DIY Shipping Container House for $25k

We built our tiny house in 2 months!

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My husband and I started a fabrication business after college. We do metal fabrication, off-road fabrication, and have recently started flipping homes. We love to stay busy, challenge ourselves, and are always up for learning new skills. Both of our houses flips were very successful, and we were featured on an episode of First Time Flippers on DIY Network. We do all of the work ourselves and have a blast doing it!

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We live on 10 acres with farm animals and Airbnb, our main house on weekends. The additional income allows us to travel and live comfortably in an expensive place (Central Coast of California). We built out a high roof Ford Transit camper van to travel in when we had guests. We started to really enjoy living minimally but were ready for a more permanent solution.


Our property had a great location for a secondary home. We knew we wanted something small, simple, and easily movable should we buy land elsewhere someday. We love working with metal and have been enthralled with shipping containers for quite some time.

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Our layout had a few requirements as king-sized bed, a full-sized shower, a real flushing toilet, a full kitchen with loads of storage, a full-size kitchen sink, and LOTS of natural light. Once we nailed those facts down, I spent several days designing a functional layout on the computer. By doing a pass-through bathroom, I was able to utilize the hallway square footage to make the bathroom larger. It may bother some people to walk through their bathroom to get to their bedroom, but with just the two of us, we don’t mind at all.

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Because we are comfortable with metal, the process of cutting the openings for doors and windows went very smoothly. Our biggest challenge was deciding how to insulate the container. We ultimately decided to use the InSoFast system and were very happy with how it turned out. Our second biggest challenge was routing all of the plumbing. If we could do it again, we would space the container another 6” above the ground to allow for more crawl space when routing the drain pipes.

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We were able to use a lot of leftover building materials from our previous flip house. We decided to use one tripper (essentially new) shipping container for several reasons. This way, we could ensure no hazardous materials had been shipped in it. It was also important to have straight walls for the InSoFast system to work properly.

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My design style could be described as “transitional” (aka a little bit farmhouse and a little bit modern). I wanted the space to feel simple and open but also warm and welcoming. I believe that everything should be functional and have a well thought out purpose. We are both over 6 feet tall, so a king bed was a must!

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The bedroom has under bed storage as well as overhead cabinetry. The bathroom has pocket doors, a dual sliding shower door (does not have to open into the hallway), a full storage medicine cabinet/mirror, and Ikea Godmorgon vanity (both drawers have complete storage). The kitchen utilizes large drawers for optimized storage, a slide-out drawer under the sink for trash cans, and a flush mount induction cooktop that maximizes counter space. The living room has a fold-out television and dual electric reclining loveseat.

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The kitchen ended up with more storage than the main house and came out better than I ever could have imagined! It is practical and fun to cook in.

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We oriented the house to have amazing views from the front of our neighboring 100-acre pasture. The view out the back was less desirable, so we placed high windows that can’t be directly viewed out. For complete privacy, the bathroom only has a very large skylight.

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We can accommodate up to two guests. There is room for a queen size air mattress in the living room.
We spent on materials about $25,000 and we did all of the labor ourselves.
Our tiny house is located in Central Coast, California
a)Tell us a bit about the surrounding and how you came across this location. We already had the property and love living here!


The downsizing process was not challenging at all! I am a self-proclaimed neat freak and love living minimally. I was prepared to have way less storage than we ended up with, and there are actually still empty drawers in the container!



The best thing about living in a tiny house: We get to focus on spending time doing the things we love! There is no clutter, and I feel a sense of peace when I am in my home.
Worst: With both of us and our two dogs, we can get a bit of pent up energy going on in such a small space, but a bike ride usually solves the problem!
If we could start over, we would raise the container up a few more inches.


I really enjoyed the challenge of building the container. It was extremely fulfilling to solve a puzzle with no clear “answers.” It brought us closer together and has opened a lot of doors from a fabrication standpoint.
If you are interested in going tiny, do LOTS of research, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

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Outside measuring 40’L x 8’W x 9.5’H
Inside floor space 272 sq ft

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Follow our journey:
Instagram: @restless_redhead

Full video tour of this container house watch here.

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