You have, probably, already seen those unusual yet attractive and interesting shipping container homes, appearing today in different parts of the world from the USA to Australia, and from Britain to Indonesia. You have heard about their green, environmental benefits and low cost of building with shipping containers; you even already know about some pitfalls of such housing alternatives. Perhaps, you have already started thinking about building a bungalow, summer house, studio, or a workshop for yourself, using shipping containers. If so, it is time to develop a preliminary plan of building with shipping containers in order to better understand the process and get ready for all its stages.
Before you start building a container home, it is necessary to take care getting all the necessary permits. As any type of building or construction work, shipping container house, especially if it is a residential dwelling, needs to comply with the certain regulatory requirements, including the choice of building materials, dimensions of living spaces and aisles, electricity and plumbing, etc. The requirements vary from country to county, and getting building permits for a container home can sometimes be pretty troublesome since local authorities may be reluctant to the new type of building.
How to Build a Container Home
Choosing a container
Usually, either 20 feet or 40 feet long ISO containers are used to build a container house. Such containers have standard width of 8 feet and height of 8 feet. Some experts of building with shipping containers suggest considering alternative types of containers – the so called hi-cube units, which are higher (9.6 feet or 10.6 feet), because such increased height will allow better inner insulation and create extra space to hide some engineering constructions, such as HVAC piping, electric wiring, etc, above the ceiling.
Preparing the site
Site preparation in case of building with shipping containers does not differ much from that for regular construction. A reliable foundation to carry the load of a future container house is necessary. You can consider either cost-effective slab-on-grade foundation design, or opt for crawl space or deep basement foundation in order to meet the specifications of the particular house design. Furthermore, site condition, climate, type of soil, water, and even presence of termites are to be considered when preparing a site for building a house with shipping containers.
Assembling the Shipping Containers
Once the foundation is ready, it is time to transport the shipping containers to the site of construction. A crane is needed to unload containers from a hauler and put them on the foundation in the appropriate manner. Metal cutting work, such as door and window openings in container walls, is usually performed before containers are placed on the foundation and welded together.
Finishing the Container House
This is the most time-consuming part of building with shipping containers. First of all, it is important not to forget that the original flooring should be removed completely, because it is not safe for human habitation. Some experts also recommend removing old paint up to the bare metal and painting a container with safe paint. It is also necessary to insulate the house properly, and install new floor and a roof. Electrical wiring and plumbing work are also performed at this stage. Once done, it is time to start the most pleasant part of building with shipping containers – painting the house and decorating its interior and exterior.
Once your shipping container home is ready, all your previous work and efforts will be rewarded with the uniqueness of design, eye-catching style, durability and strength of the entire structure, and, of course, your personal contribution to the environment protection.
If you would like a detailed construction guide to building a container home take a look at container 4 homes.