Shipping Container Housing: Tips for Beginners

There are many reasons why more and more people are choosing to convert a shipping container to live in. For starters, the housing market has made it incredibly expensive to get onto the property ladder in a conventional way. Shipping container accommodation can be cost-effective, give you a great deal of flexibility over the design of your home, and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly solution.

If you are going to customise a shipping container to craft a home, however, it’s not as straightforward as buying a house. You can’t just move into a shipping container. This is more like a construction project. There is work that needs to be done and certain aspects that you need to consider.

With this in mind, here are some tips for budding shipping container homeowners:

Where to Put your Shipping Container Home

The first thing that you need to think about is where you are going to put your shipping container home. Do you have a piece of land to put it on? Shipping container homes may need planning permission, so it is important to check with your local authority before beginning.

You will also need to remember that your shipping container home – or at least the individual shipping containers – will probably be prefab or constructed off-site and delivered. This means that you will need to have access to it from the main road, as it is delivered by truck. You will also need space for its unloading.

Shipping containers are heavy, and although you won’t need to dig deep foundations for it, you will need to have a hard surface to place it on. Most people use a concrete area, concrete paving slabs, or railway sleepers for this.

Design and Size

The next thing that you need to decide on is its design and size. You have a choice of three different floor plan sizes of shipping containers – 10ft x 8ft, 20ft x 8ft, and 40ft x 8ft. These can come in a standard height size of 8ft 6in, or in a high cube version with a height of 9ft 6in.

These shipping containers can be joined side by side or stacked on top of each other to create a larger space, in the shape that you want, and creating more than one level.

When you are designing your shipping container home, it can sometimes be difficult to visualise how it would look once it is complete. Our design team can help you with this, and can also use our Computer-Aided Design (CAD) technology so that you can have a better idea of how it will look.

The Manufacturing Process

Turning a shipping container into a home that is liveable requires a number of changes to be made. The majority of these can be done during the manufacturing process, and then be delivered already fabricated to your site.

Some of these customisations include:

  • Installing electricity and lighting
  • Fitting ‘normal’ personnel doors to replace the large, industrial-looking door that is used to load cargo
  • Adding windows to allow natural light in
  • Fitting a lining to help with insulating your home – a shipping container is essentially a metal box, meaning that it can get very cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The insulating lining helps to regulate the temperature and make it suitable for people to inhabit
  • Installing a water system
  • Adding moisture traps to help to reduce any condensation potential
  • Fitting container ramps for wheelchairs and easy access for heavy items

Building your own shipping container home can be cost-effective and eco-friendly, as well as give you massive flexibility over the design of your home. With some careful planning, close attention to detail and good design, you can create the home of your dreams.