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Advantages of Building with Shipping Containers

Posted on April 23, 2020 by Garrett Crocker
Stacked Shipping Containers

There are many advantages to building with shipping containers. Although originally conceived for reasons much different than housing or business space, shipping containers are nevertheless easy to work with and to reconfigure into something new.

This is true in no small part to their ingenious modularity, which allows for creative combinations of just about any size and shape (or layout).

You can see some splendid examples of these combinations all around the world in places such as Container City, which includes the fun, eclectic Trinity Buoy Wharf in London. You can also see it in New York, including a Hamptons abode made from six shipping containers.

In fact, shipping containers are being recycled into home and business spaces on every continent. And one of the reasons why it’s advantageous to build with shipping containers is because of the properties inherent in their original design.

Malcom McLean and the Invention of Shipping Containers

American entrepreneur and transport businessman Malcom McLean invented the intermodal shipping container. It’s no exaggeration to say that McLean’s idea for containerization changed the world.

Prior to the invention of intermodal containers, shippers had to deal with and handle individual pieces of cargo — a truly inefficient method which had nonetheless been standard operating procedure for centuries. McLean knew instinctively that shipping would be more efficient if the cargo were loaded in bulk — i.e., in specially designed shipping containers — rather than one piece at a time. 

He was right. Containerization lowered the cost of shipping by a factor of a hundred. It also cut transit times, improved the reliability and timeliness of deliveries, and reduced theft.

In short, McLean’s invention was a masterstroke that instantly made old shipping methods obsolete. The efficiencies built into the process lowered prices down the line — all the way to the consumer.

“Nearly every imported consumer good imaginable owes its lower price to the container revolution,” writes PBS.

A New Use For Old Containers

McLean probably never imagined that shipping containers would be retrofitted and recycled into shipping container houses and offices, but human ingenuity knows no bounds.

There are pros and cons to every building process. You can’t really go wrong with building a home or office with traditional construction methods and building materials. Chances are extremely high that your home was built using these methods, adhering to tried-and-true building codes and, perhaps, a homes designer who was more interested in quantity over quality in order to meet demand.

But consider another possibility: A cost-effective, environmentally friendly shipping container home that’s truly unique, rugged as the day is long, and designed with your comfort and style in mind.

Which leads us back to our original question: What are the advantages of building with shipping containers? Let’s take a quick look at why and how shipping containers can be used for a variety of purposes above and beyond that of their original brilliant design.

4 Advantages of Buildings Made with Shipping Containers (in alphabetical order)

  • Availability. Some sources estimate that hundreds of millions of shipping containers sit empty and unused around the world. This is one of the reasons why they’re so economical to build with, too!
  • Customizable. If you can dream it, Container Stop can turn it into a reality. We can add doors, windows, skylights, electrical and plumbing systems, air conditioning, and more.
  • Durability. Shipping containers are built to last and to survive multiple trips across swelling seas. Think of how many shipping containers can be stacked atop one another and then consider how strong the container itself must be in order to bear that load repeatedly. This is why shipping container homes remain standing even during the most intense natural events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. A shipping container can withstand winds up to 175 miles per hour — i.e., a Category 5 hurricane.
  • Eco-friendly. Recycling and repurposing shipping containers into homes or offices is a good way to help the environment. A typical 40-foot container can weigh more than 7,500 pounds when empty. Turning it into a home or office means there’s no need to forge thousands of pounds of steel. They can also be customized to add solar power and windows that let in natural light. Finally, there’s no need to use other types of material, such as cement, when constructing a shipping container dwelling.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with Container Stop today!

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We’ve built cabins, garden sheds, and tack rooms with our containers. Have an idea for your shipping container? Let us know!

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