How Tiny is that House?

Tardis TetrisI’ve had great support since launch of the site yesterday. Thank you all for your encouragement, kind words and questions. I’ll try to answer a common one in this post.

What size is a shipping container anyway? Well, that is a complicated answer, as there are many variations in the dimensions one can find. Let’s just stick with the standard sizes. I use that word standard carefully as these are, in fact, ISO Standards. That’s important so the stack neatly on cargo ships, truck trailers and rail cars for their long journey across sea and land. The two lengths measured on the exterior are 20 feet and 40 feet. they both come in 8 feet wide and 8 1/2 feet tall. There are special variations, named High-Cube (HC) – most commonly found on the 40 foot long units which are 1 foot taller.

As I’ve been researching, and furiously sketching (more on that later in the week), the standard lengths seem to be the easiest to acquire in the United States. In the UK, there seems to be a good number of 24, 30, 44, even 56 foot long shipping containers. Although most suppliers will customize the unit for a price, splicing together bits to make what you want. 10 feet? Umm… even I have my limits.

As I plan to pull this behind a pickup truck, the 20 seems the right length. One hundred and sixty square feet. Essentially the whole thing will be a custom cabinet, with lots of little compartments and fold out furnishings. Yes, 8×20 is nearly the size of a parking space typically found anywhere, except Seattle. Many things can fit in parking spaces besides a big SUV. Take, for instance these images.


You must think I am totally off my rocker. Maybe I am.

I admit, that does seem awefully small. I will likely seek ways of extending that footprint when in the parked position. More on that in a future post. If I can eek out 200 square feet, then it will truly be ‘bigger on the inside’. If I’m really lucky, it will be blue – and I’ll be seeking a custom trailer license plate.

{Photos above: Containart Pavilion by Shigeru Ban, 2008 – Architectural installation, built with 150 shipping containers and recyclable paper tubes (Tetris, photo by Sanctu on Flickr  Collage of some examples of the 2013 Park(ing) Day events  from}

2 thoughts on “How Tiny is that House?”

  1. Any chance you could post some metric sizes alongside your dimensions? It would make it easier for us metric folk to follow. For example I couldn’t visualise in my head how big/small 200 square feet was – had to google it (~18.6m²)

    1. Actually you must be reading my mind… I’m going to write about scale and metric for my next post. 😉 Cheers.

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