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12 Epic Shipping Container Garage and Carport Ideas

October 10th, 2023

Is your garage filled with so much stuff that your car barely fits? Or do you park outside because you don’t have a garage? 

You’re not alone. Storage space is a challenge for many Americans. 

Exposing vehicles and other equipment to harsh weather can be costly. But with today’s high construction costs, building a garage is also expensive. 

Just like many have built shipping container homes, some do-it-yourselfers are building shipping container garages. Using shipping containers to build a garage is cheaper, faster, and easier than building with traditional materials.

Shipping containers offer durable weatherproof storage without any modifications. However, with a bit of creative design, you can make an epic shipping container garage, carport, or equipment shed without construction experience.

Do Cars Fit In Shipping Containers?

The average midsize car is about 6 feet wide and 15 feet long. So, technically, most cars do fit into a single 20 ft shipping container which has a width of 8 feet.

However, the inside of shipping containers are only around 7 feet 8 inches wide. That doesn’t leave enough room to open the car door and get out once you’ve parked it in the container garage.

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Because of the limits of shipping container dimensions, a single container without modifications is not practical for everyday parking. It could work for affordable long-term storage of a car with some clever wrangling to get it in and out. 

Therefore, some additions and modifications are needed to make an everyday garage out of shipping containers. 

Shipping Container Garage Design Concepts

The strength and versatility of shipping containers enables countless garage designs, only limited by your imagination. So it is useful to begin with a broad design concept to narrow down your options. 

Here are 6 basic design concepts for shipping container garages:

  • Single container to store a vehicle

  • Single container as side storage with a shed roof as a carport

  • Two containers connected side by side 

  • Two containers as side storage with parking in between and canopy roof

  • Two containers as side storage with parking in between and traditional roof

  • Exotic designs with two or more containers

The best shipping container garage plans for you will depend on your storage needs, budget and personal style preferences. Check out the designs below to get container garage ideas. 

Single Shipping Container Garage Plans

If you’re on a tight budget but you need to get small vehicles out of the elements and secure them, a single shipping container garage design may work for you. 

This design requires, at minimum, a 20 foot shipping container. Without any modifications, a 20 ft container is perfect for storing lawn tractors, ATVs, motorcycles, and more. But parking a car is a different story. 

To secure a car, small modifications may be needed like a roll-up door for the vehicle entrance and a man door or another roll-up door on the side of the container to allow you to exit the vehicle once parked.

This is not the ideal option, but it does allow you to fully lock up your car safely and protect it from rain, hail, wind and the beating sun. 

Estimated DIY Cost To Build: $7000 (20 ft container with doors)

Lean-to Shipping Container Carport 

A lean-to carport is one of the easiest, fastest and most affordable shipping container garage designs for DIY. It doesn’t require extensive construction experience and the materials can be found at your local home improvement store.

This design concept requires a single 20 ft or 40 ft shipping container to be used for side storage with a shed roof extended to provide cover for vehicles. The carport’s shed roof can be mounted directly to the container or built up from the top of the container.

With a carport made from a 20 ft shipping container, you get about 150 square feet of lockable storage space and an area to park 1-2 vehicles undercover. Shipping containers are tall enough (8’6” or 9’6” High Cubes) to extend the shed roof far enough to cover two parking spaces and still maintain sufficient pitch to shed water. 

Estimated DIY Cost To Build: $7500 (20 ft container and shed roof materials)

Double Attached Shipping Container Garages

This next garage design concept requires two shipping containers connected side-by-side. Since a midsize car doesn’t quite fit into a single container without modifications, stacking two containers offers plenty of room. 

Connecting two 20 ft shipping containers and removing their interior walls creates about 300 square feet of space in a 20 ft by 16 ft rectangle. For reference, the average sized two-car garage is 18 by 20 feet.

So you can fit two compact cars or one large vehicle with enough space to exit the car and to store other items in this design. And you can fit 3-4 vehicles with this design when using 40 ft shipping containers. 

These shipping container garage plans don’t require a roof, but it may be preferable to outfit them with roll-up container doors or standard mounted garage doors to be able to lock them. 

Estimated DIY Cost To Build: $10K-$15K (two 20 ft containers and garage doors)

Shipping Container Equipment Shop With Arch Roof

If you need to store heavy equipment or a boat undercover, this shipping container equipment shop design is perfect. Although this arch roof design works well for a garage, too, it is best suited to be a large equipment shop especially when using 40 ft shipping containers

These plans situate two containers as side storage with parking in between and canopy roof above. These dome/arch canopies are made with weather-resistant PVC fabric or corrugated steel. Premade sizes typically cover 20 feet of space between containers. 

Therefore, if you build a dome shipping container shop with two 20 ft containers, you’ll have a total of around 300 square feet of lockable storage space and 400 square feet of area to park vehicles and equipment. Using 40 ft containers with the same design gives you double the amount of space.

Estimated DIY Cost To Build: $15K (two 20 ft containers with arch roof)

Shipping Container Equipment Shop With Arch Roof

If you desire a more finished looking garage made from shipping containers, a gable roof design may fit you best. A gable roof garage is attractive and will blend into any suburban setting at the fraction of the cost as a stick-built garage.

Similar to the arch roof design, the gable roof plans use two shipping containers as side storage with a gable roof built above them using lumber trusses and traditional roofing materials. 

The size of the parking space between the containers is flexible. However, if you plan to use a standard sized garage door, your framing must be 9 feet wide. But a wider separation or container modifications are needed to comfortably park your vehicles inside. 

Estimated DIY Cost To Build: $15K (two 20 ft containers with truss roof)

Creative Architectural Shipping Container Garage Designs

If you have a bigger budget and some construction experience, you can get very creative with your shipping container garage build. With three or more containers, you can make an epic garage and workshop.

A creative shipping container garage design can be as simple as combining a few of the concepts above. For instance, combining a gable roof with the lean-to carport design gives a three-bay mechanics dream. Add a third 53 ft shipping container against the back wall for ample storage.

Estimated DIY Cost To Build: $25K (three containers and materials)

DIY Shipping Container Garages and Shops By Customers

Building garages, carports, shops and barns is one of the most popular uses for shipping containers among our customers. Over the years, customers have sent us photos of their creations. Here are some of their shipping container garages to get ideas from.

40 ft High Cube shipping container with two giant lean-to sheds by Frank from Bingham, Maine (Source)

20 ft Standard Cargo Worthy container lean-to shed built with nearby trees by Dan from Divide, Colorado (Source)

Two 20 ft shipping containers with a gable roof made with lumber trusses (Source)

Two 40 ft High Cube Wind and Watertight containers stacked and built as an all-in-one station for horses by Amy from Whitewater, Colorado (Source)

40 ft High Cube with a simple lean-to roof for an equipment shed (Source)

And there you have it – some epic ideas that take the humble shipping container and transform it into something truly special for your vehicle storage. It's amazing to see how a simple steel box can be so versatile and aesthetically pleasing when given a creative touch. 

As the world shifts towards affordable, sustainable and innovative design solutions, shipping container garages are clearly an attractive option. Whether you're looking for functionality, style, or both, there's a container concept waiting for you. Ready to think outside the box for your next garage project?

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