9 Things to Consider Before Building Shipping Container Homes

Building shipping container homes look simple, but any homeowner will tell you that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Your preparation – from research to budgeting to design – will make the most significant difference in your ability to build the home of your dreams on time and “on budget.

What do shipping container enthusiasts wish they knew before they built their first home? We share things you need to know before you build – so read on.

1. Always Check out the Shipping Container Before Buying

Try before you buy” is a pretty common piece of consumer advice. It is particularly important when you buy shipping containers.

One of the most common regrets mentioned by shipping container homeowners is their failure to look at the containers before buying them.

When you buy shipping containers, you choose between three types: brand new containers, one-trip containers, and used containers.

New containers have never seen an ocean liner. But they are popular because you can build them according to your specs. For example, you can ask for a container that hasn’t been chemically treated.

One-trip containers are almost like-new but come with a slightly higher price tag.

At the same time, containers used and abused on boats are likely to come beaten and battered. You can’t plan for dents you don’t see, so it’s essential to at least see pictures of the containers before purchasing them.

Standard vs. High Cube Containers

Height is another common mistake made by customers who try to source containers on their own.

The standard shipping container is 8 feet, 6-inches tall. High cube containers are 9 feet, 6-inches tall. You typically want the high cube containers, which give you a much needed extra head-space. The high cube containers leave you with an eight-foot ceiling even after installation, which adds comfort and space to your home.

2. Ask About Houston Building Regulations

As with any building project, you will most likely need a permit before you get to break ground on a shipping container house in Houston. Shipping container building codes differ by city and even within zones of each city. Talk to your local planning permission office to learn about what kind of permits you need. Remember, it’s better to ask than pay unnecessary fines. 

3. Learn About Structural Integrity

Shipping containers are a robust base building material. After all, their design allows them to be filled, stacked, and shipped endlessly. However, shipping containers still deal with structural integrity issues and understanding how they work is critical for planning your home.

Consider how much steel you need to cut from your shipping container. As you remove material, you remove strength. You inevitably make the structure less sound. In which case you will need to reinforce it with extra steal beams, to make it habitable. How much is too much? Windows and doors won’t dramatically impact the steel’s performance, but removing an entire wall requires extensive consideration.

4. Minimize Welding When Possible

Working with steel containers involves some amount of welding, but if you can, try to minimize the amount of welding you need during the design phase. Welding is going to ratchet up the cost of your home and tack on more time to your building phase. Skip welding except in the necessary places, to ensure you stick to your budget and timelines. 

5. Think About Insulation

As with any home, your insulation should reflect the climate that you live in. An excellent local contractor can make the right recommendations.

The primary challenge you face in insulating your shipping container is the depth of the walls. The steel provides the durability shipping containers need, but there’s not much in the way of thickness. That means you’ll need to build the walls out to install insulation.

The process is similar to installing insulation in a basement. You have two options: build the walls in and remove square footage or build out and alter the aesthetics of your exterior. The decision is yours to make, but you’ll need to make it early as it will impact your design.

6. Plan for Wind

Shipping containers can withstand harsh conditions thanks to the strength they have in numbers. At the same time, even an unsecured, standalone shipping container can withstand winds of 100 mph. However, their ability to withstand those winds doesn’t mean that you’re not going to hear them.

Planning for wind is particularly crucial for Texas shipping container homes. Thanks to the state’s mostly flat geography.

In addition to planning for your container home’s wind rating, you also need to think about ways to block the wind (and the noise). Including these in your initial design plans will help save you time and headache later.

7. Plan for Rain

The State of Texas is famous for its thunderstorms and hurricanes – which can bring incredible amounts of rain in an instance, followed by flooding. 

When you plan your exterior, prepare for rain, particularly with your paint choices. Houston Shipping Containers would need a robust type of paint to withstand heavy rainfall. Ideally, you should choose a marine-grade direct-to-metal paint (DTM) for the job. Both Valspar and Sherwin Williams offer suitable products.

8. Understand That Aggravation Is Part of the Process

Many like the idea of building shipping container homes because it looks and sounds more relaxed than traditional construction.

However, the aggravation you’ll experience with a traditional home build can follow you into your shipping container building plans as well. So be aware of this before you start building. It’s important to recognize this early on, so, you are emotionally prepared to overcome the challenges which will come later. 

9. Choose Experts When Possible

Get in touch with expert designers, structural engineers, and professional drawing services from the beginning, particularly if you want a custom container home.

As strange as it sounds, choosing experienced contractors will save you money in the long run, even if their services cost more up front.

Building Shipping Container Homes Starts With the Container

Building shipping container homes is an exciting challenge for contractors and homeowners alike. As with traditional construction, getting prepared before you break ground will save you time and money throughout your build.

Everything you do, starts with selecting the right shipping container(s) first. To learn more about finding the perfect container blocks for your home, contact our container professionals.

Why You Should Buy Shipping Containers Instead of Renting?

Do you need shipping containers for your business? You have two choices: buy the containers or rent them. Renting metal shipping containers usually seems like an affordable option in the beginning. You only incur the rental cost, which is a small percentage of the total price of the container. However, in the long run, you can end up spending thousands of dollars on container rentals.

Why not buy the containers instead? Although the initial cost is high, it is worth it in the long run. Keep reading to find out why you should buy shipping containers for your business instead of renting them.

You Enjoy Long-Term Savings

When you buy shipping containers, you incur a one-time cost and forget about future payments. This is unlike the rental option where you make monthly or quarterly payments to the rental company.

Imagine you have a long-term project that will last a few years. How much money will you have paid to rent shipping containers for that period? The chances are the amount will be close to or more than the cost of new or used metal containers.

What’s more: after the rental period, you can incur extra costs if the containers are dented, damaged, or in poor physical condition.

Buying makes financial sense for your business in the long-term. This is especially true if you intend to use more than one or two containers for your projects. You can get great discounts for buying several containers and make significant savings for your company.

You Can Customize Containers to Your Needs

One disadvantage of renting shipping containers is you cannot modify them to suit your needs. The rental company expects you to return the container in the condition and form it was in when they handed it over to you. 

However, when you purchase shipping containers, the ownership is transferred to you. You can modify the containers to your specific needs.

Whether you need to build container homes, mobile office spaces,  shelters, or storage solutions, you can customize the containers to your desired style and specifications.

You can add heating and air conditioning systems, advanced locking and security systems, insulation, doors, and windows. Any design you have in mind is doable as long as you own the shipping containers.

You’ll Save Money on Logistics

Does your business often ship supplies across towns, cities, or in other countries? If so, buying containers can save you a lot of money on shipping.

You only incur logistical costs such as fleet maintenance, fuel, and administration costs, and this can translate into long-term savings.

As you look for containers for shipping cargo, opt for the used ones. There’s no shortage of used containers in the U.S. In fact, around 25 million containers arrive into the country every year. 

Used containers are affordable, and with a little maintenance, they will serve you for many years. Consider your shipping needs and buy containers in the appropriate sizes.

Again, you can modify them to include temperature and humidity control features. This is incredibly essential if you are transporting temperature-sensitive shipment such as pharmaceutical products.

You Enjoy Convenience in Business

Imagine having containers at your disposal when you need to ship or store products for your business. The convenience that comes with buying your shipping containers is worth the price.

With rental containers, you only rent when you require them. Thus, if you urgently need them for a task, you have to contact the rental company, choose containers, fill out paperwork, and make payments.

If the containers are delayed or aren’t available in your preferred specifications, you’ll be inconvenienced. Buying allows you immediate access to the equipment when you need it.

There Are No Restrictions and Penalties

When renting metal containers, you are given a list of the things you can and cannot do with the equipment. For example, you are not allowed to modify them. Also, there are penalties for violating the rental terms.

Buying gives you the freedom to use your shipping containers without any restrictions. If the containers get damaged during use, you don’t have to worry about getting penalized.

Container rentals may seem affordable, but the extent of use is restricted to the rental company’s terms. Buy your containers so you won’t have to worry about violating the contract.

You Can Buy Shipping Containers to Rent

Are you worried about spending too much money on buying shipping containers? Why don’t you buy to rent and make money from the containers?

There are various ways you can make money from your shipping containers, recover the purchase costs, and make profits. They include the following:

  • Rent out storage space in your containers to small businesses
  • Design container offices or coworking spaces and rent them out to individuals
  • Rent out containers to companies that wish to ship products locally

Consider monetizing your containers, especially after the end of your project. You can make anything between $40 and $200 per month on every container rental. The price depends on the size, features, and condition of the equipment.

You Can Re-purpose After Use

Buying shipping containers allows you to re-purpose them after you complete your project. For example, containers that were previously used for storage or shipping can be converted into container homes or offices. 

Other re-purposing ideas include storage units, pop-up shops, patios, and container gardens. If you have no use for the containers, you can resell them to homeowners, container depots and local businesses.

Whichever option you go for, buying shipping containers as opposed to renting makes sense in the long run. You will never run out of something to do with them once your initial container project is over. 

Buy Shipping Containers Today and Make Savings

Buying containers is a better option as compared to renting. You get long-term cost savings, use the containers as you wish, and even make money by renting or selling them after use.

Are you ready to buy shipping containers for your business? Contact us today to get a free quote.

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.