Are you ready to be different than everyone else? Are you wanting to build something out of a box? If you are saying yes to both questions, shipping containers may be a route for you! ISO containers are a great way to build a unique structure that can be within reach of the average person.

Shipping containers were designed for storing and transporting goods. However, there are so many different ways to upcycle steel containers into a wide variety of new structures.

So, what can you REALLY build with a shipping container? The short answer is really - anything! - even if shipping containers are commonly used by business and home owners. Containers provide a scalable building block to create extra storage, retail space, restaurants, homes and so much more. Here is a general list along with images of how containers have been and are continuing to be utilized:  

  • Storage and Sheds. Sure it is the most basic use, but containers are great at storing things.

  • Cabins, guesthouse, tiny homes and vacation/main houses. The hottest trend in the past few years in containers is container architecture.

  • Offices and building extensions. Containers can add in extra space for people too. Containers can fitted out with insulation, electricity and desks easily.

  • Fire training stations. Containers can be burned again and again! As long as you replace that wood floor with something that doesn’t burn. We have all sorts of ideas on how to change the space to keep your team on their toes.

  • Saunas, pools and pool houses. Who doesn’t want one of these?!

  • Food trucks, restaurants and bars. Containers make everything more fun!

  • Portable toilets. Ground-level entry that can be moved to wherever you need them. And everyone will be happy they’re not a port-a-potty.

  • Retail shops and malls. Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas is a perfect example of how to take a great, creative idea and make it a reality.

Food trucks take over Toronto

Food trucks take over Toronto

Las Vegas , here we come!

Las Vegas, here we come!

  • Bistros and coffee shops. Starbucks has been running with this idea for a few years, but there are so many more takes on getting caffeine to those in need.

  • Student housing facilities and schools. The most classic example of this is TempoHousing in Amsterdam.

  • Emergency hospitals/disaster shelters. Containers can be moved around quickly and easily, making them a choice for quick response. The real hold-up here has been finding the way to create government-approved solutions that can be made where they are needed and at the right price point.

  • Nurseries and indoor gardens. This is such a great, sustainable way for locally grown food just about anywhere. Check out how they do it in Antarctica, Las Vegas and just about anywhere you can set down a container.

To find the right container for you, just contact us directly at 877-374-5452. We’d be happy to help make your vision a reality!

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.  

A customer did this one himself

A customer did this one himself

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 Delivery 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.

Window with barn door closedand porthole windows.jpg

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 one-trip 20' container is like a blank canvas. The possibilities are endless.

A one-trip 20' container is like a blank canvas. The possibilities are endless.

A Super Cubes container makes the red carpet

A Super Cubes container makes the red carpet

What would you do with a one-trip 20' container?  We have some great customers who have taken 20' (and in some cases 40') containers and created something much bigger than a box.  We are showcasing some of the fun stuff we've been a part of or at least supplied containers today.

Super Cubes worked with Matter last year to create some unique spaces at their gala. We created a red carpet entry where everyone walked through container to come into the Sun Country hangar. We created a virtual reality booth where attendees could tour hospitals created by Matter (and see containers shipped from Minneapolis to the hospitals). We used 20' containers to create a stage along with the nose of a Sun Country plane!  Click here to read more about it.

We worked with SW Living in Florida. They are creating great off-the-grid living spaces out of containers. Pictured below is their prototype.  To find out more about them, click here.

While containers are great for storage, they are quite literally blank canvases The one pictured below features a mural designed by a local high schooler. Read more about that here. We also had a customer camouflage theirs to fit into their surroundings.

We have had customers turn containers into garden shed. We had a farm add on storage for pipes and other materials that can be accessed directly from the barn.

One Super Cubes customer partially buried a 20' container into a hill.  It provides great storage and is safe from storms.

Alchemy Architects in St Paul took a Super Cubes container and converted it into an off-the-grid, stand-alone, 20' hotel room. Super Cubes helped with the big window next to the bed and the utility closet opening. They did an amazing job designing the space to make use of every square inch an beautiful materials to finish it off.  The container made the rounds last year at various festivals and fairs. This summer, you can book a stay in it through AirBnB. To read more about it, click here for the container's website and here for the AirBnB listing.

Super Cubes was also involved with a shrimp farm in Las Vegas. Yes, you read that right. Shrimp in the desert outside of Las Vegas. It was to bring sustainable, locally-sourced shrimp to a market that had very high demand. Here is a link to our blog on that one too. Although they did use 40's for this project, it seemed too fun to leave out.

One last 40' project was an 8-container home in St Charles. We have so many pictures of this gorgeous home, you really just need to visit our blog devoted entirely to it.  Click here to check that out.

So what would you do with a container? What is holding you back from doing something with one? 

Check out the pictures below and click on them to enlarge them.

Are you looking for a one-trip/"new" 20' container? We just want to let you know that even though they are getting scarcer, we do have them! Particularly in Minneapolis, but in other cities throughout the US. Give us a call today! We also have used 20's and 40's and one-trip 40's as well!