12 Simple Steps To Building Your Shipping Container Home

Building a house isn’t easy – and while building with shipping containers does speed up the process, it still requires a lot of thought and planning. To make things easier we’ve put together this simple guide to get you on the way towards domestic bliss inside your very own container home.

Here is what you need to know before starting a shipping container home project.

How to build your very own shipping container home

1) Sort out permits, planning and compliance

This is one area where you can’t cut any corners. You will need to get all the relevant permits and planning permission from the local council to ensure that you are allowed to build a home, and that one out of shipping containers complies with local and district plans. You will also need to work with your architects and structural engineer to make sure that your proposed shipping container building is structurally sound. Try to find an architect who has worked with shipping containers in the past, as building with them is completely different to a standard wooden, steel or brick building.

2) Acquire your shipping containers

Once your initial plans are approved you will need to procure your shipping containers. The amount and size of the shipping containers you will require will depend on the scale of your plans. Talking to the sales team at Gateway Container Sales & Hire will ensure that you get the best quality and grade of containers that will fit within your budget. It is at this stage where you will need to decide whether you are going to purchase your containers pre modified from the workshop at the supplier, or if you will do the container modifications yourself. While it might seem cheaper from the onset to do it yourself, it may be far easier in the long term to have the modifications and cutting of the containers done by professionals to ensure that they are structurally sound and speed up the job.

3) Hire a project manager, builders and sub contractors

Your levels of skill and experience in building, as well as the time that you have available, will dictate what sort of team you will require. For some people they may consider themselves the typical Aussie bloke and be able to DIY the entire job. We’ve all seen the various DIY nightmare style shows on TV and suggest that if you want a professional result that you at least have some level of professional help if this is your first time working with shipping containers as a construction material or if it is a large project.

Most housing projects will require a project manager, a team of builders, plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, glaziers, gib stoppers, plasterers and painters. Shop around and make sure that you have qualified tradies with a good reputation and plenty of existing work that you can check out before spending your hard earned money having them construct your container dream home. Cutting corners here could cost you in the future, so ensure you do it right the first time so you can have a container home to be proud of (and hopefully even be featured on our website!)

4) Prepare the site

You will need to prepare the building site for construction. This will include any earthworks that need to be carried out, as well as supplying the various utilities such as electricity, gas lines, septic tanks, storm water drains, plumbing and sewerage.

5) Lay the foundations for your shipping container home

A building is only as good as its foundations, and the requirements for your shipping container home foundations will depend on a variety of factors including building site conditions, overall building design, climate, local market design and construction costs. Utilities will be set in their positions as per the plans and a concrete slab will be poured in place.

6) Modify the containers

This step will depend on whether you plan to modify the containers yourself of have them modified when you purchase them. It is important to remember that the walls and roof of shipping containers contribute to the structural integrity of the container and the building itself, so have any container modifications approved by a structural engineer before cutting anything. Any paneling that is removed will require steel framing, and larger openings may require greater levels of reinforcement and support. At this stage all the door, windows and other openings will be created and all joins should be weatherproofed.

7) Attach the containers to the foundations and each other

Now the fun begins – you will use a large crane, hiab or similar to move your shipping containers on site and into position on your foundations. The beauty of shipping containers is their strength and ability to be stacked on top of each other. Place the containers as per the plans that you had approved before construction and join them at their fastening points in each corner. This can be made easier by placing steel plates in the foundation as the slab is setting and welding the containers to these to hold them in place.

8) Install windows, exterior doors, skylights and ventilation

The vast majority of your building is in place, and probably went up in no time due to shipping containers lego like modular design. The next step is to “seal” the building by installing all of your glass windows, doors, skylights and ventilation. Remember that all window and door openings should be reenforced to ensure structural integrity of the building.

9) Install fixtures and fittings

Install insulation on the interior of the building along with all electrical wiring, plumbing and gas from where it was routed in the foundations. Install drywall or GIB style plasterboard, plaster the seams and paint the inside of the building. By now 99% of your shipping container home should be finished and it’s time for the finishing touches. It’s also the time to install the kitchen and bathrooms.

10) Inspection and sign off

Hopefully by now everything has been done properly and your building is ready to be signed off by inspectors. Cross your fingers and arrange the inspector to go through your building and ensure that is up to code. Now is your last chance to make any significant changes to the shipping container building.

11) Landscaping and decorating

Hopefully by now your container home is finished, signed off and ready to go, but there are still finishing touches. It’s time to landscape the area to ensure that your building fits in with its natural surroundings – be it in the forest, city, desert or any other location you have. Now is also the time to paint the interior, lay floor coverings and make your new container house a liveable home.

12) Move in and enjoy!

Build your shipping container home with Gateway Container Sales & Hire

While we at Gateway Container Sales & Hire aren’t in the business of building shipping container housing, we can help you out by providing great priced containers and extensive modification services. We can even help suggest architects or builders who have experience working with shipping containers.  Contact our team of experts now to get the ball rolling on your new shipping container home project.

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