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Common Questions for a Container Home Builder

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

We're currently working on a DIY project that we're very excited about. Our client is deconstructing an old [1930s] vacation home in northern Wisconsin, salvaging the pine wood paneling, the rocks from a huge fireplace, and antiques like a gorgeous 1950s Youngstown kitchen sink.

Deconstruction is a process by which a company takes apart your home instead of demolition. It saves materials for reuse or donations which greatly reduces the amount of debris going into a landfill. Plus, many projects qualify for tax incentives for donated materials.

The client will be purchasing a DIY 3 unit container home from us which includes the watertight structure with all the windows and doors in place. They are also getting the electrical and water plumbing. This way, they can add the salvaged materials at the location.

To do this, they are working with a builder. Here are some questions we often get from contractors unfamiliar with the shipping container build process:

  • What kind of insulation do you use? We use closed cell spray foam, insulated to the minimum R-Value based on residential code and sometimes even more. We insulate the walls, the floor, and the ceiling. The dwelling will be kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer

  • Do the swinging doors stay on the units or can they be removed? It's up to you. We love the look but many people like to add big picture windows or sliders to a patio

  • What are the options for roofing? We work with an architect for design, but similar roofing to any other stick build and engineered correctly

  • Do they get welded or bolted together? We do the welding onsite. We do as much of the work as we can inside the warehouse and finish work onsite

  • Can the shipping container home span across 2 foundation walls and a center beam so you can have a full basement below the units? Yes, it's no difference than any other construction. Just think of it as STEEL walls instead of wood.

  • Can you cut a hole in the floor for basement stairs? Yes, even high rise apartment buildings with full basements are built out of containers.

  • Can sections of wall be removed floor to ceiling? Yes, the plans will be engineered by a licensed architect and engineer for your location. Bonus is that they have a stronger structural integrity. One of the greatest assets in using a shipping container is that the structural integrity of the containers is in the corners

  • What type of foundation do I need? This will depend on your size as the small units can sometimes be put on railroad ties. Larger units can be placed on concrete slabs, footers, or helical piles

  • Will my container rust? We use one-tripped containers for several reasons—one being they are coming to you rust free. We then paint them with a fresh coat of marine grade paint before they are delivered which will last, with very little maintenance, over decades

  • I've heard that the containers can leak and then can get moldy. This is another reason we only use one-tripped. We know the structural integrity. We then build to code, just like any other home, making them water sealed. Many decades ago we did not have the materials to do this and now we do

We're excited to educate builders because once they see how effective, affordable, strong, and abundantly available containers are, they often add "container home builder" to their service offerings and come back to us for additional projects!


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