7 Clever Uses of Shipping Containers

Updated on January 25, 2020
Alexander Okelo profile image

Alexander is a professional engineer who specializes in the construction of affordable houses and structures using recycled materials.

A four-bedroom shipping container apartment built from 3 x 40 feet shipping containers.
A four-bedroom shipping container apartment built from 3 x 40 feet shipping containers.

Shipping Containers in Real Estate

Shipping containers have revolutionized the real estate industry with the possibility of having a secure and enclosed building that is not made of brick and mortar or wood. This is a growing building trend that is quickly being embraced by many.

There exist several ways to make use of shipping containers in construction. In this article, you will read about the top seven clever ways a sea container can be customized to fit your needs.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
40-foot shipping container home front view.40-foot shipping container home floor plan.
40-foot shipping container home front view.
40-foot shipping container home front view.
40-foot shipping container home floor plan.
40-foot shipping container home floor plan.

Uses of Sea Containers

Sea containers come in various sizes in terms of length, width, and height, but the common types have a fixed length of either 20 or 40 feet. Their width is usually about 8 feet, and their height ranges anywhere from 8 to 9.5 feet. Shipping containers measuring 9.5 feet high are referred to as high cube containers.

Depending on what you want to use your container for, they all have their upsides and downsides. Now, onto the juicy part. Here are the seven clever uses of sea containers.

Container Homes

If you head up to Google and search for shipping containers customized, most results will bring up photos of houses and homes.

Container homes have been the talk of the town for a while now. Maybe it's because of the price difference between these homes and a traditional brick and mortar apartment, or perhaps it's the short turnaround time that can be achieved while constructing using containers.

That means the insulation, the sewer system, and installation can all be completed in under three months, unlike other types of construction that may take much longer.

Restaurants and Food Stores

Sometimes you want to open a restaurant, a cafe, or some sort of food court, but the rent close to your targeted market is too expensive. So why not try a shipping container?

For some time now, there have been engineers who have come up with ways to ensure they can properly modify the container to fit all the appliances you may need. That is why there are refrigerated containers and food trucks.

A shipping container restaurant is now one of the most trendy things in the industry due to its versatility.

General Stores

Do you want to be a landlord or just want to own a few stores or a supermarket? Then try a shipping container. As explained above, the container comes in different dimensions.

You can always contact a reputable engineer close to your locality, who is experienced in the art of construction using shipping containers, and customize the store to fit your liking. They can be divided up by use of the walls, and from two shipping containers, you can have four to six stores.

Open them up for small businesses to use, and you can get your rental business starting off on the right foot. It is a clever and profitable idea.

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Shipping container restaurant (view 1).Shipping container restaurant (view 2).Shipping container restaurant (view 3).
Shipping container restaurant (view 1).
Shipping container restaurant (view 1).
Shipping container restaurant (view 2).
Shipping container restaurant (view 2).
Shipping container restaurant (view 3).
Shipping container restaurant (view 3).

Mobile Toilets

In remote areas where getting toilets can be more of a hassle, this would be the perfect addition. These portable toilets are fitted by engineers who ensure the sewer systems are up to standard, and proper disposal of waste occurs to avoid environmental pollution.

The best part about these toilets is that the containers can be modernized in the shortest time to accommodate as many toilets as the container can fit—and portable enough to move them around with ease.

Office Space

Sometimes you may want an off-property, quiet place to work. This could be anything from a behind-the-desk setup, to a mechanical shop, and even a music studio. Once you get yourself one of these containers, a reputable engineer could get you the proper plan that fit your needs.

This could be the right acoustics for your studio, a soundproof room for your desk job, or a user-friendly workshop. All you need is a rough idea and a good architect or engineer should be able to turn it into your dream structure.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
40-foot container office (view 1).40-foot container office (view 2).
40-foot container office (view 1).
40-foot container office (view 1).
40-foot container office (view 2).
40-foot container office (view 2).


There are areas so far from the hospital, and civilization, that when someone from the community becomes ill, they lose hope of treatment. Not anymore. Shipping containers can be modernized into clinics.

A suitable outpatient facility that caters to the community fast and in accommodating ways can work perfectly. There can be easy access to treatments and pharmacies, plus a small laboratory to undertake tests in.

Plant Nursery

A greenhouse doesn't necessarily have to be surrounded with a cloth or netting material. The in-garden could be in a steel container, customized with light interior walls and clear sliding doors to allow enough sunlight to pass through.

Engineers can put up water systems to act as irrigation in the nursery. What more could you ask for?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
40-foot container office, external view.40-foot container office, internal view.
40-foot container office, external view.
40-foot container office, external view.
40-foot container office, internal view.
40-foot container office, internal view.

Did you know that you can virtually build anything with a container?

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Join the Upcycle Revolution

It is true that a steel container can hold and transport over 70,000 pounds of just about anything. That is how strong and durable they are. And with countries importing more than exporting, there is a surplus in the number of available steel containers.

Why don't you join the revolution in helping to upcycle used shipping containers into whatever structure you would like?

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Alexander Okelo


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