Shipping Container Home Design Concept - Container Design Idea Shipping Container Home Design Concept - Container Design Idea

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Shipping Container Home Design Concept

Using old shipping containers as houses is nothing new but I thought it might be fun to start playing with some tiny shipping container design concepts. Pictured here is just my first pass at using a 20-foot shipping container as a remote cabin design. It’s laid out to sleep two people in a convertible bunk bed, provides some storage for gear and food, and has a small kitchen and bathroom. The main feature is that it would be difficult to break into. No building is perfectly secure but one that locks up tight will be less inviting to criminals.


There are no windows or door openings cut into the original steel walls. Instead the original container doors would conceal an exterior wall with a door and window. This would provide that added security the cabin needs when uninhabited while at the same time giving the house a more usable front facade when in occupied.
The only cuts into the original exterior walls would be for vents and utility access. Behind the shower would be a locked compartment accessed from the exterior for the water heater, water filter, and utility panels. An off-grid power system could also be located in this compartment.


The Container Home design I added a pitched roof to the design. This could be framed with metal or wood. A metal roof would make it more impervious to fires but a wood roof would probably be easier to build for most people. The pitched roof provides shade as well as protection from rain and snow and would add years to the life of the container. I left it open so air could easily pass between the pitched roof and top of the container – which is already water tight. The insulation would be placed inside the container between the inner and existing outer walls.


I think a building like this could be built for less than $10,000. 20-foot containers typically cost between $2,500 and $3,000. The rest of the money would be spent on a pier foundation, interior walls, floor, ceiling, insulation, doors, window, and some minimal plumbing and electrical. Additional site costs would depend on local building/health department requirements coupled with what the homeowner wants. For example if a well needs to be drilled or a septic system needs to be added that would add to the site preparation costs. But all in all shipping containers seem like good secure building blocks worthy of exploration for remote cabins – so I think I’ll draw a few and post them here.

Building on the last shipping container Home concept it seemed logical to add another 20-foot shipping to see how much more space that could really provide. I didn’t do anything vastly different with the interior – mostly just moved things around. Instead of using the storage sofa/bunk beds this time I show two queen size futon sofa beds, making it possible for this space to sleep four people.


The kitchen also features a taller refrigerator and table for four. I didn’t add a range imagining that a portable hotplate could be used. I’ll spend more time working out the interior details in part 3 of this series.
You’ll also notice that I’ve drawn a shallow pitched hip roof for this version. This approach would be more fire proof than the large overhangs of the last design. You see when a wildfire come across remote buildings one of the easiest things to catch fire are open roof eaves. Boxed eaves (closed in framing) can help reduce the risk of a building catching fire so the absence of eaves plus a metal roof and exterior should be even safer.  I can’t say I like the way this roof looks but like the utility of it for a remote cabin.


On the interior, between the two containers, I’ve drawn just two 3-foot wide doorways. With proper supports the entire wall could be removed but to add a little more privacy for the two bed areas I thought this might be worth visualizing. The more holes you cut into shipping containers the weaker the containers become – or at least the more they need welded-in reinforcement.

In this version of the container cabin I show how windows can be added to the sides of the shipping containers by welding steel window frames into the side walls. I’ve made them protrude a bit for added function and visual interest but you could do the same thing with a simplier steel frame. I also show how steel shutters can be added to help secure the cabin when the owner is absent.


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