Shipping containers Home are 8 feet wide and come in a variety of lengths (from about 20 to 40 foot lengths) so they can be arranged in many different ways to make a workable home.
Although I can appreciate the concept of houses like the one in the photo above - and when you start researching shipping container homes there are many unique ones like this - I would never feel comfortable living in such a modern cottage or house. I like a peaked rather than a flat roof, siding on the outside of the building, and a little coziness. So I set out to see if I could find some inspiring container homes/cottages that fit those requirements.
I found some great examples Container Home design and even got out the old drawing board (well Paint program anyway) to come up with some basic sketches to illustrate how the shipping containers are arranged. Let's have a look at the six different arrangements I found:
1) Adjoining Arrangement - The simplest and most cost effective arrangement would involve placing several shipping containers side-by-sid
The home below is 24 x 40 and consists of three shipping containers placed side-by-side. The plan calls for the metal walls to be removed where the shipping containers touch each other, adding new interior walls, as well as siding on the outside, and a peaked roof.
The floor plan for this house has three bedrooms - two are 8 x 12 feet and the master bedroom is 12 x 16 while the central living area is 16 x 24. I really like the simplicity of this arrangement.
The cabin in the photo below is also made using three containers placed side-by-side. The man who is building this cabin wants to make a very secure cabin so that it won't be vandalized when they aren't there. They didn't want to cut any windows or doors in the sides of the building and are only going to use the ends where the shipping containers open for doors and windows. That way when they are finished visiting the cabin, they simply close the original shipping container metal doors and the cabin is secure. You can read more details here. (UPDATE: You can read more about this cabin and see some photos of the interior here).
I also found some other great designs using the side-by-side arrangement of shipping containers through IDS Products.
2) Staggered Arrangement - An alternate version of the adjoining arrangement would be the staggered plan, whereby the home is made of three shipping containers, but one or more of the containers is staggered to form a more interesting arrangement.
In the home pictured below, they used the staggered arrangement to allow for a screened porch and because they extended the roof, a covered carport.
They plan to paint the exterior a unified colour, but are not going to add siding. The interior is still being constructed, but I love some of the details they have used and how cozy the kitchen is. This is definitely a home I'm going to keep my eye on to see how it looks when it is finished.
3) Bridge Arrangement - In the bridge plan two shipping containers are placed parallel to each other and are used as solid exterior side walls. A roof is built over top from one container to the other forming an interior space. I couldn't find an example of this arrangement with a peaked roof, but I thought it was a clever design so I'm including it.
In the home pictured below you can see the shipping containers on either side with the shed roof linking the two together and creating the interior living space.
4) Random Arrangement - The home in the picture below was built by a couple living in Quebec and is made using seven shipping containers - some stacked, some side-by-side, and some placed at different angles. They have covered the containers with insulation and siding, but left the corrugated metal visible on the inside of their home.
The couple who built this home were so pleased with the reduced costs, the speed of construction, and the positive effect on the environment from using shipping containers that they have started their own company building modular homes from used shipping containers. You can see their designs, mostly of the bridge arrangement (see #4) here at Maison Idekit.
5) Stacked Arrangement - This plan can have many variations depending on how many containers are used on each floor. In the following two houses they have used two up and two down. Unfortunately I was not able to find floor plans for either of these homes.
6) U Arrangement - I was not able to find a picture of a home using a "U" shaped arrangement of shipping containers, but I do think it is worth considering as the containers would form an area for a lovely courtyard or screened porch in the centre which is a welcome addition to a cottage. The exterior could be designed to have a traditional look.
I know your head is probably spinning from the variety of arrangements and you are just itching to Google how to find your own source of shipping containers so you can start building. I feel the same way. Aren't they amazing Container House Design