Disclaimer: This is a work in progress, it is not 100% completed, but for now this will certainly be enough information to get you started for sure.
So you are considering building a container home huh? Well you gotta start somewhere. And like anything else that is done correctly there is a planning stage. Well depending on where you live the planning can be simple or complicated. I'll cover as much as I know in this regard. Since my will be built outside of any city limits and there is really no county building codes and such to go through, I have a pretty free reign, especially if I go off grid. But the first thing I will say for anyone is contact your local housing authority and get your local building codes and study through them. Collect up all the information you can about using containers for building homes as you possibly can. Plan and design the house or have a certified home designer do it for you. Then shoot for approval before even thinking about sticking a shovel in the ground.
First off I contacted the local housing authority and discussed with them everything gave him links and all the printed info I could find, he actually said "I see no problem with any of this.". That was before I found out that there was really very little restrictions to what I can and can't do to build my home because of my property location. And that's something everyone should consider. The less restrictions at your location, the easier it'll be. The biggest problem a lot of people run into is that some states consider them "Temporary structure". It'll be up to you to convince them otherwise.
Second thing to do is figure out how you want to layout the containers for your home. I personally used sketchup to layout my containers and even design other aspects into the exterior of my home. I've enjoyed this process.
Now what? Well are you ready to start building? Sure!
Are you sure? There are some things to consider. Where am I building this thing? Is there any building code considerations I need to address? For electricity am I going to be on grid, off grid, or grid tie? How will I be getting water? Am I building this thing myself or will I be getting a contractor to build it? What type of material will I need to make the containers a home? Green roof, flat roof, gable roof? Under foundation plumbing, in ceiling, in wall or external plumbing? Etc.
I will be building in Marshall County Alabama, no real limitations regarding the use of containers, I will be off grid, I will be using a mix of well water and cistern storage, Building everything myself, and using used and recycled material as much as possible. Home Depot will not be seeing much of me. Habitat for humanity, surplus stores, flea markets, and mom and pop recycling centers will be getting my business. I really like the thought of paying $50 for that $500 window with a single cracked pane and replacing that pane myself for $20, I just saved $430. Seriously, we just bought a $400 metal bathtub for $20 that had a chip and a scratch on it. It only costs like $20 for the repair kit. You catch my drift? You can get stuff on the CHEAP if you are frugal and take your time. We're already collecting parts to build ours with and storing them. Don't skimp on the plumbing and electrical items though.
I'll leave the location to build up to you. All I gotta say is the further away from a city the easier and cheaper it'll be. But you need property before you can do anything else.
You will need to source containers. I personally did some research and got numbers directly to shipping yards, let them know how many I needed and where I needed them shipped to. After calling companies in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, then calling back and forth between them until I got the price I wanted I then researched companies within 300 miles of my location. I sent them all my quotes and waited to see what they could come up with. Once I got the lowest one of those I then presented it to the most local company in my home town. They said they'd match the lowest quote. Sweet, so my 40' HQ containers are going to be $1600 shipped on location and my 20' containers will be $1300 shipped to my location. Get it in writing and signed by the company owner. My quote will likely be worthless by the time I can buy the containers, I have to sell my current house first lol. But I don't have a problem doing it all over again.
Now you will need a chunk of concrete to put all these containers on, and it'll have to be able to support the weight. I suggest fiber reinforced concrete, it'll be worth it. But that stuff is typically about $100 per square yard. But it'll be worth it. Now you need to figure out the dimensions of the pad, and how thick you want it to be. Now go to http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/howmuch/calculator.htm and put in your numbers. Now that you know how much you need it's time to get the best price. Shop around, it'll be worth it. To save money I say do the form framing and finishing of the concrete yourself. It's really easy to do. In fact you can google it and find out how to do it. Seriously, anyone can finish their own concrete. Unless you plan on getting fancy, but for this case, I'm all about simplifying. A simple level rectangular concrete pad is all you need. Go ahead and calculate a patio pour in there too, in the long run it's a lot cheaper than building a wooden deck, and easier to maintain. Trust me. Let that baby sit for several days to make sure it's 100% cured before putting the heavy containers on it.
Get those containers purchased and shipped! If you plan to stack multiple stories you may need a crane, if not, just have the shipping company drop them in place and you'll be fine. You may need to shim here and there to get everything lined up properly, and you will need to do that yourself. You may want to rent a tractor or something to do the pushing and pulling of these things. Take some strip steel and angle iron and weld tie all the containers together to make one big external shell. Once that is done you can concentrate on getting the interior metal removed in the areas you need it removed. Getting all the building materials on site and inside, and start building. The home details are up to you. There are tons of options for things you can do to your home and every one of them can have different considerations to consider. I just can't get into all of that here.
I seriously suggest doing as much of the work as possible yourself. You will be surprised at how easy most construction work really is if you do some studying into it, and practice some. The only things I intend to contract out is Electrical and welding work. I will say there are a ton of do it yourself resource books out there that are great. Get some, they can be pricey, but they will MORE than pay for themselves. I spend half of my adult life doing construction work, I have done everything from laying brick, to trim work, to roofing. That's a big advantage, but I truely believe that anyone can build the vast majority of their homes if they choose.
What are the known parts of my plans thus far you may ask? I'll give you what I have.
I have 30 acres to work with and I know the location I will be building, I will be renting a bobcat to level the area for the foundation, I have the container source, I intend to build a dual story home with the lower level providing balconies, I have sourced the concrete supply company, I have sourced the crane and operator, I have sourced the metal to tie the entire thing together externally, I have planned the layout of my containers, I will be contracting out the Electrical work and the welding work, I will be renting a cutting torch to cut out the interior design, and I will be getting everthing I can to complete the interior and exterior of the house built as beautifully as possible. I will be using insulating paint on the exterior as well as torch down rubber roofing for the balconies and metal framed gable roofing with metal covering to cover the upper story roof. 2 20' containers will be converted into a garage that will provide us with a green roof. I will be using recycled, overstock, or broken but repairable freebie or super cheap windows and doors as much as possible The interior design and materials will be handled by the little woman also using the cheapest yet still long term solution material as possible. Below I will provide a few of my designs I was playing with. You will likely need sketchup to view these.
Me and Jess have agreed Container house2.skp will be the design of our home. If you are a 2 person family with no desire to expand or all the kids are moved out and on their own, the retirement design is sweet. If it were not for the family plans we would likely just build one of those and live happily ever after. I did the math on building that thing, and it comes out to less than $30,000 using new materials... New materials estimate on our bigger home is just over $80k.
Size : 6794 Kb
Type : skb
Size : 7728 Kb
Type : skp
Container house 3.skp
Size : 4811 Kb
Type : skp
Size : 3350 Kb
Type : skp