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Chapter 1.


 Ideal buying strategy

Buying your 1st shipping container for conversion into a low cost affordable home is likely to be fun and exciting.  So, I recommend you take your time and enjoy the experience and also work to a buying strategy that suits your budget.

There are many types of shipping containers, Dry storage container, Flat rack container, Open top container, Tunnel container, Open side storage container, Cargo storage roll container, Double doors container, Refrigerated ISO containers, Insulated or thermal containers, Half height containers, Car carriers, Intermediate bulk shift containers, Special purpose containers, Swap bodies and many more.

Dry storage container and Open side storage containers

These are the best for converting into a container home.


Dry storage container

Both containers come in 2 sizes, 20 ft. or 6 meters and 40 ft. which is 12 meters long.


Open Side Storage Container

You can buy new and second hand containers from many outlets.


New is best - The Buying Strategy 

The main reason for this is rust! as is the name shipping container.  Most containers spend a lot of time at sea on large ships and through this they are exposed to the worst possible conditions, such as heavy storms and rough seas. This can cause dents, scratches and the salt air is the best ingredients for major rust problems, deep within the structure of the container. 

Second hand containers may be only a couple of thousand less than a brand new one, so the costs of repair and rust proofing will far out way the costs of a new container.


In my opinion, 40 ft. is best. 

Of course, it does come down to your budget and size requirements, however, the cost difference between a 20 ft. and 40 ft. container is minor compared to building a full-size home. 

20 Foot Container 

A 20 ft. container is a bit less in the outlaid cost, however it is a very small area to work with.  The container size is 20 ft. by 7 ft. or 6 meters x 2.1 meters so you can only fit a very small bedroom, tiny bathroom and living room. In fact, the area is so small you are best to have a combination living / bedroom/ kitchenette area with the only separate room to be a small bathroom.  This still works as a small home or flat type but does not give you a lot of space or storage. 


This still works as a small home or flat type but does not give you a lot of space or storage.

40 Foot Container 

A 40-ft. container does give you a lot more room, and this size will let you have a separate bedroom area and a bigger living / meals area. 


You can also have a larger bathroom / laundry area, utilizing the container doors as an exit for the laundry and storage. 

Combination of Containers 

Simon says combine several shipping containers to form a nice layout. There are many ways to combine containers to form a larger home and larger living areas. 

Here is an example of 3 shipping containers combined to form a 2-bedroom home with robes and 2 bathrooms, this design also has a large outdoor living area and laundry to the back. 

There are more ways to combine containers and you can combine more than 3 if you wish.  Start with a design that you can add onto in the future.


The combination can be made numerous ways to suit your needs. Plus, you can combine different sizes to get more living areas.


Simon Say’s  

  • Dry storage container & Open side storage containers are best for home conversion. 

  • New is better than second hand - the Buying strategy. 

  • Start with a design that you can add onto in the future. 

  • 40 ft. is the best size to use for home conversion. 

See Our full construction plans from our website: 

Shipping Container Plans 

Pre-designed plans for container homes 

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