Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: LOT-EK Container Home Kit (CHK)


We’ve raved about Lot-Ek before for their ingenious conversions of industrial shipping containers into inhabitable modern spaces. And with their Container Home Kit (CHK) project, they’re bringing shipping containers to the masses with a clever and easily-adaptable system for virtually every residential context. Lot-ek’s scalable system can accommodate anywhere from 640-2560 square feet, and comes fully equipped and ready to plop on-site with built-in electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and fully insulated AND furnished. It’s fully-equipped conceptually as well, making practical use of the world’s surplus of ISO cargo containers while exploiting the inherent structural qualities of the containers themselves.

In terms of architectural features, Lot-ek has created a system that defies the rigidity of an industrial shipping container, providing surprising flexibility in both size and functions. The CHK system comes in two different series- Compact and Loft, and boasts 8×8 floor-to-ceiling windows, built-in closets, and wood floors. The best part is its expansion possibilities- regardless of the configuration, it’s easy to add on another container to accommodate a home office (or more family members) down the line.

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  1. Barbara Webb January 19, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Does anyone have a hands on course that can teach me how to do this?

  2. Je Peoples August 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

    The advantages of using shipping containers as your construction building blocks include:

    They are inexpensive. A used container will cost between $800 and $6000 each, depending on size, age, condition and distance from the building site. Each 40 foot container gives you 320 square feet. .

    Energy concerns. It takes far less energy to reuse shipping containers in a building than to melt them down and reform then into steel beams. Add solar panels and even the ongoing energy use will be green.

    Examples of plans can be found HERE-

  3. jack frost June 15, 2011 at 9:35 am

    for some great ideas about shipping container homes see this site the have the best quality on the market so far.
    we were very happy

  4. Himal July 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Dear imranichunawala ,

    I am interested in your project in Mumbai. Please contact me at

  5. imranichunawala April 15, 2010 at 8:20 am

    i am planning to build a 20 rooms hotel in city of MUMBAI/INDIA all on the ground floor and 1st floor in near these container rooms advisable for hotel accomodations…wat would be a approx. cost of 20 feeter wit attached toi/bath and white goods inclused

  6. robo December 20, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I’m wanting a cargo container home built, but I want mine to qualify as a manufactured home. Does anyone know of any companies building container homes that would qualify as manufactured homes?

  7. chanaugusta August 29, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I wish these prefab containers in these designs were available in australia, architects in Melbourne imagine themselves as hip up to date thinkers but designers and materials in the USA are years ahead of australia, we have taken on an architect to come up with a container home, we may as well build a standard home with the boring plans he has come up with, we have a property out bush to build on and these containers are 100% fire proof i really wish we could get a prefab container home, id buy one tommorow. I love em!!!

  8. sr August 10, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    We are using a container for a work shop in the Yukon. We put in a wood stove, a side door and two windows, plus ran some electrical. It’s a bit thin at 8′ wide, and takes a lot of lighting. Also, it is hard to heat in the winter and gets a lot of condensation dripping from the ceiling once it is heated up. This could be corrected with insulation. Basically, we needed something fast, and it’s not bad for the money spent, ($5,000 for the container delivered compared to probably $6,000 or so just for materials to build something of a similar size, then add your labour or worse yet some one else’s!)

  9. EgoMartini March 31, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    How much more creative can you get?!!!
    You are given a large strong box – saved it from the scape heap – you imagine how people can live and thrive inside this castoff box and then allow people to modify these ideas to custom fit their lives into these boxes without the major “bank slavery”.
    It’s like a good pop tune – some will find the format of popular music limiting and will produce dreck but some gifted individuals ( oh, lets say Elvis Costello) can work within the limits of the format; be challenged by the limitations and can create something that transcends the confines of the formatted box.
    Architecture is not about the box , it’s about ideas – shelter, culture, the human condition.

  10. jorgecollignon September 27, 2008 at 11:42 am

    we have built our school with 63 40″ high cube containers in guadalajara, mexico. if you want to view it please contact me or visit

  11. heinekendesign July 28, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Does LOT-EK sell plans for a working pool concept? I would love to have a swimming pool on our site, and this is a great green option for us.

    contact me, @


  12. heinekendesign July 28, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I am very interested in the designs that you have to offer (LOT-EK). If you sell plans for the swimming pool concept. PLEASE contact me. I have four of these on our site housing items that need be in storage, but would like to make one of these pools if possible.

    Bill Heineken

  13. buildnow June 30, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    what a great idea, i have been using containers as housing for workers, our containers are the same as a 5 star hotel room, we are looking for investors to help us build the first 5 story hotel using shipping containers, if any one is intrested please feel free to contact Bassem Halaseh on

  14. isbuinfo June 24, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Our organization, ISBA ,represent the Shipping Container Home industry. Although these LOT-EK units are cute, creative and very colorful we have not found anyone who has actually purchased them.

    We find the general public love the idea of an easy-to-use cube; they love putting many together to create a normal size home; they are excited about their strength, recyclability and safety, but they don’t want a home that looks like a shipping container.

    Instead, companies like Travelodge, Gusto Di Vita Coffee and Tuff Cube are what is realistic and sells.

  15. jim May 25, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    we can supply like this container house on your design.if you interest contact us. we look for company sale our movable house.

  16. toulei February 24, 2008 at 7:27 am

    im live in tasmania australia and im lookinf to build my house like this but i cant seem to find any here do u know of any
    thank you

  17. Mra October 16, 2007 at 11:39 am

    There are a number of different sites in London. Not sure if these are built using this firm’s design. One is in Southwark and another on the north bank of the Thames opposite the North Greenwich peninsula. How about their Mexican library built of 200 old Boeing fuselages though?

  18. S Dhillon September 14, 2007 at 3:16 am

    I really like the industrial look of cargo containers. I will like to build a 20 feet by 20 feet garage with cargo containers. I will appreciate any guidance on making this happen, such as, where can I buy the containers, and have them modified for my needs. -Thx

  19. James July 20, 2007 at 5:47 am

    I ve been living/working in storage container housing in afghaninstan/Iraq for over 2 years. Its good that people have recognize these things for living online. I would like to build a contemporary cube with a lot of glass out of the shipping containers. So anyone out there with info, that would be great.

    Finally they keep warm/cool with the little insulation we put in. For example the AC will freeze you out set at 26C while ouside is 120F+ and no shade. But we use the CHIGO AC unit per half container (40ft container). So these things work good out here.

    Or I m just gone crazy from living in them for so long.

  20. Zach June 20, 2007 at 1:32 am

    LOT-EK did a lecture at my school. They have very interesting ideas and concepts other than these. Containers as housing is definitely not a new idea, but LOT-EK definitely refreshes it. They are very accomplished and very impressive. They have gotten interest from countries to build entire complexes out of this method. When asked what was holding them back from going through with it, they replied that it was funding for the projects that was lacking. Projects like these definitely have their place in the future.

  21. RALUCA NASTA May 28, 2007 at 6:59 am

    Please send us documentation. We would like to try some distribution in Romania.
    Best regards,

  22. Ixat May 22, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    This is a good concept, but if your house is made out of old steel shipping containers, it seems to me that on a good summer day you’re going to feel somewhat like a hamster in a microwave.

  23. Steven May 9, 2007 at 6:25 am

    This is actualy not a new idea, we at the university of Leuven, department architecture, had an assignment like this 3 years ago (it already existed several years). We had to create modern houses using these containers.

    (sorry for my english :) )

  24. PaulS. May 8, 2007 at 3:03 am

    Some of you might want to take a look at the Nov/Dec. 2003 issue of Dwell magazine which has a good article on a home in L.A. built from containers. “Junk Rethunk”,page 109, story by David A.Greene. Architects: Office of Mobile Design.
    They made many modifications to the containers, however. A couple comments from that article are:
    “Since the eight-foot wide boxes lose another eight inches when fitted with drywall and paint, the least comfortable parts of the house are those where the containers have been altered the least.”
    “Here, a container has had an entire long side removed and replaced with a waist-high counter…(snippage) …Cutting into the containers was a high-wire act: “These things rely on their skin for their structural integrity,” notes (architect Jennifer) Siegal. “Every time you cut this structural spine, you have to go back in and reinforce it with steel.” So, there are some drawbacks to containers as housing. Those negative points aside, the house is visually impressive.

    In regards to Lot-EK’s offerings, I feel that they would be better served if they would give us images that go beyond just their computer renderings and showed us some real examples that have been made more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

  25. graig sterling May 7, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    In response to William who belong to the “this old house crowd”,
    it is obvious that you have the same aversion and disdain for modern architecture that i have for the traditional-cookie cuter-standardize-everyday architecture.You should do what i do,i do NEVER bother looking at the standardize architecture garbage witch so prevalent in the market,so don’t bother with wonderful web sites like this one,it is obviously not for you.
    Many of you have had the same complaint that i have about the LOT-ek project:witch is the lack of technical detail and pricing! I might be able to help,because in the previous article about LOT-ek in the comment section a gentlemen name Denis offered some answers to the cost and insulation questions.He said they can be obtain brend new for $2600 FOR 20fter,$3600 for a 40fter witch come insulated with R value of a RV.The only thing is that it is not LOT-ek but can deduct that the prices for the LOT-ek must be equivalent,
    Also could someone from INHABITHAT get in touch with LOT-ek and teach them how to make a user friendly website.I can’t even access the left side column where their options are!!!!!For that alone they should go out of business,because if they can’t get that right,what about the rest?

  26. Hun Boon May 7, 2007 at 4:06 am

    Just a thought: if they’re using discarded containers, wouldn’t they be in bad shape? The developer would then have to spend considerable money and effort in repairing them before use.

    I applaud the concept, but yes, they are aesthetically ugly. A house is the most expensive purchase we will ever make, and I’m not sure many people would choose to spend their money on that. The container itself might be cheap, but you have to take into account the cost of the land, construction, interior decoration as well.

  27. Drew May 6, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    if you’re interested at having a look at a built version take a look at this website

  28. William May 6, 2007 at 11:52 am

    When I looked at these designs I thought to myself – “why do these modern designs always have to look like a pile of shipping containers? They’re so ugly.”. And then I read the caption – these ARE shippng containers! Say no more …

  29. Richie May 5, 2007 at 11:35 am

    These are great designs. Clean, modern, open spaces. Very ‘Loft Like’. If they’re cost effective… even greater. The cutouts could be done in a machine shop, while the finish work was done on site. That might keep the costs down ? The insulation issue has a simple solution. Use ‘Liquid nails’ (construction adhesive) to attach styrofoam, homosote, or ridgid 703 fiberglass board to interior spaces (except floors) and then cover that layer with either sheet rock or plywood. For even more insulation, add Structurally Insulated Panels (SIP’s) to the exterior (using Liquid nails or sheet rock screws). That would provide extreme insulation.Container floors could be sealed on their bottoms and filled with Fiberglass, rock wool, or whatever. maybe make a few holes and spray foam into the sealed undercarriage ? 40′ x 8′ x 8.5′ used shipping containers cost betwen $1,500 to $3,000 each. So what would a 6 container house design cost to build ? Not Much ! Wishing all… Happy Fabriricating !

  30. David in Bali May 4, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I keep asking related q’s here and on treehugger with no response from the article authors – please address the recycle issue, are they or are they not?

    If not then why use shipping containers as the basis for prefab – because it has instant “brand” identity or has the “appearance” of being eco friendly (also not addressed by the co. or the sites).

    Used containers (re-fab) as shelter have a certain off the grid, alternative chic about them. To me, however, the container as a prefab model looses context as it moves towards towards a hipster crib standard.

  31. Bryce May 4, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    In response to Treekiller, I agree that they aren’t sustainable to begin with, but once they’re more or less discarded, aren’t they basically trash that is getting recycled? The lead paint is a problem, and I don’t debate that at all, but a company that converts containers into prefab modules could take that into account and make remediation a part of the process. They could also potentially take the flooring wood and reclaim them for other uses.

    I guess my philosophy is that of one person’s trash being another person’s treasure.

  32. Mary Schanuel May 4, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    NBC Nightly News did a story last night (May 3) on recycling cargo shipping containers as building materials for homes and developments. There’s more information on the project and The Lawrence Group, the architectural firm named in the story, and links to the story and other websites at

  33. pasha May 4, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Ppersonally i love the concept and the look. BUT, i dont see any HVAC in the concept drawings. and just the idea of how practicle it would be to live in one of these.

    .. on a side note, im 6’3″ and live in Florida :)
    .. so im thinking not enough headroom and it will be HOOOOOTTT in these steelcrates unless you do some serious insulation. Now I saw some Bob Vila stuff with ceramic spray on.. but still… seems like a chalenge.

  34. Whistler May 4, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Have these guys ever actually built one of these, I always see their drawings and digital models but never any built work, I would also like to hear commentary on actually living in a container, the real finished pricing etc, etc. The same can be said of all prefab work, often the price to finish is no better, but what I feel is upside is the speed and quality that comes with building in a controlled enviroment.

  35. treekiller May 4, 2007 at 11:52 am

    the sustainability of shipping containers is questionable between the common use of lead paint, use of tropical hardwoods for flooring, and occasional toxic preservatives on the pirated wood, to start the list. Archinect has an interesting conversation here:

  36. David Scher May 4, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Anyone have pricing on these?

  37. Bob Ellenberg May 4, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Thanks to Inhabitat to putting this in the limelight again as there are many Inhabitat readers who don’t track the efforts being made in this niche concept. There are many proposals out there with different advantages/disadvantages and Lot-Ek has appeard to have one of the more cost effective proposals as they have apparantly left the exterior finish of the container, no side windows, small baths and kitchens, etc. However, I still haven’t seen any prices published (even approximate) or know of any being built. Has there been a prototype yet? Have the details of the designs been actually developedd or are they still just concepts? For example, there doesn’t appear to be any added height to the exterior so I am wondering how the roof drains on the multiple units? The upstairs bedrooms have to have opening windows for egress requirements but you can’t have an opening window that extends to the floor without railings or a balcony.

    These are not criticisms but rather observations that indicate this still has a way to go to market. I would like to see some follow up comments from Emily if possible to let us know the actual status of these creative designs.

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