The Pros and Cons of Building an ADU with Shipping Containers

Posted in   Uncategorized   on  June 19, 2023 by  admin0

In recent years, the popularity of shipping containers among entrepreneurs has been growing at an incredible pace. Now, during the walk, you can meet small areas of shipping containers that are used for the equipment of coffee shops, barbershops, beauty salons for pets, dry cleaners, small handmade jewelry stores, and much more. However, few people suspect that shipping containers can be used as an additional housing units. 

ADU from a shipping container is no less popular option than the construction of buildings made of concrete and iron. ADU with shipping containers has an indescribable atmosphere of comfort and family warmth. They can be used for various purposes, be it a home theater, a hobby workshop, an additional bedroom, or just a place to relax after a hard day’s work. 

In this review, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of ADU with shipping containers, as well as present several creative design ideas for the future construction process. 

Advantages of ADU with Shipping Containers 

The most important privilege of ADU with shipping containers is functionality and unlimited potential for household use. However, the list of strengths of such projects does not end at one position. We highlight four key advantages of ADU with shipping containers.


You have probably heard something about ship cemeteries, when unused naval vessels and their components are covered with rust and worsen the atmosphere. ADU with shipping containers is a step towards cleaning the environment because instead of lying in landfills, shipping containers in the hands of skilled designers and builders turn into a technological living space.

Low construction costs

It is enough to understand two things here. Firstly, the cost of one shipping container rarely exceeds $5,000, while the construction of the smallest ADU with an area of 80 square feet will cost at least $40000-50000. Secondly, to implement an ADU project with a shipping container, you will need much fewer materials and there will be no need for long-term interaction with builders, which in some cases can reach more than six months.

Long service life

Containers on ships and tankers are capable of crossing tens of thousands of miles and passing through the most terrible storms without the slightest damage. Their walls are not corroded by sea salt, and the structure cannot be damaged even by a blow on coastal rocks. Shipping containers are a very durable option that will last you for decades without the need for repair.

Unique Design

Shipping container ADUs have a distinct look that sets them apart from traditional ADUs. They offer a modern, industrial aesthetic that appeals to many individuals. Additionally, shipping containers can be customized to meet individual and design preferences.

Overall, as you can see ADU with shipping containers is the perfect opportunity to create a dream space because you are not limited by standard layouts. You can equip the ADU to all your preferences so that further use brings you only joy and pleasure.

Disadvantages of ADU with Shipping Containers 

Along with all the advantages, ADU with shipping containers has some weaknesses and this is not surprising, because any building has flaws. However, the disadvantages of ADU with shipping containers are less than the potential benefits. 

We highlight the following aspects:

  1. Limited Space. Shipping containers are relatively small, with standard sizes ranging from 10 to 40 feet. As a result, building an ADU with shipping containers can result in limited living space. Individuals with larger families or those who need more living space may need to opt for a traditional construction method.
  2. Insulation. Shipping containers are designed for transportation and storage, not for living in. As a result, they may not provide adequate insulation. Additional insulation may need to be added to ensure that the ADU is comfortable to live in year-round.
  3. Permitting. Building an ADU with shipping containers may require additional permits and approvals. Each city and state has different regulations for ADUs, and shipping containers may not meet specific building codes. This can result in delays and additional costs.

On the whole, all these shortcomings are fixable, especially if you are implementing the project in cooperation with the general contractor. For example, you can solve the problem of limited space in a very simple way by purchasing an additional shipping container, and the lawyers of the contractor’s company will help you solve the issues with obtaining a permit.

ADU with Shipping Containers Design Solutions   

If you are interested in the prospect of becoming the owner of ADU with a shipping container, then we cannot leave you without a list of cool design ideas that will help to implement the project at the highest level. You can use these suggestions as a basis and then modify them according to your personal preferences and tastes. 

The most interesting solutions in our opinion seem to be the following points:

  • Combine multiple containers. Shipping containers can be stacked or combined to create larger living spaces. This can be a great solution for individuals who need more living space but don’t have enough room for a traditional addition.
  • Create a container courtyard. By arranging multiple containers in a U-shape or L-shape, you can create a private courtyard space in the center. This provides additional outdoor living space and creates a sense of privacy.
  • Add a living roof. Living roofs or green roofs can be added to the top of shipping container ADUs, providing additional insulation and creating a more sustainable living space. This also helps the ADU blend in with the surrounding environment.
  • Use bright colors. Shipping containers come in standard colors such as blue, green, and gray. However, you can paint the containers with bright colors to create a more vibrant and unique look.
  • Use natural materials. Incorporating natural materials such as wood or bamboo can soften the industrial look of the containers and create a more inviting and cozy living space.
  • Incorporate a deck or patio. Adding a deck or patio to the outside of the ADU can create additional living space and enhance the indoor-outdoor connection.
  • Use industrial lighting. Industrial-style lighting fixtures can add to the aesthetic of the shipping containers while providing ample lighting.

All in all, we hope that these small top-of-the-best ideas helped you once again to make sure that ADU with shipping containers is a project that is characterized by limitless possibilities and a departure from all construction patterns. Your stay in the house will become much more exciting and interesting together with the ADU made of shipping containers.

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