What You Should Know About Shipping Container Homes
Jan 2020

What You Should Know About Shipping Container Homes

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Shipping containers were a necessary invention to quickly and safely transport cargo across the sea and on land. With their strong steel structure, they can withstand the harsh sea environment while allowing for easy handling using machinery like cranes and forklifts.

There are many other advantages of using containers for transporting goods, including their portability on roads, standard sizes for uniform placement, and sturdy construction so they can be stacked as required. Fortunately, these benefits make them just as effective as a home, with a few modifications to suit your preferences.

Shipping container modifications allow for the design of all kinds of housing structures, including:

  • Single-unit containers
  • Truck-mounted container-homes on wheels
  • Huge container homes featuring internal walls removed to create bigger rooms
  • Hybrid buildings that feature traditional construction with container extensions

With exterior cladding and creative interior walls, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish container homes from any other conventional construction.

As you consider getting a modified shipping container home, here are a few things to keep in mind:

New vs. Used Containers

Your home will be designed from used containers that vary considerably in terms of their physical condition and structural integrity. Containers that have been used only once are usually as good as new, and may not have any defects that compromise the finished structure. But they are also very expensive. Refurbished containers that have been repaired are also quite expensive, while those with minor defects may be much cheaper.

The different container qualities include:

  1. New or one-trip shipping containersThese container units are manufactured in Asia and shipped overseas for sale when completely new or after one-time use. They may come in tan, grey, or green colours, and are dent and rust-free.
  2. Cargo-worthy shipping containersThese containers are considered to be in the best shape for any used containers. They are certified as structurally fit for shipping, though some may have a few dents, signs of rust, and shipping markings.
  3. Wind and watertight shipping containers These containers are good and sturdy, though their certification for cargo shipping may have expired. Some may have defects, though this should not necessarily affect their performance when used for storage.
  4. As-is shipping containers These are likely to have some kind of problem, such as holes, damaged roof, or bad floors. As such, they don’t carry vendor warranties.

As-is containers are the cheapest option, while new containers are very expensive. Since you’re looking for a low-cost home, you should try to balance between cost and condition to ensure the comfort and durability of your modified home. Make sure you visit the site to visually inspect your container before purchasing.

Design vs. Merit

Shipping container homes have become increasingly popular due to their focus on, among other factors, sustainability. You’re giving new life to used containers. People are also drawn to container homes for their style and character.

Although it is an environmentally friendly and highly customizable option for owning a home, you should ensure that you reap the maximum benefits of the steel container itself.

While there are plenty of designs for shipping container modifications, you should be careful about any elements that may reduce the integrity or security of your home. Steel containers are made from Corten Steel, which is virtually impenetrable.

The doors also come fitted with levers, and you can install a metal lockbox to secure the padlock for enhanced security. This makes it easier to maintain the container door as the main entrance, especially if your modified home will be in an insecure or remote location where it’s accessed infrequently.

With a good designer, some of the steel on the side can be cut to create space for windows, vents, or even an extra door — man-door or roll-up door — but you may need to add reinforcement to maintain the strength of your container.

Variable Sizes

The size of your container home is highly flexible. A small container measures 8 x 20 feet, while the bigger one measures 8 x 40 feet. Depending on your needs, one of these containers may be enough.

You can also join two or more of these containers on the ground or vertically by stacking them according to your specific needs or ground space availability. Keep in mind that you need about 120 feet of straight clearance for the container to be trucked in.

Your shipping container modification company can help you create a functional layout for the size of the container that fits your needs and budget. Generally, the 20-foot container has enough space to furnish a 3-bedroom home, whereas the 40-foot container has the capacity for about 24 3-foot wide pallets or a very spacious home.

Most households find a 40-foot container to be sufficient, but if you plan to change your location then a 20-foot container offers more flexibility.

Cost Breakdown

  1. Shipping container This depends on the size and condition of the container, as well as the distance you need to transport it.
  2. Modifications There are usually some health and safety concerns associated with shipping containers, such as toxic paints, wooden floors with pesticide, or even electrocution from lightning. These issues can be easily addressed by your contractor to make your container home safe for you and your loved ones.
  3. Insulation The steel construction makes containers poor heat conductors and extremely uncomfortable in extreme heat or cold conditions, so you need to install proper insulation for comfort and to prevent any condensation or mould issues.
  4. Fixtures and furnishings The cost will vary depending on the number of rooms that need to be furnished, including the bedrooms, living room, bathroom, kitchen, and garage.
  5. Permits You must check to see your state’s legislation and acquire the correct permits for the safe construction of a container home and installation of amenities
  6. UtilitiesWater, plumbing, and electrical installation costs will vary depending on your goals but can add up quickly.
  7. Cost of labour You need to offer the downpayment and then pay the rest after completion for any labour costs associated with modifying or delivering your shipping container.

Building Your Shipping Container Home

If your shipping container home is built according to the building codes for family homes, then you may qualify for a mortgage or financing, just like any other home but it must be connected to a permanent foundation and have utility services.

You may also need to engage a qualified contractor for shipping container modifications to ensure the best construction practices, as your home will serve as collateral. Otherwise, it won’t be considered real estate if you don’t pay property taxes.

To learn more about creating a shipping container home, call Sigma Containers at (855)340-3342 or contact us here.