3 Tips to Consider Before Building a Home with Shipping Containers

After the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011, an entire shopping mall was quickly constructed in the devastated city, using shipping containers. This is a great example of how rapidly and successfully shipping containers can be used to create useful, permanent structures. Many build-your-own home makers have seen the same potential in the size and convenience of these containers to create a spectacular kit house.

Do not buy sight-unseen

Before embarking on this eco-friendly and sustainable approach to niche design, would-be container architects need to find themselves some building materials, that is to say, containers for sale. Tempting though it may be, and even if the price is ludicrously good, don’t even think about buying without arranging a viewing. Think about the journeys these giant crates have been on. Even if the company swear to you they are in immaculate condition, they may be so battered and out of alignment they are difficult to work with. Consider spending just a little extra on a “one-trip” container, as they can be nearly as good as new.


Think ahead

It sounds like simplicity itself to weld some containers together, creating rooms, and thereby a home, but of course it is a little more complicated than that. Plumbing and electrics will require installation. Pre-planning where you are going to cut is important. The two long walls are load bearing, so a hole cut in one will need to be compensated. Welding should ideally be kept to a minimum, as it is expensive. The other major consideration is insulation. Without it, there could be bad problems with condensation, and of course, heat loss.

Know the site and the local regulations

Getting planning permission is one thing, but there will likely be a raft of other local measures to comply to, such as fire and safety conditions. Take into account prevailing winds, as the containers may rattle and shake if they are in the path of strong currents. This can be helped by some protective planting. Careful positioning to take full advantage of the hours of sunlight is also crucial.


Shipping container homes is a growing trend, and as such, there are more contractors available who have experience in both design and construction. At Flintham Cabins, we have a huge range of steel storage units and will be happy to advise should you be contemplating a shipping container project. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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