Shipping Container Homes

Shipping Container Homes: Green Building by Mangum Design-Build

Shipping Container Homes are about desires for something original, something novel, and something functional.  It’s a quest for simplicity in a complex world.  So let’s talk about how we get that out of a home. 

Shipping Container Homes are designed by Mangum, prefabricated overseas, and shipped locally for final assembly in the United States.  The actual process looks very similar to the way Apple and Mercedes design, source, and manufacture their iPhones and cars.  It’s not new.  We’re just taking their proven methods and applying it to a different industry.

Mangum believes in prefabrication as a means to increase quality and lower the cost of that quality.  Starting with a shipping container, or a steel frame enables us to start with a substantially higher quality structure than traditional wood framing. 

Shipping Container Home Design

Everything we design starts out in 3D.  We use architectural tools like Sketchup and Twinmotion to develop functional floor plans.  Imagine American Ingenuity, German Engineering, and California Indoor/Outdoor Living.  That’s what you can expect.

Shipping Container Homes have design limitations, as the rooms can be only as large as the width of the containers.  However, we solved that critical issue with adding structural steel to enlarge the rooms. 

Obtaining Building Permits For Shipping Container Homes

This is a common question; the simple answer is that it has to meet standard code requirements all homes must meet.  The strength of the structure far exceeds any minimum standards for homes; insulating it is trickier, but we have know how to insulate it.  Hint: It’s a method used in Germany and Austria.  We learned from some of the leaders in Green Building.

Installing Insulation and Cladding

Construction Timeline

How long does it take to build a shipping container home?  Here’s the answer:

Shipping Container Homes or any prefabricated structure intends to shorten construction periods by doing more assembly of the structure before it actually arrives at the jobsite.  If you factor in the additional time you spend in planning against the time you save building the house, the timing is roughly the same as building a normal house.   In other words, it takes longer to plan, but it’s quicker to build.  

Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill, NC

Shipping Container Home Costs

Are shipping container homes really cheap to build?  It depends.  If you’re outside the United States, Europe, or Australia, yes, it’s very inexpensive, as you can complete more parts of the house overseas with less expensive labor.  However, in the United States, much of the assembly must be inspected by local inspectors, which requires local labor to assemble it.  An example is that all plumbing must be installed locally and inspected.  So we can’t do that work in a factory.  So while you cannot save much on labor costs the way Apple or Mercedes would by assembling everything in a factory,  you can save on materials that are sourced overseas that are quite valuable, like triple pane windows, and high quality marble/stone which add value to your home. 

Chapel Hill NC
Chapel Hill, NC


Photo Cred: Benjamin Saxe, Costa Rica

Why Build with Shipping Containers?

Shipping Container Home Mangum Design Build