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Container Homes, Offices and Retail Projects

Converting containers into homes is a very popular idea these days. The internet is full of beautiful pictures of homes, cabins, apartments and dorms made out of containers. Containers make a unique building material that brings together a recycled and reused material with an industrial aesthetic to create clean lines and wide variety of different styles for homes of all sizes. 

If you are considering a container home, here are some things to consider or use as a starting point:

  1. Do you have an architect or structural engineer?  At the end of the day, you want to be safe in whatever home you build. You wouldn’t think of building a traditional home or building without having someone review your plans to make sure the house won’t fall down. The same is true with a container home, if not more so. Containers make a great building material, but as you take away parts of the container, you reduce the structural integrity of the container. That structural integrity can be rebuilt with supports, but you want to make sure that is done correctly so your new house is safe.
     
  2. Do you have a design or floor plan for your home? Like all homes, you need a plan to work from. Without that, it is hard to estimate any part of the costs involved in your home.
     
  3. Which of the many good reasons do you want to use containers for building your home?  Knowing this will help you figure out many of the questions that will come up as you plan out your home. Are you looking to use containers because you want a green, recycled material? Then you’ll probably want to use used containers to build them. Are you looking for that crisp, industrial look of containers? Then you probably want to use one-trip/”new” containers to have that look. Are you using them because containers are an easy way to build a home in a remote area? You probably want to go with fewer containers, or stick to minimal modifications.  

    All in all, being clear on why you like containers will actually help you narrow down your choices. You may find that you don’t want to be confined to the 8’ width of containers, so going with a hybrid of container and traditional-build methods come together to create the gorgeous design you have in your head. Or your off-the-grid tiny home fits inside a 20’ container with very few, but very precise modifications to make it work perfectly for you.
     
  4. Do you want your container home to be 100% made from containers or do you want a mix of containers and traditional built? There is no wrong answer, but there are endless possibilities.
     
  5. Are you going to do the work yourself on your home or are you going to use a contractor. Just the same a traditional home, you can do as much or as little of the work yourself.  Super Cubes does basic modifications to containers. Our capabilities vary depending on where in the country you are modifying your container. But if it is a multi-container project, chances are you will need to have a contractor to assemble the containers onsite and finish them off.
     
  6. Is a container home or building allowed where you want to build it?  Different cities and counties have different rules on this.  It is important to find if your project will pass local codes before getting too far into your project.

So what can Super Cubes do for you for your home?  We can do a variety of modifications that may be just the starting point to your container home, or we may get a small cabin almost all the way finished, depending on what you are looking for and where in the country you are located. We have containers all across the continental United States, but we only have a few shops throughout the US. Each of those shops varies in their capabilities. In general, here are some of the things we can do to help you out:

  • Cut-outs large and small for creating doors, window, openings between containers, openings for plumbing and electric work to go through.
  • Add in doors and windows (limited sizes as very large windows will break in transit) to your container
  • Basic HVAC units. We do not install central air or any duct work, but we can add in heating and cooling units to the wall of a container.
  • Electric work in some shops. This varies depending on the shop.
  • Insulation. The types of insulation varies by shop. However, if we are not able to do the electric work, you will not want us to do the insulation as the electric work usually is install behind the walls of most homes.
  • Interior walls to cover up insulation.  Depending on the shop we can do dry wall, paneling and other traditional options
  • Flooring, in some shops.

In addition, we have a partner who can do a feasibility study for you.  They begin the report by first visiting the governing zoning, building & safety, public works departments and others to determine the limitations, rules, and zoning codes that will affect your project.  They put together a study that gives you all the ground rules for your specific piece of property and it prepares our clients who are about to embark upon an architectural/building project. They do need to know if you own the property, if you have a budget, if you have an architect or need designs and when you are looking to build.  The study includes:

  • A pre-design mission statement
  • Permits, planning and zoning analysis
  • Design/construction quality levels
  • Preliminary construction cost analysis
  • Project schedule estimates
  • Project decision check sheet
  • General payment schedules
  • Professional & governmental fees
  • Project stages

There are some things we do NOT do. Please keep them in mind:

  • Design work of any sort. We are not designers. 
  • Floorplans. We do not create them. We are not engineers and it would be irresponsible for us to design a home for you.
  • Plumbing.
  • Installing containers. Depending on where you are located, we may be able to set the container on the ground for you. In some locations, you will need to offload the container from our trucks. If you need containers set on footings, you will need to have an equipment handling company put them in place for you.
  • Onsite electric work. You will need an electrician set up your container home for you.

If you would like us to quote a container home for you, please make sure you have the following:

  1. A design showing what modifications you will need done.
  2. A list of those modifications clarifying what they are (sizes, descriptions, preferred materials, etc)
  3. The location where the home will be. As we mentioned above, we have different capabilities in different parts of the country. Please include where the home will be so we can price out appropriately.
  4. If you are looking for things like insulation, flooring, etc, please be very specific in what you are looking for – roll insulation vs foam, types of walls, types of flooring. Our basic modifications are very industrial, so if you want anything pretty, please include what that is. Links to stores showing the products you want in particular are great as that lets us know what you want. Otherwise our pricing will have the look of a construction jobsite trailer because that is the look most of our industrial customers are looking for.

 

For inspiration on different container homes and other options, please check out our blog posts on container homes.