With their affordability, strength, ease of use, and eco-friendliness, shipping containers make for good materials to build a home. A lot of people are actually using this option nowadays. You can see many examples of container houses that were done in a short time without having to spend too much. There are also, however, container homes that have failed. This isn’t because of the material, but it’s due to the mistakes homeowners make. Read More
A popular trend nowadays is to convert shipping containers into structures of abode or business. Aesthetically, it gives off a very structural and modern vibe, which makes it very appealing, especially to the younger market.
It doesn’t hurt that it can be a lot cheaper as compared to building a structure from the ground up, or even using prefabricated materials. With a shipping container, the base form is already there; all that’s left to do is to fortify and insulate it to make it as habitable as possible. Apart from that, the fact that it’s also modular makes it very easy to expand as you need or prefer. Of course, the main requirement for this is to have enough land space to play around with.
Before you dive into developing or building your own shipping container office, however, here are some important tips that you should put into consideration first.
Personally Inspect the Unit
Inspect the unit see its condition for yourself and to get a feel of whether or not the dimensions are just right for your needs. The inspection should also allow you to anticipate if there are any repairs needed to be done, as well as other preparations or fortifications before it can be used for construction. Remember, you are going to re-purpose it to be either your place of abode or work. It definitely matters that you are sure of its structural integrity.
Check Local Building and Zoning Rules
There are going to be different rules and policies for every community regarding construction materials and guidelines. Check with your area if they have any requirements or restrictions for using shipping containers. After all, it’s still a rather unorthodox material for construction use.
Plan Ahead for Structure and Layout
Working with a shipping container is tricky because while you do have an open space to work with, it’s not really all that much. The way it’s designed also also limits you to a narrow flow of movement, unless you add another container or module.
That makes it important to properly plan space usage. You can have multiple levels of container vans, as long as you ensure that they will be properly stacked one on top of each other. Shipping containers are designed to be stacked 12 high when empty. Either that, or you can opt for a horizontal expansion instead, but this will require ample land space.
You’ll also need to plan in advance for the plumbing requirements and also power connections. Especially if you plan to have multiple levels of containers, it would be ideal for you to have the plumbing chases already cut out of the van floors and ceilings.
Reflect Your Style
As with any construction or building project, one of the more exciting parts is that you get to incorporate your own personal style into it. Its structure resembles a prefabricated module a lot, which is why it’s easy to construct it into various styles and designs.
The most common is the modern design, which can easily be achieved with the steel frames and the rectangular shape of the van from the sides, but cubist from the front. Even if you replace the van doors with a more conventional one fit for a home, you can still use the van’s door as an additional design element.
A minimalist design is also perfect for this kind of material. If you prefer to have a clear view of the lawn outside, for example, you can put up sliding door made of reinforced glass and leading to the lawn. The limited space of the container van, if you’re using just one small unit, should also be a good motivator for you to keep your interior design sparse.
Building your own shipping container office is definitely going to be an exciting challenge to take up. With proper help and guidance from your trusted contractors, however, as well as good quality suppliers like Equipment Management Services, you can get closer to finally achieving your dream container office come true.
Nine Additional Tips to consider before modifying Shipping Containers into Offices
The construction industry is gradually evolving and embracing new trends. You might have noticed that one of the most popular trends in construction is converting shipping containers into habitable homes or offices. People have embraced this trend because it delivers an impressive structural outlook, and it has aesthetic qualities, thus making it intriguing, especially to the younger people.
Additionally, an office made from a shipping container does not require a lot of work compared to other building structures. This is because it already comes assembled. As such, you don’t have to build it yourself from the ground up. The only job that is left for you is modifying your shipping container to make it attractive and suitable to live in. Moreover, modifying the shipping container costs a lot less than what you’d spend on other building structures. If you are looking to build your own shipping container office, here are some of the things that you should keep in mind.
 Selecting Used or New Shipping Containers
Do you want to convert shipping containers into an office? If you do, one of the first considerations you have to make is to decide whether you want used or new shipping containers. You have to understand that not all shipping containers are created equal. For instance, you can get a used container that will most probably have significant wear and tear. Because of such factors, you should expect to pay less for the container.
Alternatively, you may opt to get yourself a brand new container. The new one will require you to dig deeper into your pockets, but if you’re ready, why not go for it. Before making your decision, however, you have to consider that containers have a sturdy construction, and they are built to last. Therefore, the condition of the shipping container will hardly affect the modification outcomes.
 Electrical and Plumbing considerations
When you want to convert a shipping container into a habitable office, you have to keep in mind its infill system. The infill system of a container comprises of the MEP system – Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing. This area requires significant consideration because of the design challenges of a container, in addition to the fact that containers have limited space compared to other building structures.
When it comes to plumbing and electrical systems, some modifications have to be made inside the container. As such, you have to ensure that you place an internal framing that will support the plumbing and electrical components. It is only after the frame has been installed that plumbing and electrical systems can be installed. The process of installation is no different from that of a standard home, apart from matters relating to space.
 HVAC system integration
One of the factors that make an office habitable is its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) options available, and a container office is no exception. To begin with, you have to determine the size of the office you want to control the climate and temperature before determining the option that works best for you.
Fortunately, there are many options. For instance, you could opt for Window Air Conditioners that can effectively control the temperature within the office. You could also choose to install air ducts that are suitable for a container office that is divided into multiple sections. The air ducts allow the air to flow freely from one part of the office to another. Keep in mind that air ducts have to be kept exposed. Another alternative is rooftop turbine vents. They are economical to install, and they require no power to run. You could also install exhaust fans or fixed louver vents because they serve the ventilation and air conditioning purposes effectively.
 Proper Insulation for your container
You have to keep in mind that containers are designed for shipping; this means that they don’t have basic qualities to make them habitable. As a result, you have to make various modifications to make them habitable.
One of the first modifications you should do to make the shipping container a habitable office is insulating it. Insulating your container office goes beyond installing the framing. You also have to ensure that the insulation obstructs vapor so that moisture may not get into your office.
There are different methods of insulating a container with blown insulation and foam insulation being the common ones. You could also use insulation panels. However, you have to keep in mind that spray foam insulation is more costly than other methods. It is also thinner, and it requires you to spray both the interior and exterior parts of your containers.
 Painting the shipping container for the use
If you have just acquired a container to convert it into an office, you could be thinking of painting it to suit the theme of your business. Before the paint job, you have to consider that the shipping container will have its original paint on, and you need to follow a particular process to repaint it. You will need to paint your container to boost your marketing strategy or to make it look better than before. By painting it, you will also end up slowing down the rust, increasing its longevity.
Keep in mind that new containers don’t necessarily require to be painted but used ones require repainting. If it has any shipping line markings, ensure to peel them off. Next, you need to wash the container and once it dries up, use a grinder to remove any heavy rust. Afterwards, you can proceed to paint your container using either spray or roll.
 Container lighting, skylights, and window modification
When you convert a container into an office, one of the ways to make it habitable is by ensuring that natural light gets in. However, since shipping containers are designed as a block, you have to make some modifications to make sure that the office is well lit. You could opt for either skylights or windows. Both are economical options that bring natural lighting into the office. Depending on your preferences, you can modify your containers using either windows or skylights.
You also have to keep in mind that windows and skylights are available in different sizes. Skylights are situated on the roof of your container while windows are placed on the sides. You could also choose the design of the skylight you want installed between flat, domed, and vented. For the windows, you could have security bars installed.
 Mobility requirements and types of container offices
After making up your mind to follow up with the trend of converting containers to an office, you will need to overcome several issues in order to make the container a comfortable working environment. If you don’t know where to start, you need to know that containers come in different sizes – from 20-inch containers to 45-inch high-cube containers. Therefore, you need to have an architectural plan drawn up for you so that you can determine the type of container office you want. You also need to consider that containers are designed in a way that limits their mobility.
However, you can add another container to increase space and enhance mobility. If you desire to do this, planning is vital. You could opt to have multiple levels of shipping containers stacked on top of each other. You, however, can only stack a maximum of 12 containers when they are empty. Alternatively, you could settle for horizontal expansion although this requires you to have adequate land.
 Should you choose a Pre-built unit or modify the conex box from the ground up
Over the last couple of years, businesses are going for container modification services where containers are transformed into habitable offices. If you have chosen to follow this trend by setting up a container office in your home in Texas, you have to determine whether you want to get a pre-built unit or have the conex shipping containers modified from the ground up. You have to know that there are containers for sale in Texas that are modified to meet your specific needs. However, some of the modifications they make may be unsuitable for your office needs.
Moreover, you have to ensure that the pre-built containers meet the expected ISO standards. The container that you get must also adhere to the shipping containers regulations in Texas. By having the container build from the ground up, however, you can customize it to your specific needs, making every possible modification that will suit your business.
 Selecting a container modification expert near you
When it comes to modifying a container into an office, most individuals opt to look for contractors that offer modification services or those that specialize in converting containers into habitable spaces. The reason for hiring a contractor near you is that you might not have the necessary skills to modify a container. Even when you have the skills, you could lack the time to undertake such a project.
If you are looking for a contractor yourself, you have to keep in mind that this is a new trend, and there aren’t many companies that are offering these modification services. As such, it is imperative for you to conduct adequate research to find reputable shipping container experts who have handled successful projects. Moreover, it is better to look for an expert to do the job rather than doing the project because they have the skills and equipment to do it satisfactorily.
Sources 11 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Shipping Container Home, archdaily.com Make Your Own Shipping Container Office, Office-Envy.com
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Welcome to the Container Happy Hour Podcast by Kevin Smith Jr., (President of Equipment Management Services, Houston, Texas). In this podcast Host, Kevin Jr. chats with prominent members from various parts of the Maritime Industry about Shipping Containers and the future of this market. So grab a drink and join us every two weeks for our Podcast Container Happy Hour.
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