The Next Generation of Modular Housing: Cost Efficient and Recycled Components

Modular and prefabricated housing in the United States isn’t a new idea. Housing kits started to show up on the scene in the early 1900’s, and the idea gained traction when Sears started offering modular housing in the early 1908. Since that time, it’s taken many different turns and has gone to both the high end and low ends of the market; all sides pushing the same “cost effective housing” mantra. Most recently, modular housing has discovered the benefits of used shipping containers as building components.

What is Modular Housing?

Modular housing, also called prefabricated or “prefab” housing, is a great idea that employs the efficient practice of an assembly line to home building. A vast majority of the house is constructed in a factory and later trucked and assembled on the building site. This practice saves a lot of time and money as the builders (and their tools) don’t need to move to a new location for each house. No breaking down and setting up every couple of weeks, consuming time and energy to move to the next building site. There’s minimal impact in terms of traffic and noise pollution to the local neighborhood and environment, and very little waste left on site to clean up.

Two Ends of the Modular Spectrum

As modular housing has grown and been accepted in society, it’s developed an appeal to both luxury and affordable home builders. Luxury homes are typically in neighborhoods where the neighbors are sensitive to noise and disturbances, so the appeal is minimal impact on the neighbourhood. Affordable, or low cost housing such as mobile homes has grown in appeal as it provides the benefits of homeownership to a broader range of people. Mobile homes can be built quickly can delivered to the desired location in a very short time; and just as with high end modular homes, there’s minimal impact to the environment and a recognized savings of time and money.

The Next Generation of Modular Housing

Globalization has ushered in new wave of ideas, concepts and development; along with this growth have come, quite literally, the containers that have carried it. Shipping containers are used to transport nearly everything that is manufactured in China and sold in the United States, and due to the trade imbalance many of these containers remain in the United States and are repurposed into other services. One “service” that’s growing in popularity is the use of used shipping containers as a modular house component. From the Hamptons to Los Angeles, and many places in between, houses made from shipping containers have been popping up, and it only appears to be increasing in appeal and range. Shipping container homes are typically designed specifically to meet the dimensions of one or multiple containers, constructed at a millwork or fabrication shop, and transported to the building location – identical to the process of building a wooden modular home, only instead of wood the structure is built from a recycled steel container.

Container Housing in Your Area

Many areas in the United States have yet to full address modular housing made from shipping containers, and those that have addressed it tend to approve it after some period of education; however this was also the case with every other type of modular housing. If you’re interested in learning more about shipping container houses there are many great resources on the internet, ranging from architects offering their services, to DIY books that explain how to building your own container home. Used shipping containers are widely available in any port or coastal city in the United States, and most major inland cities; and prices on used shipping containers can be found in the classified section of your location newspaper or on a site like

Modular housing is here to stay, and the advent of including used shipping containers as structural, modular components is an environmentally friendly and cost efficient way to build a home.

Recent Posts