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Chapter 2.


 What will it all cost?

Owner builder’s worldwide fall for the same trap and end up living in unfinished homes and shacks. There is always a plan to finish one day, but it very seldom happens. The reason is very clear, most people only earn enough to make ends meet on a week-to-week basis, so to come up with a building funds for building material is very tough, plus life can have unexpected costs as you go so finishing a half built home gets further and further away.  

Banks will not lend to an owner builder with a 1/2 finished home as it is high risk for them. Basically, if you do have financial hardship, they have nothing to repossess to get their money back. 

So, you need to have enough funds to complete the project before you start and the only way to ensure you have enough money is to do a thorough budget before you begin buying the containers. 

For those who have not been through the new home building experience, it can be tricky trying to work out what a realistic budget should be and how to go about setting one from the beginning and more importantly, sticking to it. 

Overspending - One common trap can be overspending on the wrong items that don’t necessarily add value to the project and are not considered or valued by others when it comes time for resale.  

Underestimating - Another oversight can be underestimating the finishing costs associated with completing the home ready to move into or not setting aside enough in the budget to build the home you truly want. 

Here are the main components to consider when setting an overall budget for building a new container home: 

Site costs - This is the cost to prepare the building site ready to commence construction. The containers need to sit in a fairly flat area so you are best to get quotes for site works as it will also influence the number of containers you wish to place on the land. You need to be fully aware of what they are and how much this may erode your overall budget. 

Possible costs to consider include retaining walls and levelling blocks, clearing of trees and other structures, demolishing an old home to make way for a new one or providing services such as water, power, gas, telephone and sewer connections to site. 

The container size - The design features and size are a big part of the budget, understand exactly how many and what the modifications cost you are paying for. 

Do not assume you can do it all yourself for no cost as you may need tradesmen’s help on some areas plus you will have to pay for building material and hire costs. 

Internal and external finishes - Here is where it gets a little tricky and is entirely up to you on how extravagant you want to go with materials, upgrades and finishes.

Below is a guide to help you plan for the costs of fitting out a container home ready for moving in. 


  • Window treatments 

  • Internal wall painting 

  • Air conditioning /Heaters 

  • Lighting including power or data points 

  • Kitchen Cupboards 

  • Kitchen appliances  

  • Bathrooms and laundry 

  • Taps and door handles 

  • Floor coverings throughout (timber, tiling and carpets) 


  • Landscaping  

  • BBQ’s  

  • Decking or paving 

  • Fences and gates 

  • Letterbox 

  • Clothesline 

  • Other out buildings including sheds, workshops or storerooms 

Simon Say’s:   

  • Do a full budget before you start.  

  • Having a full budget takes a little time but it is to get insurance to make sure you get it fully built. 

  • Before you buy your containers do a building budget so you know what you can afford. 

  • Don’t forget to also allow for finish items like carpet and blinds. 


2 Bedroom Shipping Container Homes

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