How to Build a Shipping Container Cabin


Cabin-Model-300x193Shipping containers are being used all over the world as an alternative way to build a structure, in this case a home.  Could you live in a shipping container if it turned out like this one?  Take a look at this comprehensive 17 step process and let us know.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional builder, engineer, or architect.  What I have written here is strictly a description of what I have done and not advice.  I make no assurances that this will work, meet code, or be safe to inhabit for you.  Building with shipping containers can be dangerous and may injure (ask me how I know) or kill you.  If you attempt anything similar to this you do so at your own risk.

1. Design your cabin

Before you buy any containers or do anything else, you should have some idea how you want to live in your shipping container cabin.  Figure out how much space you want, or really need, and start working up a floor plan.  For the most part you will be limited to standard shipping container dimensions of 8′x20′ or 8′x40′ and multiples of these.  The simplest arrangement of containers is to line them up as I did, but you are really only limited by your imagination and checkbook.

A great tool to design your shipping container cabin is Google SketchUp.  You can get detailedshipping container models for Google SketchUp from ISBU News, and almost everything else you might need from Google’s 3D Warehouse.  If you are looking for some inspiration, take a look at the tiny house websites Tiny House Design and Tiny House Blog.

The pics below show the exterior and interior design of my shipping container cabin.

read sections 2-17 here from


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One Response to How to Build a Shipping Container Cabin

  1. Annita Wolfe August 16, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    As a widow and homeless because of mortgage fraud. I would love to have one of these and the money to build a livable apartment.

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