How Shipping Containers can be a Low-Cost Alternative in Construction Business

 Containers have become the trendy green alternative in construction. Over the past few years, shipping containers have been used in innovative ways to build low-cost buildings and homes. So, why have construction engineers and architects taken to these steel boxes?

Shipping containers are widely used for trading materials, however, once they have reached the end of their lifecycle, they can no longer be used as a means to transport materials overseas. What’s more – there are a plethora of such containers lying empty and unused at the docks, thanks to trade imbalance in the U.S.; sending them back to the country of origin can be costlier than actually buying them.

However, they are strong enough to be used as building material and can be refurbished to build modern apartment complexes. Highly durable, containers have been originally designed with a high capacity to carry huge loads and can provide safety even in harsh weather.

Benefits of Shipping Containers in Construction Industry

The construction industry often requires accommodation facilities for short-term nature; hence, investing in traditional building materials makes no sense. These corrugated steel boxes, are also durable and stand their ground against bad weather.

These three benefits highlight why shipping containers are best-suited for the construction industry.


As these boxes can be easily shipped by rail or road transport, they can be used at various sites. Additionally, you can easily disassemble them to be erected again. Finished a project? Simply disassemble components in the box and transport it to the next site where it is needed. You can even furnish it with foldable furniture to make transport easier.


Definitely cheaper than using traditional construction materials, these shipping containers can be purchased at a relatively lower price due to their surplus availability. You have the option to rent or even buy used containers, meeting short-term needs while keeping expenses within your budget.

Highly Durable

As they have been originally designed to carry heavy loads and can be made climate-controlled, they can easily be made habitable. Their durability ensures they are safe for storage as well as suited for accommodation.

Various Uses of Shipping Containers in Construction Industry

These containers are widely used in construction business, thanks to the nature of the industry that demands temporary setups and secure storage space for construction equipment.

1. Onsite Storage Containers

The obvious use of a shipping container is for storage. It is a no brainer that any construction site holds materials and high-value equipment that are subject to theft, vandalism, and deterioration.

Storage containers can be excellent for storing your equipment or other valuables for years, especially if they are made of special anti-rust steel. However, bear in mind to not store hazardous or inflammable objects in these containers. They can be accessorized with padlocks and also come in high-security container options.

2. Break Rooms

If you want your employees to stay on the top of their game, a break room is an absolute necessity, where your employees can unwind and get some rest from the arduous and strenuous work at the construction site. You can equip it with toilets and make it climate-controlled.

3. Mobile Office Trailer (Onsite Offices)

Shipping containers are popularly being used as mobile offices across various industries. These offices can prove to be inexpensive and particularly useful on a construction site, as the requirement is of a short-term nature. They can easily be ported from one place to another to be used across different sites. There are various ground level offices (GLOs) available in the market, for rent as well as sale, with different structures, sizes, and furnishings.

 4. Toilets

It is quite uneconomical to construct a toilet at a place that is not frequented much or will not be used after completion of the project. The beauty of these steel boxes is their ability to be repurposed for versatile uses. A shipping container of suitable dimensions can be easily converted into a modern, hygienic toilet and sanitation centers.

Although porta loos (portable toilets) are more commonly used, let’s just accept it, they tend to become messy and unhygienic soon.

5. First-Aid Centers

Injuries are often an occupational hazard as construction sites are full of potential dangers. These containers can be set up as emergency centers and be furnished with medical equipment and first-aid. In fact, containers have proven to be useful for building hospital space in light of the recent pandemic.

6. Multi-Family Buildings

Smart cities looking for affordable housing projects are opting for these steel boxes over conventional construction. Cities such as Detroit and Nashville are becoming hotspots for shipping container architecture. These containers can be easily stacked on each other and upscaled to create modern architectural designs.

If you’re in the construction business, you can consider the relatively new venture of container housing projects. Else, containers may also serve as temporary accommodation for the workers at your construction sites.

Shipping containers are best suited for temporary and low-cost accommodation purposes. They are not suited for all types of projects; however, they can come handy when it comes to disaster management and rehabilitation projects.

With their widespread use, many businesses are offering customized shipping containers that are suited for various needs. The choice of renting a container instead of buying also makes them more appealing for short projects. However, there is no doubt that the construction industry can greatly benefit from these corrugated steel boxes in more ways than one.