Spectacular 20ft Off-The-Grid Tiny Shipping Container House

This off-the-grid shipping container tiny house is one that you have to see to believe! Converted from a 20ft (6 meter) shipping container, this tiny house has everything that you need and is an exceptional example of functional, space-saving design.

Outside the Container House

Brenda Kelly has been passionate about shipping container homes for as long as she can remember, and has been drawing designs for most of her life. Her passion and eye for great design can be seen throughout the fantastic features of this tiny home. From the outside, you can see she has used only 4 of the 6 meters of the shipping container, allowing her to keep it under 10 square meters (107 sq ft) and thus not requiring council consent.

Inside the Container House

Inside the container house, the space has been incredibly well thought out. Here you see the kitchen and office area either side of the entrance door. A very impressive and functional lay-out for such a small space.

Container House Office

Because Brenda works two days a week from home, a functional office space was very important. This small area contains everything that she needs to comfortably carry out her work from the container house.

Container House Kitchen

The kitchen is perhaps one of the most impressive spaces in this house, with lovely lighting and a lovely blue back-splash which gives it a very modern, stylish look whilst remaining a very functional cooking space.

Cooking In the Container House

A portable gas burner sits below the bench and is only brought out when needed. For larger meals, a BBQ sits just outside the door of the container in the undercover area.

Container House Living Room

Unlike most tiny house designs, the living room of the container house is actually placed above the sleeping area, which helps to really open up the feeling of this design. A very clever feature. The native bush views outside the container are framed by impressive panoramic windows in both the living room, and sleeping area.

container house bedroom

The bedroom sits below the lounge area. High enough to sit up and read, this space is incredibly cosy. A full wardrobe fits along the side wall and provides ample storage for clothes.


Overall, Brenda has created a wonderful home, full of very clever and unique design ideas. If you would like to find out more about Brenda’s container house designs, you can visit her website at IQ Container Homes.

Posted on by Bryce Posted in Tiny House Tours

About Bryce

Bryce Langston is a New Zealand based actor, musician, filmmaker and environmentalist who has spent the past five years travelling the globe exploring the Tiny House movement as the creator and host of the popular online web series Living Big in a Tiny House

58 Responses to Spectacular 20ft Off-The-Grid Tiny Shipping Container House

  1. C D O

    Bryce, I’ve watching a few of your YouTube TinyHouse video and all of them are brilliant, But Brenda’s design is the best of them all.
    Here in the Philippines were are short of decent housing and your videos, particularly Branda’s, will surely help me design container homes to rent out for Philippine weather and condition.

  2. Duncan

    How do they frame the inside w/out damaging the container?

  3. Shannon

    Found your information and the container stunning! We’re trying to go off grid but having issues finding places or where you can put these tiny homes without hassels. Any ideas? Thanks a bunch

  4. Eriha

    I like the idea of concrete tyres that the container sits on & can be moved in the future. Concrete tyres is perfect to keep it of the ground without driving poles into the ground – clever.

  5. Glenn Jenkins

    I love your house, where did you find your shipping container, I priced a container, and they are not that exspensive, great job on your house, nice job

  6. Pat Dunham

    I am not sure if I am sending this twice, but in reply to the couple who have two children to plan space for I can tell them, they don’t need the traditional 36″ wide twin bed. One should keep in mind that grown men aboard submarines and Naval ships along with berths on sail boats are just 24″ to 28″ wide which can make a big difference when designing their necessary space to live in.

  7. jessy

    How much does this tiny house cost

  8. Glenn Jenkins

    How much was the shipping container itself, was it expensive or cheap, now that I saw your container on the internet, maybe I can do the same thing, where would be the closest place to buy a 20 ft shipping container, oh and buy the way, nice job on your house.

    • Ezra


      I notice some people collect and use gray water or rain water for many things including bathing ,with off grid houses how is that water disposed of after use?

      • Bryce

        Hi Ezra.

        There are many uses for grey-water and it really depends on where you are located and how you would like to use it. Some people hold grey water, and then use it in the home for things such as flushing toilets (when it is then becomes black water and is either put into sewage or septic systems). Others actually process and treat the grey water and then use it for other things such as irrigating the gardens. We are designing a special system that will be used in our Tiny House, so stay tuned for videos on that subject later in the year. 🙂

  9. Lew Lewandowski

    From http://www.dbh.govt.nz/bca-update-june-2012

    Do shipping containers require building consent?

    Shipping containersThe Department of Building and Housing has received a number of queries from building consent authorities recently on shipping containers. In particular, the question is being asked whether shipping containers used for habitable purposes require a building consent.

    As a result, we have developed this article providing guidance on the provisions under the Building Act 2004 (the Act) that must be considered when using such structures.


    First, we must consider whether a shipping container is a building. Section 8 of the Act provides that a building means ‘a temporary or permanent movable or immovable structure’ (including a structure intended for occupation by people, animals, machinery, or chattels).

    Based on this definition, the Department considers shipping containers can be considered buildings for the purposes of the Act, depending on the circumstances. Note that some containers are explicitly excluded from the definition of building in r section 9(g) to the Act (containers as defined in section 2(1) of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996).

    Building work

    The second step is to ask whether there is any building work involved. Section 7 of the Act defines building work as work ‘for, or in connection with, the construction, alteration, demolition, or removal of a building…’.

    Building work must not be carried out except in accordance with a building consent, unless the work is exempt under section 41 to the Act, which includes work listed in Schedule 1.

    If the only activity involved is to place the container(s) onto the land and use them for storage, for example, then this is unlikely to be considered building work.

    However, at the other extreme, if the container(s) were to be placed onto foundations, had large openings put in and were to contain sanitary facilities or facilities for the storage of potable water then that would be considered building work requiring a building consent.

    • Graeme

      Yeah, I agree. I have been researching this very idea myself, so was very interested in this video. The only problem is that 10 sq. meter thing does NOT apply, if you are using the space as a residential dwelling on a property with no pre-existing house. The building code gives the following as an example: “A rural land owner decides to erect a sleepout with a net floor area of 10 square metres on a property that does not have a residential dwelling on it. This sleepout would require a building consent as it is not associated with a residential dwelling.” Once you actually FIND that information in the hundreds and hundreds of pages of pedantic regulations, it would seem to be pretty clear that using a container like this – even if it _IS_ less then 10 sq. meters, still requires a building consent _IF{ there is no pre-existing house on that same section of land. If it is sitting there by itself, and there is no house on the same section, then this tiny house is actually illegal because it DOES need building consent – despite it’s small size and brilliant layout.

      • bob

        pretty sad when we need consent to build a shelter for ourselves….actually, knowing that we are all created equal when born, and when we die…nobody is gonna tell me whether I can build a tiny home to sleep in….period.

        • Bryce

          Hey Bob! Bloody well said mate. The ability to build our own shelter is a basic human right. I often wonder if some of our housing laws are actually in conflict with the common law of the land. Its something that I intend to research more in the future.

          • John

            If NZ lawmaking is anything like it is in the US, the construction and banking industries have lobbied the lawmakers and rigged the housing regulations to protect their commercial interests.

  10. Debbie (Laich)

    QUESTION: can you give me any information about finding the convertible sofa like Brenda’s? brand name, website, etc. Absolutely perfect for a tiny house…or even “regular” house, for that matter. love it! thanks.

  11. Megan

    I notice Brenda has a little fridge running. A solar system guy just told me I would have to have gas if I wanted a fridge and hot water. I don’t particularly want gas. Can you guys point me in the direction of others relying on solar like Brenda? (I’m thinking of an alcohol stove/oven such as the Origo 6000).

    • Bryce

      Hey Megan. PV systems don’t have amazing efficiency, normally only around 15-20%, and conversion of energy to heat is always very power-hungry. In our tiny house build we are determined not to use gas. With a small PV system however, electric cooking elements, heating, or water heating were simply not achievable. In our build, we are getting around this by using an ethanol stove that was designed for use in boats, a solar water heater that is being custom designed for our tiny house and this will then be boosted by a wetback on our Sparky Stove. Our fridge (a CoolMatic CR-80) is designed to run on solar systems, and we have more than enough power to easily run this fridge. Of course, we will be doing full reviews and filming videos on these systems in detail in the future.

  12. ms.Deloris

    Love you! Question how do the doors still open. After reading I’m not understanding the bath rm.I thought it was inside;and what kind of shipping container is that it looks so tall.my God bless and keep you and yours sincerely. Ms D~

    • Bryce

      Hi there! It’s a high shipping container, so its around 3 meters in height. The bathroom is built in the little shed area at the side of the container, so it’s all undercover, but technically separate from the living area. 🙂

  13. Vladimir

    I’m curious about the arrangement of the sleep area. Isn’t the floor somewhat colder? Also, everyone who has lived in any house knows that some pests eventually happen(like ants, various bugs, etc.). Would this design render the occupant more vulnerable to such pests while sleeping?

  14. Gus

    Great story! I was wondering what sort of insulation and lining was used?

  15. playstacie

    I love this place.
    The best I’ve seen so far, but I am a beginner!
    Think I’d need a bigger kitchen though.

    • Bryce

      Yup – that’s the most important thing about Tiny House building. You have to really take notice of the spaces that are important to you and make sure you consider that in your design. 🙂

  16. Johnnie Tyrrell

    Hi Bryce
    Brilliant the best ive seen yet 🙂
    Are there plans for this ?
    Also info on water harvesting system and electrics would be great if you could e mail them 🙂
    Have land in Galway Ireland and would love to do this…

    • Bryce

      Hey Johnnie. Glad you enjoyed the vid! Yup, I think there are plans available. There’s a link to her website in the article above, check it out. 🙂

  17. Alexander

    Truly inspiring project ! I however ask myself what system of insulation she used : polyurethane spray foam or more conventional insulation with vapor barrier, etc. ? Containers – or more basically giant tin cans – are quite hard to insulate, especially when it comes to moisture management. Thanks for sharing your project !

  18. Marahall

    I enjoyed this video about her tiny home and it gave me inspirations for my own place. What i would like to know is how she built the raised floor so that she could fit the bed under it. I’m certain it is easier then I envision but I want to do something like that in my apartment, to maximize the space. What type of plans did she use or special materials? The platform is only support on the sides, leaving the bottom totally open. Is there any fear of the floor sagging overtime due to weight issues?

  19. Steph

    This is an amazing home and is something that I would love to have one day; but my only question is how is the grey water disposed of?

    • Bryce

      Hey Steph. The grey water system wasn’t hooked up yet when we visited. Hopefully we will be able to go back when it’s all finished and landscaped and find out more about that then.

  20. Henk Moller

    Can you give more info on the gutter and water system. Obviously need a booster pump for water pressure? Sewerage system? 270 Watts only? Is that even sufficient to support the gas geyser?

  21. James

    Hey just wondering if you could give me a quick quote.
    20ft Shipping container, 4 windows, Insulated. Thats it. How much are we estimating here ?

  22. Heidi

    Hello, Bryce. Once again, thanx! Featured here are the sane as my design–the short, sleeper birth under a living room loft, placement of the kitchen, and the bathroom/storage shed in the rear. I also think “colored sheets of polyethylene” make beautiful bscksplash for the kitchen and shower and they’re inexpensive. Being able to see portions of my plan in virtual reality really helps me see ho we well my design will function for me. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration. Sorry for typis –text box won’t display full view for me to edit.

    • Bryce

      Hey Heidi! Glad you enjoyed the tour! 🙂 Yeah, some very cool ideas in this build. Awesome that you’ve seen some of your ideas in this and can know be sure that it works. Thanks for visiting!

  23. ken

    Discovered this regarding consent – http://www.dbh.govt.nz/bca-update-june-2012

  24. Kyle

    Interesting build but I was also under the assumption (and as per the details on the council website) that a space less than 10m2 would not require consent unless it has a kitchen and bathroom which this house has both of?

  25. Rez

    Amazing design! But what about laundry facility? Also, are here any family container houses built with spaces for children?

    • Bryce

      Yes, you can most certainly get larger container homes that are designed for a family, but because it’s a must larger building, you are subject to more rules and regulations (and of course cost!).

  26. Aaron

    This is awesome, my wife and I have been watching your videos and talking about doing something like this – but with two small kids we need something a bit bigger than one tiny house. Are there any regulations about having 2 or three tiny houses together but not physically connected? (I know this kind of defeats the concept of yours, my concept is about maybe adding structures over time).

  27. amy

    I do love it but did I miss the bathroom and shower?

    • Bryce

      Hey Amy. The bathroom and shower is shown in the video.

  28. EB

    Love it. Just wondering about the size and consent. I would have thought you could use the whole container without consent as long as it remains portable/relocatable… the same concept as a caravan etc.

  29. Stefen

    Fantastic tour and creative design by Brenda.
    I am in the process of design my own container house, 12v idea is great, and cut the indoor area to 4meter and leave the toilet out is genius, I will use these great idea, by the way, can’t really picture where the toilet is? is that an extension in the back?

    • Bryce

      Yup, the bathroom is right next to the container. If you see the part of the video where we are talking about rain collection, we are standing right outside the bathroom in that section.

  30. Kayte

    I daydream and nightdream about living off grid in a tiny home. This is awesome and perfect. A wonderful use of space and materials. Maybe someday I will be able to live this way…I’ll keep dreaming until then.

  31. samantha

    awesome I never thought people could be so creative

  32. ken

    Has she actually had the local authority agree that it doesn’t require building consent? It seems to me that it is a 6 meter long structure which would make it over 10 square meters. Just because she put a wall at 4 meters doesn’t make the structure smaller. Can you comment?

    • Benson Cameron

      Local authority in New Zealand requires no such grant as it is a recycled premise and not a structure built through an engineer or architect also being recycled the council tend to allow it as it reduces waste in not only building waste but also energy waste might be different where your from but still looks amazing

  33. lisa

    would have done this instead of what i did.if i could do it all over again.

  34. Reuben

    Magnificent use of space – flipping the living and sleeping areas is genius… Adds a whole new dimension to what a tiny house can be.
    Love it – thank you for sharing

    • Bryce

      I totally agree. It has made the whole space so much more functional. Thanks for watching Reuben! 🙂

    • Mik

      I agree. This is the way I have always envisioned the living/bedroom area. For many reasons, the most important ones to me is that the bedroom area will be cooler for sleeping and the living area warmer. Another is the view is better from the second story, also, sky lights are more important to working during the day than sleeping at night. Although, star watching or northern lights watching would be great. Plus with a peaked roof, you would get more usable headroom. Which, I would actually curve the roof instead, like a gypsy wagon. I don’t know why everybody does a gable roof.

  35. Dean

    Bryce, I have long enjoyed your tours… But this one has just blown me away… I have long wanted to use a container, but to see this, with Brenda’s wonderful design… Well, I’ve just seen my future!

    • Bryce

      Hey Dean! Awesome that it has inspired you so much! Thanks so much for watching, and make sure you let us know when you start your build! 🙂

  36. chelsea

    I have a question rather than a comment. We are tint house owners and currently have a loft bed above our living rooms space. After seeing your pictures we are considering flipping the arrangement. Would you mind telling me what the height dimensions are on your sleeping and living room spaces?

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