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Building Container Homes

Container homes are buildings erected with the use of steel shipping containers, which do not need any extra support like pillars, walls or any other architectonical solutions. These unusual structures are becoming more popular due to their low cost, high durability, ease of assembly and no maintenance-related fees.

building container homes
Newly Built Container Home

Shipping containers are extremely strong, durable and reliable - their primary purpose is transportation of goods in harsh conditions. All shipping containers are made according to the same measurements; this allows them to be combined, stacked on top of one another, joined, etc. This is a feature that is of great benefit when thinking about building a container home - with a bit of skill and vision one can arrange the containers into various structures.

Stack 'Em ...

Shipping containers can be modified and stacked to make versatile structures that are cheap and readily accessible. The only disadvantage is that this usually requires the use of heavy construction machinery - but this is not a high price to pay for a cheap and easily made home.


How to build a shipping container home?


1. Researching the market is very important. The average prices of shipping containers could be in the region of $2500 - $3000. Sometimes it is possible to get one cheaper on Internet auction sites (E-bay, etc.). Second-hand containers that were used to transport cargo could be got even cheaper.

2. Once bought, the shipping container must be transported to the desired location. It is imperative to clean the whole container thoroughly (a power hose is recommended).

3. Careful examination of the container should reveal all potential rusty spots. These must be cleaned out, sanded and preferably coated with an anti-rust agent.

4. Any holes in the container should also be located and welded.

5. At this point the shipping container would need to be painted. This is not done only for esthetical reasons - proper paint (preferably 2 layers) helps maintain the steel in good condition.

6. Finding a good location and ensuring that proper foundations are in place is essential. A house built from shipping containers should be on a flat, study surface. Experts advise that the container should be located above the ground level - corrosive effects of moisture can result in severe damage to the bottom part of the container if it is exposed to them over the years.

7. The next step is to cut out the doors and windows in the container's walls. This stage requires some planning and in a case of combining two or more containers it would be particularly important to have the layout of the future home planned ahead.

8. Once the structure is in place, it must be insulated. Steel has a very good thermal conductivity, but this could be a disadvantage in the winter, as the shipping container does not maintain heat. It is paramount to have a good insulation system and some sources of heating installed if one wants to live in the container home during wintertime.

Green Architect ...

In order to build a modern shipping container home you may need a green architect in your corner depending upon how complex and involved the project is projected to be. Living in one simple shipping container is a whole different ballgame than putting several containers together in a functional yet aesthetically pleasing fashion.

container home construction
Professional architect Peter DeMaria designed the container home (right) and is inspecting a different project (left).


Conclusion ...

If you're an architect and a builder yourself, then this may be the perfect DIY project for you. If not, however, you may want to leave the building of the shipping container home to a professional and enjoy the fruits of their labor.


 
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