Someday I will build a house house

There are many types of owner built homes. I dream of building myself one someday. My favorite is stone but there are straw, cordword and even paper.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Container house

The neighbors won't like it, but you can always buy an old shipping container for a couple thousand dollars and convert it into a house. Actually, you probably can't do it a lot of places, because of zoning regulations. I think it would take a lot of creativity to turn something so ugly into a pleasant place to live, but apparently a lot of designers are trying to. Look at an actual conversion to a livable space.

What with all the disasters we've been having lately, container living starts to make sense. This is the best design I've seen, but it costs too much for being containers.

Hey, I've got an idea. Plunk a container down; plant kudzu which will cover it in a couple of summers. Then no one will even know you live there.

Update: Containers are not very strong, especially the roof. The load is meant to go only on the corners like for stacking them on a ship. Here is info from a guy who knows a lot.
I realized you have to join the list to see this, so here I have copied it for you.

Strength is generally over rated....or underated. I'm not sure.;O)
But, the simple, humble, and cheap 2x4 is capable of supporting
a "4 kip" load, if it is kept from deflecting. A "kip" is just a fancy
word that engineers use to say 1000 pounds, in order to be able
to charge the big bucks ;O) Four thousand pounds, two tons,
that is a lot of weight. A pretty big area can be supported by it,
even in deep snow country. In most cases, wood frame walls
are way over built. Containers are under built, for supporting the
general loading that building roofs must deal with. Containers are
build sort of like post and beam, but without any beams in their
ceilings. If you want one to be able to support a roof load, you
have to build a whole new structure to carry the roof loads out
to the corner posts. If you turned one upside down, you would
have a strong ceiling frame (with the floor on the wrong side) but
you would then have to deal with building a foundation to support
those concentrated loads, at the lower end. They are designed
for the floor, not the roof to support their load, and for the walls
to hold loads in, not out. I sure would not want to be in one
underground, in a rain storm. That would create the exact
opposite loads that they are desgined for.


"The permissible loading capacity of the container roof is only very
slight. The CSC stipulates that it withstand a 200 kg load over an
area of 600 x 300 mm; cargo must therefore never be put on the
roof. When several containers are stacked on top of one another,
the forces are conducted into the corner posts, thereby relieving
the roof."

-Laren Corie-
Natural Solar Building Designs, Since 1975


  • At 5/21/2006 5:59 AM, Blogger Serg said…

    It is better to live in the usual house :)

    Best Regards, Serg
    Affordable Web Hosting

  • At 9/13/2006 2:15 AM, Blogger The Yuen Family said…

    I built a container house back in 2002 with two steel 40 footers below holding up three aluminium 45 footers above. The roofs are plenty strong. You can always add strength if you need to walk on top. A layer of concrete did wonders.

  • At 2/27/2009 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That loading works out to 220 lb. per square foot. Way more than required for any snow loading you might get (50 lb/sq./ft. is typical design limit for a northern climate).

    Guy doesn't know what he is talking about. Top of an ISO container is plenty strong enough for most uses. It's not enough to build a full load floor on for a second story, but it would be fine for a a deck or storage area.

  • At 3/22/2009 2:31 PM, Blogger Freeheart said…

    I am wanting to build a house out of four 40' containers this summer. I hope The Yuen Family and the above Anonymous person would read this and help me out!

    I downloaded a booklet that can be bought from the ISBU Association's website:

    From what I can gather in their report, there is certainly a lot of strength all throughout the structure of a container.

  • At 11/27/2009 12:16 AM, Blogger Asian americana, casalinga abita in Italia, madre di 3, la moglie a 1, viaggiatore avventura mondo, ristoratore - chef, consulente di moda said…

    "Better" wow what a statement. Ten years ago when I bought a small used schoolbus to take 7 people up the ALCAN from San Francisco, people would drive by in their Denalis and tahoes back all the way from the grocery stores and asked why I didn't just go out and buy an SUV.

    The 45 foor Aluminium is of course longer, but also taller. The interior space is much more pleasant.. in fact, the extra height is downright luxurious and architecturally stunning.

  • At 7/15/2010 7:12 AM, Blogger Ego Martini said…

    I have a few ideas for ISBU container homes on my amateur blog.
    I am throwing out design ideas and looking for discussions on affordable, green home projects.

    Craig Moorhouse

  • At 8/25/2010 1:57 PM, Blogger surfacescapes said…

    Building with containers is worth taking a look at if you are contemplating a new home.


    Lots of example buildings, details, facts, and links to other articles. They have something new that you can setup your own project wiki to get help with your project if you are considering a design build project.

  • At 2/12/2011 3:39 AM, Anonymous Shipping Container Home said…

    Shipping container homes are super strong, easy to build, and provide quick shelter. They are inexpensive, readily available, and can be modified to suit the homeowner's needs and desired. Container homes are a practical method of creating shelter at a reasonable cost.

  • At 2/21/2011 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Learn to use a MIG welder and gasless flux core wire. You can rent portable welding machines like the Miller Bobcat and run a "suitcase feeder" off them.

    I LIKE the layer of concrete roof idea. Use fibercrete for even more strength.


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