Investing in the Valley: Shipping Container Homes

Shipping container homes have been the subject of many affordable housing talks lately. With the recent visit of federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to a Caldwell factory that produces these homes, Idaho real estate investors are looking at this unique style of living space as a potential way to broaden their portfolios quickly and cheaply. But does buying and renting these homes make sense for area investors?

With lower starting costs for a quality asset that appreciates with other Treasure Valley properties, shipping container homes are both an attractive investment and an excellent way to help provide affordable housing where it is desperately needed.


Homes built from shipping containers are much cheaper than a site-built home. With the median home price in Ada County reaching nearly $350,000 as of July, affordable housing alternatives are necessary for both renters and investors looking to build their portfolio. The shipping container homes made by indieDwell, which has a factory here in Caldwell, start at only $85,000 for a 2-bedroom model.

Of course, you still need the land, a foundation, and the installation of the container home in the lot. These costs are going to vary, and land could end up costing much more than the actual home unit. However, indieDwell claims that initial costs for building and installing one of their residences are 50-75% less expensive than building a more traditional house.

For a renter looking to break into home ownership, an existing home might still make more financial sense than one of these prefabricated homes. With the cost of land rising alongside home prices, finding a parcel cheap enough to beat the cost of land with an already built home may be difficult.

If you are a builder or investor who already has or plans to buy the land, installing shipping container homes is a great deal. With much lower overhead costs, there is plenty of potential to fill your land with energy efficient, ready-to-rent units quickly and affordably. You can even build a multi-family complex out of shipping container units, maximizing your rental income with minimal costs.  


Potential investors may question the quality of such an unconventional construction. While the initial mental picture you have of a home made from repurposed shipping containers may not be ideal, the innovative designs of many of these units combine functionality with modern elegance, making them attractive, unique properties that won’t bring down neighboring property values.

The modular framing of shipping container homes keeps them appreciating in worth. While manufactured homes lose value quickly, shipping container homes are an asset that will keep rising in value. Their method of construction makes these homes especially durable, so you’ll also spend less money on repairs. indieDwell estimates maintenance costs over 20 years may be up to 40% lower than they would be for a traditional or manufactured home. With Boise’s home appreciation rates some of the highest in the nation, shipping container homes represent an asset with little overhead and massive potential.

Innovative housing design like these shipping container homes can be cheap and energy efficient at a time when affordable housing options are desperately needed. As a Treasure Valley property investor, why not add to your portfolio with housing that helps the community? With an attractive cost and high, easy-to-maintain quality, shipping container homes just make sense for Idaho.

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The affordable housing crisis in the Treasure Valley is being met with innovative, out-of-the-box solutions that can help keep housing costs stable while offering quality units to renters and investors. Shipping container homes are just one investment opportunity that also has the potential to benefit renters; how else can Valley developers create housing that works for everyone? Are there other innovative housing solutions that might make sense for Idaho? Please share your thoughts, comments, and experiences with on social media. We can’t wait to hear from you.