Barndominium vs Container Home: Choosing the Best of 2 Cost-Efficient Homes

Barndominium vs Container Home

If building a traditional home is out of your price range, a barndominium or a container home may be the best alternative. You can build a unique home for a fraction of the price.

The hard part is choosing between a barndominium vs container home. Explore the features, advantages, and disadvantages of both types of homes to make a more informed decision.

What Is a Container Home?

A container home is a type of home built from shipping containers. The containers are arranged to increase the available living space and create interesting designs. Some container homes are built using multiple containers aligned in rows or stacked on top of each other to create multiple floors. Other designs may stagger the containers to achieve a unique look.

As the homes are made from shipping containers, the exterior has an industrial feel. However, the interior is typically fully furnished to match the inside of a typical home.

What Is a Barndominium?

A barndominium is a type of metal building that resembles a large barn or farm building with some welcoming touches. For example, the entrance may include a covered porch and attractive window shutters to make the home look more inviting.

As with container homes, the inside of a barndominium resembles traditional homes. Drywall is hung on wood frames to separate the interior into separate rooms. However, barndominiums provide more space compared to container homes.

A barndominium may cover more than 2000 square feet while a single shipping container may offer 200 square feet. You would need 10 shipping containers to build a container home that matches the size of the average barndominium.

container home vs barndo

Barndominium vs Container Home: Cost

A container home is likely to cost less than a barndominium to construct. The average cost of a basic container home is $10,000 to $35,000. Some of the more expensive designs may cost closer to $100,000. Barndominiums cost $30 to $150 per square foot. The average cost of constructing a 2000-square foot barndominium is about $220,000.

Along with the cost of construction, you should consider the cost of living in the home. A container home may offer a lower cost of living, as they are typically smaller in size. A smaller home costs less to heat and cool.

The lower value of a container home should also result in lower property taxes. The property taxes that you pay are based on the value of the property, which includes the land and any structures on it. As barndominiums are larger and more likely to retain value, you can expect to pay a little more in taxes. It might also be easier to secure financing and insurance with bardnominiums.

While a container home may allow you to save on monthly expenses, you may need to spend more on upkeep and maintenance. Container homes are prone to a variety of issues, including leaks and welding defects.

Container homes are held together by cutting and welding shipping containers. Stress from the weight of the container can cause the welds to gradually weaken. Welding defects may eventually lead to leaks and other moisture problems, including corrosion.

Barndominiums are typically more structurally sound. While barndominiums are built with metal, the frame is boarded up and covered in metal siding. Drywall is hung inside the barndominium, allowing the wall cavities to be filled with insulation.

In the long run, barndominiums offer the most cost savings. If you build a large barndominium, you may spend more on construction, heating, and cooling. However, you are less likely to spend as much on repairs or replacing your home in just a few decades.

Barndominium vs Container Home: Durability

A barndominium may last 100 years or longer. Container homes have an estimated lifespan of just 20 to 30 years. As with any home, the life of a barndominium or a container home depends on the quality of construction. Inferior construction increases the risk of structural issues and a shorter lifespan.

The biggest threat to a barndominium or a container home is rust. Both types of homes feature a lot of metal parts. While the metal is typically galvanized to protect against corrosion, constant exposure to water can lead to rust. If the issue is not treated, the rust can spread and weaken the frame.

As container homes are more prone to moisture problems, rust is a bigger concern. The condition of the shipping containers also determines the lifespan of the home.

Shipping containers are built for use in rugged environments and months at sea. However, by the time the shipping container is recycled for use in a home, it is already past its service life. You can only expect to get a few decades at most out of the container before it shows major signs of wear.

Barndominium vs Container Home: Comfort

While container homes come in many configurations, they are typically only as wide as one or two containers. A single container is 8 feet wide and 8.5 feet tall. After adding insulation and interior walls, you have even less space.

Some people may prefer to live in a cozy little container home. The inside often resembles a small apartment. Several of the walls may also include floor-to-ceiling windows, which helps increase your sense of space.

Yet, the average person is likely to find a barndominium more comfortable for long-term living. If you spend a lot of time at home, you may not enjoy the crowded interior of a container home. Barndominium floor plans are also much easier to find online or create on your own with a barndominium design software.

Barndominiums and container homes both offer a variety of design options. However, barndominiums are larger and available with floor plans that extend across the entire width or length of the house. You have more space to spread out, which may be useful for a growing family.

Living Space


Container homes are cute little houses built out of shipping containers. You can typically get one built for $10,000 to $35,000. However, they may only last a few decades.

If you want a durable home that you can plan the rest of your life around, a barndominium is your best option. Building a barndominium is still more affordable compared to building a traditional home and you get much more space compared to a container home.