Create a Tiny House With A Shipping Container

Trista - August 15, 2020
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Have you ever considered transforming a shipping container into a house? It’s the latest trend for homeowners. Home design has completely changed in the last few years. People are moving away from big mansions and want to live in smaller homes. Not only this, but people want to create intelligent living spaces to enjoy.

The idea of a shipping container home has risen in popularity as they are an excellent option for those who want a home but want to save money on this process. A shipping container also provides an ideal space for renovation if you are interested in completing something. Keep reading to learn all of the do’s and don’ts of shipping container homes. If you want a shipping container home, get ready to discover how durable and eco-friendly your house can become. Not only that, but the cost of welding, cutting, and more. Don’t worry; with these tiny house decor ideas, your shipping container will look like a modern masterpiece!

These homes are known to be strong and durable, which is any homeowner’s dream. Shutterstock.

A Strong, Durable And Eco-Friendly Home

Regardless of your renovation plans, there are huge bonuses to considering a shipping container home. One of the most obvious perks is that they are strong, durable, and eco-friendly. You will want to be mindful of the climate and environment in building a tiny home. Although you might have to consider conditions like snow, this home can withstand almost anything. You can feel comfortable and confident in the structure and bones of your new home. To determine your new home’s true sustainability, it will partly be determined by the materials you choose to build with.

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There are so many options for using shipping containers for your build – you can even create a shipping container mansion if that’s what you want. Now, let’s find out what you’ll need to know if this is something you desire. If you seek more of a smaller space, you will be able to save tremendously on your bills, including building materials and reduced energy costs. However, don’t be fooled by its small size. The shipping container tiny homes are sure to withstand even the challenging conditions. Many people have even considered incorporating multiple shipping containers to create square footage.

Shipping container houses are also known to be very cost-effective compared to the usual construction type for a home. Shutterstock.

Save Money With A Shipping Container

The thing that has probably attracted you to this concept is the low cost. The cost certainly is a lot lower than your average brick-and-mortar build. What else can you save on when moving into a shipping container home? A large number of variables influence the project’s cost, such as location, size, design, and interior finishes. The cost of buying the container can range from $1,400 for smaller containers to up to $6,000 for a larger, brand new container. Newer containers will cost more than the older containers, and larger ones will also cost more than smaller ones.

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Your shipping container’s total cost will vary depending on the size and age of your chosen shipping container. You’ll also save on foundations, which can be a considerable expense when building big. A shipping container comes with a flat metal roof, exterior walls, and a metal frame that can double as a foundation. Did you know that even buying a brand new container will be more affordable? This concept is because there is much less labor involved in this type of construction project. Keep in mind that the price of the container will be less than a tiny home. It also depends on your interior and exterior finishes.

Many people are moving more towards an eco-friendly lifestyle, and that includes swapping out their homes. Shutterstock.

Going Eco-Friendly

You may also be building a shipping container home because you want to live a more eco-friendly life. Is this just a myth when it comes to this type of housing? Well, look at it in terms of weight. A shipping container weighs about 7,500 pounds. This heavy item isn’t going to be used again and will sometimes go to waste if you are buying a recycled shipping container. That is eco-friendly! Also, it reduces the need for other building materials like bricks and cement because it is ready built. The shipping container can serve as its own foundation.

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Shipping container homes are an ideal way of recycling, while the sustainability of a tiny home partly relies on the material choices that are made. The smaller space of a little house means reduced energy costs and overall savings on materials needed and used. Reusing a safe shipping container is an excellent way of building with recycled materials. The shipping container homes also encourage a smaller footprint and less usage of other building materials such as wood and masonry. If you are open to using a shipping container, you might also be available to other eco-friendly elements.

Consider adding eco-friendly features to your home if you decide to purchase a brand new shipping container. Shutterstock.

Is It Just A Myth?

If you are using a brand new shipping container, this isn’t as eco-friendly as using a pre-used box. In this case, it wouldn’t be considered eco-friendly in that aspect but better than building a conventional home. Suppose you’ve decided to go with a brand new shipping container. You may want to consider being eco-friendly in other ways, such as using solar power and sustainable sources of living your life in the new container. There are many additional ways to be eco-friendly and sustainable when it comes to using shipping containers. Some of these ways include elements such as solar panels, wind power, and water recycling systems.

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However, when choosing a shipping container, you will want to keep in mind the impact of some used containers. Some used shipping containers are hardly eco-friendly. They may have held toxic chemicals or have been treated to prevent corrosion during transit. If the container experienced either of these, there could be high levels of chemical residue. Choosing the right container is vital. Others have argued that the energy required to make the steel boxes habitable overwrite the benefits of recycling them. One report showed that the average container produces almost a thousand pounds of hazardous waste before being livable.

Shipping containers are known as the Legos of the construction world, have fun with creating your layout. Shutterstock.

Have Fun With Your Layout

One of the best things about a shipping container home is the modularity. Your home can easily be changed into something new by adding a new container – they are considered the Lego’s of construction! When you combine a variety of containers, you can create a fantastic home. A home like this can also grow alongside you as you decide to go bigger or smaller in design. All you need to do is remove a shipping container or add one. The best part of building with shipping containers is the flexibility to alter the layout by adding square footage at any time.

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In addition to adding or taking away a shipping container to the side, front, or back of your existing container, they are also stackable. You will want to decide how many rooms you would like to connect and how much space you will need. Besides, you may want to consider what the next few years look like for you and your family. For instance, if you plan to have kids in the next few years, you might want to consider adding some stacked containers to allow room for your family to grow into.

If you are looking for a home that will last the test of time, a shipping container is one of the best options. Shutterstock.

A Very Hardy Home

Another fantastic thing about a shipping container and transforming it into your home is that they are very hardy. They are designed to go through harsh conditions, which means that your house will as well. As shipping containers are designed to be transported on ships, carry all kinds of objects, and travel long distances, they are pretty indestructible. It will be very durable and robust, which is a real bonus if you live in an area that has intense weather conditions such as heavy snow or rain. Ensure that they are adequately anchored to foundation pads to survive stable wind conditions, in any case.

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Shipping containers should be able to withstand fire, water, and earthquakes. Since they are watertight, durable, and weather-resistant, shipping containers are highly appealing. Shipping containers are made to be exposed to the weather and sea salt and are made from heavy-duty steel and aluminum. When a shipping container is sent worldwide with valuable goods inside, it is made to keep them safe. Many of them have an earthquake and storm-resistant ratings. Who wouldn’t feel comfortable having a home that is built to withstand all of these elements? However, it is not always possible to know what has been shipped in a used container.

Make sure you see the container you will be using if possible or make sure that what you see is what you get when ordering it. Shutterstock.

The Tips And Tricks of Shipping Container Homes

Now that you’re aware of all the great things about shipping container homes, you’re going to need some tips and tricks to help you through the building process. The number one tip is seeing the actual shipping container you will be using. This spot is your new home. Just as you would go and see a house with your agent before you buy it, you should do the same for your container home. Make sure that what you are buying is exactly what you are going to get. You will want to make sure that the size of your land is sufficient for your home.

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You might also want to consider your future goals when choosing a spot to set your shipping container and tiny home. For example, if you plan to have kids in the future, is there room for them to run around and be safe? Also, if you want to add extra containers in the future or are even considering it, you will likely want to ensure you choose a location that has room for that expansion. Since shipping containers are heavy, you will need to provide a firm driveway to bring them in and have a solid foundation ready.

Do your research when it comes to building regulations that are specific to the area you want to build in. Shutterstock.

Understanding Building Regulations

You’re also going to need to do quite a bit of research on your shipping container home. It’s essential to understand the building regulations in your area as they are different for every city. There are specific regulations about shipping container homes. Keeping yourself informed is a powerful tool in this process. Make sure you know all the ins and outs, including insurance information, before you get started. Shipping container architecture is still relatively new, so the most important thing before getting too far into the process is researching your local laws and regulations. These specific regulations can significantly vary from one area to the next.

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You will want first to ensure that your container building will fit on the land you have chosen and that it will meet existing building codes and zoning restrictions. The building codes set standards for what structures must have to receive an occupancy permit. On the other hand, zoning regulations dictate where a home can be built. Both of these will be the first checks on your list of ensuring your shipping container and home meet all of the local regulations. Failing to ensure your new home can receive an occupancy permit or that you have purchased land with sufficient zoning permits could be costly.

Knowing more about your future home structure will be very useful and help you feel part of the process if you are using a contractor. Shutterstock.

Knowledge Is Power

Another thing you should research is your container’s structure. You’re most likely going to be using a contractor to do the actual build. However, you will find it very beneficial to know a bit more about your container’s structural integrity going into the process. You will want to research and learn more about load-bearing walls and even bracing so you understand how you can layout your home. This newly gained knowledge will help you make decisions regarding the design of the shipping container home instead of having to rely solely on your contractor’s expertise.

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If your design involves more than one container, you will also want to understand the steps involved in combining the multiple structures. You might use clamps, welding, or bolts, depending on how permanent you prefer the connection to be. Understanding the process of creating the layout and building your container will help you feel the most prepared as you enter into the process with your contractor. You will have a better idea of what to expect and also how long each step will take. You should always make an effort to educate yourself when investing in such a large item.

Find the ideal contractor who has experience building container homes and not just ordinary dwellings. Shutterstock.

The Right Contractor Is Essential

Something essential to having a pleasant experience creating your shipping container home is to have the right contractor. Contractors have been building traditional homes for hundreds of years, but they haven’t done the same for shipping container homes. Try and source a contractor who has a shipping container home experience and expertise. This step will make the process a whole lot easier for you. They will know what is possible, what isn’t, and what sounds like a good idea but won’t turn out well. Shipping container homes are relatively new, so the right contractor is critical to the progress of your project.

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If you hurry and don’t find a contractor with prior shipping container experience or expertise, you could end up costing yourself a lot in the long run, both time and money. Your contractor must have a solid foundation of understanding and potential drawbacks or challenges. The right contractor will help talk and walk you through each phase of the project. That might even require adhering to additional building codes or local ordinances that you had not thought about in the beginning. Researching, interviewing, and selecting the right contractor will set your project off on the right foot.

Hire the right people for the job the first time to avoid spending extra on people who don’t do the job correctly the first time around. Shutterstock.

The Right People For The Job

Finding a contractor who can work on all aspects of your shipping container home, inside and outside, will also save you money. It will also help to keep a continuous flow of an idea throughout the new house. They will know the right people for each job needed in your new home and will be able to bring them onto the team to work on it. However, if you are confident, you can take on the role of project manager and bring in contractors for all the various tasks you need. You may choose to bring in multiple contractors who specialize in certain areas.

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When it comes to transforming a shipping container into a home, you want to ensure it is done correctly every step of the way. While contractors can do it all, it can sometimes be more beneficial to bring in individuals who are subject matter experts in certain areas. For instance, someone who is knowledgeable in electrical may not be as experienced in plumbing. When you throw in the fact that you are dealing with a shipping container than a traditional home, it is even more essential to find the right people for the job.

Ensure quality control by buying containers from the same manufacturer to build the home you want. Shutterstock.

Order Containers From One Manufacturer

It may seem like a no-brainer, but you will want to ensure that you buy all your containers you will be using for the build from the same manufacturer. If you start to source containers from different manufacturers, you could find small differences that make a big difference. There could be differences in terms of the quality and dimensions that could affect the simplicity of creating the modular structure of your dreams. Two containers, even of the same size, may struggle to align and connect properly. Stick to one manufacturer in your area for all the pieces of this puzzle.

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There are many reasons to order your containers from one manufacturer. These include both the quality and dimensions. However, there are also a variety of other reasons. If you chose containers from a variety of different manufacturers, there is a possibility that they have been treated and used for very different items. That can create further potential challenges based on what chemicals they have been treated with or what items they have previously shipped. Sticking to one manufacturer helps to ensure that you have a better chance of minimizing those unnecessary risks. You may also be able to get a better purchase price by getting multiple containers from one manufacturer.

Create a firm plan for your plumbing before you start working as this is a big deal to change later down the line. Shutterstock.

Plan Out Your Plumbing

When it comes to the pipework of your shipping container home, you should consider all your plumbing options. Other aspects of a home are relatively easy to change, but plumbing should only be done once. You will want to know all of your options regarding layout and where you want things situated. This step will save you a lot of time and money down the line. Consult with a professional about this and understand the pros and cons of what you are installing. Adding plumbing to your container will depend on what type of system you plan to install.

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Depending on the type of system, you may wish to do this before insulating. If you decide to go with conventional plumbing, you might qualify for your local utilities. Utilizing traditional plumbing will require you and your contractor to look into any building codes or local ordinances about using these utilities. Besides, as previously mentioned, plumbing is something that should only be completed once. After it is all set and the rest of the project moves forward, plumbing is not something you can alter without a lot of time, money, and patience. You will want to be one million percent positive on the layout before doing any work.

Do your research about insulation and decide which option will fit into your building budget. Shutterstock.

Choose Your Insulation

You’ll also need to consider which insulation is the right choice for your new home. One of the biggest challenges that shipping container homes face is finding the proper ways to insulate the container itself. Currently, the most popular choice for this form of housing is spray foam insulation. There is a perfect reason for this, and you really should consider it. Insulating your home is very important, but you also want to create a vapor barrier to prevent any unwanted moisture from entering your shipping container. What is the con about this type of insulation?

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Spray foam insulation is a product of the petrochemical industry, which is not a hallmark of sustainability. Furthermore, there have been identified potential health hazards related to the spray foam insulation, including asthma, lung damage, and other respiratory ailments. However, there is a water-blown spray foam insulation that expands as it hardens and insulates through tiny plastic bubbles that form in the interior of the insulation. While there are small amounts of hazardous chemicals associated with it, they are most likely to disappear within two to three weeks. Many shipping containers are coated with highly toxic paints to withstand life at sea, so spray foam insulation could trap those toxins in your home.

Both insulation options are useful, each with their pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide what works best. Shutterstock.

Spray Foam Insulation Or Insulation Panels

Spray foam insulation is more expensive than the usual insulation panels most homes use. If you are working on a tight budget, this might not be the best option, or you might want to save longer until you can afford it. However, if you are not going to budge on your budget, you should also look into insulation panels. The good thing is that they will offer you insulation that is just as effective as spray foam insulation, but you will lose some interior space as it is thick. There are benefits and challenges with either form of shipping container insulation.

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Insulation panels have often been said to be the best type of insulation for shipping container homes. They are ideal for someone who wants to do it themselves because they are lightweight, easily cut, and installed on-site. There are specific companies that design insulation panels made for the side walls of most shipping containers. Their thin profile only takes up two inches of interior space. The panels are installed horizontally, with the studs running vertically to allow the studs to adhere to the container’s interior facing ribs. The insulation panels are manufactured without any toxins that could impact air quality.

Decide on the flooring option that will best suit your lifestyle and your budget. Shutterstock.

Carpets Or Tiles?

Another important decision you will have to make before you start building is about the floor. Are you going to go for carpets or tiles? Consider the durability of both these options before making your final flooring decision. See if you are happy to replace a floor every few years to freshen it up or whether you would prefer a more permanent solution that will remain intact for years to come. You might also want to consider the area you live in and how much foot traffic there will be. Consult with your contractor and make the best decision for you and your needs.

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The carpet might require more cleaning and maintenance in a smaller space as it is more likely to become dirtier. Tiles would be an easier option to clean over time, but they could also take away from the coziness of the home. Where you live could also be an important factor. For instance, if you live in an environment that rains a lot, you might prefer tile as it will be easier to clean if there is water or mud inside. If you live in a colder climate, you might select carpet as it gives a much cozier feeling to the inside of your home.

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Keep Your Standards High… And Your Ceilings Higher

Now, here’s a great trick for making your container home feel and look larger – it’s all about the ceiling height. When looking and determining your budget, you may want to consider paying an extra amount for a container with a higher ceiling. They are known as high-cube containers. They are the same as a regular container in terms of structure and sustainability, but you are getting an extra foot of height. While an extra foot might not seem like a lot, it can make a massive difference in the amount of space you have to work within your new home.

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The extra space can be helpful for several reasons. The most obvious is that it makes your area appear larger. Besides, it can provide you with some extra storage space. This feature can make a huge difference because you will lose some height from insulating the floor. Having a higher ceiling height can be even more critical if you or your significant other are taller. The higher ceiling can quickly become more of a necessity rather than a desire in terms of comfort. The high-cube containers might cost a little more, but there may be other areas where you can cut the cost a little to balance out.

Managing your budget is essential with any build, especially if you are on a tight one. Shutterstock.

Create Your Build Budget

Speaking of budget, this is so important to know before you get started on your tiny home project. Keeping a budget will help you save money and understand the costs to make the best decisions overall for your shipping container home. These tips will help you to stay on budget through your build! Make sure you plan more than you ever thought you needed to account for unseen expenses or unexpected challenges. Building this new home with a strict budget and little room for overspending is essential to your success in this area.

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If at all possible, you might want to get in connection with someone who has already gone through the process of purchasing a shipping container and transforming it into a tiny home. Not only do you have to think about buying the lot, the shipping container, and all of the building materials, you also have to consider labor costs. Let’s not forget that installing plumbing or electrical to your lot to comply with local regulations and guidelines may also require some more money out of your pocket. Simply talking with someone who has experienced it can help you better allocate your funds.

Keep track of all the expenses you are incurring to make sure that you are not overspending. Shutterstock.

How Not To Overspend

You will want to ensure that you keep track of all your expenses – and we mean all your costs! By keeping track of everything, you will be informed about areas where you are overspending and where you have met your budget or come under it. If you are overspending, this gives you the chance to fix the problem before it becomes too much to handle. Alternatively, if you are on a budget, you’ll know you’re on the right track. Likewise, if you are under budget, it means you have more money to play with or keep it in case of a building emergency.

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It is vital to know where every dollar and penny is being spent. You should be aware of where you are budget-wise every step of the way in the project. That will help ensure that it doesn’t catch up with you all at once. If you don’t know where you are at with the budget, it may cause delays and challenges if you are met with an unexpected cost. If you find that you are under budget in one category, you might allocate that to another category where an unexpected need arises. Besides, when looking at materials, be sure to only look at those within your budget.

Buying an old container might seem better initially for your budget, but it could affect it in the long term. Shutterstock.

Buying An Old Container

When it comes to buying an old container, this might seem like it is better for your budget and, of course, the environment, but is it? You’ll need to make sure that you scrutinize an old container before you buy it. There may be flaws in it that will cost you a lot to fix if you opt to go for a used container. The defects may cost you as much as it would just to purchase a new container. There is another option you can look at that is cheaper than a brand new box. It is a “one-trip” container, which means they have only been used once.

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Old containers can be beneficial because they may be more cost-effective, but there are many other things you will want to look out for. If you purchase an older container, there may be limitations on whether you can obtain the proper permits to start building a home. If the container had been treated with or carried toxic chemicals or materials, you may not be able to obtain a permit to proceed. Be sure to do all of your research and know whether the pros of a used container will outweigh purchasing a new container without any of these concerns.

Certain features are worth spending a fair amount of money to keep your home safe and legally compliant. Shutterstock.

Don’t Compromise On These Things

When building and designing a home, there will always be things or finishes where you won’t settle for any less. You will want to decide on what those are from the start. Get these jobs appropriately done instead of cheaply. Certain items are worth spending a bit more money on, as it will end up saving you money in the long run. Things like a paint color can be redone, but there are other things that you shouldn’t compromise. Don’t sacrifice safety, style, or legal compliance just because it is cheap and fits in well with your budget.

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There are certain aspects of a home that are more easily changed in comparison to others. As mentioned, you can easily repaint or swap out bedding and linens. It will be much more challenging to alter or change your new home’s layout, plumbing, and electrical aspects. You might decide that you want three windows in your shipping container tiny home. It is something that cannot be easily changed once done. As you start planning the project, be sure to list out the top items that you are not willing to compromise. As you progress in the building, you can make smaller, less critical decisions around those items that you are not willing to compromise.

Look to create a low maintenance build as it will save you a lot of money in the future when the build is complete. Shutterstock.

Low Maintenance Is The Best

When you start designing and building your tiny home, you will want to look at each element’s maintenance level. Another great way to work on your budget is to use building elements that don’t require much maintenance. This concept goes for everything in your home, including maintenance and even cleaning your home. You should always factor in your home’s upkeep in your initial budget, as this is a long-term investment, and you need to make sure it is worth the money you are putting into it. It can be as simple as choosing tiles of carpet as they won’t need to be replaced as frequently.

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There will be certain items you choose to go into your tiny home that will require more maintenance. These might also be the same items that you were not willing to compromise on. For example, maybe you have always dreamt of having a butcher block kitchen countertop. These are incredibly beautiful, but if you have done your research, you know that they also require some more regular maintenance and upkeep than other countertop materials. Not only do you have to consider the time that you will spend on maintenance but also on the costs associated with that.

A simple design will lend itself to a smaller budget – more intricate designs will require a lot more money. Shutterstock.

Simple Designs And A Small Budget

If you are working with a lower budget, it can be essential and beneficial to keep your design simple. This notion will save you a lot on building costs and also labor. The great thing is that it is easy to upgrade, so if you need to start small, that’s okay. You will learn from your first time working with shipping containers, and you’ll know even more the next time you decide to add to your new home. Always be sure to work on a design that suits your budget and meets your new home’s needs.

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Are you a firm believer that you should never look at something that is outside of your budget? It is incredibly disappointing to see items, even building materials, fall in love with them, only to be in a difficult position. You then have to decide that you will stick with your budget and choose something else or overspend to get the item. It is better to stay within the parameters of your budget, even if that means simpler finishes. As time moves on, you can always upgrade some of those finishes as your budget changes. You will thank yourself later.

Cutting containers cost much money. Try and avoid doing this to keep your budget down. Shutterstock.

The Costs Of Cutting

It is imperative that you remember that cutting containers will use both time and money, which can cause your budget to skyrocket if you are not careful. You should try and develop smart ways to reduce the amount of cutting you will need to build your shipping container home. Of course, if you have an unlimited or big budget, this isn’t something you need to be concerned with, but it’s always good to be aware of it if money is a concern. Extra work means extra money that you need to spend in all aspects of a build.

Photo Credit: Kostyantyn Ivanyshen/Shutterstock

As you prepare your budget, you will want to factor in the number of shipping containers you are looking to utilize. The more shipping containers, the more money you will need to set aside to account for the design and renovation. However, it is essential not to forget that these shipping containers also need to connect in some way so that your home layout flows the way you intend it to. The containers will need to be cut in either the sides, tops, or bottoms to connect appropriately. They will also need to be cut to add windows and doors, which you need to account for in the budget.

Plan to save on additional costs such as welding and make sure you can minimize these expenses. Shutterstock.

The Expense Of Welding

Something else apart from cutting that can end up costing a lot of money is welding. Welding is costly both in time and money. You should make sure that you plan your construction to have a minimal amount of solder to keep costs. By planning, you will be able to see where it is necessary and where it is avoidable. Remember the saying, work smarter, not harder; this concept applies to create your unusual new shipping container home. You may also have to hire another individual who is an expert in welding to ensure it is done correctly.

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The cost of welding your containers together can be costly. It is vital to determine your new tiny home’s size and layout. Moreover, that you factor these factors may cost to complete the welding. If you do not account or budget for the cost that it takes to structure your shipping containers properly, then it can cause a massive hit to the budget. It may require a pause or delay in the progress of your project. Lastly, you will also want to ensure that you are hiring the right person to complete the welding. It is the structure of your home, so it must be done correctly.

Don’t change your design once you have finalized it, as this can lead to you completely blowing your initial budget. Shutterstock.

Create A Plan And Stick To It

Finally, when working with the budget, you will want to finalize your home design and then stick to it. You will want to create your design with a budget in mind and all of these tips and tricks. When you change your plan, it will cost a lot of money and even cause a tremendous delay in the project’s completion. You will get inspired as you move forward with the build and change simple design elements such as finishes, paint color, and decor rather than changing the overall design, which is a costly thing to do.

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When purchasing your shipping container and transforming it into your ideal tiny home, it is imperative that you take the time to think about each decision honestly. Be sure to think about it thoroughly and even sleep on it if you need to. The big decisions such as layout, plumbing, electrical, and even the lot that you place the container on are not ones that can be easily altered. If you decide to modify one of these large items, you could potentially be starting back at square one. You should feel confident in your plan and do your best to stick to it as you move throughout the process.

Choosing where to build your shipping container is a fun part of this process, so pick somewhere amazing. Shutterstock.

Make The Most Of Your Land

Now for the fun part — deciding where you should place and build your shipping container home! Pick a piece of land that you love, and that gives you the chance to grow your home if you ever decide to. You might want to try and have your piece of land picked out before you start designing to know what you can do with it. Like when you purchase an already existing home, you will want to visit different plots and find the perfect one for your build. This opportunity could be your chance to live somewhere unique.

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You will want to ensure that your land has adequate space for your shipping container. You will also want to check that the land has access to the resources you will need, such as plumbing and electrical. Be sure to check with your local ordinances to make sure you are purchasing a land plot that can have a home built on it. You might prefer to place and create your shipping container on a piece of land far from town, but keep in mind there may be additional costs associated with building your new home.

Find an area that allows shipping container homes to make your process of getting permits a lot easier and faster. Shutterstock.

Avoid Windy Locations

You may want to research an area where there are proper permits and laws in place for the building codes of shipping container homes. Some states do not allow the shipment or building of shipping containers for tiny houses. This step could make your process a lot simpler. Another critically important thing to consider when picking out your location is that a shipping container is a noisy home in a windy area. They are not aerodynamic. This notion means that strong winds will lead to a lot of interior noise, which can be very frustrating or disturbing.

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Windy locations can be incredibly distracting if you live in a shipping container. That might be an additional factor to consider when you are looking for land for your new home. You may want to reconsider those windy beach locations or mountainous areas where the wind is more likely to be a nuisance. If you plan to work from your tiny house or plan to have children, the strong winds can be an insane turnoff. The locations you look into and review with a real estate agent will be something you will want to consider as you prepare your plan and budget.

Build your home in a way that will benefit from the natural beauty around it. Shutterstock.

Let the Sunshine In

When creating a shipping container home, you should always consider your surroundings and make the most of them with your development. If you are going to cut your shipping container and put in big windows, make sure they open onto a spectacular view. If you are cutting less and still want a lot of natural light into your home, make sure to observe the sun and where it hits at certain times in the area you have chosen to build. All these decisions will make or break your experience. They can also impact your overall planning and budget.

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The placement of your shipping container and the cut out of your windows are essential pieces in the building process. You will want to be sure to design your container in the most functional way possible. Once you have the plot of land, you will want to take the time to study these aspects that we often take for granted. You can visit your new land and observe where and when the sun rises and sets. That will help you and your contractor determine where to place the container and cut out the windows to guarantee you receive the most sunlight.

Use smart design to make the space you have built appear more significant than it is. Shutterstock.

Decorate Your Shipping Container Home

When it’s time to decorate your now finished shipping container home, you need to work with the space you have and do the most with it. If your design is small and straightforward, there are ways to make it seem bigger. Something to live by in a small space is that less is more. You want to avoid having too many material items, which contributes to a cluttered space and mind. Instead of having lots of small decorative pieces, have one larger statement item. It will reduce the visual clutter and allow the area to appear open but with thoughtful design.

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Do you know what your style is? Perhaps you enjoy simplicity and modern finishes. You might even decide to choose lighter colors throughout your new home, which can help give the perception that the space is larger than it is. Also, you can consider how to maximize every square footage of your new space. If you opt for the high-cube storage containers, you can utilize the extra foot for storage space. You could install many cabinets that would help store those items that are not as frequently used to avoid taking up too much space.

Put away unnecessary items that create clutter and instead focus on one main design piece. Shutterstock.

What You Should Display

When designing and decorating your space, it is all about your style and what you prefer. Some people love to display their wine glasses as a form of decoration in their homes. In a smaller space, you can still do this but in a slightly different way. Put China back into the cabinet and instead use a decanter or a carafe and display your wine. This style is going back to showing off one decor item instead of many smaller pieces. You will want to make sure that you plan the right amount of storage when designing your home.

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When you decide what to put out on display in your new home, you might want to be considerate of those items that are more likely to get used frequently. For instance, if you eat toast every morning for breakfast, you might prefer to have your toaster oven out on the countertop. On the other hand, if you only drink coffee when you have guests, you might find it more functional to put the coffee maker in the cabinet to avoid taking too much counter space. Taking advantage of every amount of space you have will ensure you avoid clutter and give every item its own space.

Create useful storage spaces that you need rather than ones that will just be filled with junk. Shutterstock.

Deciding On Storage Solutions

However, when you decide on your storage solutions for your shipping container home, make sure that you only put in shelves and cabinets that you know you will need. If you have empty storage space, you will fill it with clutter. Consider living in your new home for a while and see if you need extra storage space for functional items instead of adding them straight away. Use this as an opportunity to live a clutter-free life. You might even want to set a timeframe after move-in, and any items you don’t use, you might want to consider donating or selling.

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There are many storage hacks that you can incorporate into your tiny home. You can add organization bins to your cabinets, fridge, or pantry to keep your foods and drinks organized. On the other hand, you can incorporate extra storage under your bed. For instance, you can purchase simple bed risers that will offer you a tremendous amount of storage space underneath. Properly storing your items will create a sense of organization, and you will be shocked at the change it has on your mind too. You will feel better knowing where everything is when you need it rather than searching in chaos.

White walls instantly make space seem bigger than they are because they allow the light to bounce off the walls. Shutterstock.

Light And Bright Walls

When choosing the paint colors for your new home, you might prefer to keep the color palette light on the walls. Choose a white or light and neutral color to make the space feel open. You could also introduce wall panels, which will create a design element in the home without needing a bold statement wall color. You can add accents to the house in other ways, such as in your furniture and decorating items. These can also be changed easily as you grow in the space and figure out what works and what doesn’t work in your new home.

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By incorporating light and bright walls, you help create the feeling and perception of a larger space. The light from the windows that you cut will reflect off the bright colored walls and give an inviting and calming space. If you use too dark colors when space is limited, it can make the area feel smaller than it is. Besides, if you have darker walls when there is a cloudy or gloomy day, it can be even more challenging to get your vitamin D because your home will seem darker than it is.

Plan for success when building a shipping container home, knowing what you are getting yourself into, and having the best time. Shutterstock.

Moving Into Your Dream Shipping Container

Turning shipping containers into tiny homes is still a relatively new transition. Moving towards more sustainable ways of living, like recycling old shipping containers and turning them into a home, is exciting for your future homeowners. It is often more affordable and better for the environment as well. It also gives you the freedom and chance to create something amazing and unique to you and your family that you probably wouldn’t have been able to afford to do the conventional way. As you complete each step of the process, you will have some self-satisfaction as you watch your dreams become a reality.

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If you asked me about using a shipping container and transforming it into a tiny home, I would have given you a funny look. It is incredibly unconventional but offers so many opportunities and advantages. You can choose where you want to place your new tiny home and design it how you prefer. It is an excellent option for first time home buyers or small families that are just starting. It is an exciting and fulfilling process every step of the way. You will want to be sure to do your research, decide on your budget, and start planning your dream shipping container home.

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Where Do Shipping Container Homes Come From?

If you are looking at transforming a shipping container into a tiny home, you have a few things to consider. The first would be to determine what your budget is. The next step would be to decide between an old or used container and a brand-new shipping container. If you choose to buy an empty, brand-new shipping container, it will most likely come straight from China’s manufacturers. There is a Chinese company that produces approximately 82% of the world’s steel shipping containers. The benefit of purchasing a new one is that you have peace of mind knowing it has not been used to transport harmful materials.

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Used shipping containers are a more eco and budget-friendly option. The downside is that you need to inspect their condition meticulously. There are also different certifications that you will want to check if you wish. For instance, some of them are certified to ship goods overseas, and others have stringent certifications. These stricter certifications designate containers that are wind and watertight. That may be something you will want to consider when purchasing one to be your next home. Some are also identified as one-trip. Used containers are available from either national dealers or local sellers.

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Are Shipping Container Homes Faster to Build?

Generally, shipping container homes are faster to build in comparison to traditional brick and mortar homes. The timeline for how fast or slow it takes to build a shipping container into a home depends on the size, layout, and design. The simplest and smallest shipping container homes can be made in just a few days or even weeks. It all depends on how much finishing work your design entails. You also have to factor in the starting point, and for everyone, that will be different. That depends on the plot of land and even the state of the shipping container.

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More complex homes can take longer, typically at least a few months. Like any other home build, shipping container homes can still encounter construction delays due to discoveries or material delays. Some companies will fabricate the majority of the structure offsite before transporting the tiny house to your land. The prefabricated homes do tend to be smaller and often more simply designed. The bonus is that they are typically built with everything you need to move in immediately. You might want to consider looking into this as an option if this is not your forever home or where you have a tight timeline. 

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Can You Add a Roof to a Shipping Container Home?

While shipping containers are strongly reinforced at the corners, the existing roof may lack structural integrity. If you are looking for a shipping container capable of supporting weight and weather conditions, you should consider whether adding a roof is right. Not only can the roof serve structural purposes, but it can also be aesthetic and architectural flair. Multiple types of roofs can be used, including a flat roof, pitched roof, terrace roof, and a living roof that can be used to finish your shipping container home. You will have to weigh the pros and cons of each to determine your best fit.

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Flat roofs are the simplest and often least expensive to construct. They are also put up the quickest. You will want to ensure that there is a slight pitch for the drainage of rainfall. The downside is that they can require more money to maintain. Living roofs are introduced with greenery and plants. They provide natural insulation and cooling. Pitched roofs slope downwards and are among the most common in areas with snow and rainfall. Roof terraces are creative flat spaces that are built on top of the roof for usable space. They are often used for outdoor gardens, eating, or lounging areas. 

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Do All US States Allow Shipping Container Homes?

Some states are more open to alternative living in comparison to others. These include Texas, California, Tennessee, Oregon, and Alaska. Texas has already played home to many shipping containers. Although California is known for many regulations and guidelines, they have also been open to container homes and even hybrid container homes. Other states such as Louisiana and Tennessee have some lenient and zoning regulations in the entire United States. These states recognize the desire to have shipping container homes and establish guidelines and rules that help them thrive.

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As alternative living options continue to grow throughout the country, it will be a matter of time before other states in the country begin to review and even alter their zoning guidelines and regulations. It will be important to take shipping containers and alternative living options into consideration and entice more people to come to those states to live. Additionally, suburban and rural areas tend to be more open and welcoming to shipping calendar homes. Many people looking to purchase and build a shipping container home want to do so in a more rural or suburban area. 

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How Does a Shipping Container Home Cost?

One of the most appealing parts of purchasing, building, or transforming a shipping container into a home is the cost. It is often more affordable in comparison to purchasing a traditional home. You might wonder what a shipping container home can cost. The smaller, more basic shipping container homes can range between $10,000 and $35,000. The larger homes that are built with multiple containers and amenities can get as high as $175,000. The shipping container homes can often cost half as much per square foot as traditional homes. However, it is not always that easy, and there are many factors to consider.

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In addition to the cost of the home itself, you have to also account for the initial cost of the land to place the shipping container on. The land costs and climate requirements are significant considerations, but many factors play a role. These include the size, layout, design, and number of containers required. It also requires looking at the cost of welding, plumbing, and electrical. Not only do you have to account for the building materials, but also for the labor it will take to do properly. The interior and exterior finishes are also elements that will factor into the final cost. 

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How Long Does a Shipping Container Home Last?

You might be wondering how long a shipping container home lasts. If you aren’t, you might want to know that vital piece of information before beginning the design and building process. Shipping container homes might be ideal for new homeowners or a small family that is just starting. They might also be appealing to retired people and looking for a smaller space and less maintenance. Whatever your situation might be, you should know just how long the home will last and determine whether it is worth pursuing you. For some, it may be a no-brainer, but others may find themselves reconsidering.

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Shipping container homes should last for at least 25 years. However, there are ways in which you can help them last much longer. If you properly care for and maintain your home, it is bound to last longer than if you had not. You might also want to consider ways to protect the structure of the home. You can do this by adding siding to protect the exterior of the house from the weather elements. If you transform your home correctly when you are building it, you are much less likely to run into any unexpected problems or issues down the road. At the very least, you will minimize them tremendously. 

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Do Shipping Container Homes Rust?

Since shipping container homes are made out of metal, there is always a possibility that it will rust. Rust is the single most common issue that can reduce the lifespan of a shipping container home. Some shipping containers are initially manufactured with alloys. That is a process that is commonly known as weathering steel or corten steel. It helps to form a surface level of rust that minimizes further corrosion. That might also be a factor to check into when you are purchasing your shipping container. If you find one that has been treated already, it can help prevent you from dealing with further issues.

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Another factor in the likelihood of developing rust is the climate in which the container is located. If you live in an extremely wet environment where it rains a lot, your home may have an increased likelihood of forming rust. On the other hand, dry climates may minimize the amount of rust that your new home develops or the rate at which it grows. The weather plays a large role in whether the container rusts. You should routinely inspect your home and look for any rust spots. Any problem areas should be treated and repaired as soon as possible to reduce the chance of it spreading. 

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Do Shipping Container Homes Hold Value?

When people purchase traditional homes, they often factor in their value or resale value as part of their decision. That is also critically important if the shipping container is not your forever home. The same should be done when deciding to purchase and build a tiny home from a shipping container. The good news is that a well-maintained shipping container can retain its resale value similar to that of a traditional home. Shipping containers can be loaded onto a truck and shipped almost anywhere. This critical component makes them reasonably easy to resell.

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If you are choosing or researching to purchase a used shipping container home, you might want to question whether it is manufactured for your climate before purchasing. If the container was not manufactured to meet the conditions of the environment you are in, you might want to question what modifications you might need to make. Hence, it is suitable for its intended location. Another option rather than reselling your tiny home in the event you move on is to use it for rentals. Your home may be located in an ideal location that renters or tourists might enjoy stopping at for a night or two.

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Treat Shipping Containers

When you decide to purchase a shipping container to transform into your dream tiny home, you have to consider all elements. That includes what may have been done to the container itself. It also depends on what might have been transported inside. Used shipping container interiors are treated. The wooden floor of a shipping container has a high likelihood of being sprayed with pesticides. Also, some of the paints that are used to coat the containers may contain chromate and phosphorus. These are all factors that you will want to take into consideration when purchasing a used shipping container.

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All used containers will have been originally built to withstand continual exposure to ocean spray and fluctuating temperatures while protecting the contents inside. They will have been previously treated with chemicals, sealants, and paints that are not suitable for humans. It is possible to contact the container’s original manufacturer and ask them about all of the fabrication information. You can find the manufacturer from the container’s individual identification number. Depending on the container’s age, the manufacturer should be able to identify what precisely was used to treat and protect the shipping container. Then you have to determine the next steps to make the container livable.

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How Secure is a Shipping Container as a Home?

When you leave a traditional home to head out for a walk or to grab dinner, you are likely to lock the door on your way out. How secure will your shipping container home be? If you have security concerns about leaving your shipping container home, especially for long periods, there is no reason to worry. Keep in mind what the container was initially built to do. It was created to hold goods in the inside of the shipping container while it is securely locked. The access door forms an airtight storage area that remains unbroken until it reaches its destination.

Photo Credit: Homedit

You can be assured that the shipping container is as secure as it comes. You can leave the container’s outer original structure intact and fit the doors and windows behind it for additional security. It means that you can leave your shipping container home alone for as long as you would like and it will remain sealed up safely. It also depends on how you design and build your tiny house. If you decide to cut a hole in the side and install a traditional door, you will lock it the same way you would like any other home. Have no fear. Your shipping container home is secure!

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Not All Shipping Containers Are Equal 

One of the first things you need to know when you begin thinking about purchasing and building a shipping container into a tiny home is that all shipping containers are not the same. There are a variety of types of containers that you can purchase. The most common types used to transform into buildings are standard, high cube, and refrigerated. In addition to determining the shipping container’s condition, you have to decide which type is the best for you. Many people are unaware that there are multiple types and, therefore, may not be choosing the one that is the best suited.

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A group of shipping container homeowners was asked what they hoped they had known before starting construction. The overwhelming majority identified that they wished they would have known about the high cube containers. These unique containers are essentially the same dimensions as the standard ones. The difference is that they are an additional foot taller. Who doesn’t want a little more space? However, it is essential to keep in mind that the high cube shipping containers are roughly 50% more expensive than standard containers. Many would argue that the extra food of space is more than worth the extra money. 

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Understand Your Financing Options

If you are seriously interested in purchasing a shipping container to transform, you should know your financing options. These generally include getting a mortgage or a personal loan. If the home is built in compliance with building codes for single-family homes, it can be financed just like any other single-family home. However, you should keep in mind that shipping containers might not be considered real estate. To be regarded as real estate, there have to be property taxes on the asset. There are no property taxes without a recorded title, and it is not regarded as real estate.

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It is also important to note that a shipping container must be connected to a permanent foundation with utility hookups. If the shipping container does not have a permanent function, you won’t get a mortgage. On the other hand, when building a shipping container home, you might be able to get a construction loan. Be aware that some lenders might be nervous about offering a loan since shipping containers are not everyday living. Before diving in and planning to build a tiny home, you might want to consult with a lender to see your specific options. 

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Budgeting for Contractors

Since shipping container homes are unique projects, and many contractors are not familiar with the process, you should be prepared to work with 10 percent of the project’s price upfront. The remaining 90 percent will come into play once the shipping container home has been constructed. Contractors also may be hesitant to take on the job for a fixed price. Instead, they may be willing to work on a time and materials agreement. This agreement typically entails paying for all of the materials and then paying the contractor at an hourly rate. That is why it is vital that when you create a budget for materials.

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Not only do you need to ensure that you create the budget at the beginning of the project, but you also need to make sure that you stick with it throughout the process. It would mean that the responsibility would fall on you to get the estimates, the materials and then pay extra if the project requires it. You might have to purchase more materials or additional items that you didn’t realize you would need initially. Lastly, if the project takes longer than anticipated, it would be on you to continue paying the contractor by their hourly rate until the task was accomplished. 

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Don’t Purchase Anything Before Viewing It 

Like any other large purchase and investment, you should never purchase a shipping container without seeing it first. There are many reasons for this. First off, pictures can be extremely deceiving. Online listings can also cover up shortcomings or hide any defects. The last thing you would want is to purchase a shipping container online only to arrive damaged. If you are working to save money, make sure your shipping container’s quality is not where you decide to cut corners. If you do not want to purchase a brand new shipping container, you might think buying a dented container will save you some money.

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While this may be true, and you might be able to save a few bucks by purchasing a used container, you will not want to buy a dented one. The shipping container is the foundation of your home, and it is crucial to purchase one that is sufficient, solid, and not full of toxic chemicals. You want to do your research and ensure that you are careful about buying a container that isn’t damaged, dented, or has been full of harsh chemicals. All of these things can be extremely damaging to your home and even your health if you are not careful. 

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Plan, Plan, Plan

While this has been briefly mentioned throughout this article, it deserves to be mentioned again because it is critical. It has long been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Building a tiny home out of a shipping container is no different. The best shipping container homes have been thoroughly prepared for months. The planning stage allows for identifying mistakes in advance of the build and allows for a change of ideas. The more errors that can be placed before the construction begins, the better for you. Why? It is much easier and less costly to catch a mistake and correct it in the planning stages.

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Like any other large project, the number of details and decisions to be made can be overwhelming. Commonly, you might change the house layout a few times throughout the process to find the perfect fit for you and your family. Another key tip is to allow yourself plenty of time during the planning process. This extra time will ensure you can thoroughly think through your design, sleep on it, talk it through, and change it before genuinely committing. It is easier to change your thinking and plans during the planning stage. Doing so during the construction stage can be costly and cause time delays. 

Sources: 

https://www.discovercontainers.com/should-you-build-your-own-shipping-container-home/

https://interiordesigntours.com/diy-shipping-container-homes-12-tips-to-build-a-shipping-container-home/

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/best-shipping-container-homes/

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/tiny-house-decorating-tips-265544

https://www.thetinyhouse.net/how-to-convert-shipping-container-tiny-house/

 

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