How Homesteaders Benefit From Used Shipping Containers

How Homesteaders Benefit From Used Shipping Containers

Ever dream of living a self-sufficient life, growing your own food and living off the land? That’s what homesteading is all about! But getting started can be expensive. This is where something surprising comes in: shipping containers! These giant metal Conex boxes used for shipping goods across oceans are becoming a popular choice for resourceful homesteaders. 

Why? Because they’re strong, affordable, and can be transformed into all sorts of useful things. They’re great because you can never have enough storage and they can be built into many useful structures for homesteaders. In fact, you could even live in a shipping container while building the rest of your homestead. It beats living in a tent which some hardcore homesteaders do on raw land that they bought.  

In this article, we’ll explore the many ways homesteaders are using shipping containers to build their dream self-sufficient life!

Benefits of Shipping Containers for Homesteading

So, why are shipping containers so attractive to homesteaders? Here are some key reasons:

  • Cost-effective:  Building a house or shed from scratch can be expensive. Shipping container rentals or purchases, on the other hand, can be much cheaper. You can find used containers for a few thousand dollars, a significant savings compared to traditional building materials.
  • Durable:  These containers are built to withstand tough journeys at sea. They’re made from strong steel that can handle wind, rain, and even snow, making them perfect for almost any climate. No more worrying about your homestead buildings getting damaged by the elements!
  • Versatility:  The beauty of shipping containers is that they’re like giant building blocks. You can use a single container for a small cabin or storage shed. Stack them together to create a larger living space, workshop, or even a multi-level greenhouse!
  • Relocation:  Imagine needing to move your homestead to a new location. With traditional buildings, that’s a huge challenge. But a shipping container home can be loaded onto a truck and relocated with relative ease. This flexibility is a big advantage for homesteaders who might want to keep their options open.

Creative Uses for Shipping Containers on a Homestead

The possibilities for using shipping containers on a homestead are almost endless! Here are some inspiring ideas:

  • Shelter: Shipping containers can be transformed into cozy cabins, guest houses, or even temporary shelters while you build your permanent homestead.  Think tiny house living with a metal twist!
  • Storage: They’re perfect for keeping your tools, equipment, and supplies safe and organized. No more worrying about losing your precious gardening tools or having your winter gear exposed to the elements.
  • Specialized Structures: Let your imagination run wild! Shipping containers can be converted into garages, workshops for tinkering on projects, greenhouses for year-round plant growth, or even secure shelters for your chickens or other farmyard friends.
  • Sustainable Features:  Eco-conscious homesteaders can take their container creations a step further. Solar panels can be added to the roof for clean energy, rainwater collection systems can capture water for irrigation, and even green roofs with plants can help with insulation and create a beautiful living space.

Things to Consider Before Using Shipping Containers

While shipping containers offer exciting possibilities, there are some important things to keep in mind before diving in:

  • Local Rules: Every area has its own building codes and regulations.  Before you buy a container, check with your local planning department to see if there are any restrictions on using them for your project. You might need to obtain a permit to ensure your container creation meets safety standards.
  • Modifications:  Shipping containers are built to be tough boxes, not comfortable living spaces. To make them livable, you’ll likely need to add insulation to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.  Good ventilation is also crucial to prevent moisture build-up and mold growth.  Windows and doors are essential for light, fresh air, and easy access.
  • Size and Layout:  There are different shipping containers sizes, so it’s important to choose one that fits your needs.  Consider how many people will be using the space and what activities you’ll be doing inside.  Planning the layout beforehand will help you decide how to arrange furniture, windows, and other features for maximum functionality and comfort in your container creation.

Horse Barn With An Apartment From Shipping Containers

A horse lover, Amy, from Whitewater Colorado built a horse barn with living quarters above it using two 40 foot high cube shipping containers as seen in the featured image. That is just one example of getting creative with how to use shipping containers on the homestead. 

Others, like Frank from Bingham Maine, built a workshop out of a 40 foot high cube container by adding two large lean-to roofs off either side of the container. The container keeps his tools safe and secure and the extended roof gives him plenty of space to work under cover.

shipping container rentals
shipping container rentals

And, finally, Dan from Divide Colorado, built a simple equipment shed out of a 20 foot standard shipping container and a shed roof that has been heighted to fit tractors and other large machines. Again the container serves to keep valuable tools secure from theft and the elements, while the extended roof, held up by trees harvested on the same property, serves to protect equipment from the weather.

shipping container sizes

Building Your Dream with Shipping Containers

As you’ve seen, shipping containers offer a unique and affordable way to jumpstart your homesteading dreams.  From sturdy shelters to creative outbuildings, these versatile metal boxes can be transformed into anything you need. With some thought and effort, you can use shipping containers to build a functional, comfortable, and eco-friendly space on your homestead. Remember to check local regulations and plan your project carefully. 

Even if you just use them for storage, they provide tremendous value compared to cheap wooden sheds. Since shipping containers are made from corrosive resistant metal that can withstand decades of exposure to sea water spray, they should last just as long, if not longer, than sheds. This is especially true if you maintain them with fresh paint every ten years or so. 

In summary, shipping containers are incredibly useful for homesteaders. How would you use containers at your property?