Freight Shipping Container Modifications in Houston: Container Homes and More!

The port of Houston hit a new record for processed container volume last year. The port handled 2.7 million 20-foot equivalent units. That’s up 10% from the previous year. 

With this much volume, there are plenty of containers in the area that are available for purchase. Their affordability and durability make them an attractive option for multiple construction projects. 

If you are considering using freight shipping containers for a home building project on your property, you need to read this guide first. It may save you countless hours of frustration, time and money. 

Let’s get started talking about some local regulations affecting your container use. 

Where to Build Your Shipping Container Home 

Texas is known for being one of the friendliest states when it comes to building with shipping containers. They tend to have more relaxed regulations when it comes to construction and zoning in general. 

For even greater building freedom, stick to the suburban and rural areas. The closer you get to larger cities like Houston the more regulations will be in place. 

Keep in mind it isn’t just the city and state government regulations you have to contend with. Many neighborhoods have an HOA agreement that regulates what can and cannot be built in a particular neighborhood or community. 

Using Your Container for Storage 

Don’t assume that you can use a shipping container for storage or as a shed on your property. Just outside of Houston the DeerPark City Council members decided they didn’t want shipping containers used for permanent storage within city limits. 

If a business wants to use a container, they must obtain a Special Use Permit. Even after approval, there are many other rules you need to follow. For instance, you cannot stack one container on top of another. 

You must also build an 8-foot opaque privacy fence to block the public view. 

Hotel Made of Containers 

Shipping containers aren’t just for storage, homes, and mobile offices in the Houston area. About an hour and a half outside of Houston in Round Top they are welcoming in a shipping container hotel. This shouldn’t be a surprise since the city is known as a mecca for antique and green living enthusiasts. They approved a six container hotel located just minutes from downtown. There are even plans to expand the hotel with more containers in the future. If you are looking to build, this would be an attractive area with container friendly zoning and codes. 

Can You Build a Container Home in Houston?

The short answer is yes, you can. There is no law prohibiting you from using shipping containers to build your home. However, there are some restrictions that we will get into in the next section. There is also the opposition you may face from those who do not want a container home in their neighborhood. 

Container homes are being successfully built in and around Houston. For example, this colorful home located in one of the many transition neighborhoods uses 4 containers

Your Container Home Can’t Be Too Tiny

We’ve all seen the tiny home trend where people live in a microscopic floor plan. One shipping container is perfect for this sort of living. However, you won’t be doing it in Houston. 

There are minimum dwelling regulations that your home must comply with. For instance, you must have at least one habitable room that is 120 square feet. Then the other habitable rooms must have no less than 70 square feet. 

No habitable room in your home can be less than 7 feet wide in any horizontal direction. The exception here is the kitchen. There is also a minimum ceiling height. You need to keep this in mind as it may make the difference between you buying a standard height container or a high cube. 

The minimum ceiling height in Houston is 7 feet. A standard cube is 8’6″, and a high cube is 9’6″. Now, this may seem like a lot of room, but you need to factor in your HVAC system, electrical wiring, and insulation. By the time you are done the finished ceiling on the inside of your container could be a foot lower than the height of the container. Then you still need to think about if you plan to install a ceiling fan. So, as you can see, there is a lot to think about when designing a tiny home out of a shipping container. 

Not to worry, we have ton’s of experience modifying shipping containers to your exact specifications. So contact us today for an insightful discussion on how to proceed. 

Use a Certified Fabricator 

Make sure you work with a certified fabricator for the other prefabricated building components you will need. If you plan to cut away a large portion of the container, you will need to construct alternative load bearing structures from steel. 

If you buy your trusses and beams from a certified fabricator, then individual inspections are not required. A city inspector will check for certification numbers on the structural components during your construction. However, if you have these numbers already, you can make the whole build out go a lot smoother. 

Start Using Freight Shipping Containers

Whether you plan to use freight shipping containers for storage, an office, or your home, you need to check with the local and state regulations to ensure that your new structure is legal. You don’t want to invest time and money only to find out that your new building needs to be taken down. 

Start by deciding how you want to use your container. Then check to see if that use is allowed. If you plan to build a container home, make sure you follow all of the codes because inspectors will be checking that you are throughout your building process. 

Contact us today and let us help you design a modified shipping container that is perfect for your needs. 

Environmentally Conscious Homeowners Choose Used Shipping Containers

5 Ways Shipping Container Homes Are Changing Our World (for the better!)

Way back in 1937, Malcolm McLean finally lost it with the slow pace of loading cargo onto ships and began experimenting with ways to streamline this task.

After 20 years of trial and error, he patented the first shipping container in 1956. In the same year, the first 60 containers left Newark, N.J. bound for Houston.

Today, almost every country in the world has a container shipping port. Read about how these not-so-little boxes continue to shape the world in the form of shipping container homes.

1. Shipping Container Homes are Green

While you can buy new shipping containers to build storage container homes, used containers are a good option for this kind of dwelling.  This ticks several boxes for eco-conscious homeowners who like the idea of re-using something that may have ended up in a landfill. Building these houses also uses fewer resources in the form of bricks and mortar than traditional methods do. Many homes made from containers have off-grid capabilities, such as solar power. This means they use less of the Earth’s resources too.

2. Less Cost Involved

The older the container you choose, the cheaper it’s going to be to buy and the more it’s going to cost to refurbish it. However, this should still be less than building or buying a conventional home. These lower building costs open up the world of home ownership to many more people than before.

3. Quick Construction

Construction delays can be frustrating and costly when building a brick and mortar home. This is never the case with container homes. Many storage container homes fall into the realm of prefabricated housing. This means that there is little to do when your new home reaches your site. It’s almost a drop-and-go situation, with only a little work required to hook up your utilities.  One of the best parts about building one of these dwellings is that first-time homeowners can start off with tiny homes and expand as they go along.

4. Mobility

Cargo containers are specially designed to travel all over the world on ships, trucks, and trains. Thanks to this, they are super easy to relocate as needed. If you plan your home design carefully, you could move it from place to place as you choose. Should you get a new job in another city, you can take your tiny abode along with you.

The convenience, cost-benefits and minimalistic comfort of shipping containers is hard to beat.

5. Versatility and Scalability

These cheap homes are infinitely scalable. You can keep adding containers as you go along. Take a look at these examples of homeowners who thought out of the box with their home designs. They are also extremely flexible with many uses including as premises for clinics, offices, mobile site buildings, pop-up shops and much more. One of the most important uses for shipping containers is as temporary housing or shelters during times of disaster.

Into the Future with Cargo Containers

As more people realize the benefits of shipping container homes, we’re entering a time where less is definitely more with regard to housing.

Smaller spaces to live in means people can accumulate fewer things and focus more on what’s important.

They can move around more easily to broaden their horizons and own their own dwelling without a crippling mortgage to worry about.

Get in touch if you’d like to get on board with the bright new future of container home living.

Shipping Container Homes & Offices: Making the Most of Your Space

You’ve got on board with the shipping container movement and now it’s on its way, ready to become your new home or office. Clearly, space needs to be well utilized to get the very best out of the space. The key – shipping container home plans that actually work! It’s amazing what you can do with a small space. Read on for our handy guide.

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Turning Shipping Containers for Sale in Texas into Homes

As natural resources become harder and harder to find, people are starting to learn how to conserve. Whether it’s buying groceries or building a house, they’ve become more anxious about getting their money’s worth and saving more. Particularly, those who are planning to build a new home are looking for the most cost-effective option. They are now considering using shipping containers for sale in Texas.

 

Read More

Helpful Tips for Building Quality Homes Out of Shipping Containers

Having a good-quality home made out of shipping containers is not going to depend on architectural style and interior design alone. While these are important elements, they should not be the main focus of concern. Beyond aesthetics, functionality and safety are actually just as important. Here are some tips on how to efficiently use shipping containers for building your new home. Read More

The Many Benefits of Using Shipping Containers to Build Homes

If you’re just about to build your own home, or perhaps you would like to have a new one that’s more to your creative and unique tastes, you may want to consider using shipping containers as your main building material. People now consider alternative uses for shipping containers, including building homes from them, after learning of the many benefits of doing so. Here are some of them. Read More

The Pros and Cons of Building a Shipping Container House

The average cost for newly constructed homes is $385,200. Many people are turning to alternative building materials such as shipping containers to ease the cost of new construction. 

They are so popular that even hotels like the Flophouze Hotel in Round Top, Texas are constructed entirely from shipping containers. These prefabricated boxes may be the perfect solution to creating your dream home. 

If you are considering building a shipping container house here in Houston, there are a few pros and cons you should consider first. Keep reading so you can make an informed decision. 

Pro: Speedy Construction 

Building with shipping containers is much faster than traditional construction methods. Smaller homes can reach complete fabrication within three weeks in offsite fabrication. Larger homes can be completed in a few months.  

Many of the small details and modifications can be done at the production site before the containers ever reach their final destination. 

Shipping containers are also much friendlier to the DIYer. However, it is smart to consult with a design firm or an engineer before embarking on your container home. 

Pro: Cost Effective 

Building with shipping containers can save you money when compared to traditional shipping methods. One man used two containers to create a rustic cabin that is completely off the grid for $35,000. 

Depending on the quality of the container and its location, a container can cost anywhere from $1,400 to $4,500 and sometimes more. You may be able to find one for cheaper, but you’ll want to make sure you can actually build with it. 

Con: Not Quite Eco-Friendly 

The general theory is that if you use old refurbished shipping containers, you are doing the environment a favor. However, these containers typically have wear and damage making them unsafe for new home construction. 

If you do decide to use refurbished construction you need to ensure the structural integrity of your home. 

New shipping containers offer you the freedom and structural integrity to create any building you can dream up. 

Harmful Chemicals 

Used shipping containers may have held toxic chemicals or other materials. They have also been treated to prevent corrosion during transit. 

Remember, containers are made of steel and spend most of their time near and on the ocean. Saltwater and metal is a recipe for corrosion and rust. 

Make sure you inspect your refurbished container to confirm that it has been adequately treated to be safe for use in home construction. You will also want to check for rust as this will compromise the structural integrity. 

The Eco-Friendly Part 

If you decide to use a refurbished container the most significant impact you will have is with the use of steel. The average 40-foot container has more than 8,000 pounds of steel. 

You are also reducing your use of other traditional building materials such as wood and masonry. 

Pro: Mobility 

Whatever your reason, maybe you don’t want the home to stay at its original location permanently. With traditional construction, you don’t have the option of moving your building. 

Containers can have your completed building moved to a new location as many times as necessary. 

Pro: Creative Freedom 

Shipping containers come in a variety of different sizes which gives you the freedom to create a home as large or as small as you wish. You can combine multiple containers to create a larger space. 

You can create large windows to open the space up and bring in a lot of natural light. Or you can install large glass doors that you can open up and bring the outdoors in. 

Using shipping containers lets you express your personal style. With the rules of traditional construction and architecture out the window, you are free to create. 

For the most freedom, try to stick with high cube containers, they are 9’6″ tall. This will make it easier to add insulation and still have room for a ceiling fan. 

If you aren’t worried about this, you could use a standard height container; they are 8’6″ tall. 

Cons: Permits and Codes 

Container homes are still relatively new in many municipalities. Because of this, many permits and building codes are not designed to work with them. 

Do your research to ensure you are legally able to build a container home. Then you need to make sure your home complies with all current zoning and construction regulations. 

Here in Houston, the best place to start is with the Building Code Enforcement office. If you do not comply with planning regulations, you may find yourself having to take the home down even if construction is complete. 

Pro: Toughness and Durability

Containers get manufactured with durability in mind. Their original purpose is to survive many months and thousands of miles out on an ocean tanker exposed to the elements. 

They often far surpass the minimum specs for new homes when it comes to strength and durability. 

To retain this strength, you need to be careful about how much steel you cut away. If you plan to make significant cutaways for doors, windows, and room openings, then you need to install reinforcements. Additional steel beams can carry the load. 

Construct Your Shipping Container House

If you are ready to start building your shipping container house here in Houston, Texas, we can help you get started. We have a large inventory of both new and used containers. 

We can help you create the container building of your dreams. This could be a home, office, or any other structure you need to have built quickly.  

Contact us today and let us help you create the shipping containers you need to build your dream shipping container home. 

STEEL CONTAINERS: Modifying Your Sustainable Container Home

You are concerned with the future of climate change just like millions of others. You know you alone aren’t going to change the world. Still, you feel it’s your obligation to reduce your carbon footprint and have as little a negative impact as possible on the environment.  

How can you live in a way that is more sustainable without sacrificing your unique style and comforts?

A growing trend in this direction is building a house out of steel containers.

Cost-Effective and Adaptable

Using steel containers as building materials has a great many benefits. They are customizable and flexible. Considering these containers were initially built for shipping purposes, they are, of course, transportable. 

Building with shipping containers is also one of the most affordable ways to build a new home. In fact, the current national average to build a new home is nearly $300,000–about $150 per square foot. By choosing to build with shipping containers, you can easily cut your construction cost by more than HALF. It’s estimated by designer and cargo container expert, Adam Kalkin, that a container home cost per square foot usually falls in between the $73-$90 range. 

However, one of the things that people find most attractive about this home building option is its eco-friendly nature. It’s this that we are going to focus on here.

Steel Containers: A Sustainable Home Building Solution 

Do you know what the most recycled material in the entire world is? You’ve probably guessed it already–steel

In North America alone, more than 80 million tons of steel is recycled each year. With the average weight of a 40-foot steel container used for shipping is around 8,250 pounds, that 80 million tons of yearly recycled steel would amount to 19,400,000 of such containers. 

Not only are the containers themselves eco-friendly in nature, but the many custom options they allow for you to live more sustainably. One such option is the ability to incorporate sustainable lighting into your shipping container home.  

Let’s consider a few ways you can do this while enhancing–rather than compromising–your unique style.

Modify to Incorporate Natural Lighting

You can choose to have your shipping container home modified to include installation of glass entry doors, windows, and skylights. This can turn what once was a dark block of metal into a bright and spacious living space.  

When it comes to these modifications, we offer a variety of different options. For skylights, you can choose between, domed, vented, and flat. For windows and glass entry doors, you can choose what shapes and sizes fit your preferences.

To make your modification ideas a reality, check out our container modifications page and get in touch with us using the information found there. Knowing each build is different because each person’s needs and preferences are different, we want to hear yours. Then we will work with you to come up with the best solution to make your ideas come to life. This way the function and look of your new container home can be exactly as you’d imagined. 

Also, check out how this shipping container building design has incorporated these modifications to maximize natural light usage for their container home. This will help you have a better idea of what is possible in this regard. 

Eco-Friendly Artificial Light Installation 

By choosing the above modifications to incorporate as much natural light as possible into your home, you won’t need artificial lighting during the day (well, most days). This is truly the best way to achieve sustainable, green lighting for your build. 

But for the artificial lighting you will be using, what is the best choice to keep your build as eco-friendly as possible? And how can you do this while keeping a sharp, modern design?  

When it comes to the right type of lighting to achieve this, LED bulbs will be the best choice. 

LED bulbs themselves, especially those that are Energy Star rated, use 75% less energy than the more traditional incandescent type lighting.

In addition to this more obvious benefit is the benefit of heat emission. LED bulbs emit a very small amount of heat. Incandescent and CFL lighting release about 80-90% of their energy as heat (if you’ve ever tried to unscrew an incandescent bulb shortly after turning the light off, you know this all too well). This also means that the risk of fire is further lowered in your container home.

A Big Step Towards Better, Sustainable Living

Lighting is just one way you can customize your container home to increase its eco-friendliness. There are many other methods you can incorporate into your build to maximize its sustainability and minimize your carbon footprint.

Having a home with a flat roof that is always facing the sky will make a perfect place to install solar panels, for example. Another reason a container home is such a great fit for solar panel installation is its durable design. Where some roofs can’t handle the weight of solar panels, homes built from steel containers will have no problem bearing this weight. 

Does living more sustainably appeal to you? Does cutting down on energy costs while still being able to have a more stylish home appeal to you? If so, feel free to get in contact with us. Even if you aren’t sure, please don’t hesitate to direct your questions our way.

As mentioned above, we know your preferences are unique and we want to hear your ideas. From there we can work on a plan to create solutions towards making your eco-friendly container home a bright, stylish, affordable reality.