Shipping containers play an important role in the global economy. They are huge and durable enough to convey products consistently, but small and light enough to be moved by cranes and forklifts. However, a problem has evolved over the years: an overabundance of used containers.
Innovative architects spotted an eco-friendly opportunity where others saw a challenge. Designers have been converting containers into a variety of buildings since the mid-2000s. Some constructions are basic, such as a single compact shipping container suited for living, while others are complicated, involving numerous containers combined with additional structural components.
So, what exactly goes into the construction of a shipping container home? And are they as cheap, sustainable, and livable as they claim? Here we have outlined what you need to know about home containers here.
What Exactly is a Shipping Container Home?
A shipping container house is any dwelling constructed from a shipping container; however, the architecture that results can be highly varied.
Shipping containers are typically available in two sizes:
- 20 feet by 8 feet
- 40 feet by 8 feet
The smaller container provides around 160 square feet of living space, while the larger container provides 320 square feet. There are also two height options: standard (8.5 feet high) or high cube container, which adds nearly a foot of vertical living area. Some shipping container residences come to an end here, utilizing the small rooms as standalone tiny homes or workplaces.
However, many builders and owners combine containers to make larger homes. Walls are often taken down in homes made of many containers to make the rooms feel bigger, and traditional building methods add outside materials and more rooms.
Some containers are stacked in a row to form multi-level homes, while others can be twisted and turned Jenga-style to produce stunning architectural wonders.
The Benefits of a Shipping Container Home
One of the most significant advantages of a shipping container home is its environmental friendliness. Because you will be using recycled materials, there will be a very small carbon footprint. The majority of cargo containers will either be stored or recycled. You can shorten the process of reintroducing them into circulation by utilizing them to build a house.
Another advantage of constructing a shipping container home is the low cost and simplicity of the process. You will not be required to do any of the complicated framing that is required for a standard house. This can help you save money on both labor and materials for the duration of the project.
It can also happen considerably faster, which is great if you are new to home construction. In another blog, we explained the advantages of converting containers to home in detail.
What Kind of Permit is Required to Construct a Shipping Container House?
Because shipping container design is still in its infancy, the most important thing to do before beginning construction is to research your local laws and regulations.
You must ensure two things: first, that your container building will fit on the property, and second, that it will comply with current building rules and zoning constraints. Building codes specify what features a structure must have in order to receive an occupancy permit. Meanwhile, zoning restrictions govern where a house can be built.
Some codes and regulations clearly state whether shipping container homes are permitted, whereas others group "non-traditional" structures together, such as tiny houses or dome homes. Shipping container homes are more likely to be allowed in places with fewer people or that are more remote, but you should check with your city or county planner to be sure.
Where Can I Find Shipping Containers?
Many shipping containers are manufactured in China; however, they are often available across the world. This is due to the fact that when they are deactivated, they are either stored or recycled. Because many containers are only used once, there will most certainly be an abundance of them. These single-use containers will be the most affordable and widely available. Future Sky Equipment can provide several types of containers for dwelling, business, or any other use according to your demands and budget.
What Are the Disadvantages of Constructing With Shipping Containers?
Shipping containers, despite their housing-friendly qualities, might present issues when employed as residences.
To begin, keep in mind that practically all shipping containers are eight feet wide, with an interior room width of somewhat more than seven feet. Even for someone accustomed to living in tiny apartments, that is extremely narrow.
If you want larger rooms, you'll need to employ more shipping containers with their walls removed or enclose the space between two parallel but separate containers.Another potential disadvantage is that the metal of the containers makes it difficult to attach insulation. While traditional wood walls with studs have a cavity for insulation, shipping containers with corrugated metal sides do not.
Large-scale projects, including numerous containers, may necessitate considerable steel reinforcement, increasing the potential cost.
Are shipping container homes more environmentally friendly than traditional homes?People who like shipping container homes applaud them for giving old containers a second chance at life.
“According to most estimates, the world has millions of unused cargo containers. Receiving new shipping containers is frequently less expensive than returning them to suppliers; hence, some containers are dumped after only one voyage.”
Reusing a safe shipping container is a wonderful example of recycling resources, and shipping container homes can also encourage a smaller footprint and less use of other building materials such as wood and brick. People who are open to living in places like container homes often add eco-friendly features like solar panels, wind power, water recycling systems, and rainwater collection systems.
Nonetheless, some used containers are not environmentally friendly—they may have contained harmful chemicals or been treated to prevent corrosion during transit, resulting in high levels of chemical residue. It is critical to select the appropriate container.
Others contend that the energy required to make the steel boxes habitable outweighs the environmental benefits of recycling. According to studies, before it can be used as a container, the average container generates about a thousand pounds of toxic trash.
Are Containers More Affordable Than other Types of Housing?
Building shipping container homes is not necessarily less expensive than typical stick-built homes, although it can be.
A variety of factors influence project cost, including site, size, design, and interior finishing. Newer containers will be more expensive than older ones.
A shipping container has a flat metal roof, exterior walls, and a metal frame that can also serve as a foundation; these features are frequently mentioned as cost savings. However, you will still have to pay for transportation to your location, insulation, and inside finishing.
You will also need to pay for land. Container homes, on the other hand, can frequently be built on (well-designated) property that would not be appropriate for typical construction without extensive site work. If the site is rough or steep, shipping container houses can be raised on solid pilings rather than paying for costly excavation.
Is it Safe to Live in a Shipping Container?
Because of the container's durability and dependability, shipping container homes are considered safe. Shipping containers are built to withstand some of the most extreme circumstances, including prolonged seawater exposure. They're most likely one of the world's most durable items. Container homes are designed to hold up to 60,000 pounds on the inside and 400,000 pounds on top.
Even if the shipping container is technically sound, keep in mind that it can still be hazardous in other ways. To keep rodents at bay, numerous treatment chemicals are employed in shipping containers. Radaleum FHP-60 is one such compound. It is especially dangerous because it emits almost no odor and can go undetected. To avoid health hazards, make sure the container is carefully disinfected and washed before moving in.
Another danger to consider is the location of your container home. If you reside in a natural disaster-prone area, it's critical to correctly attach the container to the ground and take other required safety procedures to keep your home and family safe.
Are Shipping Container Houses Easier to Construct?
Shipping container homes are frequently erected faster than typical stick-built residences. The simplest and smallest container homes can be erected in a matter of days or weeks, depending on the amount of finishing work required by your design. More sophisticated homes will typically take at least a few months to complete, and shipping container homes are still susceptible to normal building delays.
For the quickest type of shipping container, look for companies that build the majority of the structure offsite before moving it to your property. These prefab-style shipping container homes are typically smaller in size, but they arrive pre-assembled with nearly everything you need to move in right away.
How Long Can A Shipping Container House Be Used?
A container home has the same life expectancy as regular housing. However, as with any property, maintenance and climate considerations are critical. Experts recommend treating rust on a monthly basis and properly maintaining the container, and your home should "last your lifetime."
How Much do Container Homes Cost?
Prices for shipping container homes depend on how many containers are used, how big the containers are, and how hard it is to design and finish the home.
Future container homeowners who are skilled at DIY can save money by undertaking the majority of the work themselves. Container projects typically necessitate a great deal of bespoke work and welding, which can drive up the entire cost. Most people think that container homes are cheaper than regular homes because they take up less space. To receive a quote on converted containers, you can contact Future Sky Equipment.
Are there any Further Hidden Costs?
The more add-ons or bespoke features you select, the more you will spend. Contractor fees will apply to features such as electricity, plumbing, windows, and floors, just as they would in a typical build.Other cost-influencing elements include:
- Permits: The cost will vary depending on your location and the type of permits required.
- Site preparation: a foundation that is rocky, uneven, or prone to flooding will raise the cost.
- Delivery: Prices vary depending on the quantity of units to be delivered and the distance traveled.
- Availability: Because most containers ship directly from China (known as one-trippers), available stock affects prices.
Is a Prefab Home Container Right For You?
Building a shipping container is a cost-effective and inventive solution that is appealing to some people. A custom, factory-built home, on the other hand, will always give you more freedom to construct a home that properly matches your demands.
Shipping container home construction has grown in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. The containers are widely available and reasonably priced, and they may be used to build anything from little dwellings to enormous apartment complexes holding hundreds of people. Shipping containers may be an interesting and environmentally responsible approach to creating a home.
If you want more useful tutorials like this one, be sure to read the rest of the FSE-automation blogs. There, you'll find pro tips and methods, as well as featured container homes. These can help you feel inspired and think about the kind of home you want to build.