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Old 10-02-2009, 09:59 AM   #1
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Planning out a shipping container house

I was thinking of an idea of building a house using shipping containers. Maybe getting 2 of them next to each other. Each container is 8x20ft and I wanted to do some basic planning such as how much dry walling will cost. Anyways I have some basic questions.

1. What are the main components to turn something into structure you can live in? Such as, flooring, dry walling, insulation...etc etc.....I need a list of all the major things needed that make a structure able to live in. So far I only know of insulation, drywall and flooring.

2. Each container is about 320 sq ft, so 2 of them would be 640. I did some calculations and it seemed like it would be 3200 to do drywall but would be much cheaper if me and a friend could do it.

3. Is there any place or website where I can give specs for my project and they could give a price quote. For example, right now I have no idea how much it would cost for plumbing or putting electricity in.

ALL IN ALL, my goal basically is to figure out how much it woudl cost to take a shipping container and see how much the total would be for plumbing, electricity, and drywall....



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Old 10-02-2009, 11:11 AM   #2
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A Google on shipping container house revealed quite a few hits - interesting...


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Old 10-02-2009, 11:12 AM   #3
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My concern would be where this "house" is going to sit and if electricty and plumbing is even available. Also, city codes and building permits come to mind.
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:28 AM   #4
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Then type in shipping container homes at the top and search
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:55 AM   #5
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I have recently read of a project going on by a business in Colorado and the U.S. Military to use these containers as housing for soldiers. The business in Colorado was building homes from shipping containers primarily for migrant workers. The Military contracted with them to build units for cold and hot weather applications. There are some units now in Ft. Wainwright, (Fairbanks, Alaska) undergoing cold weather testing. Ft. Wainwright had a huge influx of soldiers with the latest BRAC rounds and has limited housing, both on and off base. If these units work out, the system would provide housing for many soldiers there. The testing was also for hot weather conditions with the intent of being able to ship these barracks to overseas sites for housing. Sounds good to me. Thanks, David
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:48 PM   #6
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They have been using shipping containers for years to ship immigrants to the West.

I know, I know, not a nice thing to say.

A DIY Noob that knows just enough to be dangerous.
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:51 PM   #7
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It seems like you'd have to find contractors experienced in this kind of work. You'll pay a premium for that expertise.
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Old 10-02-2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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All depends what you mean by make it liveable. A candle and a bucket would make it liveable for some. But most would want a bit more comfort. You need to define your project, talk to your building dept. to see if it will meet codes and then talk to contractors. Otherwise all we can say is it will cost somewhere between $5 and $5 million dollars depending on how you finish it.
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Old 12-03-2009, 06:06 AM   #9
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container house maison

Container house is such great idea ... I was wishing to do so last year, but finaly we went for a wooden house.
Since I found this link, (I think from France) there is all the nicest container houses all over Europe ... Sorry I couldn't find it earlier to show to my wife !!!

I have an other link but can't find it now ... will try to post it later ...

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Old 08-25-2010, 04:44 PM   #10
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How to Build a shipping container home

Building with containers is worth taking a look at if you are contemplating a new home.


Lots of example buildings, details, facts, and links to other articles. They have something new that you can setup your own project wiki to get help with your project if you are considering a design build project.
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Old 06-04-2011, 04:06 PM   #11
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just think if someone made a complete container house and sold it as a DIY in the container and you just put it on your site and built it by the directions with several options for lay out.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:33 PM   #12
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if you show me how to get 320 sq ft out of an 8x20 i will give you 5 million dollars.

might want to check your math boss.
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Old 02-10-2012, 01:52 AM   #13
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Yah Im looking into this stuff myself. YOu had any success yet? Ive been doing research and have found some pretty nice containers for anywhere from $5000 to $10000 that are fully assembled and furnished. Im trying to locate some land here in Illinois that is totally remote to plop it down on. I need to find something that is non inhabitated for a 5 mile radius on the cheaP. SO I am definelty going to have to do some digging. Alibaba site has some killer deals on container homes and such. YOu might want to check it out. Anybody know how to find some cheap isolated land in Illinois to plop one of these down on? Good luck with your project!
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:50 AM   #14
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I like the idea of someone selling a kit that ships in the container.
But, I wonder if, by the time you finish the inside, install a window or two, etc, you would be better off buying a used mobile home or large camper.
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:29 AM   #15
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Take a look at books on prefab. It is not just the crappy looking modular "trailer park" sort of housing anymore. One of my fave books on the subject is called "Prefabulous" and it is a great idea starter. I forget the name but my library used to have a great book about prefab mansions---factory component residences of high glamor in the 115,000sf and above category. Of course prefab is big in Europe and has been for a long time.

Not sure all the code problems you will encounter with a shipping container house but prefab in general might be worth looking into. To me, the concept makes a lot more sense than dumping piles of sticks and stones and framing from scratch---all or in part.

From what I have seen of higher end prefab homes the cost differential may not be as dramatic as you might think. A friend is an architect in Holland and never learned any way but factory prefab to build a house for clients. Once approved, drawings go directly to machines that cut everything, etc. Very little waste. Workers still need to assemble it all but under controlled conditions.

Manufactured homes, in theory can be better insulated and fitted for electrical and plumbing in the factory easier than on site though. You still need a top notch builder, GC and all the tradespersons to put the pieces together and frame in between components. There are some the specialize only in prefab housing. I suppose the concept does take work from framing carpenters but not sure of that either. There should be money saved to be spent on more nice cabinetry and finish carpentry? Foundation and roofing guys should fare better as people may be able to afford larger footprints and hats.

As I understand it, one of the major obstacles to prefab in the US is getting the components from point A (where manufactured or assembled) to point B (where you are building your prefab home). I am told you have to book highway use well in advance. It's not only about the necessary wide load permissions and escorts at reduced speed but just care on the part of highway departments for shipping so much weight on roads not built to take more than so many "homes" per year. Most prefab modules are too wide to ship by rail.

Seems like room dimensions for a shipping container home---if any of it could be brought to code---would be claustrophobic by nature? I am not especially prone to such but am 6'2" and do notice small rooms and low ceilings.


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