Shipping Container Cabin – Better than log cabin?

The cabin game is getting increasingly advanced every year that goes by. People are always discovering new ways to make cabin living more comfortable. The size of the average cabin is getting larger, and more luxurious features are being introduced to make living in a cabin feel more like a home.

For many years wood has been the number one material for building a cabin however different material are being introduced and some are better than others. I believe that wooden cabins will always dominate the market due to their ancient history and availability of materials however newer methods will also gain popularity.

There’s one material which has caught my eye, that being shipping containers. This cabin construction method has gained a lot of popularity for many good reason. In this article, I’ll be explaining why shipping containers can make for good cabins.

Cabin Security

Security is something which you never want to compromise – our well being is the most important thing to us. Even if you have insurance on all your possessions to cover or minimize costs, it’s always better to prevent someone from being able to break into your cabin. I have an article which covers cabin security, you can view it here.

Shipping containers are mode from steel – a very strong and durable material. Such a material is extremely difficult to break and unless a thief has the sufficient tools which I can almost guarantee they won’t, the only way they’re getting into your cabin is through a window or wall.

This makes a shipping container a great material to use for cabin construction, security wise.

Eco Friendliness

Shipping containers are used all the time for storage, shipment, and handling. According to, there are over 17 million shipping containers in the world and only 5-6 million of these are in use. This means that there is a lot of unused shipping containers without a purpose.

Recycling shipping containers can cost a lot of energy and fuel – which means they’re not very efficient recyclers. They also cost a lot of money to recycle, therefore the idea of recycling doesn’t excite any company. Because of these reasons, most shipping containers are either left to rot or sold for re-using. These containers have great re-usability which makes re-using them the best choice.

This means that using shipping containers for cabin construction is very eco-friendly. This is one of the main reasons why people use shipping containers for their cabins.


Cost is one of the biggest factors when it comes to purchasing anything. Using a shipping container for a cabin can be significantly cheaper than building a log cabin however this depends on a few factors.

The price of shipping containers varies greatly depending on condition and size. Shipping containers can be purchased for between $1,000 – $5,000. This is cheap for a component which will make a majority of your home.

The total cost of a cabin made from a shipping container will be around $35,000. This is just a rough estimate; the price will obviously vary depending on the size of the cabin and who’s building the cabin. This is significantly cheaper than you could ever manage to get a log cabin built for – it would be extremely difficult to build a log cabin for $35,000. The only way which I can imagine putting a log-cabin together would be to already have the resources and materials available such as trees which you can cut down yourself.

Overall, using a shipping container for a cabin is a lot cheaper than building a log cabin. This is the number 1# reason people use shipping containers for their cabins. The extra money saved can be used for other commodities to enhance your cabin experience.

Off-Site Construction

Off-site construction is when the construction of your cabin can take place at another location besides where you want your cabin to be when it’s finished being built. This is because shipping containers can easily be transported, it’s what they’re built for. Their original purpose is to be used for transporting goods over-seas.

Your shipping container is going to have to be delivered to the cabin site either way, so it makes a lot of sense for construction to occur off-site. This will mean that all construction work would have already been taken care of before it’s even arrived at your cabin site.

If you plan to use multiple shipping containers for your cabin and having them assembled together to make for a large cabin – you can have them constructed off-site and then assembled together at your cabin site. This makes things very easy to organize and you can keep your cabin site clean and tidy. Off-site construction results in less resources and materials having to be transported back and forth from your cabin site.

Fast Build time

Using a shipping container for a cabin will drastically increase the build time. This is because a shipping container provides the structure for the cabin. There is minimal work required to turn a shipping container into a cabin. Turning a shipping container into a home is actually very easy. Not much has to be done besides the windows and doors being cut out and framed. When building a log cabin, many hours must be put into just planning the structure of it alone.

The building of a shipping container cabin typically only consists of a few stages. Building the foundation, placing the containers, connecting the containers, building a roof, cutting out the openings, framing and insulation. Obviously, the steps taken will vary depending on multiple factors such as the condition of the container and how big your want your cabin.

The process of building a home from containers can be sped up by preparing the foundation whilst the container is being converted into a cabin. This will make it so that your cabin can be finished in significantly less time. Your own personal exterior customizations will have to be made after the containers is reinforced into the foundation, but you will be able to live in it much sooner.

Strength & Durability

As I have touched on previously, Shipping containers are mode from steel – a very strong and durable material. They’re almost indestructible. Shipping container cabins require little to no maintenance and are unlikely to sustain any serious damage which will require repairs.

The purpose of shipping containers is to protect goods whilst they’re in transport. This means that they’re built strong enough to put up with the harshest weathers. You won’t find yourself worrying about forest fires – as you would with a log cabin. Shipping containers have been built to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, and other forms of extreme weather.

The durability of a shipping container is a worth-while investment. With sufficient care, they can last for the rest of your life. Think about it for a moment. $35,000 for a property which you can have for the entirety of your life. That’s amazing.

Low Utility Cost

Due to the smaller frame of a shipping container cabin, you can save a lot of money on utilities. By installing high quality insulation for your cabin, you can ensure that a stable temperature is kept. Having solid insulation in your cabin will mean that you don’t have to spend as much money on cooling and heating.

Insulating the average log cabin will cost significantly more than it would insulating a shipping container cabin. This is because log cabins tend to be larger, thus requiring more insulator. In a shipping container cabin there’s less open space than there is in a log cabin. This means that less cooling and heating is required to control the temperature of these spaces. This contributes to the amount of money you’ll save by building a cabin from a shipping container.

Things to consider

Building Codes and Permits

Just like building a normal log cabin, when building a cabin from a shipping container, you’ll have to contact your county office for approval. This is an important step to take as you don’t want to waste your time and money purchasing materials for something you may not be able to build.

Ontario Building Code refers to shipping containers as structures. This means that a building permit is required to bring a container onto a property. To acquire one, the local building department must be provided with written document explaining how the container will be used.

Because shipping container being used for cabins is not yet a mainstream idea, you may have to do some convincing for permission to build one. Shipping container construction is a growing trend so depending on when you view this article, it may be an easier process for you.

Use an experienced contractor

Due to how different building a cabin using a shipping container is compared to a log cabin. It’s highly recommended that you hire a contractor with experience of shipping container construction.

Ability to transport a shipping container to your property

The first thing you should identify when considering a shipping container cabin is whether you’ll be able to get it into your cabin site. The roads and routes to your cabin site will dictate whether is this possible or not.

For the delivery of a shipping container, a semi-truck is going to be required. If the roads which route to your cabin site are not appropriate for such a vehicle then you won’t be able to have the container delivered.

In most cases it is possible however It’s better to be safe than sorry. I can’t image the pain of having bought a shipping container or had a cabin completely constructed and then not being able to get it to your cabin site.

Choosing The Right Shipping Container

It’s very important that you choose the right shipping container for your cabin. All of them will be different and only a handful will actually be suitable to use as a home. I’ve written a detailed guide on how to choose the right shipping container for your cabin. I recommend that you give it a read.


Using a shipping container for a cabin has many benefits, as well as things you must consider. It is not a split-second decision. Careful consideration and research must take place.

If you have any questions or feel as though I’ve left something out in this article – feel free to leave me a comment.

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