Saturday, October 1, 2011

What to look for when buying a Shipping Container, for building a home

What to look for when buying a Shipping Container, for building a home.

Let’s go over a few basics. The containers are called Connex Boxes. They are constructed of a metal known as Cortin, which is very strong and rust resistant. They come in several sizes. The standard width is eight feet. There are three height options; Half Cube at four feet, Full Cube or eight feet and High Cube or nine and a half feet. As far as the length they come in 20 feet, 40 feet, and 60 feet. There are variation and custom sizes, on all of these numbers to accommodate different products.

They come insulated and not insulated. The floors are made of hard wood. The doors are standard on one end, full height.

Due to their extreme strength they are a great candidate for creative structure design. The following is personal observation and assumptions on perspective uses for housing. I am in no way an engineer or qualified to discuss structural issues of heavy construction. But I have done a lot of building and been successful. I use my own common sense and am responsible for my own failures. In other words if this article leads you to try something dangerous or foolish you’re on your own… no guarantees.

These amazing boxes are inexpensive, strong, and versatile and can be stacked in an almost unlimited array of different forms.

When buying, I look for straight boxes that have not been patched excessively with floors that are not chewed up and doors that open fairly easily and gaskets that are not shot. The person selling will tell you that you will not find one like this, but the extra time you spend on finding a straight box will pay off later.

I’ve found that you can cut in windows and doors just about anywhere you desire. You will want to have a level pad ready with access for the large semi- truck and lowboy trailer. I’d say a straight shot at least 80 feet long and 16-20 feet wide. I landed mine within 10 feet of its final destination and then a friend with a large backhoe pushed it into place. I then used a six-ton bottle jack to raise the box and used large concrete shims to set the box level. Then I poured a concrete curb for the box to rest on. Next time I’ll do all the curb work first, with deep reinforced footings that have weld plates and a copper grounding cable.

I chose the High Cube because the extra height allows room for mechanical and an insulated drop ceiling. I don’t like the insulated boxes because they are often manufactured in countries with lax material standards and so I question the spray in foam as far as environmentally and our personal health. Also some of the insulated boxes are not made of cortin and lack the structural strength to alter and stack in any way desired.

That’s the basics if you have comments, corrections to my information or any thoughts please forward.


Mad Coyote Joe

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