How to Create a Shipping Container Office for Home

How to Create a Shipping Container Office for Home

shipping container office

Those who are well versed in the tiny-house movement won’t be surprised by this proposal at all. But for everyone else – and that’s most people – the idea of turning a shipping container into a workspace is likely a foreign concept.

However, shipping containers offer an inexpensive structure that can be simply converted into an office space with as many or as few improvements as you would like to add.

What Can You Do With a Shipping Container Office?

You might be surprised about what you can do with shipping containers to create a home office. First, it is important to be aware of the fact that people build entire, multi-story houses out of shipping containers. So what can you do to make a home office container?

The limits end with your imagination. 

But also the size – most shipping containers come in a size of 8 feet by 20 feet. Some double ones are 8 feet by 40 feet. At the least, you are working with 160 square feet of office space, so you will need to get creative.

There is no reason you cannot fully convert a shipping container to an office-like setting. Real doors, windows, flooring, walls, lights, exterior siding and trim, heat, and air conditioning can all be added to the shipping container office.

Whether you envision a classic home office set-up that gets you out of the house and into your own space, or an art studio with lots of light, a shipping container is a great foundation for your dreams. Build your dream home office shipping container with this basic starting point.

What Are the Benefits of Using Shipping Containers?

Need a structure that is useable – if not perfect – fast? That’s a shipping container. The day it is delivered you can begin to use it as a shelter for work or living while converting more permanent sections of it such as windows or electric lighting.

You’ll save about a third of the time you would spend building a wooden studio by starting with a shipping container.

Given their need to remain structurally sound and block out water on a long ocean crossing, shipping containers are a ready-made shelter.

These are great for colder areas given the nature of a metal exterior. You gain passive solar heat. Insulating the container is a great idea for both warm and cold areas, but be mindful of how much space this may cost in the already narrow container.

Rather than sending a shipping container that’s on its way to retirement from the shipping lanes to the scrap heap, why not repurpose it into your home office? Recycling in this way is much better for the environment.

Do You Live Somewhere a Shipping Container Office is Permitted?

Like all great building ideas, zoning rules can immediately squash the project you are oh-so-passionate about. Before you decide a shipping container home office is the only answer to your work from home office needs, verify that you will be permitted to have one on your land.

Some things you may need to check on are how close to your property line you can place the container and whether or not providing electricity or plumbing to the container will affect your home’s assessed value and therefore taxes.

How Do You Buy a Shipping Container?

There are several options for buying a shipping container. Companies like us – Transocean Equipment Management – sell shipping containers for a variety of purposes. As shipping container conversions become more popular, we are happy to work with those looking to build.

If you are looking for a shipping container to purchase, decide what your budget is and what condition would be acceptable. 

You will likely pay over $5,000 on average for a new shipping container. You can also find small, used containers for under $1,500.

Most used shipping containers are only sent to transport products once, which reduces their exposure and degradation. If you are looking for a used shipping container to build a shipping container office, you will need to ascertain the level of rusting. Also, investigate the possible exposure to corrosive or dangerous substances in transport.

Don’t forget to factor in transport to your location. This may add additional costs or require a secondary company to actually move the container. Placing the container on your land may mean finding a forklift or crane to position it.

Before locking in a purchase, try to get quotes from every step of the process so there are no price surprises.

Who Will Help You Convert?


You can design a shipping container office by yourself, but you can also work with an architect to design the exterior conversions and interior changes. Before any work begins, an architect or engineer should be consulted to ascertain the structural integrity of the changes you plan to make. 

Hiring tradespeople to assist with the actual conversion is not just smart – some locations may require it. For instance, to be up to code you made need to have an electrician do final wiring on electric work you need done.

In the tiny house community, many workers specialize in building small spaces and converting things like shipping containers or vans. Finding tradespeople with this  specialized experience may give you the best outcomes.

Search Tiny House or Tiny Living groups to find recommendations for local workers in your area.

First Steps

Once you have committed to purchasing a shipping container and received your permits, you will be prepared to have your shipping container delivered to your property. 

By working with an architect or engineer, you locate an area of level ground that will be best to place your shipping container on. They will also help you choose what sort of foundation will be best for your container. 

Depending on your land and weather, you may need to choose between putting the container on elevated pillars or a concrete platform.

Conversions to Make

Cut doors and windows into the sides of the shipping container, rather than using the heavy end doors already installed in the container. 

Add all the comforts of a home. If the container’s walls, ceiling, and floor are a basic frame, then easily convert insulation, flooring, sheetrock or wood walls, lighting and outlets can all.

A great conversion that will make your eco-friendly shipping container office even greener is to add solar panels. Depending on the placement of your shipping container on your land and the condition of your home’s electrical panel, opting for an autonomous power source like solar panels may be your best bet. 

What DIYs Are Achievable for the Average Person?

There are many parts of converting a home office shipping container that can be accomplished without the help of a contractor, depending on the skill level of the DIY-er.

While things like cutting window holes or running electrical wiring should be overseen by a metal fabricator or electrician, respectively, the container owner can tackle other projects.

Framing inside the container with two-by-fours is a job that requires someone with basic hammer, drill, saw, and level skills. Packing insulation is likewise an intro-level DIY.

Though sheetrock hanging is likely a two-person job, it is also something that can be a do-it-yourself afternoon project.

With simple click-lock flooring systems or self-adhesive vinyl tiles, most anyone can lay floors in a container office.

Painting and decorating – likely the most fun part of the job – are also the part of the project that takes the least amount of know-how skill. Make the container your custom dream office with some classic paint colors and interior decor.

A Proper Container Build-Out Is a Valuable Investment

Going into a conversion of a shipping container thinking that it will save you oodles of money may be the wrong approach. It can save on construction costs and the time it takes to put up a structure. Paying to do things correctly (like a foundation and proper  permitting) is worth the cost.

Budget appropriately so that your shipping container office is comfortable and useable, with the correct amount of insulation, temperature regulation, light, and power sources for your work. Creating a unique, functional space adds value to your property.

A Shipping Container Office Starts with the Right Container

Transocean Equipment Management has a wide variety of shipping containers you need for creating a shipping container office at your home. We offer a variety of sizes and types, as well as new or used containers. Containers are customizable to meet your basic need for the shell of your home office.

Want to get to work inside of the box? Think “out of the box” with Transocean Equipment Management.

We are happy to provide a free price quote online. Get in touch today to learn more!

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