Tiny Off-Grid Shipping Container Palace Costs $24,000USD Blog Cover

Interview: Tiny Off-Grid Shipping Container Palace Costs $24,000USD

Posted By: May 13, 2015 In Interviews

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Today is an exciting day for us as we launch our shipping container home interview series.

In each episode we will bring on a guest who has built their own shipping container home and break down exactly how they did it, what they learnt and what advice they have for people wanting to build their own shipping container home.

For our inaugural episode it’s our pleasure to welcome Brenda Kelly from iqcontainerhomes to the show!

About Brenda’s Home

Brenda has managed to build an incredible off-grid container home using a single 20 foot shipping container. The home is packed with functional, space-saving ideas and serves as a prime example of what can be built with shipping containers!

Her home is 107 square foot which means she could build her home without requiring any building permits or council consent!

Let’s get straight into the interview!

Tom: How did you get the idea of building your home with shipping containers?

Brenda: I like to be different. I’m not sure where the idea came from, I’ve always liked the idea of small cosy homes and I stared to design them as a teenager. I think I may have passed a container yard one day and thought how cool would it be to live in one of them!

Tom: Why did you decide to build your home out of shipping containers?

Brenda: The structural integrity of shipping containers is second to none. Not only are they fire, earthquake and hurricane resistant but they are affordable, easily transported, require minimal foundations and are environmentally friendly because they are made from recycled steel. They can be painted or printed with imagery and are a modern funky concept.

It’s a combination of all these points which made shipping containers appeal to me.

Deliver Shipping Container Home

Brenda’s shipping container home getting delivered!

Tom: How long did your home take to build?

Brenda: The research, design and planning took a while and is not to be underestimated.

However, investing the time here meant a smooth build without any unwanted surprises! The finished product is perfect and I’m delighted with the results.

Once I knew exactly what I wanted and had sourced the necessary materials, I got professional container modifiers to do the required cutting, welding and reinforcing. From here the build took around 3 months of evenings and weekends for me and my Dad.

Tom: How did you insulate the containers?

Brenda: For the insulation we used Kingspan’s Kooltherm K10 in the walls and ceiling. To insulate the container floor we used polystyrene.

Tom:  Can you talk about the process of building your home- what were some of the highlights of the process?

Brenda: A memorable moment was trying to break into my narrow upper level window after getting locked out… I’m not sure I’d call that a highlight though!

In all seriousness, this was a great Father-Daughter project, we had our moments but as a whole it was a blast. (And yes, we’re still talking!) I loved all the learning, problem solving and innovative thinking involved, there’s no substitute for hands on experience. Seeing your dream turn into a reality is incredibly rewarding.

Shipping Container Home Taking Shape

Brenda’s Shipping Container Home Taking Shape!

Tom: Roughly how much did it cost to build (can you give us a high-level breakdown here)?

Brenda: In total my tiny container palace cost around $24,000USD excluding labour. This figure includes:

  • Purchasing the container
  • Laying the foundations
  • Fitting out the container with appliances and fixtures etc.
  • Setting up the utilities and bathroom.

Tom: In your experience what are the advantages of building with shipping containers?

Brenda: In addition to the benefits already mentioned, you’re starting off with a strong, weatherproof structure. They are easy to transport which means you can build your container home off-site.

This is very handy if your final destination is in the middle of nowhere or if you wish to live off-grid with limited capacity to run power tools.

Tom: Would you recommend building with shipping containers?

Brenda: Building a shipping container home is not for the faint hearted. Do your research especially if you want to get your home approved with your local authority.

That being said when done right they are fantastic and have many benefits over traditional housing so yes, I’d definitely recommend it.

Tom: Where can people find out more about you and get in touch?

You can find out more about me and my shipping container home over at: www.iqcontainerhomes.co.nz

Gallery of Brenda’s Home:

If you want to see more of Brenda’s home, check out the video below which includes a video tour of her home!

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Thank you for joining us for our very first interview! Is this something you’ve enjoyed and found useful? Let us know in the comments below and we will bring more guests onto the show!

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  1. Ryan

    This is a fantastic “tiny” home build. When I first saw the outside of it I was thinking such an idea is crazy for a home, but she did an amazing job with the space inside! I am just curious if you know whether the total cost of the home she mentioned ($35,000) includes the water tanks, batteries, solar panels, furniture, etc? Does it include everything we see? Thanks so much for doing these interviews with container home owners and including a video walk-through! It is very helpful information. 🙂

    • Tom

      Hi Ryan,

      Thank you for getting in touch and I’m happy the interviews are helping you.

      I believe the final figure includes all the external elements and kitchen- so I don’t think it includes the furniture.