House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

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The idea of ​​building a house from shipping containers is not so new. Original designs of one, two or more assembly elements can be easily turned into a residential building. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of various standard sizes of containers and talk about the stages of building a one-story house from sea containers.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

A house made of shipping containers is a topic that interests many. In our country, containers are mainly converted into change houses, outbuildings, but only a few are building houses so far. Why is this happening?

Some people think that it is impossible to build original, beautiful housing from ISO containers. Others believe that such houses are only good for warmer latitudes. Still others are stopped by the uncertainty of the final estimate. Let’s try to sort out all these questions..

Architectural options

A house from containers can be built into almost any landscape of the site, and it can be built from one container or several, located in one, two or three tiers.

Examples of non-standard placement of houses

A three-block, three-tier home on a hillside that occupies a minimum of land, built in New Zealand by industrial design professor Ross Stevens.

Ross Stevens Shipping Container House

Ross Stevens Shipping Container House

A floating house built from shipping containers on a pontoon.

Houseboat made of shipping containers

Houseboat made of shipping containers

Clamshell house with folding and folding walls for summer vacations.

House-cabin from 20 'container

House-cabin from 20 'container

House-cabin from 20 'container

Treehouse in New York by German studio Baumraum.

House of shipping containers on a tree

House hanging over water.

House of shipping containers above water

Examples of container homes in Canada

Winters in Canada, especially in areas with continental climates, can be just as severe as in Russia. In this regard, interesting are the houses that were realized there..

Three-block house in the forests of Canada, designed by Pierre Morency.

Ecohouse from containers by architect Pierre Morency

Ecohouse from containers by architect Pierre Morency

Another house of three containers, built for himself by Canadian Joseph Dupuis.

Container house built by Canadian Joseph Dupuis

Container house built by Canadian Joseph Dupuis

House of containers in Kharkov

Project by architect Oleg Drozdov, implemented in Kharkov, Ukraine. Complex: two containers stacked perpendicular to each other in two tiers – a residential building and a detached guest house, also from a shipping container.

House made of shipping containers by architect Oleg Drozdov

House made of shipping containers by architect Oleg Drozdov

House made of shipping containers by architect Oleg Drozdov

House made of shipping containers by architect Oleg Drozdov

House made of shipping containers by architect Oleg Drozdov

Original ideas

Projects of a house folded from containers in the form of a cross have been developed; there is an idea to create a house from one 40-foot container, placed vertically. There are others that are complex and impractical in terms of the area and volume of the development container. We want to give some original and at the same time useful ideas.

House and pool – all from shipping containers.

House and pool made of shipping containers

Several blocks united by one roof. The largest room is formed by the area between containers.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

A similar solution to an asymmetrical house. A pitched roof over three containers significantly increases the area of ​​the house.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

The veranda can rise in winter and form a wall, insulating a significant area of ​​glazing.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

What to look for during construction

In the construction of a house from shipping containers, there are several main points that should be considered most carefully even at the planning stage:

  1. Base, foundation – unlike a change house, a house for permanent residence should be based on a reliable foundation.
  2. Thermal insulation is an important aspect for home improvement from shipping containers in our harsh continental climate.
  3. Ventilation – the walls of the container completely isolate the internal volume of air, therefore it is important to provide for high-quality air exchange to create a healthy atmosphere.
  4. Roofing – to a greater extent affects the aesthetics, but also provides additional advantages in building insulation.

Next, let’s take a closer look at each item with striking examples and a selection of effective ways to implement.

Foundation

Some authors argue that a foundation is not required to install a home. However, most experts believe that for the climate of the main part of Russia, a foundation is absolutely necessary. It can be slab, tape, columnar or pile, depending on the type of soil, winter temperatures and the mass of the structure..

Foundation for a container house

For most buildings, in our opinion, inexpensive columnar or pile foundations are suitable, and when the house hangs over the water, only pile foundations. In addition to providing support, the foundation allows containers to be positioned exactly horizontally.

A house of two 40-foot containers was built in Costa Rica by Benjamin Garcia. The house has a columnar foundation.

House made of shipping containers designed by Benjamin Garcia House designed by Benjamin Garcia

Thermal insulation

The device of thermal insulation of a house from containers is one of the decisive issues when creating a full-fledged housing. Thermal insulation is performed both from the inside and outside, and the choice of the method depends on the mode of residence: permanent or “on arrival”.

Selection of thermal insulation materials

The choice of materials depends on the location of the insulation and the budget. Mineral wool is suitable for interior work. If it is reliably protected from precipitation and wind during outdoor work, then it can also be used outside the building. For floors, the use of mineral wool is not recommended if there is a risk of water ingress. To lay mineral wool, you need to make a crate and lay the material so that it does not sink down over time, leaving areas without thermal insulation. When using mineral wool slabs, to ensure 100 mm thickness, it is better to lay two sheets of 50 mm each so that the seams in the layers do not coincide.

Polyurethane foam can be applied to an insulating layer on both sides of the container. Styrofoam has also proven itself, and you can work with it yourself. For good durability of these materials, it is necessary to make a crate by attaching it to the container wall with self-tapping screws or by welding a steel corner beforehand.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

Thermal insulation of the container outside

It makes sense to insulate the container outside when the house is intended for permanent residence. Thus, the dew point is shifted beyond the inner surface of the walls. If the thermal insulation removes all cold bridges and ventilation is provided, condensation will not form in the house. In this case, the thermal insulation material must be closed from the effects of the atmosphere and precipitation, for example, with siding.

Thermal insulation of the container from the inside

If the house is used exclusively in summer, or if you are planning to arrive at other times of the year, it is better to insulate it from the inside. Arriving in a frozen house in winter and turning on the heating, you can quickly warm up the air and not get dew on the walls if the thermal insulation is done correctly:

  • a continuous layer of thermal insulation, without even a part of the metal of the container entering the living space;
  • all internal walls are either non-metallic or mounted so that a sufficient layer of heat-insulating material or wood is laid between them and the metal of the container.

Thermal insulation of the sea container

Ventilation must also be provided for this type of insulation..

Ventilation

Since ISO containers are airtight, and modern windows and doors also keep air out, you need to take care of ventilation. It can be a vent, the possibility of micro-ventilation in a plastic window, an automatic valve that is triggered by high humidity, or more complex engineering systems. If you leave the house without ventilation, then not only people will not have enough fresh air, but also condensation (ice) will appear on the windows, dampness, mold and fungus are possible.

The ideal solution would be the installation of supply and exhaust ventilation with preliminary air preparation.

House ventilation from shipping containers Ventilation solution in the house of architect Maria Jose Trejos

Roof

Roofing is desirable, but not necessary in container houses. The device of a one- or two-pitched roof will make the house warmer, it will be possible to combine two or more blocks into a single house, increasing the area, as we showed above with examples. But you can insulate the ceiling only from the inside, covering the structure with a layer of roofing material on top: the container is sealed, the steel is of high quality, there should be no leaks. Moreover, some owners even arrange a lawn or flower garden on the roof of such a house..

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates Container Roof Lawn

Characteristics of shipping containers

The base of the containers is a frame made of longitudinal and transverse steel beams, sheathed with corrugated alloy steel sheets 1.5–2 mm thick. The floor is covered with pressed plywood, as a rule, impregnated against mold, up to 40 mm thick. This material can be removed (a rather laborious process) and used after the thermal insulation has been laid on the floor. At the end there is a double hinged door, the tightness of which is ensured by sealing rubber along the perimeter of the opening.

40-foot sea container 40-foot container

Sea containers differ in size and volume. The dimensions of the most common options are shown in table 1.

Table 1. Dimensions of sea containers

ContainerVolume, m3Dimensions, mm
outdoorinternal
lengthwidthheightlengthwidthheight
3t5.162 1001,3252,4001 9301,2252 128
5t10.442 10026502,400195025152 128
20 feet32.126,05824382591586723302 350
20 foot high36.916,05824382895586723302700
40 feet65.6412 1922438259111 98823302 350
40 foot high75.4212 1922438289511 98823302700

Installation steps

Building a house includes many elements. We will list the main installation steps:

  1. Foundation construction.
  2. Supply of communications, laying of passage elements for insertion into the container.
  3. Transportation of containers and building materials to the site.

Installation of a container on a pile foundation

  1. Connecting containers to each other. Can be done:
    • welding of two walls along the edges;
    • welding a steel strip between two containers with preliminary laying of heat-insulating material;
    • bolted connection.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

  1. If hinged doors of containers will not be used – they need to be welded.
  2. Cut through windows and doors. In this case, the structure loses its rigidity and must be restored immediately. Profiled square pipes are welded along the opening from floor to ceiling. The same pipes frame the opening horizontally, they are installed between vertical pipes – supports.

House from shipping containers: construction features, cost estimates

  1. Metal survey. Cleaning and priming of seams, straightening of bent places, anti-corrosion treatment.
  2. Installation of windows and external doors. Porch equipment.
  3. In case of internal thermal insulation, sew up the outer walls with siding along the crate. You can simply paint the metal with a light exterior paint. At this stage, you can build a pitched roof, cover the top of the container with roofing felt or prepare a cushion for the lawn: drainage, geotextile, soil.
  4. Mark out the interior layout. Carry out water supply.
  5. Perform internal (external) wall insulation. Insulate floor, ceiling.

Insulation of the container floor

  1. Build interior walls, install interior doors.
  2. Electrical installation: sockets, switches, lighting, appliances.
  3. Install the heater, carry out the heating wiring.

Decorating a house from a container

  1. Ventilation device (if not provided for by the design of windows).
  2. Arrange the sewerage.
  3. Install a water heater, separate the cold and hot water supply point by point.
  4. Install plumbing.
  5. Finishing of walls, ceiling, floor.

This is not a complete list of all the work, but it will help you navigate when planning construction and making an estimate..

Construction estimate

The calculation we made is, rather, a convenient form for adjusting with individual initial data:

  • number of containers;
  • way of organizing the foundation;
  • method of installation and selection of equipment for engineering networks;
  • selection of thermal insulation, building and finishing materials, etc..

An approximate calculation of the cost of the main materials of a house for permanent residence from two 20-foot containers without an equipped roof (all without delivery) for July 2016 is shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Approximate estimate of building a house from shipping containers

ExpendituresUnit rev.PriceThe cost
Containers 20 feet, high – 20 ‘HC, used2 pcs.RUB 70,000 / pc.140,000 rubles.
Column foundation + gravel pad + porch:
M300 concrete
Steel armature, Ø 14 mm and Ø 6 mm
Gravel
~ 4 m3
70 kg
4 t
3,200 rubles / m3
RUB 25 / kg
RUB 1,400 / t
12 800 rub.
1 750 rub.
5 600 rub.
External wall cladding:
Unplaned timber for lathing 100x100x6000 mm
Lining 96х12.5х3000 mm, “Economy” grade
Insulation of mineral wool “Ursa GEO M-11” URSA 1200х7000х50 mm (15 m2, 0.78 m3) 2 plates / pack.
Roofing material RKK-350 TU, b = 1000 mm, l = 10000 mm
12 pcs. – 0.72 m3
72 m2
10 pieces.
7 rolls
6850 rub / m3
150 rub / m2
RUB 750/2 pcs.
RUB 370 / pc.
4 932 rub.
10 800 rub.
3 750 rbl.
2 450 rubles.
Internal wall cladding:
Unplaned timber for lathing 100x50x6000 mm
Lining 96х12.5х3000 mm, “Economy” grade
12 pcs. – 0.36 m3
72 m2
7000 rub / m3
150 rub / m2
2 520 rub.
10 800 rub.
Wooden ceiling:
Unplaned timber for lathing 100x100x6000 mm
Lining 96х12.5х3000 mm, “Economy” grade
Insulation of mineral wool “Ursa GEO M-11” URSA 1200х7000х50 mm (15 m2, 0.78 m3) 2 plates / pack.
7 pcs. – 0.42 m3
36 m2
5 pieces.
6850 rub / m3
150 rub / m2
RUB 750/2 pcs.
2 877 rub.
5 400 rub.
1 875 rub.
Wooden floor:
Unplaned timber for lathing 100x100x6000 mm
Planed board 25x100x6000 mm
Insulation of mineral wool “Ursa GEO M-11” URSA 1200х7000х50 mm (15 m2, 0.78 m3) 2 plates / pack.
7 pcs. – 0.42 m3
0.9 m3
5 pieces.
6850 rub / m3
9000 rub / m2
RUB 750/2 pcs.
2 877 rub.
8 100 rub.
1 875 rub.
Roofing felt RKK-350 TU, b = 1000 mm, l = 10000 mm7 rollsRUB 370 / pc.2590 rbl.
Doors:
Entrance metal with insulation
Interroom
1 PC.
2 pcs.
RUB 10,000 / pc.
RUB 5,000 / pc.
10000 rub.
10000 rub.
Window3 pcs.RUB 6,000 / pc.18,000 rubles.
Solid fuel boiler with stove22,000 rubles.
TOTAL:280 996 rub.
+ electrical installation, lighting
+ heating system wiring
+ water distribution, boiler, shower (bath)
+ sewerage or dry closet
+ ventilation

In addition to these costs, you need to take into account the wages of hired workers (if you do not do everything yourself), the cost of finishing materials and filling the house with furniture, household appliances, etc..

Before deciding on such a construction, it is advisable to weigh everything and make an estimate several times without looking at the previous option. If you still want such a house, but you do not have enough funds to implement such a project, remember that a house from containers can be built in several stages: during the breaks it will not get wet, will not loosen, and will not let moisture inside. This is one of the advantages of such construction..

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