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Don't Be Fooled By the Shipping Container Tiny Home Trend - Here's Why

The shipping container tiny home trend has exploded in recent years, as people look to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. But before you jump on the bandwagon, it's important to know the downsides of using a shipping container as the base of your tiny home. In this post, we'll explore the reasons why we choose not to build using a shipping container as the base for your tiny home. From structural limitations to potential health risks, there are several shipping container tiny home downsides that should be considered before making a final decision.


They aren't as eco-friendly as you think

Shipping containers have long been viewed as the go-to option for DIY tiny home building, but there are a few major cons to consider. Many people believe that using a shipping container is an eco-friendly option, but they don't realize what could be hiding in the walls. Unless you get a new container, you don't know what kind of hazardous chemicals were previously stored inside. In addition, damage from shipping yards or corrosion from the elements can sneak in and make the container unsuitable for use.

If you decide to purchase brand new shipping containers for your tiny home building project, then you're actually defeating the purpose of this 'recycling' trend. It's important to consider the environmental impact of a shipping container home before deciding it's the right fit for your project.

Loss of Structural Integrity

When it comes to constructing a tiny home from a shipping container, one of the cons is that as soon as you start cutting into it to add doors, windows, plumbing, and other necessary components, you lose the inherent structural integrity of the steel container. To combat this, a framing system needs to be put in place to provide additional support. However, this adds cost and extra labor to the construction process. It also begins to quickly eat into your 'liveable space'. Speaking of...

Insulation Issues

When it comes to building a tiny home out of a shipping container, insulation is a major concern. Shipping containers are designed to reduce air circulation while being shipped, making them cold in the winter and hot in the summer. This creates an airflow challenge that must be addressed in order for the container to be habitable.

For Canadian weather, a shipping container tiny home must be properly insulated in order to be comfortable year-round, but this requires taking up precious interior living space. The other option is to insulate the exterior of the shipping container, but this comes with its own set of cons. Exterior insulation will take more time and money to build, plus it will be exposed to the elements and require regular maintenance. Another factor to consider is that exterior insulation will take away from the overall 'industrial' look that many tiny home builders are looking for when choosing to build with sea cans.

Construction Challenges

When it comes to tiny home building, a shipping container home is not the most ideal choice. While the idea of repurposing an existing structure may seem like an attractive option, building a tiny home out of a shipping container comes with a number of challenges.

First and foremost, welding is necessary to create structural integrity in a shipping container, which adds both cost and time to the build. Additionally, customizations that are often required to transform a shipping container into a livable space require additional construction materials, making them much more expensive than traditional tiny homes. Although a shipping container home may seem like a convenient option, the challenges associated with construction can outweigh any initial appeal.


Shipping containers may seem like an attractive base for a tiny home, but there are some serious issues that you need to know about before you start building. If you decide to use a shipping container for your tiny home building project, be aware that you may be sacrificing eco-friendliness, structural integrity, and insulation. Additionally, construction challenges may arise as you’re working on your project.

At Acorn Tiny Homes, we don’t use shipping containers as the base for our tiny homes and garden suites. Instead, we have the right tools and knowledge to ensure that we get the job done right for you. By working with us, you can feel confident that your tiny home is built with quality materials and will last you through years of enjoyment.


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