How to build a shipping container home on a low budget

Container house

One of the best uses of shipping containers is to convert it to a stylish home. It is cheap, convenient, and allures with apparent simplicity.

In this era of global warming and natural calamities, shipping containers can be an option to build homes for millions.

Shipping containers are made of stainless steel and have carried heavy loads for decades after decades. They are also sustainable in terms of reducing, reusing, and recycling. They are affordable as a 40 feet high cube standard container is no more than 5000 dollars, which saves a lot of budgets when you plan to build a home with a shipping container.

You can customize your own shipping container home or get help from agencies like Tiger Containers Sydney. Other than building homes, these agencies can help you to build a granny flat, kitchen, ablution block, workshop, office, and more. They have a high level of expertise and hundreds of designs to offer.

In case you want to build your home with shipping containers, you should know some basics to help build it in an affordable range.

Develop a Plan

First things first! You must develop a good plan for a successful shipping container project. Set a construction budget with a 20% contingency fund. If you are planning for a 100 thousand dollar project, keep 20 thousand dollars aside to help meet unexpected expenses during the construction process.

After fixing the budget, finalize a design that suits your budget and matches your demand. This can be a multi-story mansion or a single container tiny house. Fix your design beforehand. After fixing the design, hire contractors or agencies to build a home for you. Another important aspect is to fix your locations. A lot of your design and budget depends on location. Make sure you have marked it highly in your plan.

Decide on Containers

You can choose either used or new shipping container for your project. Shipping containers are mainly two different types – GP (General Purpose) and DV (Dry Van). These containers also have two different variants in terms of size: 20-foot and 40-foot high cube containers.

The best containers for home projects are trip containers. These containers were used only once and are the most cost-effective for your project. Make sure you buy containers from the same brand as different manufacturers can have slight differences in their dimensions. In case you are buying used containers, inspect them before purchasing.

Other than that, look for CSC combined data plates on the front of the containers. This includes the container’s background information with some important specifications. Most in-service containers use either Periodic Examination Scheme (PES) or Approved Continuous Examination Program (ACEP).

PEC includes these inspections every 30 months in its combined data plates. Both PES and ACEP helps the owner monitor the container conditions and whether it requires maintenance or not. Inspecting these records may not sound easy unless you are familiar with shipping containers. If needed, hire an expert to help find quality containers. However, if you go for brand new containers, then you can buy it alone.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Some mistakes can upscale your project costs. Not only that, but these mistakes can damage the final shape of your project. Some of these mistakes include:

Choosing the Wrong Shipping Containers

Even if you choose the same brand containers, there can be incoherence in terms of size and height. A high cube shipping container is 9 feet 6 inches tall, whereas standard shipping containers are 8 feet 6 inches in height.

That extra foot can be handy to insulate your ceiling. Also, high cube containers are more expensive than standard containers, so pick containers carefully for your home project.

Wrong Type of Insulation

In most cases, people do not consider their local climate and put in the wrong type of insulation. In rainy areas, choose insulation that provides a seamless vapor barrier. Spray paint insulation can be the best option in such cases.

In hot and dry conditions, avoid a seamless vapor barrier and focus more on keeping it cool. For container insulation, you can try eco-friendly insulation such as newspaper insulation, blanket insulation, or insulation panels. The insulation strategy completely depends on climatic conditions.

Cutting Excess Steel Out of Containers

Shipping containers are super strong and can be stacked up to eight containers with full loads in shipping. When you cut too much steel out of the containers, though, it loses its strength and structural integrity.

Cutting excess steel for the home renovation can question its sustainability. If you remove some steel to make doors or windows, that does not trouble the structure much. However, removing an entire wall will require support beams for its stability. That is both time-consuming and costly.

Not Following Local Planning Regulations

You may have the coolest ideas and plan to put up a good show with shipping containers, but this may be in vain if your project does not comply with local planning regulations.

Before you start, contact the public administration of the building division and get their approval for your project. In every state and city, there is a building code, and you have to comply with their regulations for a successful home project.

Use of Salvage Material

There is a popular saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Yes, salvaged materials are sustainable and absolutely cost-free to decorate your home. You can find salvaged material at demolition sites for free or on online platforms at a reasonable price.

When it comes to using salvaged material, keep eco-friendly materials in mind. Choose materials that can be recycled after reduction and reuse. That saves money and earns more benefit from salvage materials.

Other than using salvage materials, track every dollar you spent in your project. Using salvaged material and going for a last-minute kitchen upgrade is never a cost-efficient project. Make sure you use quality shipping containers for long term sustainability. You can always adjust other costing in interiors like carpet, furnishing, paint, etc.

Final Verdict

Choosing shipping containers for your home is more  cost-efficient than conventional construction. Also, it is highly artistic if you can decorate it well. Furthermore, these sustainable houses can be easily remodeled to bring aesthetics to your residence. Try the new era of housing where creativity sits on a budget