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Shipping Container Home vs. Prefab Home: Pros and Cons

Shipping Container Home vs. Prefab Home: Pros and Cons

12th Mar 2023

Finding a place to live is becoming increasingly challenging as housing prices rise year after year. As a result, an increasing number of people are considering building their own home. However, with so many options available and the alternative housing movement thriving, it can be tough to pick. Understanding the distinction between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home might be beneficial.

It is critical to examine the facts while choosing between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home. Consider everything you can about these two types of homes to make the best decision. One may be better for you than another, and it is critical to grasp what distinguishes each. In this guide, Future Sky Equipment content team has put together all the information you need to know about shipping container homes vs. prefab homes.

What exactly is a prefabricated home?

Prefab homes are houses that have all of their parts manufactured in a factory before being shipped. These homes are extremely simple to build and relatively inexpensive. As a result, you can create a prefab home with little money or skills in the building profession. They are ideal for beginners and those who are building their first home.

Prefabricated homes are often designed in a straightforward manner. This is due to the fact that they must be conveniently shipped to the construction site and cannot have numerous variances. As a result, if you want a lot of custom touches, you might not want to build one. If this is the case, you might be better off building a shipping container home rather than a prefab home.

The Development of Prefabricated Homes

Prefab houses were first introduced in the twentieth century. Throughout history, buildings have been constructed in one location. The "Manning Cottage," built by a London carpenter named Henry Manning, was the first advertised prefab house. He created a house that was built in sections. Later, British emigrants carried it and put it together.

Prefabricated homes are not a new concept in the world. It has evolved and seen many changes over the last few decades. Prefabricated container homes have altered modern architecture worldwide. It has altered the way people previously thought about pre-assembled buildings.

Steel frames for structures, wood-made panels, gypsum and cement, and other materials for floors, walls, and ceilings, as well as factory-made doors, windows, and ventilators, are utilized in the construction of modern prefab houses. Interestingly, those who want to add extra features to their enclosure can do so through customization.

Prefabricated Container Home Varieties

Modular Homes

Modular homes have one or more modules that are constructed in a factory and then transported individually to the final site of construction. Each module is completely furnished with interior fittings.

Panelized Homes

Panelized homes are built in panels, then each panel is moved to the construction site and integrated into a dwelling. Panelized homes need more finishing work, like painting and flooring, than modular buildings.

Pre-cut Homes

They are sometimes referred to as "kit" dwellings. The kit homes are cut to design in the factory and sent as a kit to the construction site to be assembled on-site. Some panelized homes are pre-cut dwellings, but not all pre-cut homes are panelized homes.

What exactly is a shipping container house?

A shipping container home is a house constructed from industrial and abandoned cargo containers. These containers are commonly used to transport commodities around the world via ships, railroads, and trucks. They are normally recycled or kept when they are no longer in use. When this occurs, they can be used as the primary structure for housing.

A shipping container home is an excellent method for building a truly distinctive home. If you like the design of mid-century contemporary furniture, their boxy form is ideal. They are also ideal for small houses. Even if you only have one container, you may simply construct a modest, modular house from it.

Prefabricated Modular Architecture vs. Shipping Container Homes

As previously said, there are numerous distinctions between manufactured homes and shipping container homes. Manufactured homes are typically built using prefabricated panels and modules. Steel frames coated in corrugated metal sheets are the most common material used to construct shipping container homes. Furthermore, most manufactured homes are permanent structures, whereas shipping container homes are intended to be transported.

Manufactured homes are typically highly durable structures made of composite panel walls. This is a significant distinction from shipping containers, which are not as physically durable (they are not meant to be homes by design). Shipping container homes, on the other hand, are less expensive than manufactured dwellings. They are movable, so you can move them wherever you like.

They, unlike manufactured homes, can be customized to match your specific needs. It is possible to convert them into whatever style of residence you wish. Decks can be built over them, as well as windows, doors, and appliances. There are no restrictions when it comes to constructing your own unique shipping container home.

Before choosing between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home, you should understand what each has to offer. Knowing how each of them compares in specific categories will help you choose the best option. With the appropriate information, you can choose the best option for you and your lifestyle.


When deciding between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home, consider sustainability. When it comes to building a home, not everyone is concerned about the environment. In the broader scheme of things, though, this is becoming more crucial than ever. Knowing how each of them compares might help you make an informed decision.

One of the challenges with prefab homes is that they are made entirely of new materials.

If you are looking to reduce your resource consumption, this is not a good option. When you build a shipping container home, you are repurposing objects and resources that would otherwise be discarded. In the long run, this makes them the better environmental choice.

Unique Look

You most likely want a one-of-a-kind look when developing your own home. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of home construction and one of the finest reasons to do so. A shipping container home will provide you with more unique opportunities than a prefab home. Depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other.

There are numerous design and aesthetic possibilities available when constructing a shipping container home. However, with a prefab home, you are more or less confined to the available designs.

A container home is a better option if you have a big imagination and a creative side.


If you are building your first house, you are most certainly concerned with finances. Knowing the pricing differences between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home might help you decide. One of the most significant differences is that a container home provides more alternatives.

You can create a tiny home out of a single shipping container if you want to spend as little money as possible.


One of these options will be better suited to your demands in terms of home size. Space is an important consideration when choosing between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home. You are limited to a relatively modest width with a container home. However, with a prefab home, you will have more space to move around.

Despite the fact that prefab homes are predetermined in terms of design, they are just like regular residences. This means that you will have a little more space within the house. Even when multiple containers are combined, a prefab home is more like any other home you would purchase. This may be a better option if you have a large family.

Building time

Shipping container houses can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month to complete. It is determined by the complexity of your house layout and the level of finishing work desired. They also adhere to the regular construction timeframe and may experience delays. Prefab manufactured homes are ready in a matter of days. They are manufactured in factories and supplied to your location. They are much faster to construct and install, and they usually come with everything you need (electrical, insulation, windows, doors, etc.).


When picking between a shipping container home and a prefabricated home, you need to have all the details. You can make the best decision if you grasp the distinctions between a shipping container home and a prefab home. Your wants and needs for your home will help you decide which is better for you.If you want to read more guides like this one, be sure to visit the rest of the FSE automation blogs. There, you'll find all types of pro tips and tricks. There are also featured homes to get you motivated for your own container home endeavor. To learn more about our home containers, contact FSE automation.