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Building a Home Using a Shipping Container: Things You Need to Know

Building a cargo box-made office or home is very exciting at the same time, a rewarding venture. Not only that, but it can also be a very challenging project. Cargo boxes are very unique as building materials. These cargo units have their own surprising problems and issues, as well as a lot of advantages. 

In this article, we will address essential things that people need to know before they construct a shipping container office space or home and we will give additional information to the most common mistakes people need to avoid.

Not all cargo boxes are the same

The first thing you need to know when you are planning to construct an office space or a house made of shipping cargo unit is that they are not all equal or the same — there or different type shipping container. The most common kinds for building office space or home are standard, high cube and refrigerated cargo units. 

In addition to knowing the different types of cargo shipping units that will be suitable for a given situation, you need to decide on the condition of the unit that will be appropriate for your situation. Cargo boxes are available to be purchased as new, second hand or a one trip cargo box. 

We asked people who are living in a shipping container home what the main thing they wish they had known before they build their cargo box home is. And surprisingly, a lot of them said that they wish they had an idea that high cube cargo boxes can be used as a building material. High cube boxes usually have the same size or dimension as a standard container, but the high cube is a foot taller compared to the standard ones. 

These containers are usually 50% more expensive compared to standard containers. A lot of people agree that the extra foot in height is very indispensable, especially if they want to insulate the floor and the top of their cargo box unit. 

Do your due diligence and research the local building regulations and planning laws

Whether you are building a traditional building made of bricks and cement or a house made of shipping cargo unit, it is always important to know the local laws and regulations when it comes to building a structure. Failing to research in advance can be very disastrous. 

It is crucial that when you are building a house made of the shipping container because not all places have addressed these kinds of problems before. It is not just a simple shipping container near me kind of research. You need to study every little detail of this project.

Just recently, Robert Fidler, an England native, was forced to take down his million-dollar house because he did not seek a planning permit before building a shipping container home. To avoid facing these kinds of situations, make sure to start your home project by doing your due diligence and research the place where you will build your container home or office space. 

Investigate the location whether there is someone who already build a non-traditional structure out there. If that is the case, that person has already fought the battle that you are about to face. If you do not find any container home in that area, it does not mean that you cannot build one. 

Perhaps, no one is courageous enough to try building one before. Once you have planned your construction, but before you start it, you need to go to your local planning office. Set up a meeting to know how receptive they are to your idea of constructing a shipping container home in their area. 

Some of the local authorities who have no prior experiences with this kind of structure will need a lot of persuasion compared to others. The only time you do not need a planning permit is when you are outside of the zoning laws of the city; you are planning to put your structure. 

In this case, you have all the freedom in the world to construct a shipping box home, providing that the structure is safely built. Experts suggest that you speak with the local planning agencies to confirm whether you are still in the zoning limits of the place or not.

Do not change the design that you decided during construction

One of the biggest reasons a lot of shipping container homes take longer to construct and cost a lot more than what is expected is because the design gets changed halfway in the construction process. The time to change the design should be during the planning stage. 

It is imperative to check the design before starting the construction and stick with it once the final design is decided. You need to remember that when you are constructing a home using a cargo storage unit as building material when you remove one part of the wall from the container, it is gone. 

It is time-consuming and costly to replace the wall once you cut it out. You need to make sure that you will do a lot of research as possible and visit a lot of shipping container houses before you decide on your design. A good architect will not only show you the 2-dimensional elevations, but also produce 3-dimensional elevations. It will help you have a sense of the space you are planning to build in. One helpful tip: try to build a Lego model of your house to see how it will look physically.

Click here to know more about designs and construction process.

Do not modify or cut too much of the shipping container

Like most materials used in building homes, cargo units can be used to build almost anything, from an affordable housing through a million-dollar mansion, and everything in between, But a lot of people decide to use containers because of how much money they can save using it as a building material. Maintaining the structural integrity of this material can save people a lot of money in the long run. 

Any time you cut the metal out of the container, it will cost you money and time. Not only you will need to pay someone to cut it, but you also need to pay for the reinforcement of the cargo box unit using a steel beam. If you are looking for the cheapest home unit made from a cargo container, one thing they have in common is that you do not need to modify it a lot. Of course, you need to cut some part for windows and doors, but you need to minimize it as much as possible.