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Old 08-01-2017, 11:36 AM   #1
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Shipping container ... homes.

Anyone on the forum here use shipping containers for conversion to a house? I know it's not a new idea but there's a guy I work with that didn't think I was totally nuts for converting a bus. And let's face it, outside of the forums, that doesn't happen every day.

Anywho, he mentioned wanting to do shipping containers. As I get bored at work a lot, I googled the sizes and sizes just for shits and giggles. Apparently there are 3 grades of containers; Used once, certifiable for shipping (CWO), and beat up (WWT). All of them are guaranteed to be wind and water tight for a year (from the random site I used). They come in five different sizes; 10, 20, 20 high, 40, 40 high, and 45 high. I found it a little surprising that the 40s are the cheapest but then again because volume...

The prices I found were dirt cheap. Cheaper than some of our buses even. The 40ft Standard in One/CWO/WWT is $5590/$2590/$2290.
The 40ft High is $5990/$2790/2490 One/CWO/WWT.
The 45ft High is CWO/WWT is $3590/$3290. One is not currently available.

I'm sure you guys have seen the YouTubes. I saw one of a TX guy that had two welded together, a concrete pad on top, and 4 or 5 feet of dirt on top. Built into the side of a hill. He only had 2 solar panels and was able to power everything. Total cost for that guy was $30k which included everything except the lot.

Dirt prices vary by location so you're on your own there. Buy six 40ft Standards (3 for house, 1 for pool, 1 for storage, and 1 for shop) and you're looking at less than $20k while still living like a king.

https://westerncontainersales.com/sh...washington-dc/
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:41 PM   #2
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I've been investigating container homes for some time now. The "standard" size for containers is 8' x 8' (not including length). The high-cube is 8' x 9.5'. If you are close enough to a "port" you can sometimes get delivery for free. If not, delivery is pretty reasonable (from the standpoint that an 18 wheeler will be delivering it). Also be sure to throw in the cost of a crane for 1/2 or 1 day. From most of the sources I've read, a container home can be built for about 2/3rds to 3/4rs the cost of a "standard" stick-built house. If you contract with a builder who knows about building with containers, the shell of the house will go up REALLY REALLY fast. Prepare the ground, pour the footers or piers (be sure to leave steel pads in the piers made of the same steel as the containers - to weld the containers to), and let everything cure. Then, on "moving" day, the crew and the crane show up and set up. Next, the 18 wheelers show up about one an hour (maybe less if the crew is experienced). The crane picks-and-places. Welders come in and weld the containers to the pads or to each other. Boom, done. 2 containers are as easy to place as 5 containers. If you want a 2-story, just put a container or two on top of the stack (on a ship those containers can be stacked 10 high). Realistically though, the containers will be cut up during the build-out so you don't want to go over 2 as their structural integrity is suspect.... Most people that I've seen do a container house will go to a "port" or other outlet that have containers and will choose containers that are rusted in the areas that will get cut out anyway. The shipper gets rid of containers they can't use and the buyers get a real deal on the containers. After the containers are welded down on-site, the build-out proceeds along similar lines as a stick-built house....
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:44 PM   #3
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Sorry for the formatting, I can't seem to change it....
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:49 PM   #4
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If it's been more than half an hour you can't.

Did a little more digging because still bored... 40 and 45 in length is the norm. So I was wondering why there are 53 ft semi trailers on the road. Built differently than shipping containers but there are also 53' containers. According to Wiki, the Canooks just started using 60' containers as of May this year.

One of the videos I saw last year of a container house was only 2 or 3 containers. Wish I had the link. It was either one full container and a shorty or 2 regular and 1 shorty. The shorty was perpendicular and cantilevered. Not sure why in this particular case. The property had a bluff but there was room for concrete pads under it. Now if it was truly out over the bluff that would be cool. I think he was showing what could be done as there was a huge turnbuckle right over his plate glass bay window.

Also in that particular case, nothing was welded or poured. The footers were concrete "blocks". I think he called them half blocks. Half something anyway and they weighed 2300 lbs each. They bolted the steel plates to the blocks and used the regular latches on the containers to hold everything in place. The turnbuckles on the shorty was the only support. It was otherwise hanging off the side of the regular length container.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:01 PM   #5
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" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">

I got most of that layout wrong Oh well. At least I found the link.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:20 PM   #6
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I am nothing more than a casual observer but I've noticed that, using containers, some folks build a fairly traditional looking home (above ground, windows in all sides, connected to utilities, etc.) while others build more of an earth ship type home. I find the earth ship approach more interesting but that's just me.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:45 PM   #7
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I am nothing more than a casual observer but I've noticed that, using containers, some folks build a fairly traditional looking home (above ground, windows in all sides, connected to utilities, etc.) while others build more of an earth ship type home. I find the earth ship approach more interesting but that's just me.
Underground is the way to go for energy.

The underground video had the guy burying in pea gravel all the way around for drainage. Still was only $30k for the build. The concrete cap and the gravel would be the expensive part.
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Old 08-01-2017, 03:14 PM   #8
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Oops... sorry about that Bob. I'm in data conservation mode so didn't watch the videos.
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Old 08-01-2017, 03:34 PM   #9
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tow truck

If you own a bus, you should establish a relationship with your nearest heavy tow shop. Stop-in before you need them an introduce yourself and get some cards. Pick a clean, reliable place.

They can also move shipping containers for you usually. I buy stuff from auctions all the time and am lazy, so I send my towtruck guy with a forklift to retrieve. More cost-effective than it sounds once you have relationship.

Shipping containers story--I had a self-loading cargo trailer I bought from the Marine Corps. It would tilt-back and had a 40k hydraulic winch for loading the sea containers. Aluminum construction, disc brakes, led lights, diesel powerplant and air bags. No expense spared- they used it for a trial-run and decided not gonna work, sold for pennies on the dollar.
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Old 08-01-2017, 03:37 PM   #10
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Sounds like Rusty got a good deal on the truck.

I looked into shipping containers before I started looking at buses. Sadly, most of the sites for the containers mentioned NOTHING about prices. When you're on a limited budget, price does seem to enter into the picture.
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:03 PM   #11
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Shipping containers look like awesome prospects for tiny homes. As far as AC...you can keep it cool by digging out underground trenches (not sure if I'm wording it right) and running a fan system pulling the cool steady underground temps (roughly 52°) up into the container and then routing it back down underground...saw it done on a show called "homestead rescue". I thought that was very cool.

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Old 08-01-2017, 04:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewerbob View Post
five different sizes; 10, 20, 20 high, 40, 40 high, and 45 high.
https://westerncontainersales.com/sh...washington-dc/
Wow, I can imagine making a two story home out of the 40 footer and possibly a three story from the 45 footer.
Got my wheels turning!


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Old 08-01-2017, 04:37 PM   #13
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Go ahead and splurge. Get yourself a 53' container, preferably a reefer. Already insulated.
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:42 PM   #14
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Check around on prices. I found a mid grade 40 footer for $1550 delivered from 70 miles away.
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:48 PM   #15
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I have a book that is a history of the shipping container and the industry. Fascinating stuff; as usual with something like this when you dig into it you find a mix of visionaries, salesmen, and hucksters. They started in the Vietnam War, but it wasn't the Army's idea - it had to be sold to them.

I can dig up the title and/or the ISBN if anyone wants.

Google to the rescue! The title is "The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger".
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:09 PM   #16
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I'm trying to get my BIL to pop for three containers for our family camp. Storage below and an apartment with deck above.

One thing to look out for are property taxes. Buy a piece of land and the taxes are pretty low. Park a school bus on it and the taxes don't go up. Put a few containers together and weld them down and now you have a permanent residence and you'll be taxed on its appraised value.
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:24 PM   #17
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That may well be true.

Shipping containers, strangely enough, aren't that expensive to build. Shipping companies will usually buy new ones rather than ship empties back.
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:49 PM   #18
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Quote:
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...

So I was wondering why there are 53 ft semi trailers on the road. Built differently than shipping containers but there are also 53' containers.
The reason is infrastructure ...

Many countries have roads that were laid out ages ago, centuries, in some cases. They weren't designed for large vehicles to maneuver through. So many countries have size limits on trucks, trailers and containers.

Here in the states (well, pretty much all of North America) our infrastructure was (mostly) designed for larger vehicles, so 53' trailers can fit most places. I believe Texas allows 59 footers and some western states allow 57 foot trailers.

The 45' containers are generally kept in the same hemisphere, some islands and South American countries allow 45' containers and many refrigerated ones haul bananas. I don't think these are allowed in Europe (and even if they were, the ships that sail to Europe are designed for 20' and 40' containers only).

The 53' containers have become popular with the presence of higher fuel prices and a major commercial driver shortage. Railroads can haul many more containers with far less manpower and much greater fuel economy. It doesn't take a genius to realize the cost savings for longer distance shipments. Years ago we had TOFC (Trailer On Flat-Car) but this was inefficient. Trailers are still hauled on flatcars (often called piggyback) but it is my understanding that railroads charge more to do this than they do containers because it's less efficient.

If 60' trailers become legal in the U.S., I expect we'll begin seeing a major surplus of 53' trailers flooding the used, surplus, and storage market, exactly like we did when 48 footers became obsolete. 60' is a lot of box to haul around and it will be very easy to exceed 80K pounds with one. I'd expect to see a legal increase of maximum weight.
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:34 AM   #19
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Oops... sorry about that Bob. I'm in data conservation mode so didn't watch the videos.
No worries. This vid was a mountain top using small containers. I didn't post the underground one. I should add it too.

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Old 08-02-2017, 07:55 AM   #20
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I'm trying to get my BIL to pop for three containers for our family camp. Storage below and an apartment with deck above.

One thing to look out for are property taxes. Buy a piece of land and the taxes are pretty low. Park a school bus on it and the taxes don't go up. Put a few containers together and weld them down and now you have a permanent residence and you'll be taxed on its appraised value.
Over here a shipping container is considered a non-permanent structure.
My tiny house buddy bought a bunch of containers, but ended up just selling them and renting some out for storage.
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