam that we see easy on videos, and we think that we can use wasted containers. Most of them we see on videos order a new and custom sized shipping containers, so they can achieve comfortable heights.

2. The structural issues.

A shipping container works as a system, they are already made by an idea that every part of this container box is a foundation to its overall strength. Do not consider that every part of the container box structural.

Every single cut that you make for doors, windows, plumbing, roof openings into its structural frame or corrugated metal siding compromises its strength. You have to reinforce it with additional metal welding or wood fittings to maintain the strength. It’s achievable with accurate engineering design, but it will be expensive.

Once it’s build completely, it’s hard to make any large changes to the structural design.

3. Thermal conductivity.

Shipping containers are mostly made of steel, and it’s not a good insulator, so you can not expect the inside of these containers to get cold in summer and hot in winter. Instead, it will get hotter in summer and colder in winter.

Even though, there are some solutions to fix this issue with. But that will be expensive and cause container rain if not maintained well, and it can potentially ruin the structure by causing water damage, mold, and corrosion.

4. Health hazards.

Shipping containers are used to carry almost everything, from general goods to hazardous elements. The health risks that come with buying old shipping containers are big and cannot be overlooked.

By looking at the container’s history, you can track the locations that the container has been to around the world. But you can not track exactly what it has carried. It could have carried any toxic chemicals that might have leaked into the wooden floorboards. Using such container’s would be hazardous to the health.

5. Not suitable for all locations.

Shipping container homes are not suitable for all locations. It might make sense in coastal regions near port cities where a container is readily available. If you are inland, the cost to transport it all the way to your plot of land is not logical. Also, building with native materials is the most eco-friendly and cost-effective method.

Practically you can build a better and large house in less than 80% of the total cost that you could have made on a container-based house and that too lasts way longer than these shipping containers.

What if the solution looks economical and viable?

You can go with the shipping container home. As solution may be economical and viable to most locations where traditional house building is super expensive. But it would be better you know every thing before you build one.

Watch the below Building a Shipping Container Home series by The Modern Home Project.

It is a 6 episodes small series with all the valuable knowledge one should know.


To sum this article, I recommend building a real house with bricks, cements, and woods. Things that look so easy on a container house isn’t that easy, and you have to maintain container house time by time.

But at the day end, we cannot deny that shipping container-based homes are a solution too.

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