1.  They Buy New Containers

By doing this, our unfortunate container house builder misses out on cost savings and will also miss the ecological karma points of getting a recycled container. However, it’s important to beware of toxic chemicals that might have been applied to a used container.

Here is how you can make a used containers safe:

  1.  Completely insulate the floor, cover up and then insulate around the edges.
  2.  When drilling and cutting use a vapour mask and goggles.
  3.  Wash the walls and apply new paint over old paint.

The exterior of containers are often not in frequent contact with people or often are covered-over by external walls.

2.  They Underestimate The Time Needed

New or unique projects like building homes out of shipping containers take longer than conventional or traditional building projects. Period. Yes, I certainly underestimated the time needed with my project.  I’m probably not the only one. As I’ve heard, “the work of a house is never done”.  


3.  They Don’t Take Advantage Of The Top Of The Container

A raw steel or square top is not particularly exciting. The strong roof structure when unused lacks imagination and forgoes a gift of creativity and utility. I’ve built a bedroom on top of the box of my container home:

PHOTO: Foxden

4.  They Don’t Soften The Boxy Look Enough

Yes, building with shipping containers will get you a “boxy-er” look than most.  But remember that design needs to be enduring and that the fad of the look of industrial containers as homes won’t always be as fashionable as is now. One option for softening the hard edges is using custom-made wooden panels.

5.  They Insulate From The Inside

When not covered, the steel exoskeleton of a container will often cause more *headache* than you’d expect (for example, rusting). Not to mention: insulating inside takes up precious living space.

I used Roxul® to insulate my shipping container home and on page 99-101 of *my book* I  explain the steps I took.

6.  They Don’t Study Books By Others Who Have Already Done It

Embarking to build a shipping container home without making a comparatively tiny investment of time and money into books already out there on the subject, is dangerous and lacks the humility needed in order to build successfully.

Before starting construction, make sure to read as much as you can about the subject. You can start with my book about how I built a container home I called the FoxDen. Or check out the library of recommended *container home building books* by other fine authors that I’ve put together for you.