In Savannah, GA there is an abundance of unwanted shipping containers left in the city’s port. After being used for one-way flow of consumer goods from China to America these heavy duty containers can easily be re-purposed for environmentally conscious homes.
Julio Garcia, architect, decided to do just that with two 40′ shipping containers to build his own home and studio. The two shipping containers are placed about 6′ apart. The 6′ gap has a wood-framed floor and shed roof, and the container sidewalls were cut open to create a large spacious living room. This home has one bedroom, one bathroom and a kitchen. What do you think?
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Artist’s Shipping Container Home and Studio
Images © Tessa Blumenberg
Images © Tessa Blumenberg
What do you think of this unique container home? What would you change about it to make it right for you? Or would it work as-is?
- Tessa Blumenberg (Photographer)
- Julie Garcia (Architect)
- Small House Bliss (as seen on)
- BusyBoo (as seen on)
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This is a beautiful and thoughtful design. I love it!
Wow, I love the idea. The thought of buying structure and building around it has crossed my mind few times. Where to buy containers cheap 🙂
Check out Alibaba.com. You can buy containers that are eco friendly or green completely finished. Some even have solar panels. It’s safe, secure and like eBay. They have engineers, etc. to help you with your desired plan. Also, prefab, moveable cottages, cabins, houses…ANYTHING YOU WANT FOR MUCH LESS.
Thanks for sharing that tip. The more places I can hunt around, the better.
as they are becoming more popular LOTS of resources to get them are popping up. Some are marketing in the delivery as part of the package!
I LOVE modern, futuristic, space age and even some Brutalistdesign and am REALLY thinking this as an option. Have you seen the portable (!) pools they are doing?
Just hit your search engine to find local people with the experience to help you!
What a beautiful home and so smart. I love this one too. Everytime I look on site I feel like I have to say to myself, “I’ll take one of each, please.”
Georgia is so pretty and green too. Wonderful property.
The reuse of containers should be encouraged worldwide. I would paint the exterior, but that is just me.
I was surprised that the exterior had not been painted/sided considering the clean lines and beauty of the interior.
Shipping container homes seem like a really excellent way to have an extremely strong outer structure for a home. Add a couple together and it is amazing what kind of home can be developed.
I actually like the rustic outside with original paint. Kind of ads a bit of intrigue as to where and when the container was originally manufactured and what products it may have brought to the US/Canada.
I have lived in my park model home here in the Palm Springs area now for 2 months. So far no regrets. Getting ready for the Summer Heat ! Pool time !
its encouraging you like it and live in metal in the DESERT! Did you build any external shade from the heat?
Are you considering a container pool?
All your feedbacks are welcome!
Very nice. Cost breakdown, please.
Wow! Perfect. Wondering about the structural elements… What is the foundation? I see some peers but? How is it flashed between the center structure and containers. All in all a perfect place! The property looks incredible too. Would love to hear the rest of the story. Thanks for the inspiration.
Check out Alibaba.com. They have many, many suppliers that sell container homes, cabins, cottages, bungalows, modern design…moveable, stationary…whatever YOU WANT…ANYTHING. I have about 20 favs saved and one specifically said no foundation necessary but I’m not seeing it in my favorite’s list right off. Most are pictured on decks but you can do a slab, conventional, piling, or cement blocks (even stilts!) if you want? If on a deck, I guess you could bolt it down and caulk/seal between structure and foundation like you would a stick or brick home. I truly feel I could get through building this after the headaches I went through building a huge custom house ALONE. They can design custom or some suppliers already have floor plans. Everything is finished, walls, floors, electrical, etc. and even furnished. I’m sure the plumbing is roughed in cause kitchen and bath fixtures are intact (?) but don’t know for sure. HVAC looks like those Mitsibishi Units we see in U.S. but you can do your own central heat and air. They have Engineers, designers, etc and hundreds of suppliers ready to ship in days or weeks! One example is ningzhi.en.alibaba.com..I love the modern design of this although I’m a cottage type girl. I’m warning you…this sight…alibaba.com, is highly addictive. You’ll be on this sight for weeks! PRICES ARE EXCELLENT. China rocks. They are so very bright, fast, eager to work, helpful, DEPENDABLE and highly competitive. AND THEY RESPOND FAST..not like it is around here. Can’t even get a call back when I’m trying to GIVE money away. Their stock became available in U.S. this year and I do so wish I’d bought many shares. It’s climbing and will continue to do so. Your order is protected just like on eBay. I checked U.S. prices yesterday on a moveable cabin WITHOUT plumbing and electricity and although it was beautiful, it was apx $87,000. Take a look..you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Gloria! Thanks for all that info and support…. I will check it out
Jon, just an FYI, containers are structurally sound. Only Supports At the corners aare needed aand a couple in the middle depending on length. No foundation required
I clicked on the link to the original article on small house bliss and it has more information about foundation and structural elements. It says ” The two 40′ shipping containers were placed about 6′ apart on a foundation system of steel I-beams resting on concrete piers. The 6′ gap was filled with a wood-framed floor and shed roof, and the container sidewalls were then cut away to create a large open living area. Two I-beams spanning the room hold up the roof, replacing the structural support that was lost with the walls. “
Just wondering… Love the result but given the South’s exposure to hurricanes and tornadoes et al, is there a way to get this open plan and still have the structural integrity of building with containers? Maybe a container in the middle with the beams above?
I know this is Georgia, so not likely to get cold, but are the walls insulated? It IS likely to get hot, right?
Nice, but I wonder how this fares in cold weather; it looks like certain panels don’t have any insulation on them.
And are you saying that these shipping containers are free? How does one get them; who do you contact?
Found a product for insulation called “Insofast,” modular, paneled insulation. I think the link was related to containers. Don’t know the cost, but there’s official product video on Youtube showing use on containers. (I have no relationship to the company. Just seemed a really cool product for this application.)
Great design, very practical. This is something you could live full time in, also a great place to escape to.
The more shipping containers I see the better I like them. They seem more spacious while still being small. And it appears that you can do so much with them in design. Beautiful.
I have really started to think shipping container homes, might be a wonderful idea. Every time I see one I become more impressed. Can someone tell me where the containers can be purchased and an idea of the cost of containers? This home is beautiful.
Here in Las Vegas you can’t build a house from containers. At least within the city limits. Maybe out in the desert somewhere wuld be different. I know this because I checked with the city planning department. That being said, I have seen containers for sale for $2-3000 on Craigslist. There may be other places to get them from as well.
How much did each container cost? Charges to move to site? How much to accomplish his spacious home? Most people interested in such a home would need to do it on a tight budget.
Love the design. But I aways wonder if I can find local talent to finish up the interior once I purchase the containers. I mean is this something that average contractors knows how to work with – metal containers ?
There are LOTS of these out there in InterNetLand. Check Pinterest–often those posts (if you click thru–use the image; click once to get to a larger image than CLICK ON THAT IMAGE again to get to the actual source) will have blogs attached etc to give you more detailed info.
AS to working with the metal container itself–a welder would be a good person to know. Or learn how–it’s not hard! And to attach studs—“all” you would need to do would be to bolt them thru the side walls with those rubber gasket bolts and then you could hang wood or sheet rock or tile backer—I doubt you would need to use the old “on center” rules here as you could prob span a wider area. There have been several I have seen with part stud walls and part exposed metal; and some that were partly buried for insulation (altho you do have to know how to water proof them then!)
For a compact (size of a suitcase) sleek heating solution try the MONITOR HEATERS—extremely efficient and very budget friendly–we put in the largest one they make and the ENTIRE cost including a new kero tank (250 gals) and the piping etc–(these are SELF VENTING to outdoors via a small pipe-in-pipe design to preheat the incoming air!) was UNDER $1500 —and these plug in to a regular wall outlet for the igniter and fan. NO duct work required!! We heat our entire 5 bedroom house with this in Upstate NY where last winter it was -45* for long periods. We maybe used 200 gallons of kero. It is a “cool to touch” system so you can install it anywhere and it kinda looks like a smooth AC unit; no window required! You can also find these on Craigs and eBay; easy to work on if you find one that needs TLC–well worth the cost. Info out there in Google Land on these.
Clever, but I prefer a more efficient use of space to so much open floor. I would include more shelves, cupboards , tables, seating, color and other storage. This looks like a great place to ride bikes. I would choose cozier, softer. This doesn’t feel homey or more personal than a doctor’s office. And paint the exterior!
I guess I have looked at too many tiny homes today because my first thought was “look at all that wasted space.”
Love 99% of this home. I too would leave the outside just as it is – I think it’s very cool! However, I would add more storage to the inside – maybe put some glass front cabinets on the wall in the kitchen to make a space for a dishwasher by the refrigerator. Also, since I don’t need a second bedroom, I’d enclose the area in the back and turn that into an office/storage area. As always, I would need lots of bookshelves. We don’t see inside the bathroom, but if space permitted, I might put a stack w/d and free up some more under the counter cupboard space there in the kitchen.
According to other websites that feature this home, the square footage is approximately 800 and change. It shouldn’t be too hard for those of you who AREN’T as math challenged as me – 2 containers that are 8′ x 40′, plus an area that’s 6′ by about…what…45-50 feet?
My research thus far tells me shipping containers can be bought either new or used, with the figure being tossed around of about $3,000 to $4,000 each for decent used ones. There are caveats to purchasing sight-unseen, as always, unless you go for new containers, which presumably would cost more.
For any of you who might be interested in learning more about companies that can help you with constructing such a home, here’s what I found on the website Design Milk:
At the bottom of the article they include a list of resources. Haven’t checked any of them out yet, so can’t vouch for any of them…but it’s a place to start!
Who do you contact for shipping containers?
There are notes upstream ^^^ in COMMENTS=-=-one source is ALI BABA; I know you can also check with any ports and or shipping depots–train or boat—you might have nearby–one big cost factor is GETTING the containers TO your location and as close to where they are going to be permanently placed as possiblep-to move them would be a big cost. If I was looking where I lvie now I would contact the Port Of Albany—these things go in and out daily; and CanPac Rail; and any other local shipping xompany that deals with this load or a local rail line could maybe hook you up. Or truckers—a lot of times these are part of “Boat to train to truck” loads and truckers might have useful info.
You can find shipping containers almost at any port throughout the USA and trucking companies may have them for sale.
*They also can be found in other countries as well….just in case you do not live in the USA.
I have found them ranging from $3,000.00 – $6,000.00 depending on size, condition and other factors.
I really enjoy tiny house talk…..you have an opportunity to meet and see some of the most unique creations….that you would never dream could turn into a beautiful creation.
The staff and writers here on tiny house…are great!
They will go out of their way to help you with your new adventure.
Many thanks to them and their undying effort to continually bring tremendous fresh ideas….to us. PS. Thanks to all YOU creative people!
Someone said she’d paint the exterior.
What guy would ever want to paint over the red letters at the front door that spell HUNG.
LOL, awesome. 🙂
Ok, the BEST thing is the framed picture in the kitchen that says “TRY.”
One note on the containers- some of them are treated with heavy duty poisons to prevent bugs in shipments….the wooden floors are soaked with pesticides…..a careful check is definitely in order before buying….
“Poisons” is accurate, but not as much as “Toxic” coatings and floor treatments. As the market for shipping containers to be used as residence or studio or business space grows, more manufacturers are opting to address this issue.
“One-way” containers are shipped from abroad to the U.S. and used only once, which makes them less likely to be dented and damaged. Containers designed with such use in mind can now be found with friendlier coatings and floor treatments.
The optimal containers are domestic over-the-road NON-refrigerated trailers. They’re about 6-inches wider and 10-20 inches taller. The wood decks still have undesirable chemical treatment, but that is changing, too.
I like this place that have done good .hope to do something like this and I’ve got a place. Just want to check out another price of land right !!!!
This style container does not come insulated, you will have to add. Don’t get a refrigerated, which are insulated. Most of them have leaked inside at one time or another, and you will have odors and probably mold behind the insulation, which is a pain to remove. You’ll never see it until you have to start ripping things out. Look local for the containers if you can, look online for freight & trucking companies and call around in your area. Call the closest Truck Pro or Fleet Pride and ask them if they know of a place. If you are near a military base, there is probably a business close by that sells these trailers. Google container trailers and your city or closest one of a decent size. I recently bought a 20 ft. for $2100 plus $150 to deliver about 10 miles. When shopping, your biggest concern should be that it does not LEAK. No rust, no holes, no cracks – unless you weld or have access to a good welding shop, as was already mentioned. Also, a heavy truck and/or equipment wrecker company can move them. Get a price from a local company on that too. Its cheaper if you tell them “next week anytime” rather than “I need it Tuesday by noon”.
L-O-V-E it. well executed.
the exterior could be elevated by painting all of the exterior metal surfaces one color and applying the existing exterior wood to balance the design.
Wood so pretty on the outside; paint the containers to match the wood… Ruins the look of the wood.
Floorplan nice; would add some color. 🙂
Love this but think I’d want to add another container for a second bedroom.
I have seen this home before, it’s hugh, and you would never tell by the exterior.. It’s deceiving in it’s looks… Just look at the first photograph, it just gets bigger and bigger as you go, one photo after the next and then you have to go back to that first photo and ask your self is this the same house…? It’s gorgeous though, and I’m not big on white, but hell…! Offer me one of these down on the island beach some where, I don’t even have to be on the water, you can set me next to one of the overgrown salt marsh lots and I still would be happy.. I’m not even big on the metal home look but if I was offered one of these, I will be shortly, and that’s no lie…
I love this configuration, especially the added built space between the containers, it really opens things up. Reminds me of the old bungalow homes in Burbank, Ca. It really is shameful most cities have building codes that require 1500 sq ft. Or larger to build. As the middle class continues to dissolve, and 99% of people struggle more and more to maintain, it surprises me that cities nationwide do not reflect building codes according to societal changes. For a person to live the American Dream mortgage, and debt free is becoming harder and harder to do. In several cities in my metro area, if you want solar laws require you tie into the grid which makes the reason for solar an oxymoron. As greed consumes our system, laws, corporations and legislators it makes the American Dream further from reality…I mean who wants a mortgage forever, a car payment forever, high utilities, etc… The system is more and more rigged to force a debt slave living. I mean what’s next?, clothes loans with high interest, utility loans, etc…pretty soon we will all need bank loans to just feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves with two jobs and struggling to maintain debt payment minimums. On the flip side it’s refreshing to see a revolution of people trying to break free from the shackles of debt, and go more efficient, smaller and more financially feasible.
what’s next?, clothes loans with high interest, utility loans, etc…pretty soon we will all need bank loans to just feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves
I can’t tell you how many people I see buying food, clothes, etc. on credit cards at Walmart…. Utility bills, gas up the car, it’s already happened. 🙁
It makes me sad, too, when I see folks going further and further into debt. But here’s a little trick I thought I’d share….
I actually pay for everything I can with credit cards, Jon, but I pay them off every single month. The reason I do it is because the credit card companies give me reward points for using them. So as long as I pay these cards off every single month, I get paid to use them!
…nice Alex. Great tip. Thanks.
So loving this!! It’s bright, airy, and open. The windows are lovely, perfect amount. Also LOVE how the doors open up to outside, bringing a bit of nature in.
I, my self would add some color. Mainly in some Art.
Or just the kitchen cabinets and door frames/coverings.
I like the white, and it basically needs to be white (or a light color) because of the size.
This would be perfect for my husband and I, also both being artists.
I was just reading something about these metal containers and the price’s of them, as well as they where unavailable to some folks… And I just have to make comment about this issue… A while back I was on my way to New York City, and our flight was diverted to Newark, Intl. Airport in Newark, N.J. … Well I wound up hoping on a shuttle to Newark Penn Station to take the path train into Manhattan as I was going from the airport to the station though I was looking out the window at this huge lot of container truck boxes when the gentleman sitting next to me said that they can’t even give those boxes away.. I excused my self and said you mean they are just dumped there to rot… He said yes they have been a problem for years and that several city’s had similar problems along the shipping industry ports of entry… So to make a long story short under the Pulaski Skyway between Jersey City and Newark, N.J. there is an abundance of container boxes that I have come to understand in some cases folks where being paid to take them and was encouraged to make storage of them… Now weather this is true or not I can not tell you…! But I can say this there is enough of them along that train ride to may be house 1/6 th of the homeless population in America or at least all of northern N.J. and New York anyway….!
Wow, what a cool home! Love it!
Someone mentioned they thought Georgia’s winters weren’t very cold. I’ve lived in Georgia for over 40 years and can assure you we get do get cold weather here. Granted, our winters are mercifully short compared to those up North. In December, January and February temps commonly dip into the 20s at night here, sometimes considerably lower. (We have had plenty of single digit nights in recent years.)
Daytime temps in those months are usually in the 30s and 40s. And we do get ice and snow, particularly in the northern end of the state. So if you’re planning to set up your tiny home here in the Peach State, make sure it has a heating system, and bring your longjohns in addition to your flip flops!
I keep reading comments urging the owner to paint the exterior. People, part of the caché of having a container is to leave it unchanged – at least if the exterior is interesting. I would no more paint that than I would dye a handbag made of old, recycled rice sacks. It would lose something in the translation.
Well as I have said before on this page, I know of stock piles of these container truck boxes, and as I understand they are yours for the asking in some city’s as Port Elizabeth, Bayonne, and Newark New Jersey… Which as I said as well, the Pulaski Skyway from Newark, New Jersey to Jersey City, New Jersey and back, harbor a stock pile of these containers ripe for the picking.. So there is more then the old rumor of the 55 gal. drum containing the remains of once Teamster Boss James Hoffa sitting under this land mark.. And I’m sure you will find a shed or what looks to be a shed under the skyway with the office of some poor schmuck guarding the entrance of one of many lot’s not from anyone taking containers out but, keeping containers from coming in.. Just Yours for the taking but It will have to be shipped to it’s new location so you will need a container hauling company to move it to it’s location, because it is only a box that they will let you have because there are no wheels under these boxes… So happy Hunting…
I know, I know…! I’m sorry…! I posted it twice.. ! I am still asleep after sitting up all night photographing the Super Moon Eclipse… So please forgive me…
WE NEED AN ADA TWO BEDROOM, ONE BATH SHOWER ONLY WITH BENCH, LIVING, DINING AND KITCHEN WITH ALL APPLIANCES, NO FURNITURE, NO LOFTS OR STEPS, FRONT PORCH WITH RAMP INTO FRONT DOORS.
DELIVERED TO SUWANEE,GA., ESTIMATED COST OF ALL.
This has always been my favorite container home. LOVE the large empty space where you can configure your living areas just by moving furniture around. All it needs is a small pool off the back deck. Living in a hurricane prone area, the solidity of container homes is very reassuring. Anyone in mobile homes or tiny homes on wheels have to race to evacuate or hole up in a public shelter and hope that their home, possessions, and pets survive. No, thank you.
Comment from Small House Bliss:
“SmallHouseBliss on August 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm said:
Hi Andrew, we don’t have the total cost for this container house. However in one article Julio Garcia talked in general terms about being to get a container for $500 to $1000 and finishing it for $73 to $90 a square foot. I hope that helps!”
Are you sure about that price, and are you sure that to be sq.ft., and not a cu.ft. ….? As I think those numbers to be just a little high, but I could be wrong…! It is a great idea, and one of my favorites.. Anything that can be recycled, or repurposed for something, is always a great thing in my opinion…! There are so many who could benefit from these containers, People who are homeless, in need of shelter after a disaster, of any kind, and so on..! The numbers, and lists are staggering as to who could benefit from these containers… The trouble is government, and their financial backers who create a political barrier blocking the way to the development of these ideas in which reclaimed material such as these containers are a No..! No..!, and reason why not more of them are used…! Or so is what I have read about these containers, and their history back to the beginning, to which they were unloaded of their imported merchandise, and then to be left abandoned, after being realized that the expense of them being returned to their original shippers would be a financial loss..! So now the U.S. are stuck with them, but on the same token will not allow in some cases to use these same shipping containers for housing and other great purposes in which these containers could be used… So the bottom line is no matter how you dress them up only a small number of this abundant commodity of resourceful, and recyclable containers make it to become a small home for a tenth of what a normal home would cost…!
I apologize for my passion for this subject, but it is one in which sticks in my craw, I guess you could say, and is reason for which I have made so many a comment of…!
Zackem, I just copied and pasted that from a comment on Small House Bliss. I have no further info. The link to the page on Small House Bliss that discusses this house is listed above, just above where our comments begin.
I guess it helps living in a port city. A local search revealed dozens of businesses selling containers, both new and old. I pulled up one site and it was like buying a car, all the options available. Back door, side door, insulated, not insulated, etc.
Thanks for the reply, and thank you for taking interest, as I always wellcome replies, or comments, with the intent to help others who are in need of positive information…!
Deadrock – Thanks for the info on shipping containers. I agree that a few tweeks to this design would make it perfect.