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admin | Category: Shipping Container Construction | 21.07.2014
Phoenix-based Upcycle Living is aiming to bring affordable shipping container housing to the masses with its modern cost-effective designs.
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If you are considering a design build, modular, or prefab home, building with recycled shipping containers is worth taking a look at. Container homes are a great idea and I don't understand the negative opinions of ISBU homes some have. When building a shipping container home, you need to lay a foundation which the containers can be placed upon. The foundation ‘type’ you can use will vary depending on: your budget, structural requirements, local soil type and local building conventions. Getting the decision about the type of foundation to use wrong can be devastating and it can bring your entire project to an abrupt holt- in fact this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when building a container home. Today we are going to explore the various types of foundations you can use for your shipping container and address the pros and cons of each foundation type.
The two major factors that need to be considered when designing your foundation are cost and what’s required structurally. To calculate what’s structurally required it is best to consult with a qualified builder or engineer, however both your soil type and the amount of containers you are planning on using have a large impact here.
If you are building on a soft soil type then you will need a deep foundation type such as pile foundations- more on that later. Whereas, if you’re building on a hard soil type, you can use minimal foundations because the majority of your containers’ weight will be distributed onto the existing hard ground. Sometimes people prefer to ‘over-spec’ their foundation, which is where you make your foundation stronger than necessary, either for peace of mind or because you prefer that particular style of foundation.
Ultimately though, the decision will revolve around cost, design and what’s structurally required. Typically any foundation which is used in ‘traditional’ home construction can be used for shipping container home foundations.
Shallow foundations are laid very near to the ground level, as opposed to deep foundations which can be laid at depths of up to 10 meters. We are going to focus on the three most commonly used foundations: concrete piers, raft foundation, and piles. Concrete piers are a type of shallow foundation and are one of the simplest and cheapest routes to go.
This method of foundation is definitely the most DIY-friendly, and is the cheapest form of foundation. This is by far the most popular shipping container home foundation and it’s the one which I would recommend in 8 out of 10 cases.
A raft (also known as Slab-on-Grade) foundation is more time-consuming and more expensive than a pier foundation, but it is an exceptionally good foundation to use on softer soil types.
The disadvantages of a raft foundation are the lack of access to utility lines once the concrete has hardened and there is potential for heat losses where ground temperatures drop below the interior temperature.
Pile foundations are used when the soil type is too weak to support a concrete base- they are the most expensive type of foundation covered here. Piles (which are cylindrical solid steel tubes) are hammered into the ground through the soft soil until the piles reach more suitable load bearing ground. Once the piles are secured in place they are traditionally capped with a block of concrete. If you chose to use either a concrete pier or slab on grade foundation this section is extremely relevant for you.
The strength of concrete you need to use for your foundations will be primarily decided by the geotechnical engineer’s report. It will be referred to as a C value, for instance C15 concrete which is a general all-purpose concrete is made by using 1 part cement, 2 part sand and 5 part gravel. If you are mixing small quantities then you can either do this by hand or by using a cement mixer however for anything more than 1 cubic meter consider having the concrete delivery to your site ready to use. Note: If you are mixing the concrete yourself make sure you thoroughly mix all the elements together properly otherwise the strength of the concrete is greatly reduced.
To calculate how much concrete you need, just calculate the cubic meters of your foundation.
For example if we were calculating how much concrete is needed for our 10 foot wide, 22 foot long, 2 foot deep raft foundation, we would do 10x22x2. It typically takes from 5-7 days for the concrete to cure and during this time it needs to be kept moist.
If you are laying concrete in hot weather it’s crucial you prepare your site properly before pouring the concrete.
Another good idea is to pour the concrete either later in the evening or first thing in the morning to avoid peak air temperatures. Like pouring concrete in hot weather, special measures need to be taken when pouring concrete during cold weather. Cold weather is classed as the average temperature being below 0 Celsius for more than three consecutive days. Before you pour the concrete make sure any snow or ice has been cleaned from the base and formwork; also extract any standing water.


So hopefully by now you will be able to select the type of foundation you require and also know exactly how to mix the cement for this type of foundation. However clearly the containers would need bolting down, so an extremely strong concrete base would be needed and then you can bolt and weld the container in place. I've been search the web for information on these types of homes and would truly appreciate someone getting back to me with more info, like the insulation problem. The ‘tiny homes’ movement has really gathered pace over the last few years and really, it was only a mater of time before it crossed with the container homes movement.
Today we’ve decided to put together a list of our favourite top 10 tiny shipping container homes.
If you want to see other great uses of shipping containers, it’s worth reading 7 Surprising Uses for Shipping Containers. An architecture and design company called Bark Design Collective’s built this All Terrain Cabin from one regular 20 foot shipping container. All Terrain Cabin is only 480 square feet, but fits 4 people comfortably and includes a kitchen with a dining area and multiple bathrooms. New Zealand had a demand for cheap homes which could be relocated and a company by the name of Kiwi began to construct homes from shipping containers. The home fits two adults and two children comfortably and its end doors can be opened up to allow easy access onto the decked area.
Brenda from IQ Container Homes now has a collection of various container homes including: Coromandel, Tekapo, Waiheke, Hobbit and Great Barrier. Her famous, Tiny Home Palace, is made using a 20 foot recycled shipping container and provides her with over 120 square foot of living space. If you want to know more about Brenda’s tiny shipping container home, check out our interview with her at My Palace Container Home. The Nomad guest house was designed by Arnold Aarssen in 2013 in Portugal using one long 40 foot shipping container. Again, if you want to know more about Arnold’s Nomad guest house read his interview with us here. Perhaps the most famous tiny shipping container home is ‘Container of Hope’ designed by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture.
From every angle the home has specular views of the mountain range which it’s surrounded by. The key focus of the home was to make it affordable because the Peralta’s didn’t want a mortgage to pay for their home. The owner wanted a home that could be easily removed without leaving a mark, so no foundations were used to build the Cinco Camp.
Texas is hot and dry, so the architect of the camp placed shed metal canopy hovers for roofs over each container so the heat could be deflected away from the shipping container home. Three of the containers are used as rooms with bathrooms, one is used as the kitchen, and the last one is used as storage. The Nomad can comfortably sleep four and is meant to be self-contained with off grid capabilities. The Surf Shack was built by Hartman Kable to have a place where he could stay while on retreats on the Washington Coast when it gets too cold to go camping. Glass doors and windows have been added to allow sunlight and ventilation into the Surf Shack. With the weather conditions of Colorado, making a home of recycled shipping container homes was not as economical as it would be in other areas because McMullin had to spend a fair amount of money in insulating the containers and anchoring them down.
WFH House was built in Wuxi, China and is 1,900 square feet with a slanted roof and living garden on top. Just las fall they installed a 2-bedroom house at a green street fair in Phoenix, and orders started rolling in. For the street fair the corrugated exterior was left as-is, so onlookers would be able to recognize it for what it was.
There are already orders for private homes, but Upcycle Living hopes to work towards building affordable housing on a larger scale and they are currently working on a development to provide housing for a Native American Tribe.
I have read about a few other groups doing it and it seems like there are lots of shipping containers just rusting away. Though from a interior design stand point i think this model needs a loooootttttttt of TLC and modernization, green sustainable furnishing, floors , lights etc etc. A SHOWCASE OF SHIPPING CONTAINER HOMES AND BUILDINGDS, AND A DO IT YOURSELF (DIY) REFERENCE FOR CONVERTING RECYCLED INTERMODAL CARGO SHIPPING CONTAINERS INTO BUILDINGS AND ARCHITECTURE. I often pass this home coming from the Gym and I finally got a chance to go in side I met Jason Anderson whom at the time was being interviewed by a group out of London intrested in the structure.
You need to make sure you choose the right foundation type for both your budget and the local environment.
A reinforced steel bar is either a steel bar or a mesh of steel wires and is used to strengthen the concrete.
A great advantage of using this type of foundation is that because the containers are up off the ground it allows for ventilation and prevents condensation forming underneath the container. One pier is laid for each corner of the container and two piers are used in the centre to support the middle of the container. Its advantages are that it’s quick and easy to build; also because there are no hollow spaces in the foundation they are less vulnerable to termite infestation.


So once you have secured all your piles you end up with a grid system of concrete caps which above ground look visually similar to concreate piers. A contractor would be needed to be used to install pile foundations due to the specialist equipment needed- such as the pile driver.
You need to ensure the concrete cures properly as this improves its strength and durability. I’d like to build my container home on a farm in central Missouri which is in tornado country. I'm a missionary and contemplating doing something on this order for some homeless in Eastern Europe. The amazing feature about this shipping container home is it opens and closes to add a deck big enough for patio furniture- the deck is off a small hill that adds elevation to your view of the mountains surrounding the home. These container homes cost around $55,000 US dollars and are easily transportable because it only uses one regular 20 foot shipping container. Each home is made from Corten steel which is 100% recyclable, and comes fitted with insulation, solar panels, ventilation and rainwater collectors.
The genius in the design is that the living room is located above the bed, providing privacy for the sleeping area with a curtain. The goal of this container home was to make and provide an economical and mobile home with cheap materials. To make up for the sun and hot climate of Portugal, Aarssen had to build a second roof which provides extra ventilation for his guests.
The home was built for the Peralta family in Costa Rica who wanted to live outside of the city with lots of land to enjoy the environment and their horses. With this in mind the home is made using two recycled 40 foot containers making for a total of 1000 square feet.
For this you get a 20 foot shipping container with soy based insulation, aluminium clad doors and windows, bamboo finished floor, IKEA fixtures, appliances, a 30 gallon electric water heater, and factory plans with state permits and inspections. This home is more basic with not much being done to the outside of the shipping container, most of the modifications are inside of the shipping container home with a kitchen, couch, bedroom, and table. His home is eco-friendly with solar panels, a wood stove, and concrete floors which trap heat to radiate into the home when it is cold outside.
The living space is ideally placed in the middle of the home, below the slanted roof, making it a cool place and perfect for entertainment.
The designers and builders now expect that they can produce a similar modular model for less than $100,000.
Future models will be solar panel ready and include a shade screen to help the homes remain cool in the hot desert sun.
Since the Haiti Earthquake they have also reached out to NGOs in hopes of helping provide temporary shelters, permanent residences, or even medical clinics. For instance C30 is very strong concrete made up of 1 part cement, 2 part sand and 3 part of gravel. The concrete only cures properly if the concrete’s temperature it kept within a suitable range (see the manufactures’ packaging).
When you close the deck, the home becomes mobile and can easily be moved because of its lightweight and well-kept box structure.
The home is off the grid with solar panels, a generator that runs off of bio diesel fuel, and a rainwater collector. New Zealanders are using these container homes as vacation homes, permanent homes, and mobile homes. Port-a-Bach are consciously made to be transportable with a “non-invasive” foundation that may be placed in various types of ground conditions. This home is meant only as a guest house because it does not have a kitchen, but has an open floor plan for the living room and bedroom instead.
His intention was to make an open guest house, which he succeeded in as the entire front wall is made from sliding glass. As seen on the photo the central hallway has an elevated roof to allow for better ventilation, to keep the container cool in Costa Rica’s tropical climate. The home is built using two high cube containers with 9 foot ceilings which provides a total of 1,650 square foot. Inside, the home features recycled hardware floors, bamboo cabinets and new Energy Star appliances.
Unlike a wood framed home, the interior components of this metal box could burn very quickly and turn it into an oven in minutes.
I was taken aback by the contemporary style and simplicity of the interior and exterior of the structure.
After the concrete has cured make sure to remove the blankets gradually so the concrete doesn’t crack due to quick temperature change.
In addition the living room has huge glass windows which have been used to replace the shipping containers’ doors. As the pictures show, it’s definitely roomey inside and plenty big enough for a small family.



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Comments »

  1. | Ledy_MamedGunesli — 21.07.2014 at 23:28:46 Prefab design based the only mobile home lacks the rugged construction.
  2. | 151 — 21.07.2014 at 12:31:50 I have a house could even hide.