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Shipping Container Extensions: A Cheap and Easy Way to Add Extra Space to Your Home

19 September 2023

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ConversionsTips & Guides

In the ever-tightening housing market of today, discovering affordable and practical ways to expand your living area is key. Given this reality, the innovative use of shipping container extensions offers a cost-effective solution for homeowners seeking additional space. 

shipping container house extension

These structures, known for their durability and versatility, can provide considerable extra room without incurring high construction costs. Therefore, shipping container extensions may indeed serve as the golden ticket for those aiming to broaden their horizons without breaking the bank.

What Are Shipping Container Extensions

Shipping container extensions are simply shipping containers that have been cleverly repurposed to create extra space in your home or workplace. Typically found transporting goods around the globe, these containers are skilfully transformed to create functional, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly extensions. 

This creative approach to construction not only recycles these robust containers but also offers a unique, modern aesthetic for your home or business. So whether you’re thinking of a home office, a guest suite, or a chill-out zone, a shipping container extension could be the perfect solution.

Types of shipping container extensions

There’s a whole range of shipping container extensions out there, each with its own unique benefits and purposes. It’s not a one-size-fits-all deal – you’ve got options. 

Whether you’re looking at a simple single-container extension to add just a bit more room, or a more elaborate multi-container setup for a large-scale expansion, there’s a solution for every need and every budget.

Single container extensions

Single container extensions are a straightforward choice when it comes to adding more room to your property. Essentially, you take one sturdy shipping container and transform it into a liveable or functional space. 

Think of it like a ready-made room that’s just waiting for your personal touch.

single shipping container extension

Multi-container extensions

Multi-container extensions offer you the chance to create larger, more complex structures by joining several shipping containers together. You could piece together an entire guest house, a spacious home office, or even a multi-room extension to your existing home.

multi-container extension

Hybrid shipping container extensions

Hybrid extensions take the concept of shipping container modifications one step further, merging containers with other building materials like wood or steel. 

This approach offers the best of both worlds – the strength and cost-effectiveness of a shipping container, and the aesthetics and flexibility of traditional building materials.

hybrid shipping container extension

Shipping container extension sizes

Shipping container extensions offer a variety of sizes to cater to your specific needs and financial plans. The 20-foot and 40-foot shipping container options are the standard sizes typically used for shipping container extensions. 

However, don’t feel limited to these dimensions, there are both smaller and larger containers available, ensuring there’s a suitable choice depending on your specific needs and preferences.

20-foot shipping container extensions

20-foot shipping container extensions are a common pick for smaller extension projects. Think home offices, guest rooms, or cozy art studios. 

With an interior space measuring around 19’4″ in length, 7’8″ in width, and 7’10” in height, it’s a compact yet surprisingly spacious option that can fit in most properties, making it a practical and popular choice for those looking to add a bit more space without going overboard.

40-foot shipping container extensions

If you’re planning a larger extension project, a 40-foot shipping container might be just what you need. These containers offer plenty of room for a variety of uses, from expansive living areas to structures with multiple rooms. 

With an interior measuring approximately 39’5″ in length, 7’8″ in width, and 7’10” in height, this size of container offers ample room for customisation and flexibility, and is a highly versatile solution to significantly boost the space in your home or property.

High-cube shipping container extensions

If you’re after an extension with a bit more vertical room to breathe, a high-cube shipping container extension could be your perfect match. These containers stand taller than the standard versions, boasting a height of approximately 9’6″, in contrast to the 7’10” height of standard containers. 

This extra headroom opens up a world of possibilities, like loft-style extensions, or spaces that benefit from higher ceilings such as art studios or home gyms.

high cube shipping container converted into a gym

Shipping container extension costs

When it comes to the cost of shipping container extensions, several factors can influence the final price tag. The size of the container, it’s condition (new or used), and the level of customisation you want can all play a part in determining the price.

DIY shipping container extension cost

For those handy with tools and ready to roll up their sleeves, doing a DIY shipping container extension can be an affordable option. A basic project, where you’re buying a used container and giving it a makeover with insulation, windows, and basic amenities, could cost as little as £7,000 to £11,000. 

It’s a cost-conscious way to get more space, as well as having the satisfaction of having done the work yourself. Remember, this is a ballpark figure and costs can vary, so proper planning and budgeting are key.

Basic shipping container extension cost

If DIY isn’t your thing and you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, a basic professional shipping container extension can be an excellent choice. A typical 20-foot shipping container, complete with insulation, windows, doors, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as basic flooring and wall finishes, could set you back somewhere between £14,000 and £21,000.

This option saves you the hard work, offers professional expertise, and still provides a cost-effective solution to add more space to your home.

Mid-range shipping container extension costs

If you’re aiming for something more than just the basics, a mid-range shipping container extension could be the way to go. For a budget of between £21,000 and £35,000, you can transform a 40-foot shipping container into a more luxurious space, complete with a kitchen or bathroom, custom modifications, and high-quality finishes. 

This budget range also allows for more advanced electrical and plumbing systems, meaning you’re not only gaining extra space, but also a more comfortable, practical, and aesthetically pleasing addition to your home.

High-end shipping container extension cost

For those seeking a truly upscale addition to their home, a high-end shipping container extension with luxury finishes could be the ideal solution. Starting from around £35,000 and going up from there, your new extension could involve multiple containers, custom designs, and all the bells and whistles – from premium appliances and fixtures to high-end flooring and finishes. 

It’s about creating an extension that isn’t just about extra space, but also about luxury and style.

Wondering about the cost of various shipping containers? Dive into our detailed pricing guide to understand what you can expect to pay when buying a shipping container!

Benefits of Using Shipping Container Extensions

Shipping container extensions come with a wealth of benefits that make them an attractive option for many homeowners: 

  • Durability – Built to withstand the high seas, these containers are incredibly durable, structurally sound, and even fire and rust-resistant thanks to their Corten exteriors. 
  • Portability – They’re not just sturdy, but also portable – if you decide to move, your container extension can come along with you, offering a level of portability not found in traditional home expansions.
  • Cost-effectiveness – Beyond durability and flexibility, these extensions are also incredibly cost-effective. They often present a more affordable alternative to traditional home additions, without compromising on the quality of the space.
  • Sustainability – These containers are also a great eco-friendly choice, by repurposing these steel structures, you reduce waste and promote sustainability.repurposing materials and reducing waste. 
  • Customisation – They can be customised to match your style and meet your needs, offering a wealth of design possibilities. 
  • Quick installation – Shipping container extensions can be installed quickly and easily, making them a convenient choice compared to traditional construction methods.

Shipping Container Extension Ideas

When it comes to shipping container extensions, the possibilities are virtually endless. These versatile structures offer a cost-effective solution to a range of space-related challenges or even business opportunities. 

Whether you’re in need of extra living space, a dedicated home office, a creative studio, a guest house, or even a motorbike storage area, shipping container extensions can fulfil these needs with ease.

Home extensions

When it comes to home extensions, shipping container extensions offer an excellent solution for adding that much-needed extra living space. Whether you require additional bedrooms, a cozy living area to entertain guests, these versatile structures can be seamlessly integrated into your existing home.

shipping container home extension

Home office or workspace

With the rise of remote work and the need for dedicated workspaces, shipping container extensions offer an ideal solution for creating a separate home office or workspace. 

These versatile structures can be customised to meet any specific requirements, from a quiet space for focused work to a professional setting for client meetings or a creative studio for artistic endeavours. These extensions provide a customisable and cost-effective option to establish a dedicated area for focused work, boosting productivity and separating work life from home life, right in your backyard. 

shipping container home office extension

Guesthouse or Airbnb rental

Shipping container extensions present an excellent opportunity to create standalone guesthouses or Airbnb rentals, allowing you to generate additional income. 

By capitalising on the growing popularity of alternative accommodations, such as shipping container rentals, you can unlock the potential to earn extra income while providing a one-of-a-kind experience for your guests. These extensions can be transformed into comfortable and stylish accommodations that cater to guests seeking a unique and memorable stay.

guest house shipping container extension

Swimming pool or hot tub enclosure

With some customisation and ingenuity, shipping containers can be creatively modified to serve as enclosures for your pool or hot tub, providing a unique and functional space for relaxation and recreation.

swimming pool enclosure made from shipping container

Garden shed or greenhouse

For gardening enthusiasts, shipping container extensions can be transformed into functional garden sheds or even greenhouses. These extensions provide a convenient and customisable space to store gardening tools, supplies, and equipment, keeping everything organised and readily accessible. 

By adding windows, ventilation systems, and shelving, shipping container extensions can also serve as greenhouses, creating a controlled environment for nurturing plants and extending the growing season.

shipping container garden shed

On the fence about choosing between a converted shipping container and a traditional garden shed? Our in-depth article Shipping Container vs. Garden Shed is a must-read to make an informed decision you’ll be happy with today!

Additional storage space

When it comes to storage needs, shipping container extensions offer a practical solution for accommodating items that may not fit in your main house or garage. These extensions can serve as valuable additional storage space, keeping your belongings secure and organised.

shipping container storage space

Need extra storage space? Check out our self storage storage container solutions!

How to Extend Your House With a Shipping Container

From choosing the right container and preparing the site to modifying the container and connecting it to your utilities, there are several key considerations to keep in mind when extending your house with a shipping container.

Plan your shipping container extension design

Before purchasing a shipping container, plan out the design for the extension. Consider factors such as how the extension will connect to your house, the placement of doors and windows, and any necessary electrical or plumbing installations.

Consider planning permissions and regulations

Before proceeding with your shipping container extension, Check with your local authorities to determine whether you need a building permit for the shipping container extension. Regulations may vary, and it is important to determine whether you require permits or inspections for structural modifications or electrical work involved in the container extension project. 

Being aware of and adhering to these requirements ensures compliance with local building codes and promotes a smooth and hassle-free process.

Prepare the site for the extension

To prepare the site for your shipping container extension, it is essential to ensure a level and stable foundation. Assess the area where the container will be placed and make any necessary preparations. 

Depending on the specific location, you might need to pour a concrete foundation or install a retaining wall to provide a solid and level base for the container. This step is extremely important to ensure the structural integrity and longevity of your extension.

Modify the shipping container

When it comes to modifying the shipping container for your extension, we recommend collaborating with a professional contractor who specialises in container modifications. They can help you bring your vision to life and ensure that the modifications align with your specific requirements. 

This process may involve cutting out windows and doors to enhance natural light and accessibility, installing insulation to regulate temperature, incorporating electrical wiring for lighting and power outlets, and adding flooring and interior finishes to create a comfortable and inviting space. 

Build your shipping container extension

Once you’ve completed the necessary preparations, it’s time to embark on the construction phase of your shipping container extension. While these additions generally take less time to build compared to traditional home expansions, some preparatory work is still required. 

Depending on your desired aesthetic, you can choose to leave the corrugated surface of the container exposed on one side, embracing an industrial/modern look. However, if you prefer a more traditional look, you have the option to clad the walls with materials that match your existing home or reflect your desired style. 

It’s important to note that attaching a shipping container to your existing home may involve significant demolition work and potentially complex roofing issues. There are a couple  of different options for building your shipping container extension.

Integrated Construction

When opting for integrated construction, there are ascertain key factors to consider before proceeding with building directly onto your home.

Involve a structural engineer who will assess your home’s structure and determine the necessary steps to ensure a safe and secure addition. 

Another critical aspect to address is confirming that the wall you plan to open up can still bear the weight of the entire house.

integrated shipping container extension

Standalone construction

If the expense of constructing an addition is a concern, standalone construction presents a viable and cost-effective alternative where a separate room is built adjacent to the house and connected via a small breezeway. 

By opting for this approach, you can still expand your living space without the need for extensive structural modifications or integration into the existing house, ultimately offering a practical solution that meets both your needs and budget.

standalone shipping container extension with breezeway

Connect to utilities

Depending on your specific requirements and local regulations, you may need to connect your shipping container extension to your house’s utilities, such as electrical and plumbing systems. 

It is highly recommended to engage the services of a professional electrician or plumber to ensure that the connections are done safely and comply with building codes. Their expertise will help ensure that the electrical and plumbing systems in your shipping container extension are properly integrated with your existing utilities, providing functionality, safety, and peace of mind.

Finish the shipping container extension interior

Once the structural work is completed, it’s time to complete the interior of your shipping container extension. Finish the space by selecting and installing the desired flooring, whether it’s hardwood, tile, or another material that suits your taste and purpose. 

Depending on the purpose of the extension, you may want to install fixtures such as lighting, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. 

This is the stage where you can truly customise the interior to reflect your personal style and meet your specific needs. By paying attention to these final details, you can transform the container into a functional and inviting space that seamlessly integrates with your existing home or stands as a standalone structure.

Interested in a fully converted shipping container home? Learn everything you need to know in our Comprehensive Guide to Converting a Shipping Container Into a Home!

Conclusion

In conclusion, shipping container extensions provide a cost-effective, versatile, and innovative solution to address various space-related needs. Whether you’re looking to add extra living space, create a home office, build a guesthouse, or explore other possibilities, shipping container extensions offer endless opportunities for customisation and functionality.

With proper planning, collaboration with professionals, and adherence to building regulations, transforming a shipping container into an extension can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. By considering the benefits, costs, and various design ideas discussed, you can embark on your journey to expand your living space and unleash the potential of shipping container extensions.

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