Affordable housing remains a concern in virtually every community across the country. Individuals and families clearly need places to live, but shelling out enough cash to purchase a home, on top of purchasing groceries, paying for utilities, and all the other expenses associated with homeownership can cause all sorts of financial problems and stress. Even among renters, finding an affordable apartment can feel impossible, especially in popular metro regions like Denver, San Francisco, and New York City.

Thankfully, there is a great housing opportunity across the U.S. that is allowing for families to better manage their finances and actually afford perfectly livable homes.

There are around 17 million shipping containers around the world, with only 6 million containers actually in use. So approximately 11 million shipping containers are currently unused and could be converted into homes for people who are trying to get a better hold of their finances. Cities around the country are now embracing these containers as practical housing options, and not just for low-income residents. These structures are being used in everything from transitional housing for the homeless to upscale urban lofts.

According to Chicago Tribune, more Americans are building homes using only recycled shipping containers.

“In the beginning, people just didn’t understand it, and no one 100% supported it,” said Stephanie Evans, who, along with her husband, Clark, built a custom shipping home out of storage containers over the course of three years. “But as it progressed, a lot of those people who were hesitant about it started to come on board and see it for what it was, and not just an extravagant trash can.”

Stephanie and Clark Evans turned seven, 15-year-old steel containers — each with an average size of 8 by 40 feet — into a 3,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, three and a half bath home.

As a whole, the interior design industry generates about $10 billion in annual revenues. Specialized interior design industries are expected to rise at a rate of about 20% over the next 10 years. Stephanie designed the layout and focused on the home’s interior design, while Clark, an engineered, took care of the blueprinting and structure.

“It’s a custom home,” Stephanie added. “These aren’t cookie-cutter homes. So even if we build another one next week, it will not be the same, and no one else has this home.”

Walking through the custom container home is a lot different than simply visiting a cargo container ship or storage facility. Going on a tour of the Evans’ container home will reveal high ceilings, a finished basement, a second-floor balcony, and an open floor plan.

Container homes can even be constructed with customized flooring like bamboo, which is one of the most durable and strong flooring materials available. According to the latest report by the Container Owner’s Association (COA), there has been a significant increase in the use of bamboo as a material for container home flooring. Bamboo is made from natural vegetation the plant can grow to maturity in as little as . With proper care, products like wood flooring can last for hundreds of year, which makes wood flooring almost as durable as the steel these containers are made from.

The COA report states:

“Bamboo has emerged ahead of other alternative flooring systems, such as plastic/composite and larch/birch hybrid, as the most popular, in terms of availability and price — and it is the only alternative to tropical hardwood plywood being produced in any significant volume.”

It’s important to note that not all housing associates and subdivisions allow container homes, but that could soon change and more and more communities across the country are introducing these custom and affordable housing options.

“When we first had this idea, it sounds corny, but we wanted our house to tell a story,” said Clark. “That’s why we left the dings and dents. We left the gouges in the floor. This house is so forward thinking. We just went rogue. Instead of going downstream, we went upstream, and people are blown away by it.”

Here are some incredible looking and cost-friendly shipping container homes that are currently on the market:

  1. Kubed Living — This California container home consists of a one-bedroom made from two 20-foot containers. This 160-square-foot container studio home are a littler smaller than most container homes, but are certainly livable and affordable. Cost: $55,000.
  2. Honomobo HO2 — Honomobo’s largest container model fits three bedrooms and features an open living area, kitchen, separate bathrooms, work area, bed nook, and a large glass wall. Cost: $162,728.
  3. Backcountry Container — Located in Houston, these are some of the most affordable container options in the country. Nicknamed the “Rustic Retreat,” this home is designed to comfortably sleep three people. Cost: just $32,999.

Whether you’re hoping to start building a family of your own and move into an affordable home or simply want to cut back on major housing expenses — custom container homes might be perfect for you.

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