Living inside the box is a hot trend for a good reason: Steel shipping and storage containers make smart, tight huts, cabins, offices, and homes. Container living is eco-friendly, offers lots of flexibility, and can save a bundle if you keep it simple. And the options for cool container houses are almost infinite. Huts
A hut is your basic shack in the woods (or your backyard) for keeping dry and sacking out on a cot. It won’t be pretty, but it will do the job. Just paint it with SuperTherm, an insulating ceramic paint, add a door, and a window or two. You can go unplugged or rig basic electrical (anything from an extension cord if you are on the grid to a small generator if you are more remotely located).
Here’s where your container becomes a livable dwelling. Besides the hut-like basics, a container cabin will have more creature comforts—larger windows, maybe better electricity, and more insulation and an HVAC system for extra comfort (steel containers do conduct heat and cold). It’s a do-it-yourself project to put up rigid-foam insulation and paneling as well as partitions for rooms. As with any cabin, you can put in plumbing. Beyond that, it’s all about adding amenities (from awnings to skylights and decks) to give your hunting/lake/ski cabin good looks and charm.
A container-based office, work shed, or studio can be a modified cabin, designed around the work you do. But often container offices mean mobile work space. Construction trailers, sales offices, security offices, portable classrooms, temporary medical clinics, or event offices are just a few of the many possibilities. These can be delivered already customized to suit your needs, making these the most hassle-free container conversion projects.
Container housing has caught on for many reasons. Containers make strong, secure, indestructible building blocks for full-featured houses. Container homes are a green and efficient housing choice, and they lend themselves to very cool living spaces.
Container housing can be quicker than traditional building. But keep in mind that turning a container into a full-featured home is still about building a house, with many of the same costs. If you’re looking for a full-featured home that will look great and blend in with your neighbors’, you’ll need both an architect and engineer. You’ll need proper footings and foundation, as well as full plumbing and electrical, flooring, HVAC, and all the rest. Building a container home is going to cost at least as much as a traditional home, so this is generally not a decision based on money, but rather other factors.
You’ll also need to contend with layout and design issues that may quickly get structural, especially if you’re combining two or more containers. Containers aren’t designed to be chopped apart. You may need to add support beams to maintain structural integrity (and sometimes jams, headers, and sill posts as well).
The good news is at the end of the day, you’ll have a truly unusual dream home that’s as strong, secure, and eco-friendly as any house around. It will be impervious to fire and if properly anchored, able to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. Nothing against ordinary houses, but its hard to say any of that about the rambler down the street.
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