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Small Cabin Forum / Cabin Construction / Shipping container homes
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Jacquelyn
Member
# Posted: 21 Feb 2017 12:34
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Hi everyone!

I am looking at any and all options available to me in terms of building my own small home ('garden suite'). I want it to cost under $80,000 including materials, electrician, plumber, installation, septic, well etc (we already have property). I am hard working and learn quickly but I have no previous experience with building/fixing anything so I am limited in terms of working on it myself. I feel confident that I can learn how to insulate and drywall, but that will probably be the extent of my skills.

Has anyone on here converted shipping containers or anything similar? Advice? Comments? Pros and cons?

FYI I live in Canada so warmth/weather proofing is pretty important. Any information whatsoever will be valued!

Thanks!

Asher
Member
# Posted: 21 Feb 2017 14:06
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I would say the first thing to do would be check if you have any building restrictions where you are locating the cabin.

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 21 Feb 2017 14:11
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Condensation is a big concern with living in a metal box in cold climates. I've seen a few projects on the internet that I bet had mold problems in short order. I've seen others that by the time they addressed everything properly, they might as well of just built with more common construction methods.

bldginsp
Member
# Posted: 21 Feb 2017 14:30
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Everything I've seen about converting shipping containers seems to show that doing it well will cost as much or more than standard methods. I think the cheapest way to build a good house is with standard stick framing, and do as much of the work yourself as possible

Cowracer
Member
# Posted: 21 Feb 2017 16:41
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Exceedingly hard to insulate, and the chemicals they use for insect controls on the wooden floors are really bad for you. Unless you buy a new, unused container for big bucks, plan on having to replace the old floor, and then plan on paying bucks to dispose of it, you can't just chuck the wood in the trash, and burning it is less than a good idea.

Tim

creeky
Member
# Posted: 21 Feb 2017 17:50
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The best use for shipping containers I've seen is for storage. They do make a nice base for a barn. Two rows of container. And one of the fabric hoop over top.

Real nice cottages if you're in Ontario
Evergreenconcepts.ca
guildcrest.com

neckless
Member
# Posted: 24 Feb 2017 03:56
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get a garage package and tailor to needs,,,get everything, should save a few bucks

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 25 Feb 2017 16:50
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Quoting: bldginsp
Everything I've seen about converting shipping containers seems to show that doing it well will cost as much or more than standard methods.



I am certain you are absolutely 100% correct. Its cheaper to use std construction vs container.

bldginsp
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2017 10:58 - Edited by: bldginsp
Reply 


I agree toyota, though I have never worked on such a project myself, but we have heard from a lot of people on this forum that have, and they all spoke about the difficulty of it.

But, Jacqueline, there is one more piece to the puzzle that may influence your decision- security. There was one example of a couple that converted several containers in such a way that they could lock it up securely with the original doors. I think they had the steel doors on both ends, and the glass doors and windows were just behind the steel doors. So when they came they just undid the locks and opened up, and closed it when they left. In their area there was a problem with people breaking into cabins. Unfortunately we've heard about a fair amount of that on this forum. So it might be worth the trouble if security is an issue to you. But it's not a low cost alternative.

Hope we didn't offend you by rejecting your idea outright- we've discussed this numerous times on this forum with people who have actually converted containers and it always seems to point the same direction.

I agree with creeky that the best use of shipping containers is storage. Wish I had put one on my place at the very start, just for the convenience of it.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2017 11:28
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I did buy one at a decent price (20 footer) and to move it from auction yard to my cousins was $350 and will be $700 to move it in spring to my property in April. I will add a roof on it, it will set in a bed of gravel, I am using it just for secure storage is all. I will have probably over 3K into it when its all done. Advantage was not cost, just security.

bldginsp
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2017 14:24
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Containers are not meant to be long lasting- in the shipping industry they are meant to last 8-10 years of ocean travel, then they start to rust out so they get cut up for recycle. Be sure you don't get a really cheap one with deep rust or rust holes. Surface rust can be painted.

I agree Toyota that putting a roof on them is wise if you want the thing to last more than a decade or two. Saw one design with two containers 15 feet apart and a big truss roof over the whole thing to make a barn.

NorthwoodsGuy
Member
# Posted: 27 Feb 2017 13:31
Reply 


This is a good article that explains some of the weak points of shipping containers for housing:

http://markasaurus.com/2015/09/01/whats-wrong-with-shipping-container-housing-everyth ing/

To me, besides the insulation/condensation issues, a 7' ceiling is a deal killer.

deercula
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2018 23:55
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https://newatlas.com/shipping-container-house-vista-c-escape/52971/#gallery

Higgo
Member
# Posted: 19 Jun 2018 07:19
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Hi. I to have very recently been looking at building my own container home and I was wondering if buying an Anti Vandal Canteen Container would be a simpler way to go? The windows are already fitted and have metal shuters for security, its already insulated, electric fittings are already installed and it has never been used for shipping or storage so no problem of chemicals. Its just a thought at the min I havent looked into it fully yet.

Borrego
Member
# Posted: 19 Jun 2018 11:20
Reply 


Nothing cheaper than building a stick frame home yourself......but that presumes she has the skills, and most likely she doesn't. The cost of hiring even one good carpenter at ~$40hr, with a helper at $20hr will eat up a lot of cash. But I think they could give her a 'dried in' project in a month, so only an extra $10k in cost.

I looked into container homes as an alternative to Pole Homes before I built, but rejected them mainly because of the size restrictions.....interior headroom was a concern since I'm 6'2", and being limited to an 8 ft wide home was not acceptable either, it meant I would be cutting out the backs and placing them back-to-back. The rust and weather issues were not a concern since I'm in the desert.....

Jacquelyn, what is your desired size for your home?

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 19 Jun 2018 15:09 - Edited by: toyota_mdt_tech
Reply 


I was talking to a guy who said he knew a guy who built in AK and use 2 containers side by side to park his quad and snowmachines and then build a cabin on top with a nice elevated porch. Made for secure storage and bear proofed the home.

An update to my prior post, I was estimated to have 3K in my container, it was about $5500 when all said and done. 20 footer with roof installed and vents plus armored it up a bit.

Borrego
Member
# Posted: 20 Jun 2018 11:33
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Quoting: toyota_mdt_tech
use 2 containers side by side to park his quad and snowmachines and then build a cabin on top with a nice elevated porch. Made for secure storage and bear proofed the home.


That would make a really cool home......not cheap, methinks, but a great idea...

znhouse
Member
# Posted: 24 Feb 2020 04:57
Reply 


Low cost tiny container house will be a nice choice. You might search tiny container house builder/contractor/manufacturer/supplier in google and ask for details. Wish good luck.

Steve961
Member
# Posted: 27 Feb 2020 11:31 - Edited by: Steve961
Reply 


I like mine, but it's definitely more expensive to build than standard stick construction. I chose to build with containers for the security since my previous hunting shack was regularly getting broken into. I wrote a blog post years back (see link below) that discusses the financial, as well as other, considerations of building with containers.

The Shipping Container Cabin in Perspective

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jhp
Member
# Posted: 27 Feb 2020 12:05
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Steve, good to "meet" you. I have read your blog many times over, very well done. It is the best implementation I have ever seen and certainly the best documented.

Your blog actually helped convince me not to go the shipping container route, for many of the same reasons you outlined. The modular aspect and the security benefits though make a very compelling solution for anyone in a similar situation.

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