10 Innovative Business Ideas for Small Shipping Containers

Over 30 million small businesses currently operate in the United States. That means there’s around one business to every 11 people in the country!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that starting one is easy. In reality, that’s far from the truth. It takes time, money and effort, as well as a fair dose of courage. Finding the perfect place to set up shop can be a particular challenge. Business premises are rarely cheap, and choosing the wrong location can stifle opportunities from the get-go.

Funnily enough, a solution to the problem is being found in an unlikely source: Shipping containers.

That’s right, those giant metal boxes used to transport cargo overseas are now hosting businesses of all varieties, all over the country. They’re cheap, eco-friendly, durable, and portable! But what kind of businesses are best suited to them?

Keep reading to discover 10 innovative business ideas for small shipping containers.

1. Cafés, Bars And/Or Restaurants

Shipping container bars, cafes, and restaurants are all the rage these days.

Go to almost every major city and you’ll find these trendy spaces popping up all over the place. They hold a particular appeal to certain crowds. Expect a youthful, trendy, hipster clientele to frequent them. Shipping containers provide a blank canvas in terms of style. You can decorate and customize them according to needs for a distinctive aesthetic. That makes them ideal for iconic branding.  

2. Gift Shops

How about using your shipping container as a cute and unique gift shop?

Indeed, increasing numbers of business owners are opting to set up their retail stores in this way. They simply provide a far cheaper means of displaying items in thriving metropolitan areas. Do you make awesome, handmade arts and crafts goods? Containers provide a great space in which to showcase all the amazing gifts you have on sale.

3. Gallery Space

Aspiring artists have a challenge on their hands.

Getting their name and work out there is key to establishing a recognizable brand and reputation in the industry.

Displaying work in a gallery can make a big difference. Unfortunately, new artists can struggle to find space in traditional galleries. It’s a fiercely competitive industry, meaning there are far more artists than galleries available. Enter shipping containers! They can make an ideal alternative. It’s easy to convert a container into a gallery, and they’d be perfect for displaying someone’s art.   

4. Yoga Studio

We don’t need to tell you how popular yoga has become in recent years.

More people than ever before are taking to their mats to contort their bodies in inexplicable ways! And many of them attend classes specifically for that purpose. Yoga teachers could very easily use shipping containers to create a unique yoga studio. Typical yoga spaces are expensive to hire; they’re also increasingly generic. It’s always important to stand out from the competition. Holding classes in a container may be just the start a new yoga teacher needs.

5. Book Store

There’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned book store!

Many people prefer to browse the aisles than scroll the online catalog. Shipping containers provide a novel, modern twist to a traditional shop. Why not try setting up a pop-up book store? Open up the doors and shed some light on the books you have for sale. It’s bound to draw a crowd of literature lovers.

6. Office Space

Office space is ludicrously expensive these days.

For instance, in Houston, the average annual cost of renting office space per employee is $5,668. Can you afford that level of expense? If the answer’s no, then setting up your office in shipping containers can be a worthy and less expensive solution to consider.

Similarly, it may be more in line with your brand as well. The office your business inhabits says something about your company and target audience. A trendy shipping container may speak to your audience more than a shiny top floor of a corporate building.

7. Workshop

Good with your hands?

Then think about setting your workshop up in a shipping container. It wouldn’t take much to convert one into the ideal workshop. With a few workbenches set up and your equipment installed, you’re good to go!

The durable and secure nature of the container would be conducive to the work too. Everything will be kept safely inside when you aren’t there.

8. Bicycle Mechanic

A plush, fancy store is unlikely to tick the right boxes for a mechanic. A hardened steel structure is more likely to fit the bill. It definitely fits the stereotype better!

Just as they make great workshops, shipping containers would be ideally suited to a bicycle mechanic too. The size would match up to the demands of the job; the traditionally Spartan nature of containers would suit the oil and grime that often comes with the territory. 

9. Storage Facilities

Shipping containers are literally designed to store things!

Items of all shapes and sizes find themselves stowed away inside these structures. They’re solid, durable, weatherproof metal boxes that safely protect the contents inside. Why not leverage their core functionality for your own storage business? You could buy a number of them, install safe-boxes inside, and voila!

10. IT Repair Service

New businesses don’t always need anything fancy at the outset. A basic space to set up shop and operate from is all that matters. A small shipping computer is perfect if you are an IT person setting up shop. Remember, they can be kitted out exactly as you need them. Desks, internet, and storage space can be easily arranged.

Final Thoughts on Businesses in Small Shipping Containers

There you have it: 10 innovative business ideas for small shipping containers.

Millions of businesses operate around the country already. However, it would be wrong to assume that it’s an easy process. In reality, the decision to start a business should never be taken lightly. One wrong decision can jeopardize the potential for success. One particularly important component is deciding the premises. Thankfully, as we’ve seen, shipping containers can provide a practical, novel, and modern solution.

Almost any business can benefit from setting up shop in a shipping container!

Interested in buying a shipping container for your new venture? 

Contact us today to see how we can help!

Designing A Masterpiece: 15 Essential Shipping Container Designs For Modern Homes

The idea of living in a shipping container may sound bizarre at first. However, the national median cost of rent for a 1 BR apartment in the U.S. is $955. Depending on where you live, that could mean a place with less than 400 sq. feet. 

To the uninitiated, shipping container builds are more than sustainable living. These tiny homes are evolving into architectural marvels. We’re talking multi-story homes with outdoor patios made out of shipping containers.

Designs have gotten so impressive over the years that sometimes you can’t even tell where the shipping container ends and begins. If your curiosity is piqued, then check out these 15 shipping container design ideas.

Top 15 Shipping Container Designs

These designs are merely suggestions. Your preferences may vary based on the property size, elevation, and pricing.

15. The “Standard” Tiny Home

The shipping container movement essentially kicked off with the tiny home craze. You take a single shipping container and pack it with every living feature that you would need. A shipping container is 8ft x 8.5ft x 20ft or 40ft. 

You can find some that fall outside these standard definitions, but they’ll cost more. These can easily fit a very small kitchen, bedroom, and lounge area. 

14. Double-Wide Container

Placing two containers parallel with each other is a natural progression. You not only double the amount of floor space, but you also add more privacy. You can create separate spaces, where a thin wall separates the living room from kitchen/bathroom. Attaching the two containers can get a bit tricky but this is easily doable with the right container modification experts

13. The Courtyard 

Rather than placing containers next to each other, you can set them with a space in the middle. This space acts as a patio, which you can leave open or enclose. This increases the amount of living space and offers the potential for larger event gatherings. 

12. Multi-Level Complex

The more shipping containers involved, the more difficult it is to execute. That’s why, although multi-container stacks are impressive, we placed it further down our list. In this category, we include any home designs with more than four containers.

After you start reaching over a thousand square feet, you’re spending a lot on materials and labor. This doesn’t make it a bad decision. However the complexity of this build will require a lot of modifications and  the help of experienced designers. 

11. Penthouse Suite

The idea behind this build is to create a large living spaces on the second floor to host parties. A large kitchen and bathroom on the bottom will take up most of the first floor. The second floor includes big sliding glass doors that open up to a balcony.

The key is being able to transform your bedroom into a living space without much effort. A Murphy bed is a must. Extra points for making a DIY Murphy bed setup.

10. L-Shaped Home

We can’t say for certain why we love this L-shaped design, but it works. With this design, it allows for a nice little nook at the corner. This is a great place to set up a small reading corner or card table etc.

For those who don’t like how bathrooms are often placed near the kitchen, you can get away with one on each corner. L-shaped shipping container homes also work vertically, too. For an ambitious project, you could build out the spaces above and below each container.

9. Hollowed Out Design

You don’t have to work within the confines of the four walls of a shipping container. Knocking out two ends can open up a ton of breathing room. Replace those walls with either large shutters or large glass panes. A mix of the two would be best, allowing you to move furniture outside. 

8. Garage Flat 

Elevate two shipping containers on steel beams. Use all the additional space below to park your vehicles. An additional perk to this design is that you’ll never need to worry about getting flooded inside your home. This build is practical in the sense that you can build out the interiors first, then set them on top of the foundation. 

7. Criss-Cross Floors

There are a few different variations to this design, but we’ll start with the simplest. This requires four shipping containers as follows:

  1. Two shipping containers parallel on the bottom.
  2. Two containers parallel on top.
  3. Bottom containers spread out by the width of each top end.

What you’ll get is roughly a box-shaped system, with two upper floors. This is a really fun design and really shows the creativity of shipping container homes.

6. Zig-Zag Floors

This is the off-shoot for crisscrossing floors. The concept remains the same, except we’re going to open up more of the top floor by placing them diagonally. The build will require a decent amount of fabrication to get a good seal, but the end result is extremely unique. With this design, you lose some top floor real estate, but you can get creative with movable wood planks.

5. Tri-Stacked Containers

Take three shipping containers, stack the first two on top of each other. On one end of the containers, install the third container alongside them vertically. What looks like a private elevator alongside your home is actually a great hybrid solution. It allows you to extend the length of your core two stories while adding more rooms above. You can add an office, a loft, a meditation room, and more without dipping into your main living space.

4. Fold-Away Designs

This isn’t a specific type of home, but an emphasis on the power of fold-out walls. Shipping containers allow for a unique take on hybrid homes. It is so much easier to hide additional overhangs for outdoor spaces. 

Lift open your awnings and create a great space for a mini-bar. The potential is endless.

3. Double-Decker

The classic two-story shipping container design is easy and allows for the most comfortable living space for 1-2 people. Doubling this space makes it a realistic solution for a family of four. The design is eco-friendly and lets you decide how big you want each room to be. 

2. Sloped Roof Design

Ceiling height is often seen as a major con to living in a shipping container home. The best way to remedy this is with a raised roof. Going with a sloped room removes the boxiness of a container home.

You can choose to go with a traditional roof made of wood or opt for bamboo material for better durability and insulation.

1. Garden-Roof Design

By far, our favorite shipping container designs are ones with garden terraces. Plants are an important companion for boxy shipping container homes. By placing your garden on the roof, you get access to a large space of beautiful plants.

Grow your own food and live off the grid, it’s your own world.

More Inspiration to Build

We hope this list has opened your eyes up to the possibilities of shipping container design. You don’t have to think inside the box to build your own container home. Overall, you will have a lot more room in your budget if you decide to build one with multiple containers.

Make sure you get professional help to stay within building codes. Contact us for a free consultation on how to get started.

Container Home Texas

What Are Some Exciting Trends in Shipping Container Homes?

Traditional ideas of living situations are quickly changing in a world full of customizable options. One such option is the shipping container home, which is quickly becoming an option for those who are looking for an affordable, personalized place to live. 

We’re going to cover some of the interesting trends happening in the world of shipping container homes and how you could use them to create your own pad. Keep an open mind and start considering the possibility of implementing some of these trends into your container home design. 

Trends in Shipping Container Homes

Because these homes are so customizable, there’s a lot of variation in what you can do. The trends below will vary in cost and style, but it’s likely that at least one will strike your fancy. 

1. High-End Homes

The first thought that comes to mind when you think of container homes is that they are small and made for those who are on a tight budget. This isn’t always the case, though, and there are a lot of homes being built that are actually quite lavish. 

A huge piece of this equation is the land that you could potentially use to build your container home. Transporting a container to a remote area to serve as a cabin or remote home is far easier than setting up a traditional home.

2. Add-ons and Multiple Containers

A huge trend is using one container as your center point and building from there. The options are really endless, as you can cut out pieces of the steel to make hallways, extensions, and different points of entry. 

Additionally, you can continuously add to your design if you leave room for it while planning. If you were to start a design with the idea that you were going to add sequential containers later, you could easily expand your home. 

In the same vein, multiple containers that are set up next to each other are frequently being used to create multi-family housing. Even if you wanted to do something similar on a smaller scale, containers are excellent options for uniting a community of friends or family in a comfortable environment. 

3. Container Businesses

A shipping container is a perfect size for a business that’s just starting up. Especially since startups need to free up all off the money they can to cover expenses.

Often times, the building that a company is located in can suck up a large part of that company’s budget. So, testing out a new business in the space that a shipping container provides can spare some of the risks of buying or renting out a building to do the same thing. 

While you may be imagining a large and modern environment for your business, try to brainstorm ways in which you could turn a container into a viable space for your business instead. You might be surprised at the level of comfort and space that’s available in shipping containers. 

4. Patio, Decks, Roof Lounges, and More.

If you lay a little foundation and plan the landscaping of your container home, you can get away with some really comfortable and convenient add-ons. 

For example, turning the roof of your container into a deck is a swanky option. Laying some wood over the roof and installing a railing around the edges makes for a perfect place to put some chairs down, lean back, and watch the stars. 

You can even add staircases to and from the roof that can serve as access points for upstairs bedrooms and separate living spaces. A container is a large, comfortable area, and you can situate a few of them together to provide excellent living spaces for different members of your family. Just like the creative loft space, you see in the picture above. 

5. Container Rentals

Another thing that might be preventing you from buying a container home is the fact that you don’t want to live there year-round. It’s understandable that you may not want to jump into such a big commitment.

However, there’s a way that you can actually profit from the investment of a container home. You can set up the home to be used as a rental property. Air B&B is an excellent option for those with a container home that they don’t use year-round. 

Depending on the average rental rates in your area, you could be looking at a decent profit from simply renting out the container home. People are always interested in having a unique living experience for a night or two, and container homes can certainly be that experience. 

6. Intimate Connection to Nature

Another huge benefit of container homes is that they can be located in close connection with nature. Depending on the arrangement of containers that you choose, you could actually have a home that interacts with nature. 

For example, there are container houses that have large windows on either end and sit in the center of a heavily wooded forest. In this way, a guest would wake up and feel as though they were sitting right there on the forest bed and communing with nature. 

The possibility of using large windows to break down the barrier between your home and nature is a very valuable one. If you’re looking to rent out your container space, we definitely recommend investing in some large windows with a great view. 

Interested in Shipping Containers?

Whether you’re looking to ship something, buy a container for personal reasons, or even turn a few shipping containers into a home, we have got the right information for you.

So, contact us today! We do offer a wide range of container modification options and can provide you with a detailed price quote when you are ready.  

What Not to Do When Considering Shipping Containers for Sale as Homes

How Cargo Container Homes Are Reshaping Low Income Housing

Estimates suggest there are between 12 and 15 homeless per 10,000 individuals in Texas. In Houston alone, that number equates to approximately 6,300 homeless individuals. 

Living paycheck to paycheck is also a national reality affecting 78% of the American workforce. These low-income families spent a whopping 1/3 to 1/2 of their income on housing needs.  Cargo container homes provide a unique solution to this housing crisis. 

The Cargo Container Home Solution

Many are looking at a cost-efficient solution to homelessness and increasing housing costs in larger cities like Houston and Dallas. Welcome to the dawn of the Tiny House Movement, where cargo container homes use new or used shipping containers to address today’s current housing issues. 

Whether you are choosing to downsize out of financial necessity, looking for more freedom, or a home with a smaller impact on the environment, cargo containers are a creative solution.  For the homeless, even a small home is superior to life in the elements.

Cargo containers homes also called shipping container homes or tiny houses are not just boxes. They can be beautiful, self-sustaining homes that people are proud to own. 

Curious to learn more? Keep reading to learn about shipping containers and how they can help both low income and homeless families.

What is a Shipping Container Home or Tiny Home?

Tiny houses, by most definitions, are typically between 100 and 400 square feet and provide the same things other dwellings provide. They have beds, showers, kitchens, and eating areas.  There is no rule on what defines a tiny house.  Some homes are as small as 26 square feet and a 1000 square foot house is also considered tiny because it measures less than half the size of the typical American home.

Tiny houses and shipping container homes are unique in their use of space. A bed may pull out from a raised area or drop down from a wall for use.  Many spaces in tiny homes serve dual purposes. A kitchen table, for example, serves as both an eating space and an office or homework space, a common experience in most homes, regardless of size.

Because of size and materials, Tiny Houses are less expensive to build and maintain, making them very affordable housing solutions.

What is the Size of a Shipping Container House?

Cargo container homes typically range from 56 square feet to 320 square feet. Specialty cargo containers also exist, with extra high ceilings. Most new shipping containers come with one main door opening (typically a double door) and a wood panel.

The smaller size allows for less energy and water demands making them easy to convert to off the grid or semi off the grid systems. Lower energy demands also equate to a lower overall cost to maintain.

Why Use a Shipping Crate Home as Opposed to Another Tiny Home Solution?

1.  Used shipping containers are plentiful. Most goods shipped both nationally and internationally are shipped in shipping containers. Shipping containers are moved by railway cars, river barges, and ocean liners.

2.  Used containers are also environmentally friendly.  Converting a shipping container into a dwelling allows you to Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse all in one.

3.  Shipping containers are already built and therefore prefabricated.  Prefabricated homes allow for quicker build times and can also significantly reduce costs.  

4.  Shipping containers are designed to be stacked for transport in harsh environments, so they are sturdy and durable. Depending on your location, additional attachments can make them very wind, storm, and hurricane proof.

5.  Multi-level home or even an apartment building can be made by stacking containers.    

Already many cities like Houston, Orlando, Los Angeles, and San Diego are using shipping container homes and apartments to address the needs of their homeless and low-income residents.

I Don’t Want to Live in a Box

You may be convinced by the price and utility of a cargo container home, but what about the aesthetics? Ultimately, you are only limited by your creativity.  Modifying a storage container is not difficult and you can check out our photo gallery for some inspiration.  

Need more inspiration? Imagine this, a porch can be added off the existing door structure, to allow for you to open up your entire house in temperate climates.  Installing a similar door on the other side allows for cross ventilation if you follow the prevailing wind pattern for the area.  This design allows you to be closer to nature which reduces stress but also decreases cooling costs. Because of shipping container stability, rooftop gardens and seating areas are very easy to create. 

Haven’t you always wanted a home with a view?    Stacking two containers parallel to each other, with a third crossing them, perpendicularly. Now you have created an instant breezeway. This design may be the ideal way to keep the in-laws living space separate from yours.  

Things to Be Aware of Before You Buy a Shipping Container

Cargo containers can be bought new or used. Used shipping containers must be completed cleaned and prepared before use as a new home. The cleaning should be done by a professional to prevent contamination from the previous shipments.

Local laws may dictate where container homes may be placed, so be sure to check all local permitting prior to purchase.

Other Uses for Shipping Containers

Because of their cost, size, and shortened build time, cargo container homes can also serve many other purposes. Looking for the perfect mother-in-law suite to drop into an existing backyard.

Need a private home office away from the traffic of the family? Shipping containers can even be an easy to build a second home on a piece of land you own. Shipping containers can also be rented as a temporary storage unit.

Regardless of your needs shipping containers can be an affordable solution to space, housing, and storage needs.

Time to Purchase?

We are here to help you choose the right cargo container home for your dwelling or storage needs.  We can also assist you with modifications and arrange services to install it on your property. Contact us for all your cargo container home needs.

Container Garage Modification by EMS

7 Step Guide to a Successful Shipping Container Garage Conversion

Looking to do add a garage onto your home but don’t want to drop a lot of cash? What if we told you there’s an affordable solution that can cost much less.  Shipping containers are a trendy, Eco-conscious way to add more room on to your home without breaking your budget. There are tons of things you can build with shipping containers, but we’re going to focus on one area of your home — the garage.

Building your dream garage doesn’t have to be difficult — or expensive. It’s easy when you follow our seven steps to creating an incredible shipping container garage.

1. Choose Your Container Size

Some of the largest cargo ships are built to hold up to 20 million containers. It’s safe to say your container choices are far more diverse than you think. The space you have available is going to affect the size of the container you’re going to get. You’ll have to consider the size and number of vehicles you want to store, too. Regarding size, standard containers are often 20 or 40 ft. Beyond that, you can find containers as big as 45 ft and as small as 10 ft.

Got a big SUV or roof racks on top of your car ? Look for a taller shipping container.

2. Choose Your Container Type

Container size is determined by the size of your lot and the number of vehicles you need to store. The type of container you get is more determined by your budget. Containers that are a little dinged and dented with a little rust will obviously be cheaper. If you’re not looking for a project or want a container that’s ready to go, try a one trip container. A one trip container was never part of a cargo operation. They’re in much better condition because they only made one trip — from China to the US.

3. Shipping Container Garage Style

Another thing to consider when building a storage container garage: what style are you going to build? Here’s where you can be as creative as your budget and space allow you to be!

Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Got a compact car? One container might be enough for a neat and tidy one car garage.
  • Place two containers on each side and put a roof between them. You’ll have plenty of space to store multiple cars plus storage on the side.
  • Stack multiple containers like building blocks around your car storage space. You can create various workshops and storage from all of the containers.

Once you get started, you’ll realize how fun it is to build with shipping containers. Play around with your design until you get it exactly as you want it.

4. Prepare Your Land

Now that you know how you want your garage to look, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. You can’t just drop a few containers and call it a day; there’s a process you have to follow.

First, reach out to your local government to see if you need any permits to build a container garage. You don’t want your project derailed by paperwork.

Once you’ve got the all clear, you have to prep your land. Here’s how:

  • Measure and mark the area you want to use for your garage
  • Clear the area of any plants and debris
  • Lay a basic foundation, like a concrete slab or steel pipe footing foundation

Now you’re ready to bring in the containers and build your garage.

5. Container Garage Basics

Your foundation is laid, and you’re ready to place your containers. There are some basics to consider at this point of your build. First off, if you plan on parking your car in the container, it’s best to position it with the opening facing the driveway. If you’re using the containers for storage, consider pointing the openings towards your house so you can keep an eye on them. Second, if you chose a used container, you might have to do some upkeep. Painting, rust removal and prevention, taking care of dents and scrapes, etc. are all things to consider before you move in.

Containers are easy to build with and durable, so they won’t need much to get started. Just a little bit of work makes it all worth it.

6. Upgrade Your Shipping Container

Most home garages have basics build in that we don’t think about. With a shipping container, you have a bare canvas that you can make into whatever space you like.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Add insulation to your garage if you’re using your containers not just for your car but for storage too
  • Add electrical drops if you want to use the container as a work space
  • Consider air flow and add a few windows if you’re going to be doing projects inside the containers

These are basic upgrades that make a big difference. Think about how you’re using your space and what you need to be comfortable.

7. Beyond the Basics

You’ve got your container garage set up the way you want it. If you want to tinker even more, here are more ideas for ways to improve your dream garage:

  • Add security, like cameras or motion detectors, especially if you keep expensive equipment in your garage
  • A de-humidifier keeps dampness at bay and extends the life of your car and items in storage
  • Install shelving and a work bench to make it your ultimate work-space
  • Add windows to open up the space
  • Lay down flooring or a ramp to make getting in and out easier
  • Need more ventilation? Put in a fan
  • If you change oil, paint, or need a place for runoff to flow, put a drain in the floor

With the money you save by using a shipping container to build your garage, you’ll be able to afford a lot of great upgrades!

Build More with Shipping Containers

Creating the shipping container garage of your dreams is easier and more affordable than ever before. Once you build your garage, you’ll start wondering what else you can do with shipping containers!

We’ve got tons of different containers to choose from and can help with modifications, too. Check out all of your options and build your dream garage today!

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. 

Conex Box Buying Guide: 7 Factors to Consider before Purchase

For the uninitiated, what is a Conex box? It is a shipping industry term for a standard metal shipping container that provides mass storage and transport of goods across the world.

A Conex box seems like an easy sell if you need to ship or store things over long distances. However, these boxes are not just for transportation and storage. They have a lot of surprising uses outside of their main design. 

The Variety of Uses for a Conex Box

There has been a trend that has been building for a while. This trend burst into popularity over the last few years. What is this trend? Using shipping containers as makeshift or permanent buildings.

It may seem like an odd idea, but it has a good deal of benefits. Shipping containers are far cheaper than many mobile homes or offices on the market. They are also designed to be very strong and airtight. So, adding heating and cooling options to a custom shipping container home or office is possible. There can be many more types of modifications that can be made to these Conex boxes, like everything from windows to indoor plumbing. 

Here are just a few factors you should consider before you purchasing a Conex box for your storage or living space…

The 7 Important Factors to Look For

It is always a good idea to do some research before any major purchase. Conex boxes can go for a few thousand dollars, so buying them without thought can cost you later. Once you have reviewed these 7 factors, though, you should be ready to make a more informed purchase decision. 

1. Sealed and Sturdy

Conex box’s main purpose is to prevent damage of products that are being moved great distances. Therefore, they can withstand all kinds of weather in-order to protect their content from harm. In the process however, they tend to get fairly banged up. If you are saving some money by buying a used Conex box, it is important to inspect the Conex box first for any dents and damages. However, if you are buying a new Conex box, this should not be a problem. 

The key factors to check when it comes to wear and tear are damage to the overall structure, the container’s ability to seal, and whether the doors open and close without a problem. If all of these things are fine, then you should be in good shape.

2. Cleanliness

During its lifetime, a Conex box will contain a wide variety of objects and products, often for days to weeks at a time. During this time, the vast majority of places will clean their shipping containers between uses. Sometimes however, the smell will build up. If there is a nasty or odd smell in the Conex box during inspection, ask the distributor when it was last cleaned before considering that box for purchase. 

A Conex box can be easy to clean, but it requires a bit of diligence. Failing to keep a conex box clean can lead to dangerous internal growths that can be hazardous to ones health. 

Obviously, a new Conex box for sale should have no cleanliness issues, although checking it out first will not do any harm.

3. Moveable

When purchasing a Conex box, you must be able to get it to where you need it.

If you do have a big business and a means to transport it, this problem is an easy fix. If not, you need to look for moving services that deal with Conex boxes.

For those in the Houston area, we here at Equipment Management Services do offer easy transport. For those outside of Texas, we do still provide shipping at an appropriate price. 

4. The Right Size for Your Needs

Conex boxes can come in many different sizes. Figuring out which size will fit your need is an easy thing to overlook. The common size for Conex boxes are 20 feet long and 40 feet long. Also, they can come in custom sizes depending on your needs.

5. Locking Mechanisms

With everything stored and locked away, you want to know that everything is secure. Some Conex boxes come with a locking mechanism built into the doors. Most of them do not. 

When determining the cost and need for a Conex box, always factor in the addition of a lock if needed. What kind of lock you set up will depend on your budget and need for security. 

6. Whether to Rent or to Buy

Sometimes if your need for a Conex box is very short term, you may want to rent a unit instead of buying one. However, if your need for a storage container goes beyond 3 years or so, it would be best to buy the Conex box. 

Obviously, if you intend to make modifications to the Conex box, renting would be a bad idea. There are places that do rent already modified boxes, so if you can find one that suits your needs, you can save some money by renting.

7. Modifications

If you are looking to modify your Conex box, you will need to first understand what those modifications will be and then plan ahead. Budget them out first and do your research on how to make these modifications with the least amount of labor and cost.

Contact Us, we will be glad to discuss your modification needs and give you an honest estimate. 

Keeping Your Future Secure

There are a lot of factors that go into purchasing a Conex box. However, keeping some of the above considerations in mind, you should be able to make a more well informed decision about your Conex container purchase.

Interested in learning more about the INs and OUTs of Conex boxes ? We have a lot more information where that came from! Feel free to check out our blog resources or contact us directly to discuss your shipping container needs. 

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. 

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. 

7 Ideas for Converting Bulk Containers Into Awesome Buildings

Remember when you were a kid playing with Legos, creating all sorts of strange buildings that you may have hoped to live in one day? 

Great news for childhood you–since the trend of turning bulk containers into shipping container homes started a few years ago, your Lego inventions of your early years no longer need to be strictly left to the imagination. Neither is it only homes that these awesome building materials can be used for.

In this post we are going to cover several different possibilities for buildings made from shipping containers as well as some of the advantages that come with using these as building materials. 

1. Homes Built From Bulk Containers 

Let’s start with the buildings that really got the trend rolling–homes. Other than making your childhood self proud, what are some of the advantages that come from having a cargo container home? 

They’re tough as nails. Being stacked on top of one another and then bearing the weather of the open sea–sometimes for even a month, they have to built durably.

Being made from the world’s most recycled material, they’re incredibly eco-friendly (this is why we offer used cargo containers as well!).

They’re extremely affordable. With the average reported cost of building a new house in America right now nearing $300,000, a container home can easily save you more than half of that money, depending on modifications and specific needs.

They’re completely customizable, allowing you to, just like in your Lego-playing days, design and build the house of your dreams.

2. Offices 

Whether you have an established business or are an entrepreneur, you are no doubt always looking for ways to cut down on overhead. Likely, one of your biggest operating costs is the expense that comes with buying or leasing an office space.

Well, we already considered that using bulk containers as your building material can be incredibly cost-effective. But what are some of the other benefits associated with making these shipping containers a part of your business?

It inspires creativity. To be able to work in an office space that is itself built with creativity will inspire you and your employees’ own creativity.

People will remember you. Especially if your business is one that requires customers to visit your office, a bulk container office will help you to stand out as unique. Plus, working out of an eco-friendly office will attract more people. This will already give you a one-up on your competition. 

Container offices allow you to be incredibly flexible, no matter the type of business you run. Many businesses, such as pop-up stores and large construction teams, need to be able to move their shops and offices from site to site. This is why we offer such a variety of mobile container offices

3. Restaurants

Just like with a business needing an office, if you are planning to start running a restaurant, you need to stand out amidst the many options.  The same principles behind having a shipping container office come to play with having a restaurant built with shipping containers. 

For example, there is potential that shipping container’s will cut down on your start up and operating costs, helping your business turn a quicker profit. 

Also, you will quickly be able to catch people’s attention. If you can make people stop and take notice before they even take a single bite of your food, you’ve already taken a big leap towards restaurant branding success. 

4. Mobile Food Vendors

We’ve all seen shipping containers on the back of tractor-trailers being hauled to or from a shipping port, ready to make their next delivery. But what about at street food markets?

Being durable and portable, shipping containers are a perfect fit for mobile food stands and food trucks. Just ask street food powerhouse Copenhagen, Denmark. They’ve created an outdoor food market mecca, called Reffen. Their vendors’ building material of choice? You guessed it–shipping containers.

5. Pools 

What else can a sealed 8ft wide, 8.5 ft high (or deep), 20-40 ft long container be used for? 

Remove the top, fill it with water, and you have the hippest way to stay cool in the summer heat. With a bulk container pool, your house will instantly become the go-to hang out spot in the summertime.

What if you move? Well, unlike a poured concrete below ground pool, we are talking about a product that was built to be moved. It’s as easy as having the container pool picked up and brought to your new residence. 

With the summer of 2019 coming in hot (pun intended), why not check out this post for further details on if a shipping container pool might be the right fit for your family and friends?

6. Home Gyms

What else comes with the approach of summertime? The desire for that summer body.

We all want it, but paying $60-$150/month to have to travel to a local gym and get our sweat on in front of people may not be our thing. Or it could be that your house doesn’t have a basement, garage, space in general, or a place you could safely stack hundreds of pounds worth of gym equipment. 

This is where a hardy, open and spacious shipping container could be the perfect fit for your next home gym.  

And with just how affordable a used shipping container can be, it could easily be one of the cheaper parts of your home gym investment.

7. Home or Work Storage Sheds 

If you’re a tradesman or tradeswoman, homeowner, or simply someone who enjoys being handy, you may run into the same problem as someone who wants to build a home gym–a lack of space or safe place to store heavy, metal equipment. 

The benefits of considering a bulk container for use as a storage shed are immediately seen. Being spacious and open, you can store all sorts of tools and machinery, such as lawnmowers, plows, and other heavy-duty equipment in one.

Since they are durable and fireproof, you can store heavy, sharp, electrical, and gas-filled equipment with peace of mind, not worrying about fire or wear and tear.

Built of steel and capable of being locked tight, you can put your mind to ease knowing that potentially tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment is safe in your cargo container storage shed. 

Durable, Portable, Affordable, Eco-Friendly, and Super Cool…But Right for Me?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, store or restaurant owner, environmental advocate, or simply someone who wants a cooler, more hip way to live and work, make sure to seriously consider some of the shipping container ideas discussed above. 

Love the idea of building a shipping container home or office but need a little bit more information? Check out our blog for more inspiration in bringing your ideas to life!

If you have already decided that cargo containers might be the right fit for your needs, get in touch with us today? We can price out single or bulk quantities of new or used containers for you.