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Old 03-14-2012, 10:43 AM   #1
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Foundation for container cabin


Hi All,

I am in the process of planning my cabin which will be built from a 'High Cube 40ft Shipping Container". It is 40ft long by 8ft wide and 9ft 5" tall. It weighs 8,750 lbs.

I am trying to figure out the foundation for this. This will be done in a remote parcel of land (North East PA) which is about 3 hours drive form my house, without running water or electricity, so I have to really plan my moves correctly.

I saw that a lot of people use those concrete cement tubes but I think it will be hard for me fabricate in such a remote place. Also, when my container will be delivered, it will be very hard to position it to be exactly on those pillars.

Therefore, I thought about using a gravel bed instead. I will first dig a "hole" of 48ft long by 16 feet wide and the depth will be about 12"... I will then place concrete cinder blocks 4" underground (they are 6x16" by 8" tall) , around the perimeter attaching them together with concrete. Then I will insert two rebars (not sure how deep into the ground it sould be) into each of the two holes the cinder blocks have, so it is flush with the top of the cinder block, and then I will fill those hole with concrete.

Next, I will just fill the "hole" with gravel so it will be flush with the height of the cinder blocks - creating a shallow gravel bed. I will use a power tamper to make everything nice and tight. The container will be placed on top of it.

Questions -

  1. Will these foundation work for my application?
  2. What will be the easiest way to dig this hole?
  3. How deep should my rebars go into the ground?
Any suggestions will be welcomed.






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Old 03-14-2012, 10:51 AM   #2
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Foundation for container cabin


Only someone local would know which foundation will work under your conditions.
The building dept. will also have to pass whatever your plans are.
There's lots of sites on the net about this subject. Just Google shipping container foundation. Here's one.
http://residentialshippingcontainerp...%20Foundations

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Old 03-14-2012, 02:31 PM   #3
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Foundation for container cabin


Your plan will work about as good as just dropping on the ground. Unless you are going below the frost line I feel you are wasting your time.
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:33 PM   #4
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Foundation for container cabin


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Your plan will work about as good as just dropping on the ground. Unless you are going below the frost line I feel you are wasting your time.
Then how about a concrete slab?

I just want to avoid putting down something that will be hard to place the container on later (like those concrete tubes).

What other suggestions do you have?
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:07 PM   #5
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Foundation for container cabin


I had a friend that bought some containers(12) and even had drawings of the construction details. He wanted to stack them 2 high and asked me to do the foundations.

The problem was that the containers had no real strength unless they were handled by the typical loading, unloading and transport equipment. I told him I would not be responsible for the foundations of the structure that had no real strength and continuity.

Even though they are used for ocean shipping, they will rust and have limited life unless protected from ground moisture.

Dick
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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Foundation for container cabin


The type of foundation you need is totally a function of the exact design of the shipping container. My understanding is that some of them, perhaps most of them, are designed to be supported at the corners. Obviously I don't know if the specific shipping container you are purchasing is intended to be supported that way, but I am certain that the manufacturer, and possibly the supplier, can get that information. If the container is intended to be supported at the corners, you could certainly use sonotubes to support it. As to positioning the container, if it is delivered on a flatbed truck with a crane, that should work. Possibly you have to supply your own crane, or maybe the container is delivered and unloaded using a forklift. Again, the supplier should know exactly how they plan to deliver, and they can tell you if they are able to position over corner concrete supports.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:09 PM   #7
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Foundation for container cabin


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Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post
I had a friend that bought some containers(12) and even had drawings of the construction details. He wanted to stack them 2 high and asked me to do the foundations.

The problem was that the containers had no real strength unless they were handled by the typical loading, unloading and transport equipment. I told him I would not be responsible for the foundations of the structure that had no real strength and continuity.

Even though they are used for ocean shipping, they will rust and have limited life unless protected from ground moisture.

Dick
I should have them quite high then, right?

Then what will be the simplest foundation to make in your opinion?
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:13 PM   #8
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Foundation for container cabin


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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
The type of foundation you need is totally a function of the exact design of the shipping container. My understanding is that some of them, perhaps most of them, are designed to be supported at the corners. Obviously I don't know if the specific shipping container you are purchasing is intended to be supported that way, but I am certain that the manufacturer, and possibly the supplier, can get that information. If the container is intended to be supported at the corners, you could certainly use sonotubes to support it. As to positioning the container, if it is delivered on a flatbed truck with a crane, that should work. Possibly you have to supply your own crane, or maybe the container is delivered and unloaded using a forklift. Again, the supplier should know exactly how they plan to deliver, and they can tell you if they are able to position over corner concrete supports.
Hi Daniel,

They said that they drop it off the truck by tilting it and then slowly driving away so it slides off. This will make it impossible to place on sonotubes.. I doubt I can lift it with a fork lift... it is 8,750 pounds. Isn't that too heavy for a forklift?

From reading other people explanations on their container houses - they all say that they are supported in the corners.

Beside getting a crane in there - how can I get it on sonotubes that won't require to much hassle or cost?
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:17 PM   #9
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Foundation for container cabin


At the docks, containers are routinely handled using heavy duty fork lifts. They are also handled by crane. For a dramatic version of container handling, watch the opening scene from War of the Worlds (the new one with Tom Cruise). He is a crane operator at the docks, handling containers. You can see the fork lifts moving the containers around on the ground in some of the scenes as I recall.

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