Green Living

This couple gets honest about what it’s like to live in a shipping container

They call it The Can House – a compact family home built inside a ’can’ or shipping container lined with warm plywood, clever storage and ingenious ideas

Meet + greet

Kimberly Andrews, 33 (clothing designer and children’s book creator), James Innes, 34 (clothing designer), and Nova, 7 months.

Kimberly’s top 3 ways to go eco

  1. Live and build small – this reduces heating needs, building materials and waste.
  2. Try to buy only what you need. When you do buy, choose quality over quantity.
  3. Buy reusable items – wax food wrap, reusable nappies, cloth shopping bags etc.

Honesty box

What areas of your home did you save on? Splurge on? Kimberly: We saved money by buying most of our big-ticket items secondhand. We splurged on birch plywood for the kitchen cabinetry.

Best lessons learned? Building with shipping containers is hard! All the people and professionals we worked with on this build had never worked with containers, so we all learned on the job.

What would you never do again? We’d probably avoid installing the windows ourselves.

Any disasters? Our window flashings hadn’t been fully welded, so we had leaks. But quick action and new flashings meant we avoided any damage.

What’s one thing you’d change about your home if you could? We would go for thermally broken windows, rather than just double glazed, because they reduce heat loss by about 20 percent.

Most memorable experience in your home? Bringing Nova home from the birthing centre and showing her around her new home. She was a December baby so we put her under the Christmas tree for a photo – the best present ever.


Our full spend was around $100,000, including all plumbing, trenching, structural engineering, furniture and the purchase and moving of the container. It also includes laying foundations under the bottom two containers to get it fully consented. This budget meant we were able to build within our means; we couldn’t have afforded to build our own house otherwise. We’re mortgage free right now, but will get one when we buy the subdivided plot from my parents.

See more of the tiny home below

Photography by: Anna Briggs.

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