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Considerations for Designing a Shipping Container Home

  • Container Homes
11th February 2019

Creating a home from shipping containers is an option that is becoming increasingly appealing for more people. Not only do they support sustainable living, but they can also be more affordable than buying a bricks and mortar home, and with the right amount of care and maintenance they can also last for many years.

There are a number of things that you need to consider when you are thinking of buying a shipping container to convert into your home. Firstly, you need to ensure that you have the space to put it – this might involve buying or renting land and ensuring that it has an adequate foundation base – usually concrete slabs or something similar.

You should also check with your local authority as to whether you need to have planning permission, as this can be a grey area when it comes to local laws. You should also ensure that you have adequate access to the area for the intermodal to arrive and be unloaded.

Some other considerations include:

  • The Size – Shipping units are essentially like giant Lego blocks. They can be stacked and joined together to create a home of the size and shape that you have always dreamt of – assuming that you have the room, of course. There are generally three sizes available – 10ft20ft, and 40ft. Containers can be joined together using interlocking twists locks to keep them in place. It is important, however, to do your research into the structure to ensure that it is structurally sound.
  • Windows and Doors – Every home needs as much natural light as possible – and a shipping container home is no different. You should be aware of how windows and doors can affect the structure as you are designing it.
  • Think outside the Box – The very fact that you’re considering a container home means that you are probably a ‘thinking outside the box’ type person. Don’t stop there! You can really think outside the box, try incorporating outside space and thinking of ways to bring the outside in, for example.
  • Insulation – A shipping unit is essentially, a metal box. It is, therefore, important that you insulate it properly to ensure that it doesn’t get too cold – or too hot. Insulation lining not only helps to keep the indoor temperature under control, but it also allows you to fix fittings to the walls easier and protect you from moisture and condensation.
  • Energy and Water – Unlike a conventional bricks and mortar home, you won’t have plumbing and electricity already installed. Customised shipping containers are an excellent option, but you should also consider harnessing alternative water and energy solutions – especially if sustainability is one of your reasons for having a shipping container home.
  • Costs – Although they can be a low-cost option, it is important to remember that costs can build up, the more that you want to add to your home. Try to set yourself a budget and stick to it! It is also worth considering the price difference between heavily used second-hand storage units and ones that have only been used for one journey.
  • Check Before you Buy – It is important that check before you buy. You need to ensure your home is made from good quality units that are unlikely to cause any problems for you in the near future.

Unless you are an expert, it is a good idea to design your home with an expert designer who understands its ins and outs and structural complexities. They will know about what is possible (and not) and will have specialised technology which can help you to get the home of your dreams.

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