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Old 02-21-19, 03:38 PM   #1
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Default Shipping Container Homes?

Does anyone have experience in construction and maintenance of shipping container homes? They look quite attractive.


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Old 02-22-19, 09:33 AM   #2
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They look good but are rarely cost effective.

I've looked into them a few times over the last 25 years. Cost varies widely by region and many areas don't allow them. Most juristictions require engineering drawings from a licensed PE. Since the primary structure is steel you might even be required to use AWS certified welding services. Construction usually involves a crane at $250-$500 an hour.

The 8 foot width results in high external surface area which is not energy efficient. Steel prices are high right now so the connecting elements are costly. Preparing a rusty and probably leaking container for finish is a lot of work. Sandblasting runs $150+ an hour and you are responsible for containing and desposing of the contaminated sand.

Even if you can build without permits it is probably cheaper to use conventional materials.
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Old 03-21-19, 06:01 PM   #3
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CrankyDoug has hit on a number of the issues trying to use containers. The pictures you selected are high end showplace construction which look good, but cost serious money and time.
I think a good place to try them though, is as a component of a building built in a remote location. Design the container to have the bathrooms, kitchen, closets, laundry, and HVAC within it, and build it out in a city where craftsmen are available. This would minimize the number of skilled craftsmen travelling a long way to the job site.Tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers, finish carpenters, HVAC get really expensive when they are racking up windshield time travelling to remote areas.

The container would have doors in the sides for the bathrooms, closets, etc which would open to the site-built bedrooms. I would have a wide opening in the side for the kitchen to flow in to the site-built living area.

Once the completed container is placed at the site, then build the bedrooms, living areas, etc around the container with conventional methods. These areas would not require plumbing, minimal electrical, and maybe only some ductwork. Containers are too narrow to make bedrooms or living areas out of satisfactorily.
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Old Yesterday, 07:25 PM   #4
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If you have metal fabrication skills, then go for it. I'm building one now. I plan to do a write up sometime in the fall.
I would suggest using supplied air or a large fan when cutting, welding or grinding on any shipping container because the paint and primer is zinc laden epoxy.

Here is a short rundown on its construction I posted elsewhere,

Basically, there are three containers bolted and welded to each other. It sits on top of a 2 foot tall stem wall where the rebar in the wall is welded to the containers. There are several unattached columns underneath the structure to take the bounce out of the floors.

The EPScrete wall insulation is one foot thick in most locations. It was poured on the outside of the container and tamped from the roof. The form to contain the insulation is made from diamond stucco wire mesh wired to cattle panels. The EPScrete is fireproof with a consertive estimate of R2 per inch. A layer of stucco is plastered on the walls outside the crete.

The roof has 2 feet of epscrete on one side and slopes to one foot on the opposite side which gives it a 1/2" to 1 ft. slope. There was a 27 degree F difference between insulated and not insulated this summer.

The roof also sports 7 ten inch skylights. They deserve a post themselves. When the next tornado blows through town, they will blow out to equalize the pressure using a sabot. That was difficult for my little pea brain to calculate!

The entire 1000 square foot house weighs in today at 200,000 pounds. And it still needs hydronically heated floors! It only needed 85,000 pounds to take a 300 mile per hour tornado wind.

So far, 95% of the power is solar. 1880 watts on the roof. I can run my electric mortar mixer all day long and the fridge and freezer 24/7. That beats running the generator at a gallon per hour.

I'll be glad to answer any questions but it may take a little while since I don't got to get to the site often enough.

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