3-container structure in Chicago

3-container structure in Chicago

You have your basic design work done, so now what? Now, comes the fun part - figuring out how to make your vision a reality. The first big question is about the modifications to your container. Who will do them and how will it come together? Today, we’re going to tackle the actual modifications, other services you will need to bring in and lastly, how to figure out how long it will all take.

1.       Modifications

 Man-door installed on container

Man-door installed on container

Turning your design into reality will probably involve physically cutting into the actual container. For example, containers are cut up to add in doors and windows, open up walls to create new open spaces, brace the container for stacking and much more. The first big question around modifications is who is going to do it? Do you want to do the work yourself or have someone do it for you? Either way in both cases, Super Cubes can help.

For Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY’ers), we have container modification kits. Most of our kits consist of a door, window, air condition, the framing, all hardware needed to operate it and etc. Please be aware, you do need to be able to cut and weld in order to install them. If you are able to install, our do it yourself kits are a great way to make your container work just the way you want it.  

If you are unable to cut and weld, we can help! We can do the modifications for you. We can do as little as just cutting openings, adding in frames, all the way up to finishing the whole interior of the container . How much or how little is totally up to you! We have several shops throughout the United States that can do those modifications and pricing does vary from shop to shop. Modification pricing is based on the specs of a project. If you’re looking for pretty straight-forward modifications, we’re happy to work off of a sketch you make up yourself.  However, we just ask that you give us as many details as possible. What kind of door do you want? What size windows? Do you care what kind of insulation? What should we cover that insulation up with for your interior walls? If you are cutting large openings between containers, we will need to know how you want to support those openings.  All of these questions have cost implications. So, the more details you give us, the more we can help you. If you already had design work done for you, great!  All those questions are usually answered in those plans.

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2.        Additional Services Needed

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What else will you need to make your project a reality? That will vary depending on the scope of your project. The general things to think through are the delivery, the foundation for your project and are you in need of a general contractor and/or subcontractor.  

Delivery.  We can deliver your containers either with a tilt-bed truck or flat-bed truck. The type of truck will depend on your specific delivery location and what will work best in your situation. For smaller projects where you have the spot prepped for your container, we can usually set it where you want it, provided we have enough space on firm ground for delivery.  If you have a foundation, you will probably need a crane to put the containers in place.

Foundation. If you are building a multi-container building, you will generally need a foundation. The details of that were probably sorted out as part of your design and feasibility work (See Part 1 of this series for details).  Our tilt-bed trucks have to drive over the area where we set the container down, so we cannot deliver a container on a traditional foundation. You can see tilt-bed delivery videos on our Deliver page. If you are setting containers on a foundation, you will need a crane to set the container in place. (Picture) We can work with you to make sure that goes smoothly. To see how craning containers into place work, check out these blogs: Crane day for container home and Day 2: Making it a house. We did it in two steps – the first floor came in one day and the second floor another day.

General Contractor. The scope of your project will help you determine if you need a general contractor or other sub-contractors. If you are doing a multi-container project, you will probably want to finish off the container onsite. It is much easier to run the electricity when you have the containers set together. While we can stud containers before they go out, you will want to insulate them after the electric and plumbing go in and finish off the walls at that point. For that reason, most customers will engage a general contractor to help them with that part of their project. Even if your containers come completely finished off, you will still need a welder to come onsite to connect the containers to each other and seal up all openings between the containers.

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3.       Timing

The timing of your project will vary depending on the scope of your project.

If you are buying a container and doing the modifications yourself, you can get rolling pretty quickly. In most markets, we can get containers to you within a week of when you order the container. Any kits you order would ship directly from our manufacturer to you, which generally takes 2-3 weeks from when you order.

If we are modifying your containers, our timeline will vary depending upon the amount of work we are doing to your project. When you order your container and modifications, we set either a delivery date or a date range so you will know what to expect.

 St Charles container home after containers are craned into place

St Charles container home after containers are craned into place

Hopefully this two-part series is helpful to you. If you have any questions, please give us a call. We love modification projects!

 A stand-alone 20’ container hotel room that can move around

A stand-alone 20’ container hotel room that can move around

When you are in the early stages of a container project, it is important to figure out the general scope of your project. You should have a rough idea of how many containers you think you will need, an idea of how you plan on using them and what general modifications you want. Are you looking to take a container and make a few tweaks to make it your own or are you planning a large, multi-container complex? Obviously, these are two ends of the spectrum, but having a good understanding of where you want to go will help in figuring out what you need to do.

 Please keep in mind the following:

  • If you are looking for just a few minor modifications to a container, you may or may not need to involve anyone else in your project. The real focus is getting the work done the way you want it.

  •  If you are looking for a home or retail space, things will get more complicated more quickly. You will need to look into local zoning issues, more detailed plans and involve more people in creating and following through with those plans.

  • Another thing to keep in mind is that the more you plan on taking away from a container (i.e. Removing full sides of the container, creating large windows, etc.) and/or stacking containers, the more complicated the project will be.

You have a rough idea of what you want, but there are still a ton of unanswered questions. You need experts to help you out in seeing what’s realistic for what you want to do. So, where do you turn next? Usually that is a 3-part answer. There are 3 things that you have to look at almost all at the same time. There are the containers themselves, the project’s design plan, and the feasibility of the project. There are many more issues to consider, but these questions help you figure out the rest of it. 

 A recent customer stacked these 9 Super Cubes containers for a new home in St Louis

A recent customer stacked these 9 Super Cubes containers for a new home in St Louis

1.  The Containers

Containers come in three standard sizes and conditions. We also have some specialty containers that can also come in handy. Pricing will vary on the size and condition of the container as well as where you are located. Give us a call to get an idea of how much containers cost and how much they will cost to get to you.

To help with some of this, seeing the below specs on our standard container sizes and conditions of our containers: wind-and water-tight, cargo-worthy and one-trip. Also, viewing our container basics page is a great reference as well.

  Max Gross: Weight of Full Container (Container Filled to Rim)    Tare: Weight of Container (Weight of Empty Container)    Net: Weight Capacity (Max Gross minus Tare)

Max Gross: Weight of Full Container (Container Filled to Rim)

Tare: Weight of Container (Weight of Empty Container)

Net: Weight Capacity (Max Gross minus Tare)

2. The Project Design

The most exciting part of the project is the design work. You have an image in your head of what you want to do. It is time to put that down on paper or on a screen to show everyone else your vision (what you want to do). Once you communicate it with someone else, your project will probably fall into one of three categories:

  •  Small, straightforward modifications, no structural elements. This is the most basic project. It’s just one container, you’re adding in a door and/or a window or two and that is about it. Overall, the container stays basically intact.

  • Smaller project, but some structural elements. Your project is still small, but has some part of it that requires a bit of structural work. It might be a large opening between two containers or large doors that reduce the structural integrity of the container.


  • Larger projects with structural elements. This would be any home, multi-container structure, or other projects that have considerable structural elements to it (i.e. stacking, larger cut-out sections, etc).

If you do need some structural help, we strongly recommend working with a structural engineer and/or an architect.  They will create plans that will help in the next few stages of your project. Those designs will be needed for any zoning and building code approvals as well as for pricing the cost of any desired modifications. These professionals will ensure that your design is safe. However if you are doing a smaller project with just a door or window, you can easily draw that up yourself.

 A 50-container shrimp farm we helped with in Los Vegas, NV.

A 50-container shrimp farm we helped with in Los Vegas, NV.


Super Cubes does not have a design team. We can help with modifications, but we would either need a design that you draw up, one from your structural engineer or architect.

3.  Feasibility  

Where you are putting your project also is a big part of the equation. If you are building a house, does your project need to meet any building requirements by your city, county or state? Are you zoned for the type of project you have? What about the land itself? What preparations do you need to make to ensure you have the proper foundation for your project?  These are all critical questions that you will need to investigate before you get too far on your project. You may need to work with a variety of different people to get to all of these answers. Often you will need some of the design work done before getting too far into the feasibility work on your project.

Stayed tune for Part 2 in this series when we talk about modifications and other services needed for your project!

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20’ high cube containers, (20’ long, 8’ wide and 9’6” high), are fantastic when you can find them. We are lucky to have one available in Detroit. Detroit doesn't get unusual containers like this often, so it is great in a market that has a lot of exciting container projects in the works.  It was slightly damaged in transit, but not too badly. We had special-ordered the container for a project and the damage was not compatible with the project, so we have this particular one left over. Please check out the pictures to see how great it looks!

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A little background on 20’ high cubes

20’ high cube containers are a great option when you need that extra height for storage, but need that shorter length. However, they are only available in one-trip condition. Even then, they are still not that plentiful. This specific sized high cube container is not widely used in commercial shipping, so used 20' high cube containers are hard to come by. As far as specialty containers go, the 20' high cubes are known to be most consistently damaged in transit. Often then when the container needs to be moved, they are put on a regular 20’ chassis, or container trailer.  Most 20' chassis are made for standard containers, which are a foot shorter than high cubes.. Therefore when going under a low bridge, which has enough space for a standard 20' container to clear, there is a big problem. The truck generally keeps going under the container, but the container crumples up. This generally results in totaling the container and damaging the bridge. In fact, that did happen to another container on this order! To see pictures, click here. Low-bridging is so common that most companies do not want to deal with the hassle of having a large percentage of their new, incoming, expensive containers being damaged, that 20’ high cubes tend to be harder to come by.

That is why this one in Detroit is such a great option if you are in the area.