Container homes are fairly common in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Partly because building codes are much less regulated, enabling the use of alternative building materials such as containers. But if you forget the original purpose of a container, hauling freight around the world, it’s basically a steel structure building. If you keep the same aspects in mind, such a thermal bridges and insulation, you should be able to pass any building code on energy efficiency.
Below I have outlined some general tips and tricks, when you consider using shipping containers as your primary building structure. Today, one-way containers.
This first point is a difficult point for all the people that want to build a container home because of sustainability. Use one-way containers, not old ones that have shipped goods for years. It might seem strange, but there are reasons for this point:
- Unless you life in China, one-way containers are used once, getting it from China to your country. That way you know exactly what was in it. Old containers have travelled the world, and they are for sure contaminated with some of the most dangerous chemicals due to spils and accidents. Better save than sorry, if you want a healthy home for your kids!
- Older containers are painted with lead based paint. Newer containers are painted with more environmentally friendly water based paint. So unless you want to strip and re-paint the entire container, inside and out, a one-way container will be much better.
- And the last reason is of course rust and damages. Containers are not treated very carefully. If you check containers on the road, you see the rust. But this is not the biggest issue. Containers are made of Corten steel, which is very rust resistent, and minor surface rust can be treated. The major issues are visible and hidden damages. For example to top and bottom rail that are bend and damaged. Or walls that are pushed outwards. As long as the container remains a monoblock, there are no real issues, but once you cut a wall out, the hidden stresses can cause the entire container to bend in all directions, making it very hard to adjust.
So use one-way containers. The extra costs are earned back very easily because of less work and less issues during construction.