As the world focuses more on sustainability and affordable housing, the United Kingdom has seen a rise in shipping container homes. These unique tiny home options are affordable homes that can reduce your carbon footprint and allow remote living.

Here’s what to know about building a shipping container home in the UK.

What Qualifies as a Shipping Container Home?

In the UK, you can make a shipping container into your home. Utilise a single container for a smaller space or stack multiple on top of each other for a larger living area.

Shipping containers for homes come in various sizes, including two 12-meter containers — a standard and a hi-cube, which is a foot taller. You should adapt the container with windows, a proper entry and electric and plumbing needs.

If you plan to live in your container home temporarily, you won’t need planning permission. You’ll need permission for a more permanent structure. However, you might not need a permit if your local authority doesn’t see your container home as an intrusion on your neighbors or the environment.

Appeal to the UK Buyers

Britain is in a housing crisis, with 4.3 million homes planned but still unbuilt. More than 270,000 people in the UK are homeless, including more than 123,000 children. Container homes could help solve this problem.

Whether to relieve homelessness or due to the desire to downsize, there are multiple benefits to embracing the container home lifestyle.


Depending on the renovation, a container home could be significantly cheaper than purchasing another home, with one-bedroom pre-renovated container homes costing as little as £35,000. It’s quite a bargain compared to the average home cost of £296,000.

The price of a container home depends on the extent of the renovation, with a four-bedroom stacked container home more than £100,000. Developing a thorough plan ahead of time can help you estimate your shipping container home’s value before deciding to create it.


Due to their standard size, it’s easy to transport these containers around the country, making it relatively easy to place your home where you desire. As opposed to constructing a tiny home from scratch, you can get a shelter in place quickly.


Manufacturers produce containers to withstand the road, air and sea. They create homes that can withstand various weather conditions.


Transforming a used shipping container into a home can reduce your carbon footprint when compared with building a typical home. You can also recycle steel removed from the home during renovations.

Simple Construction

The basic structure of storage container homes can normally reach completion in just a few days. These containers are meant for stacking, allowing for a quickly-completed exterior. It doesn’t take much to get a general idea of the residence’s layout.


With a 25% increase in traditional home materials, containers are readily available options. Millions exist worldwide with a myriad of companies offering to sell both new and used ones. Using these containers gives new life to containers that otherwise may sit and rust.

Where Can You Build One?

There are many places to build shipping container homes with permission from any landowners involved. All you need is the freedom to place the container on a vacant piece of land.

  • Gardens: If a friend or family member has the extra garden space, you can build your home on it. This is a great way to create stronger bonds with loved ones while still having your own space.
  • Church land: Some churches have excess property. If you’re in need of place to have your home, you can request to use the land. Expect to pay a rental fee or purchase the land. Providing services could also be a trade off. If you only plan to live there for a year or less, consider a plan to provide the home for families the church is helping, until they get back on their feet.
  • Remote Areas: Unused rural and coastal land could be the perfect place for your container home. These locations are especially appealing to those wanting an “off the grid” lifestyle.

Creating a Shipping Container Home

There are three necessary renovations to make a shipping container home.

1. Reinforcement

Shipping containers are durable, but their strength begins to diminish once you cut into them. To create doors and windows, you’ll need to make several large holes. To replace the lost structural strength, you’ll need to add reinforcement beams.

2. Insulation

Traditional shipping containers don’t have the insulation necessary for people to live inside comfortably. Adding insulation is necessary but also must happen correctly. Poorly installed internal and external insulation could lead to condensation from the steel’s heat absorption.

Insulation needs to fit each crook and crevice of the steel to prevent condensation from leading to rust and temperature fluctuations. A vapour barrier will prevent moisture from coming into contact with the steel and causing damage.

3. Fresh Water Access

Shipping container residents don’t necessarily need electricity, but access to fresh water is a must for long-term budget friendly container home living. If the purpose of moving into a container home is to live remotely or be more sustainable, there are ways to guarantee access.

Well-water or a water reservoir is an important part of ensuring safety and comfort. If you are on a residential property, you can hook your container home up to local water lines.

Buyer Considerations

There are a few other things you should consider when purchasing or creating a shipping container home.

You Can Modify Containers Too Much

If you renovate your new home too much, you can permanently damage your container’s structure. Too much damage will be difficult or even impossible to mend.

Contractors Might Not Be Interested

Due to the complexity container home projects can require, contractors may not be interested in working on the home. They also might not see the project value in comparison to working on traditional homes.

You May Need to Reduce Chemicals

The need for water resistance while shipping items often lead to containers receiving harmful chemical treatments that you must remove before making them into homes.

Ready-Made Container Homes Exist

You don’t have to renovate the container on your own. Some shipping container homes come pre-made and ready to enjoy.

Building a Shipping Container Home

A shipping container home can be a great option for an affordable, transportable and greener home. If you’re up for an adventure and unique architecture, these homes are worth exploring.