Container homes Spain: Can you build with recycled shipping containers in Spain?

Shipping container homes come in all shapes and sizes, from luxury villas made up of several containers, to single units for those looking for a way to get off-grid.

But is it really a good idea to build container homes in Spain?

While it’s entirely possible and there are a few good examples, there are plenty of drawbacks involved in making a home in Spain out of a shipping container as opposed to a more robust structure.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of using shipping containers for your home in Spain.

Container homes in Spain are strong but not the best structure

Shipping container home on the water

Whether you’re using one or several shipping containers for your home, the strong steel structure can take a lot of the engineering work out of building a house in Spain.

However, steel shipping containers need to be well insulated if you’re to make them into a hospitable environment, and you’d also need to deal with humidity and condensation before you can invite people in. Windows, doors, ducting for piping and electricity all have to be cut into it and this may alter its strength.

An architect in Spain will be cautious about signing off on the structure without knowing its exact strength. Steel structural frames are very useful for building, but a shipping container is really quite a poor steel frame.

You can find cheap container homes for sale in Spain but beware of hidden costs

Shipping containers

One of the reasons it’s so affordable to get hold of a disused shipping container to build a house with is because once the goods have been unloaded, the container isn’t much good to the owner.

It’s often actually cheaper for exporters in China to simply buy or build a new container than it would be to ship an empty one all the way back from Europe.

But if you’re expecting to make a significant saving, bear in mind that the material itself (steel) is not a particularly large proportion of the whole cost of building a house in Spain.

The cost of the structural element on any building, in normal circumstances, may be under 30% of the cost of the building. Then there’s the costs of the landscaping, garden, driveway, fencing and front gate, outside terraces, pergolas, outbuildings, swimming pool, taxes, professional fees…

Whatever saving you think you might make on the material needs to be seen in the context of the cost of the whole project.

Shipping container houses are eco-friendly but not necessarily energy efficient

There are 11 million shipping containers currently lying dormant worldwide, so getting some use out of them instead of using environmentally unfriendly materials like brick and concrete makes sense.

But just because they’re a sustainable building material, doesn’t mean every container is 100% safe. Steel containers can be used to ship toxic materials and may need a professional clean down before they can be used for a home.

While Eco Vida Homes is very much in favour of recycling, containers are not really a suitable replacement for a steel frame in our experience. While they might be a good option in terms of the environment, it’s actually very difficult to design a shipping container home around energy efficiency compared to a traditional structure.

Containers are easy to transport and stack but come with design restrictions

Because they are designed to be easy to transport, there’s no shortage of ways to get your shipping container to your land in Spain.

Shipping containers are made to standard measurements and provide modular structures for construction, so they’re just as easy to move around when onsite.

However, the specific dimensions of shipping containers restrict your design options.

You need to take into consideration the planning regulations and the topography of your land. In a conventional situation, you can adapt your design to these constraints and also account for how you want to use the building and your budget. If you use shipping containers, you’re stuck with these limitations.

Ultimately, getting what you want might end up being more expensive.

Should you build a home out of shipping containers in Spain?

In conclusion, we would advise against a shipping container home in Spain as opposed to a steel frame, modern timber frame, or conventional steel-reinforced concrete frame, all of which can provide you with a very energy-efficient house.

Looking to build an energy-efficient home in Spain but don’t know where to start? Get in touch with our team and let us help you understand the process – including what you can get for your budget.

Get in touch
Contact us to discuss building your villa in Spain.