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Shipping Container Homes vs. Manufactured Mobile Homes: What’s The Difference?

Shipping container homes are residential buildings made out of new or recycled shipping containers (also known as intermodal containers). Mobile homes (also known as manufactured homes or trailer homes) are semi permanent living structures manufactured For the explicit purpose of residential occupancy.

Intermodal shipping container home sizes.

Container homes can be any size. The smallest configurations can be a single shipping container cabin on rural land, and larger structures can feature three or more shipping containers stacked. The most common shipping containers are 20 feet to 40 feet long.

Some buildings are larger shipping container structures. Some homeowners will construct their single-family residence out of numerous shipping containers, with the help of architects and engineers. Around the world, impressive shipping container buildings like apartment buildings and other large structures can be found. Structures that are built from multiple shipping containers require architectural plans to assemble the home and properly arrange the shipping containers together. Because intermodal shipping containers must travel on roads across the US, they are a maximum 8 feet wide.

Building a shipping container home.

When planning to build your shipping container home an important consideration is that your containers will be empty when you purchase them. Shipping container homes require you to build out each section of your home and install everything like insulation, plumbing, electric. As well as cutting holes for windows, doors, ventilation, and other utilities. Some homeowners prefer the shipping container build instead of purchasing a traditional site-built home. The longevity of the solid steel exterior of the shipping container, designed to be in the elements on the open ocean, is better than any type of home siding money can buy. In addition to the security and longevity of shipping container homes, homeowners love the unlimited amount of options available to creatively design their new home. Working with an experienced container home architect, you can create some truly amazing buildings built entirely out of shipping containers.

Manufactured homes vs. shipping container homes.

Mobile homes come in a plethora of shapes and sizes to accommodate everyone’s needs. Manufactured homes are HUD-Approved domiciles, built in a controlled warehouse environment and then transported to your location. When the mobile home arrives at the destination it is placed on the land, raised, leveled, and secured for safety.

Comparing container home and mobile home sizes.

The exterior dimensions of your home will dictate the maximum square footage. Mobile homes are generally much larger structures. A single-wide manufactured home is larger in almost every dimension when compared to a 40 foot shipping container. Intermodal container homes are more versatile, can accommodate a variety of scenarios, and be custom-built for your exact specifications. This is one of the reasons you will see shipping containers repurposed and used as hunting cabins, boat houses, in-law apartments, cottages, and additional dwelling units. For some situations shipping containers are smaller, more economical, and offer a blank slate to create the home of your dreams.

What about shipping container homes in mobile home parks?

It’s common to find mobile home parks across the US. These manufactured home communities are neighborhoods composed exclusively of mobile homes. Similar to a condominium apartment building that has shared elevators and hallways, in a mobile home park each resident owns their home, and shares the roads and other common spaces with the other residents. 

Due to their new and quirky nature, communities of shipping container homes do not exist quite yet. Shipping container homes are mobile, depending how you construct your container home, and can be transported by a tractor-trailer truck on any major roadway. While you can take your mobile home out of the park and place it on land you own, you can’t take your shipping container home from your land and put it in a manufactured housing community. This can be for a number of reasons including safety, as well as what is outlined in the mobile home homeowners association rules.