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40ft Tiny House Built Using a ‘Disguised’ Shipping Container!

This is a 40ft tiny house that’s actually a shipping container even though it doesn’t look like it! The 380 square foot house is built by Custom Container Living, and they added a raised gable roof to the structure which along with the cedar lap siding, which totally disguises the container! What do you think?



Highlights

  • 40ft
  • 380 sq. ft.
  • Shipping container base
  • Raised gable roof added
  • Was priced at $68,900
  • Named ‘Lake Cabin’
  • Archie, MO

Learn more below!

Resources

  1. Custom Container Living
  2. Facebook
  3. Instagram
  4. Tiny Living

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!




{ 14 comments… add one }
  • russell October 29, 2017, 10:04 am

    Good job, but I did have a question about the bedroom with the platform ? It looks to be about 6 to 8 feet long . It is about 3 to 4 feet high. Why are you wasting so much space under it? If you live tiny house, you would know that every inch of space has to count. I do think the price is high. If I had built it would have cost 24 K but it would have taken a lot to make it. It just me.

    • James D. October 29, 2017, 2:40 pm

      Actually, DIY container conversions aren’t much cheaper… Doing things like putting on a custom roof adds quite a lot to the price.

      It’s only really low cost if you keep the container pretty much a container and only add things to the interior.

      Cutting into the container means you’re cutting into the structural support and that needs to be engineered so you don’t lose too much structural strength.

      Metal working tools also cost more and it can be more time consuming because you often can’t just use a plasma torch to make cuts because the heat can weaken the metal and thus time consuming process of using grinders instead.

      You also have to worry more about trapping moisture and causing rust issues, and make sure it’s properly ventilated.

      While, without cutting into the structure you’re usually limited to more limiting dimensions where you have to fit everything and that usually takes a bit more work to get everything to fit and not use up all the internal space you want to use for actual living.

      For that under bed space, though, typically it’s used as storage and access is usually from both inside for the front part and outside for the rear part.

      Those who design off-grid also use it for the mechanicals and things like water tanks.

    • russell October 29, 2017, 3:51 pm

      I am just a rookie at somethings. But I have all the tools to do the job. My tools have tools . I have built 5 THOW so far. Every time I build one I learn something new. From small to big, I even have one to go on to a pontoon platform and lock on, Pull a pin to unlock it. I got solar, wind, and water gen to power my off-grid rig. I got a big gas gen for the tools . I am a finder of things. I was given 2 x 4. 16 footers 86 of them, 10 sheets of plywood 3/4 thick. This help with the price too. The price is going up on the container.

  • DB October 29, 2017, 12:28 pm

    Warning : Negativity follows…

    I guess I wonder why they bothered with the shipping container in the first place ?

    Cutting the top off to make the pitched and gable “disguise” features lost a lot of strength and the original roof. Sure you gained height but not much. And cladding the outside improves the looks (if you’re not into the industrial look that is one of the reasons for the shipping container home idea in the first place) but by sacrificing the durability of the steel in exchange. And finally in the end instead of well insulated hollow stud framed walls you have zero (or nearly) insulated walls full of (practically useless) solid steel slowly rusting away. Unless more material was used and space was lost by furring out the walls to add insulation.

    I doubt it even retains the shipping container’s original and utilitarian ability to easily load on a standard trailer for transport after cutting off the roof and adding the external cladding.

    If the idea was to make a tiny home that didn’t look like a shipping container why not just make a tiny house that ISN’T built on a shipping container ?

    I don’t see any benefits. Just waste. Seems like another example of doing something pointless just for the exercise in showing it can be done. Sure, we could build it that way, but did nobody ask why should we build it that way ? The original idea of the tiny house movement seems to have gone that way a lot in recent years, sadly.

    • James D. October 29, 2017, 2:50 pm

      True, about the loss of the ability to easily transport it like a regular shipping container… That’s usually lost the moment you start cutting into it and putting in windows, etc.

      Reasoning, though, it can reduce start up costs and if you keep it basic then it can be low cost, it just quickly stops being low cost the moment you go all out and start making it into a complete house rather than a shipping container.

      But it’s also basically recycling something that would otherwise go to waste and it’s one of the building options that people can opt to do themselves for DIY creds.

      But yes, it otherwise doesn’t offer anything you couldn’t get with other building options and there are cheaper options…

      Though, considering how expensive it can be to do a full conversion like this the price isn’t too bad, I’ve seen them exceed well over $100,000 and this actually looks nicer than most of them…

    • Brad Ley October 29, 2017, 3:29 pm

      Just a comment regarding rust… Neither you nor your grandchildren will be alive long enough to see one of these units rust away. They are built with a special grade of steel that allows them to be used for years as shipping containers on the ocean. Units that have been lost at sea during storms have been found months or even years later floating in the ocean. Anywhere that you cut open you would obviously have to seal, but rust will never be a major issue…

      • James D. October 29, 2017, 7:28 pm

        Brad Ley, unfortunately that’s not true… Rusted shipping containers are scrapped all the time. It’s a misconception that they don’t ever rust or that it always takes a long time.

        The shipping containers that are being sold are already used. Many, especially the ones made of Corten steel, also rust quickly, especially the ones that had already been scratched or dented while serving their primary function and thus have the raw metal exposed to the elements and don’t have paint or other protective layers.

        Such dents and scratches might give the home a more industrial look, but they are also the places where the structure will begin to rust.

        Understand, that while Corten steel is suppose to develop a protective layer of rust to prevent it penetrating to the inner layers. In the real world conditions aren’t always idea for this. So too much humidity, instead of a cycle of wet and dry, often mean that the rust layer never reaches a stable point. Eventually, the metal can become perforated and may need to be replaced.

        While other protective layers like paint will eventually flake off and leave the metal exposed.

        Btw, you’re floating in the ocean example misses one thing… Rust happens with a combination of moisture and oxygen… If most of the container is below the surface of the water then it’s not being exposed to oxygen… This is why you can see shipwrecks decades after they sunk.

        Anyway, it can be fine for years if the protective layer of rust forms correctly and thus shield the rest of the metal from further rapid corrosion but you can’t count on that and it will still rust slowly even with the protective coating.

        Though, badly rusted containers will usually not be resold but it doesn’t mean there’s no issues and you should always inspect the container before accepting it.

        There’s also some health concerns when recycling something like a shipping container because shipping containers are not originally intended for human habitation. So substances harmful to humans may have been used in their manufacture.

        This includes paints and solvents, as well as insulation materials installed to control the temperature inside the containers during transport.

        Long term exposure to these could lead to health problems for the inhabitants. Among these are chromate, phosphorous, and lead-based paints used on the walls, and arsenic and chromium that are sometimes used to infuse the wooden floors of the container in order to deter pest infestation.

        Another concern, though rare, is that they may have been used to carry toxic or even radioactive cargo in the past, which might have been accidentally spilt during transport.

        So, if unsure of the history of the container it’s a good idea to test it before committing to the conversion.

        This doesn’t mean they’re automatically inherently unsafe or that they will always rust, there are plenty of them that will be perfectly fine, but these are things to be aware of and is usually best if you can get the history of the container to properly vet it and know what you may be dealing with… Along with knowing where you will be placing it so you can factor the environment it will be in…

        Check out sites like Container Home Plans (dot) org for information on doing container conversion and what to watch out for…

        • Brad LeY October 29, 2017, 11:33 pm

          Thank you for the detailed response and helping me and anyone else that is interested in shipping containers understand more about their complexity. I really do appreciate it.

    • david October 29, 2017, 4:00 pm

      I can add to James D. here, I know quite a bit about container builds as a friend of mine has such business and I see every day it being done, and how. So for example, “why as a shipping container if you disguise it anyway, makes no point”: It does, DB and everyone. It does make sense. Many reasons, but the key reason here, since you argue the cost it can’t be here, is: Regardless how much you cut out of the container, regardless how much you change the shape and therefore the structure, a shipping container th is way more sturdy and safe than a th you built as wooden structure.
      You can easily load this thing onto a trailer and transport it across the country, any country. It’s being done all the time, even across continents. My friend sells them to other continents too, huge trucks come, load meticulously engineered parts of the house (each a container, so big are his) one behind the other onto the truck trailers, and off the go, and ship. It marvellous to watch.
      The rigidity of container th’s is nonpar. And yes, even with a lot of changes/cuts, like here, it still is way cheaper to build than wooden th’s.
      Then add points like weatherability, if well built, again a container th is the safest there is, regardless how well you claim a wooden th may be built too.
      The biggest con in my opinion, regardless how well you get the humidity control, is weight. Even without adding a single window etc, the container itself puts 4 ton on the tires, in the smallest size. This 40ft here may have weighed btw 8.5 and 12.5 ton before they started building. A ton is 2.2lb, just so you know.
      Container th’s are too heavy to be moved around like you do when you build a th ON WHEELS. That makes only sense when you actually foresee to move the house around a lot. Many folks these days join the “tiny house on wheels” movement because it is en vogue. Many of those had better built NOT on wheels as they seem to be stationary anyway.

      • comet October 29, 2017, 9:01 pm

        My vintage Foretravel RV is 36′ long and weighs in at 22,000 lbs. Fully furnished with hand made walnut cabinets, full bath, huge cedar closet and a kitchen with more useable space than my zip code house. And it drives down the road just fine. For 1/4 what this was selling for. Want to move along? Start her up and move her out! No need for special trailers or a semi cab.

        I don’t get some of these prices— yes,I do know all the parts are spendy– but it does seem that a lot of TH’s are absurdly overpriced and you could be happy in more room with an already made structure, one you can move and park in many places. We can park for free in many a parking lot, if we want to we can spend 3-4 days in a casino or Walmart or truck stop lot before we need to dump our tank and refill water tanks, and some places have dump staions and potable water for a few $$$ so you could find yourself mostly staying for free. I’m not stumping for RV over TH, just sayin’.

        • James D. October 29, 2017, 10:58 pm

          Comet, it basically comes down to what you need out of it and how long you want it to last.

          Typically, the market for Tiny Houses, Container Houses, etc. is the same as residential houses in that people expect them to last for years or even for the rest of their lives and maybe even pass it on to their kids.

          RV’s are more short term and can be more easily traded in for a newer model or just sold when no longer needed.

          While RV’s generally do not cater to the custom market. If you want something custom built just for you in the RV market you’re looking at around $300,000 on up or doing an extensive renovation yourself.

          This is because RV’s are built at factories on assembly lines and it’s a big hassle to do one separately from all the rest.

          But Houses constructed one at a time, with no need to replicate the same design, allow for nearly limitless customization options at virtually any price range.

          But custom also means the price can range from very low to very high, entirely dependent on the choices made in its design, construction, features, and amenities.

          Mind, everyone has different preferences and standards of what will make them happy and the costs usually include things many people may otherwise add after a purchase.

          Like a Tiny House can come with a completely custom installed solar power system, which can be worth over $15,000… Many RV’ers add this to their RV and is an additional cost that’s not usually considered… Custom trailers can mean things like advance suspension system, which you usually have to upgrade a RV to have… The Windows can be special custom windows that provide high levels of insulation, compared to the cheaper windows that usually come standard… You can have much of the interior done by talented craftsmen with one of a kind designs that no one else would have… You need wheelchair access then it’s easily included… Among many other examples.

          The range of options for a Tiny House are nearly limitless and appeals to those who may otherwise not be able to find just the right product to fit their needs otherwise.

          Especially, if one of their needs is creativity and the satisfaction of building something themselves as Tiny Houses can also be DIY too… Rather than going to a dealership and just choosing from what’s available…

          While beyond initial costs, the long term costs can be much less than a RV because of less need for maintenance and repairs, better energy efficiency so easier to heat and cool, there are Tiny Houses with water recycling systems that can last six months to a year so people can choose to live in the middle of a desert and still take daily showers, you can actually make sure the house is designed to be healthy and not expose you to a lot of off-gassing of VOCs, etc…. Among other potential advantages that can end up saving a lot over time.

          Some things like solar just require an initial investment cost but you save in the long run…

      • James D. October 29, 2017, 10:23 pm

        David, container strength have their limits too, let’s not try to oversell it. You cut too much out of any structure, it doesn’t matter what it’s made of, it will be compromised.

        You have to know what you’re doing with a container and re-enforce it as you cut away material, same as with any re-framing of any given structure.

        Shipping containers specifically have monocoque bodies. The corrugation panels (roof, sides, and back), floor, purlins, front doors, frame, and rails form an integrated structural skin. Focusing most of the structural strength to the corners to allow them to be stacked up to a possible max of 8 high.

        This does exceed what most residential housing structures require but the walls and roof are less strong and will more easily be compromised when cutting into them because they rely on the integration and shape to provide the structural strength.

        Thus you have to add framing re-enforcement to compensate, just like re-framing around a window, door, staircase, etc. Otherwise you quickly get to the point the structure will sag and even fail under its own weight, which as you pointed out is substantial.

        It is also not true that it is always cheaper than wood framing. If that was actually true then there would be more container houses offered at prices below what other houses are being priced at but that’s clearly not always the case.

        The only reason containers can be cheaper is because you’re getting a huge discount on the container itself. If you had to actually construct a container from scratch with metal you had to buy new then it’ll cost you over $29,000 and then you have to convert it into a house.

        But a wood framer could one up you and use reclaimed wood and build a similar structure for next to nothing.

        Heck a tiny log cabin can be done for around $300 if you really want to go there…

        While there are examples of modular container houses that are most definitely not cheap… Like the one in Kansas City home in Brookside, which is composed of 5 containers and had an asking price of $849,000!

        So simply using containers doesn’t mean you can always have lower costs and there are comparable ways that wood structures can also get cheaper…

        That said, you are right that the rigidity of a steel structure can usually easily exceed what a wood structure can offer but it’s not always enough of a factor when costs are comparable or greater, with the wood structure being good enough. While some structures benefit when they are more flexible.

        Wood structures are more resilient to earthquakes, for example.

        All materials have their pros and cons… There are many things that give steel an advantage in many situations but it’s not without its disadvantages too.

  • david October 29, 2017, 4:03 pm

    sorry, I meant to say a ton is 2.2THOUSAND lb. (I hope I got it right now 🙂

  • Michael October 29, 2017, 7:30 pm

    In comparison to a stick construction a container is still more stable to withstand hurricane force winds.
    I agree that they are heavy and can be hauled by a full size truck only.
    If you want to do it with your one ton one you will need to downsize to 20 ft container.
    Anyway they are doing well and can customize it to your needs.

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