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The 4 Most Popular Types of Container Homes - COMPARISON

The 4 Most Popular Types of Container Homes - COMPARISON

In this post, we'll explore the distinctions between 4 types of container units, to give you insight on the different options available on the market today.

Container homes are a trendy, new (and affordable) living option for Australians today. They're currently bringing opportunities like compact living, a passive income stream, downsizing, off grid living, and even more to thousands of people across the country today.

There are many different types of container homes on the market today, the main ones being:

  • Expandable Prefab Units
  • Modular Prefab Units
  • Custom Built Prefab Units
  • Converted Shipping Containers


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Now let's dive into some of the questions you may have regarding container homes:

What are container homes?

Container homes are widely referred to today as tiny homes or movable dwellings, and are used for living options such as granny flats, short term rental units, holiday homes, cabins, mobile homes, off-grid homes, and many more.

container homes

Home Technology Club's container homes are prefabricated units that are constructed with a heavy duty steel frame and sandwich panel walls/ceiling. This construction allows for extreme affordability without sacrificing quality. They are designed specifically to be a more affordable alternative to other container homes on the market today. 

Container homes may also come in different forms, such as fully custom built or converted shipping container units, which typically are much more expensive and may require extensive planning and additional expenses.

Now that you have a basis of what container homes are, lets see exactly what the different types of units offer.


What are expandable container units?

Expandable container units are a type of home that is delivered to your site in a compact, shipping-container-sized form. The main section of the house contains all the contents needed to fold out 2 expandable sections to the east and west of the house, essentially tripling it's floor space.

expandable container home

VIOLET20 Expandable Container Home

These expandable units offer incredible value for their size. Typically, they come in 20ft long to 40ft long units, and are from 36 sqm to 72 sqm in floorplan space.They include a kitchen, bathroom and 2 bedrooms, perfect for a small family. At HTC, we call them the VIOLET Series.

The construction of these units is a heavy duty steel frame and Steel plate + PU sandwich panel walls. They are delivered with electrical, lighting, plumbing, double glazed windows, and a double sliding glass front door. 

EPS sandwich panels

Steel plate + PU Sandwich panel


What are modular container units?

Modular container units are a version of home that allows you to customise, modify and scale the size of. This is achieved by its construction, of which it's walls are made from EPS sandwich panel and a galvanised steel frame. At HTC, we call these the JULIET Series.

modular container home

JULIET3 Modular Container Home

These units can be attached together on any of their edges, allowing you to expand the living footprint as large as you like. Along with this, the walls and rooms of the unit can be removed, or added if desired. You can choose the amount of customisation your unit has, whether its an empty container, to a fully decked out luxury interior with tile floors and a premium bathroom & kitchen.

A typical modular unit is 20ft long, and provides 14.2 sqm of usable space. These units are great as a tiny home, as they are affordable, customisable and compact. You can fit a bathroom, kitchen, dining table, and bed easily in the unit, as many people have done before. 


eps sandwich panels

Steel plate + EPS Sandwich panel


What are custom built prefabricated units?

These types of units are typically prebuilt according to set designs, which utilise a variety of different materials and features. They may be built using more traditional materials such as wood for wall panels and drywall for the interior walls, along with their frame (typically light steel). 

custom container home

Custom Prefab Tiny Home - Image credit: Modern Tiny Living

Most of the time these units include a trailer, making it easier to move them around. The trailers associated with them will usually be a significant expense. 

Custom built prefab units are most often used as tiny homes and placed on properties where they can be used as short term rental units or as temporary accommodation. The drawback is that they are limited in space and are difficult to use as a longer term option.

The main deciding factor of this type of unit is its price. It will almost always be more expensive to choose a custom built unit compared to the other 2 previous options mentioned. 


What are converted shipping containers?

Converted shipping containers are self-explanatory, as they are steel shipping containers which are typically used for storage and freight, converted into a livable space. They are made completely from corrugated steel, making them quite heavy compared to the other options.

converted shipping container

Converted Shipping Container - Image credit:

These units require manually changing aspects of the container(s) to accommodate things such as windows, doors, walls and floors. Typically the changes include measuring and cutting appropriate window & door openings; adding insulation for floors, walls and ceilings; adding interior wall, floor and ceiling panels; cutting walls to connect multiple units; weather sealing; and potentially many other modifications.

These units are similar to custom built options as they require much preparation and time allotted, along with building expertise from a team that you may want to consider hiring.

And just like the custom built options, the biggest deciding factor with these units is the price. It may very well cost more in the long run, with installation and the hiring of a team, to choose a converted shipping container over other options.


The differences between container home units - Infographic

We've considered individually the features and highlights of 4 major types of container home, now lets compare.

We've curated this infographic to help you visually see some differences as well as to easily compare the pros and cons of the different type of units.

infographic comparing types of container homes


If you're in the market for a tiny home, granny flat, movable dwelling, short term rental unit, or off grid home, consider your needs and wants, then choose what type of container unit you think may suit you best.

If you want to learn more about expandable and modular units, please view our range of homes here, and then contact us for a free delivery quote to your location, or to get more info you may be looking for.