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THE CONTAINER HOUSE

By Jacqueline Danzer

A container home is a steel shipping container permanently affixed to a foundation. Contrary to manufactured homes that are also factory-built, steel-framed homes but, unlike modular homes, that include a permanent chassis and axles and better than a Bungalow style home, the container homes are durable, cost-effective, and customizable: They can be more cost-effective than traditional housing with a 30% to 50% reduction because they require fewer building materials and labor to construct. 

Structural stability: Containers are also “virtually indestructible.” … Their structural stability makes such homes earthquake and hurricane proof, which makes them extremely safe for natural disaster-prone areas. Even without bolting the shipping containers down they can withstand high winds and storms. 

Container homes are built to withstand hurricanes or tornadoes, you can rest assured that if you followed protocol to anchor well the property to the foundation, you will survive the storm. According to the standards of the rigidity test, a shipping container can withstand wind speeds of 180 mph without wavering.

New containers should last about 25 years without any major maintenance Container homes maintain a very high resale value (100 percent and up) and being able to load them on a truck and deliver them anywhere makes them very attractive.

The need of a good foundation. The four main foundation types which can be used with container homes are pier, pile, slab and strip. There are other types of foundations, but these are the most commonly used with container homes. Most suppliers will deliver shipping containers on any of the following surfaces: asphalt, gravel, grass, earth, or concrete.

The options for getting a loan on a shipping container home include a mortgage or a personal loan. … “A shipping container must be connected to a permanent foundation with utility hookups.” If the shipping container doesn’t have a permanent foundation, you won’t be able to get a mortgage. Once it is “connected” it will be considered as a Single-Family Home, Duplex, Triplex, Fourplex, Multifamily and a loan can be processed. A different behavior from a Trailer.

To ground a container home, depending on the soil you need at least a 3 foot copper grounding rod driven all the way into the ground and then the rod should be welded to the heavy chassis of the shipping container using a ground cable. The copper rod will be a better conductor than your wood, concrete blocks, tires, etc.

A small example. Usually use for office, can be stackable. The simples thing in a house: Extra room, or Storage; virtually any multiuse.

Most new shipping containers are manufactured with durable rubber seals around their doors that prevent any water or moisture from entering to it. The container homes are NOT toxic, it will depend on the flooring and painting used in the inside that might cause harm to humans.

Shipping containers are designed to last and to be rugged in and out of all kinds of weather. In fact, a container marked by surface rust or rust patches can survive a storm just as well as a non-rusted, sparking new container.

Most shipping container homes do not attract lightening and are at no bigger risk of lightning strikes than traditional homes. However, tall or exposed container homes m

ay have a slightly higher risk of getting hit by lightning. By logical reasoning you don’t touch anything in the interior 

that connects or is fastened to the exterior of the container you would be fine in the event of a lightning strike. A lightning rod can also be added to your home to help protect it even more. A lightning protection system includes a network of air terminals, bonding conductors, and ground electrodes designed to provide a low impedance path to ground for potential strikes. Lightning protection systems mitigate the fire hazard which lightning strikes pose to structures. Lightning rod, metallic rod (usually copper) that protects a structure from lightning damage by intercepting flashes and guiding their currents into the ground.

Depending on the inside finishes, If the container develops rust areas over time, clearing the rust with a wire brush and sandpaper works best. Once the area is clear of rust, apply vinegar and let it dry. Painting with an appropriate paint, either the ceramic paint or a direct-to-metal paint will protect the container from further corrosion.

container homes
This image provided by the Miami Association of realtors is of a new container home that was listed for sale in Miami, FL. as affordable housing.

Roof, no more leaks! Many people use the shipping container homes roof as an amenity giving a plus to its practicality and elimination of a great cost in maintenance and repairs, inspections, insurance, etc.

Preliminary costs

Soft Cost: Legal fees, survey, soil engineer, architectural, City/County reviews. Impact fees if building from scratch, or demolition fees if to bring a bulldozer, clearing land. Gas, cellular, time, etc
Hard costs to be considered for a 40″ container SqFt 320 which suits for 1b/1b or studio style residence :
  1. Purchase of the land, zoning, survey, water (City vs well/ sewer vs septic tank) electricity.
  2. Purchase of container: It all depends, some people will give it for free, depending on the port it can go from $2,500 and up, this is a cost that keeps increasing.
  3. Impact resistant windows and doors Cat 5. A 40 feet will require 1 door, at least 4 windows or 3 windows and 1 sliding door.
  4. Insulation (at least internal walls and ceiling)
  5. Electrical: Barker box, breakers, cables, GIF circuits, all to code like a regular house
  6. Plumbing: Drainage for kitchen sink, bathroom vanity, toilet, shower; water lines, pipes, elbow for toilet, faucets, water heater, all to code like a regular house
  7. Interior Framing: Using light gauge steel frame, all to code like a regular house
  8. Drywall: How many sheets, cuts, fiber tape, compound, sanding sheets, all to code like a regular house.
  9. Flooring: Vinyl is best weather resistant.
  10. HVAC: Mini-split; or central A/C; window A/C, etc
  11. Cabinetry: Kitchen, bathroom, closet, depending on the owner’s desires
  12. Counter Tops: Kitchen and bathrooms: Butcher cut style, stone, etc
  13. Millwork: All frames, baseboards, internal doors, closets, woodwork and finishes. Your specialty.
  14. Paint: Primer and painting.
  15. Miscellaneous: All these little things like glues, screws, plastics, rollers, assuming GC has all the tools and machinery and they don’t break.
  16. Outside: Paint or use outside finishes; siding, roofing, sidewalk, sodding and planting.
The most expensive cost perhaps is the foundation.