Global Portable Buildings

If you are looking for that house for under $20k, look no further than Global Portable Buildings, Inc. of Santa Rosa, California. They make a standard storage container into a very livable structure, which is also very affordable.

Global Portable Buildings, Inc. build the “Ultimate” with its modern finished kitchen, bathroom and extra room (8′ x 40′ model).

Their most complete portable building. Standard features include kitchen, bathroom (with shower, toilet, sink), AC electrical system, telephone/internet connection, 2″ rigid insulated finished walls and ceiling, windows, entrance door, finished linoleum/vinyl floor and utility room.

Unlike most of their competition, these are available now and all you need to do is place an order. They can be shipped anywhere around the world. These are not just fancy drawings and renditions of ideas.

According to Sean Taylor Vice President of Sales & Marketing. These can not officially be called homes, but what people do with them is their business. Although aimed at the construction industry, you the buyer will need to verify with your area what permits etc. are required.

Some suggested uses are: hunting cabin, guest cabins, mother-in-law cottages, retreats. These are very affordable with the 8 x 20 starting at $16,500 and the 8 x 40 starting at $23,500. Plus shipping to your destination.

Additional options such as solar are available.

Visit their site for a virtual tour and a movie by CBS news.

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tyler - May 12, 2008 Reply

what’s the difference between this and just a plain old single wide mobile home? I fail to see the appeal. The interior is nice but you could easily pickup and older 1980 Governor and revamp it and get the same effect for cheaper.

    Gabriel - June 25, 2013 Reply

    I believe the purpose is to recycle used/retired storage containers. if insulated right it could make for a good bullet/fire proof shelter.

    Anthony Rizzo - October 25, 2013 Reply

    Shipping containers unlike mobile homes are built to be stacked 20 high and withstand the worst ocean bound weather can throw at them. Taking a shipping container and welding it to a well-grounded foundation could resist weather that would tear apart even the best built mobile home. Also that you can buy one as a fully equipped cabin or cottage for fewer than 17,000 adds to its allure.

Kent - May 12, 2008 Reply

Hi Tyler,

It’s really just another option. These are extremely sturdy, and there is no reason you could not buy or get a free storage container and convert one yourself. These are different than a mobile home in the way they are built and transported.

I agree with you on finding an old single wide and revamping it would be another great option.


Daniel - May 13, 2008 Reply

I’ve been sent off to Afghanistan and on my way there now, At some of the smaller bases, they use extra storage containers and convert them into rooms for everybody. But, nothing looks this good over there.
These ones have a much cleaner look to them.

Kent - May 13, 2008 Reply

Hi Daniel,

It sounds like the army needs to be directed to this company. Our soldiers should have the best in my opinion. Good luck in Afghanistan!


tyler - May 13, 2008 Reply

Good points Kent, like I said the interior is quite nice. I wonder what the possibilities would be of rotating them end over end and establishing a second story element or a loft?

Good luck to you Daniel, come home safe.

Kent - May 13, 2008 Reply

Hey Tyler – You might want to check out this site on making second story elements. I was planning on writing a post on it when it gets near completion. I think you will find it interesting.


Gus Smith - July 7, 2008 Reply

The advantage of container housing over mobile homes is they are sturdier construction from the shell. They are enormously stronger in the event of very high winds, i.e., tornado.
If constructed properly, they are also very secure from break-in.
Also, they can be moved on a wrecker, no need for a permit to transport.
I suggest you search more this method of recycling the vast quantity of these containers entering the USA.

Kent - July 7, 2008 Reply

Thanks Gus for your input on container construction. You have had personal experience with it and I have not and I appreciate your perspective on the subject.


Colette - July 17, 2008 Reply

What is the R value? Is this suitable for Canadian winters?

James - September 2, 2008 Reply

Although there are different types of saunas, steam (traditional) saunas are what most people think of when saunas are mentioned. Traditional steam saunas have been used for hundreds of years by many different societies for many different reasons and are relatively new to the United States. Today traditional saunas fall in the same luxury category as hot-tubs and are becoming somewhat more affordable starting roughly at US $2500.

Taryn Merrick - September 23, 2008 Reply

Does anyone know the approximate ball park range of these international shipping containers? I am thinking of the 48′ ones with the 9’6″ ceilings…

    Hope Henry - September 28, 2010 Reply

    I saw on one blogsite that they run around 2-3000 for the 20 and 40 footers, plus shipping. Don’t know what the larger ones cost, but it would make sense that they would be about 1000 more or so…

    Bob - February 23, 2012 Reply

    $2000 for 20′ and $3,000 for 40′, They will deliver cheap to free. The ones with the 9′ headroom are a couple of hundred more.
    Price has gone up by almost 50% over the past 10 years. These are MUCH better built that an older trailer. I would like to see prisnors build these and locate them in remote rail yards for easy transport to Emergency like Katrina.

Scott - November 11, 2008 Reply

hey Daniel

Are you still in Afghanistan?
I just came back a few weeks ago. I was sent over to become a certified sea can inspector, but the company I was working for failed to register me for the exam (written once a year only), so I came back to Canada. I didn’t see any soldiers living in sea cans, but there are a lot of them being used for offices. The new Canadian soldiers living quarters are ISO huts, I however lived in a weather haven tent.
Colette ?? As in Ryan & Colette ??
Make sure you check the local bylaws. In Haliburton Highlands East where my property is located I wouldn’t be able to bring in one of these huts. Maybe if I approached the municipality they would grant me a permit, but I doubt it very much.

Jason - December 3, 2008 Reply

I have done some design work for these units. I helped a buddy pick one up for 1600 (new 8×40) and pay 200 for delivery. Cost 450 to hoist into place on concrete pylons. This unit is in the mountians and must maintain a 50 lbs. per sq ft snow load. Fleshing out the interior with VERY nice appointments (think old fashion study with custom furnature) cost approximately 20k. With land, construction, etc, grand total was 45k. When sealed it is wind proof to 110mph winds, semi fire proof (10 min direct contact), water proof to sustained flooding, and can take approximatley 32,000 lb vertical load.

It is a lego block… just awaiting your imagination.
Good luck

Maz - December 3, 2008 Reply

Check these guys out in Oz, that are doing the second story homes from shipping containers and these guys at Outdoors Direct do a great job in the interior department

Cheers Maz

George - December 31, 2009 Reply

Containerized Living Units (CLU) have been around for many years. I first saw them in the middle east in the 80’s. In 2003 they began to use CLU’s extensively in Iraq for the military, and still use them today. They are not used in Afghanistan at this time, at least not common.

They are great as you can easily haul them, or stack one on the other, they are durable, and can take much more punishment than a standard single wide.

The last one I lived in was in Baghdad, it was a 40 footer, I had a kitchen, very nice bathroom (shower no tub), room for a queen size bed, desk, shelving units, AC with heating element for colder weather, walls were finished to with paneling.

We powered them from generators, just like 99% of all CLUs in Iraq.

Once we got our “trailers” we felt we were living high on the hog. lol Sure beat the tents with dozens of bed mates.

Hal - July 3, 2010 Reply

I lived in one of these when I was deployed to Baghdad a couple years ago. It had two bedrooms and a bath (no need for a kitchen since the dining facility was within walking distance). While they do serve as easily installed and sturdy shelters, their steel structure makes them very inefficient for maintaining a comfortable temperature inside. In the summer, I had the air conditioner running all the time except when the generator went out, when it did the temperature climbed to an unbearable level within minutes. In the winter lows were often in the 30s and although I had the heat on all the time I still had to sleep with several layers of blankets, pajamas and a knit cap just to stay warm, which is saying a lot considering I normally sleep with little more than a bed sheet for covers.

These are good shelters for rapid installation, but should only be considered for short term and emergency housing, and not as a permanent dwelling. Anyone considering installing one should insure they have an adequate power source to run nearly continuous AC or heat.

    Me'chelle - August 5, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for posting that comment and here I was wanting to purchase one.

    I never would have known it could be so unbearable to live in one.

    Which now that I look at it, seems too boxy for my taste.

      Debbie - September 18, 2012 Reply

      If properly insulated they are very comfortable in winter and summer. I have a 40′ hicube with normal insulation and have no problem keeping it comfortable with one window A/C and two small electric heaters. temperatures in the area range from 105 degrees in summer to teens in winter.

Hope Henry - September 28, 2010 Reply

Think ceramic paint(improves insulation) and increased quality and amount of insulation on the interior…less living space, but better temperature regulation.
These make a bunker-type house available for those who have property that is far away from law enforcement and fire departments…they can also be bermed, if proper precautions are taken to do it properly.
I can see one with a lush, shaded rooftop garden (they can support so much weight), and myself drinking a nice cuppa as I enjoy the morning breeze.

Greg - February 3, 2011 Reply

These units should be placed on the ground and then dirt piled up on top to form a mound.

Sprinkle grass seeds on the dirt and you have a hobbit house with good insulation.

In the event of a natural disaster or FEMA relocation you could haul your house to any location and the home would be able to withstand rough handling.

The furniture and appliances inside the container house can be bolted down and with the self contained water, fuel and food supply this secure home would offer mobility, security and survival.

    ORGuardGuy - December 8, 2011 Reply

    Negative, Units are made to have a certain amount of weight on top, but opening them up to create doors, etc. changes the structural capabilities of the storage container, also, they can and will rust over time. Covering them in dirt would exacerbate that issue.

Adam - February 24, 2011 Reply

Hi Tyler,

The difference between these and a single wide is about 4000-5000 pounds. An F1 level wind will destroy a single wide. A container anchored down is capable of handling 180+mph winds.

Also, in the southeast these can be moved for around $100-$150…no production considering how difficult it is to move a singlewide.

Good luck,

Terry - April 19, 2011 Reply

I remember, being in Iraq back in 2008, they had housing like this- nowhere near the quality, but the same idea, which is really neat.

Abhishek Khandelwal - April 16, 2012 Reply

check out this website, the seem to be one of the better companies offering portable buildings

Andrew - May 2, 2012 Reply

I am looking for a builder to build these units in Las Vegas.

Charles Giltner - October 13, 2012 Reply

I wondered about how much these shipping containers weigh and if they can be put on an axle to haul with a fifth wheel hookup. I don’t doubt that they are too heavy empty but also if loaded with cabinets and fixtures as well as furniture, tools and mechanicals they would be too much weight.
Love the idea, haven’t been encouraged by the zoning laws in my county though. Sarasota FL is such a ritzy area with prohibitive building codes.
I think I am going to stick with my WVO diesel school bus to RV conversion plan. I like that it will be mobile to move from place to place. See the country on used cooking oil.

Please Edit PLEASE - July 10, 2013 Reply

your = your house, your stuff that you own

you’re = “you are” going, “you are” doing

Instant offices - August 19, 2013 Reply

Nice article and nice designs. We are also one of the builder of portable buildings. We have also good designs in Perth.Log on for latest designs.

Grace - January 27, 2016 Reply

Beautiful interior designs, its very neat and clean. I am copying your designs for my future place, I hope its alright. lol 🙂

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