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He Built A 355 Sq. Ft. Off-Grid Shipping Container Tiny House in Ontario

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Joseph RM Dupuis from Working Title built this 355 square foot, off-grid, shipping container cabin in Ontario, Canada using three 20 foot x 8-foot shipping containers that he modified so that the indoor space was completely open concept.

The tiny home was designed on the premise that it could be safely closed up for weeks at a time and still be secure. Joseph says he also chose to build with shipping containers because they’re readily available and reasonably affordable.

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Young Entrepreneur Living Off-Grid in a Self-Built Shipping Container Home – Video Tour

Working Title Shipping Container Cabin - Exploring Alternatives

Image © Exploring Alternatives

The micro shipping container cabin is insulated with spray foam on the interior walls, and bats on the curtain walls that were built in the openings at the ends of the shipping containers.


Image © Exploring Alternatives

For heat, Joseph installed in-floor radiant heating and a wood stove. For power, he bought a 2-kilowatt solar power system and he had a propane-powered water heater for hot water in the shower and the sinks.

Joseph lived a minimalist lifestyle in the house for over 2 years before moving into an apartment. He enjoyed his time living off-grid and used it to spend time in nature and to reflect on his life.


Image © Exploring Alternatives

Video: Young Entrepreneur Living Off-Grid in a Self-Built Shipping Container Home


What are your thoughts on shipping container homes? Do you like how this one was built? Why or why not?

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Danielle is a digital nomad who is passionate about tiny spaces, living with less, reducing waste and eating plant-based food. Danielle is half of the Exploring Alternatives blog & video project. You can find more of her at www.ExploringAlternatives.ca and her Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel.
{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Susanne
    October 22, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Question is why he stopped after two years?!

  • Dug
    October 22, 2016, 4:47 pm

    Sad boring use of shipping container homes I’ve seen SO SO much better the inside is predictable the outside looks like three shipping containers in a builders yard or similar such a shame could have been so much better looking, looks like a UK bad council estate house in truth that does nothing for promoting their use I feel sorry but that’s my view

    • Natalie
      October 24, 2016, 8:44 am

      Like other homes, shipping container ones come in all shapes and sizes 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

    • e.a.f.
      February 17, 2020, 9:34 pm

      Dug, try to be a tad more positive please. What is wonderful about Tiny Houses, if most of them are done by an individual or couple for themselves and thus meets their needs. When homes meets a person’s needs they frequently do well with small spaces. This cabin may not be you, but its him. Me, I could live in it also. No problem. Might hang art on the walls, but each person does their own home and its a lot less expensive than a 3K sq. ft. house or 9K sq. ft. house.

  • Wess Staats
    October 22, 2016, 5:46 pm

    Why are you not living there anymore?

  • Fred
    October 22, 2016, 7:09 pm

    I read elsewhere that he spent $60,000 building this; and that it was for sale not long ago.

    • Natalie
      October 24, 2016, 8:45 am

      It might be! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Christine
    October 22, 2016, 7:22 pm

    I loved your cabin! what an amazing human being you are and what an accomplishment I loved the design and the raw exterior just perfect young man you are going places and on the right path!

    • Natalie
      October 24, 2016, 8:45 am

      Glad you liked it, Christine 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

    October 22, 2016, 8:07 pm

    As anyone who knows or know of me, they are well aware of my feelings towards shipping container tiny houses…! I admire what he has done here and think it’s great to see how he has used so many of them to build his little tiny house in the woods, and applaud his willingness to try living in them for 4 seasons, that’s just great…! I would love to see more people use shipping containers in their construction of tiny houses and save even more money in their pockets because as he has said you can get these for almost next to nothing and in some cases just need to be able to provide the necessary transportation only to have them moved to your location as your cost…! So imagine this, You are getting the most important part of a tiny house for next to nothing and need only use your imagination to create a home unlike any other and not only save money building your tiny house, but doing a great thing for the ecology as well by reusing something that would other wise be left to rot for a good number of years till it is no longer viable for any use at all….! So look around find some plans and start building your tiny house which will save you almost 2/3 the cost of the build….! Best of luck all and thank you for bringing this story to us Tiny House Gang….!

    • Natalie
      October 24, 2016, 8:46 am

      So glad you liked it, Zachary 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

    • Eric
      June 2, 2017, 8:59 am

      Well Zach, you’d be shocked (gobsmacked even) to know that in NZ, for a relatively banged about container you’d be paying in the region of $NZ 3000 + GST (we call it grand scale theft the govt calls it goods and services tax) which is another 15%

      Containers in good condition (probably single use containers) I have seen for sale in the past being sold for $NZ 23,000+

        June 2, 2017, 6:01 pm

        I have had several experiences with folks from New Zealand with some of the same views as yours, and I am not shocked to hear how containers cost can be so high… I have heard from people from Hawaii, whom have had some luck with buying shipping containers, and some who have not had any positive situations as well in their trying to obtain a container on any of the islands… It is becoming a vicious circle, as shippers are more and more becoming aware of the use of shipping containers when building houses, so naturally they increase the cost…! All I can say is you need to hunt a little more and usually you will come across some importer who is looking for a way to beat the cost of returning the containers as well, because I believe they have a temporary permit when importing the container thru customs and have a bond insuring that you are exporting the shipping container back to it’s natural state of origin… Either way I wish you luck…!

        • e.a.f.
          February 17, 2020, 9:43 pm

          things are more expensive in N.Z. because every thing has to be ‘shipped’ there. In a small country, taxes are important because the country still has to provide all the services a country with a larger population does, just with fewer people.

          Containers in B.C. brand new will run you anywhere from $4K to $8K. Used, a lot less. Then there would be taxes. Whatever the cost, it would still be a good deal considering you don’t need to build the “shell” for the house. Siding and all that entails for a standard home is way more expensive.

          In B.C., Canada, the big think is the cost of land. We think we’re getting a smoking hot deal if we find a tear down for $950,000 in the City of Vancouver or Victoria and the land might be as small as 33 ft. X 132 ft.

          Containers are a great way to go in some rural areas in Canada because when we aren’t home, some times bears come to visit. In Greater Vancouver the news, from time to time, will report with video, bears getting in using the door, –yes the handle, opening outside fridges–with the handle. Being able to lock up the doors and windows in a container reduces problems with theft from humans and skunks, racoons, bears, etc.

          I like this container house. it provides economical safe living space.

  • Canyon Man
    October 22, 2016, 10:57 pm

    I like this concept for the security aspect. As for boring, I think it is nice to see tiny homes simply staged as some people want to live that way. Say you are on vacation, this would not require a lot of cleaning. More time to relax on the deck. We have friends who use a cabin 1500 miles from their home and keep it simple so they do not spend the entire summer cleaning knickknacks. the cabin has been broken into several times, Nice when there is nothing for the thief to steal.

    • Natalie
      October 24, 2016, 8:47 am

      Very true! — Tiny House Talk Team

    • DR Hall
      December 10, 2019, 12:53 am

      Knick Knacks are not needed. If one doesn’t know how to make a nice looking build, it’s best to copy someone spilled you like. There’s no sense in making a place that doesn’t look good. A place that looks good is enjoyable and makes one feel good.

      • DR Hall
        December 10, 2019, 1:01 am

        If one doesn’t know how to make a nice looking build, it’s best to copy someone’s “build” that you like & if you have no idea, pick a look that others say they like. There’s no sense in making a place that doesn’t look good. A place that looks good is enjoyable and makes one feel good. Some day it will go to someone else to enjoy.

    • Marsha Cowan
      July 30, 2022, 9:19 am

      I totally agree! I think it is a very restful, relaxing, and lovely home, and is very secure. I wouldn’t worry sleeping at night with those heavy doors closed.

  • Adam Smith
    October 23, 2016, 6:07 am

    Looking fore plan but on limited income looking fore help with plan and little money

  • Barnie
    November 2, 2016, 6:23 pm

    It’s a very interesting concept. I love the idea of a self-contained unit with a relatively secure perimeter when one needs to be off-site. I find the raw shipping container aesthetic very appealing, though this project looks to have some fit-and-finish issues (interior). It’s a great example to say the least!

    • Natalie
      November 3, 2016, 9:47 am

      Yes it really is! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Patrick Mills
    January 23, 2017, 7:32 pm

    What’s to keep someone from coming along & locking you inside? Do you have a escape hatch in the floor? Otherwise it is very Beautiful place.

    • Natalie
      January 24, 2017, 6:13 am

      You know, I have never considered that before!

    • Marsha Cowan
      July 30, 2022, 9:22 am

      You leave your locks fastened in the lock so it takes up the space and another lock can’t be added, but you can still open the door from the inside.

      • July 31, 2022, 7:02 am

        5 years later I get a answer. Amazing. Am now living in a high rise condo in Thailand riding out the Covid. Retired & enjoying life in a 600 square foot Apartment with a view to die for. Patrick

        • Alex
          July 31, 2022, 11:31 am

          Hey Patrick, thanks for the update! Hope that Thailand continues treating you well! Keep enjoying the view! Alex

  • Kelly
    February 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    Container homes are my absolute favorite. I love how open and large this one appears. Besides adding a septic system to the bathroom and losing the outhouse, I would create a large colorful piece of art to hang on one wall for a bit of pop and more windows or some light tubes to brighten it up and take advantage of natural lighting.
    Good job!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 20, 2017, 7:31 am

      Some awesome ideas, Kelly!

  • Sally
    June 1, 2017, 3:51 pm

    Love it ! ,, clean simple lines ,, spacey light feel ,, would live there in a heartbeat ,,

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 2, 2017, 12:29 pm

      So glad you love it!

  • Michael
    June 1, 2017, 6:31 pm

    A great example for creating a smaller but not really tiny house by using shipping containers which are rock solid, safe and withstand natural desaster better than any other structure. Wondering about roof insulation. Well done.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 2, 2017, 12:25 pm

      Yes it’s great!

  • Anthony Christie
    January 4, 2020, 5:44 pm

    You padlock the latch levers when the doors are open such that they can’t be used. This way no one can lock you in.

  • e.a.f.
    February 17, 2020, 9:48 pm

    great suggestion about the doors. Its unlikely you’ll be locked in at such a remote locations.
    People can actually also be locked into their trailers, by just jamming the door with a stick. We are a society, hopefully which relies a lot on trust. If some one is trying to lock you in, you’re in trouble already and that is why we use our cell phones or some thing similar to call 911.

  • Theresa Perdue
    March 11, 2020, 2:55 pm

    Throw in a composting toilet and rain catchment system and I am ready to move in. I think the ability to close and lock it up when you leave is wonderful

  • CJ Burlingame
    December 7, 2020, 10:50 am

    Why are you listing the square footage in the title as 355 sq. ft., when three 20′ containers obviously contain 480 gross square feet?

    • James D.
      December 7, 2020, 4:57 pm

      Sq Ft can be measured in two ways… By the total living space, which is the interior space that can be considered part of the living areas and excludes any non-living spaces, or by the exterior dimensions…

      Normally, in real estate they go by the former and is what they use to calculate the cost per sq ft, for example…

      Mind, as well, the containers were modified, 4 of the side walls removed, and then combined into one structure that was then converted, adding framing, insulation, plumbing, wiring, interior wall finishing, etc. that all reduced the amount of interior space…

  • Bill McGrath
    December 7, 2020, 11:29 am

    Interesting use of containers. I am curious on the structural details such as reinforcing the side holes formed by removing the side panels of the container. As anyone knows, ISO Sea containers are monocoupe construction. That is every piece of steel is structural and necessary for structural integrity. Any penetration has to have compensating structure added.
    Second detail I would like to see is joining the containers together and waterproofing the gap.
    Being COR-TEN construction, the expansion and contraction rates will cause leaks so the method of joining to compensate for this is critical.

    January 12, 2021, 5:51 pm

    Looking for help to build my home wait chipping container the location is tweed Ontario please contact me at 1519 932 0405

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