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Shipping Containers for Storage, Housing and Rental  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm thinking of getting a shipping container for storage. I need storage that is very secure, strong and mobile. A truck is more mobile. One that drives well would cost a lot more than a container.

Used 20 foot containers in good shape are available for about $2,800 on Vancouver Island and about  $1800 in Vancouver.

40 foot containers are the same price. There's a glut of them in the marketplace. Every contractor and homeowner including me, seems to want something smaller, that will fit their site.

10 foot containers go for $4,000. They have to be custom-made from 20 footers. I won't be getting one of those.

My primary concern is the general condition with special attention to the doors. I don't care about a few dents, as long as the frame is sound and the doors work really well.

Color is a concern. I may want to store this container in places where others would rather that I not. A bright red or orange one will draw more attention than one that is light green , light tan or white.

I drove through a port area of Vancouver yesterday. One yard had containers stacked 9 high, so I know they can take anything I'm likely to pile on them. They can be piled six high when shiped full of goods with a total weight of 30 tons each.

For storage on the farm, where space is not tight, the biggest bang for the buck comes from 53 foot containers. They are 6 inches wider than standard containers and they are a foot taller. Their total volume is about 3.5 times that of a 20 foot container. 53 footers sell for $2,200.

One 40 foot or two 20 foot containers, can fit inside a 53 footer for shipping. The best deals around here are at the Port of Vancouver. It's worth somewhere around $1,200 to bring a container to Vancouver Island , so if I buy in Vancouver, I will buy a big one with a smaller one inside.

At the farm, I would place a 53 and a 40 close enough together that a roof built between them , could greatly enlarge the enclosed space. The taller one could be set on blocks , so that it is even taller in relation to the other one. This would allow a suitable slope to the roof. Alternatively , both could be set with their roofs level, and they could become the foundation for a wooden building that spans both of them.

The longer containers are quite dark near the back, when they are stacked with material. Another door could be created ten or fifteen feet from the end opposite the big doors.

Partition walls are easily attached to the cargo tie-downs.

I'm thinking of getting enough storage for myself and renting out some space.

I might create a small sleeping unit in the end eight feet of a container.
.....
In the city, I need a 20-footer. I'm currently seeking a suitable parking space. That will be the challenge. There are plenty of 20 foot containers available. I have called on a few ads looking to rent out parking space and no one has called back, so I assume they don't want to park a big container in their yard.
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Plenty of attachment points
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Floor
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Interior of a 40-footer
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These 40 Footers are newer than most.
 
chad duncan
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20's and 40's also come in a 'tall' version. Many of the outfits that sell these containers used also modify them in a number of ways including insulation, swing doors, roll up doors and windows in whatever wall suits your purpose.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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How much do tractor trailers go for near you?
These seem likely to be easier to move, even if its only once.

I had an idea concerning a van or truck. If they don't need to move often they could be towed,using a device such as this:




Ideally you would dump the engine and transmission, to save on weight and space, though an engine that ran could be used as the basis of an an inefficient generator.
My personal plan involved buying a junked Chevy Astro or S-10, due to parts compatibility.
If it was the S-10, I would use the cab as a toolbox and the bed for hauling manure,etc.



 
Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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I've got a 20' highcube as my workshop/storage space; it's been great, though I'd really prefer more room! Mine is white, I think it's a lot less of an eyesore than the rust-red/orange ones. Green would blend in better, but it stays cooler this way.

It's 8'6" inside, so I can carry 8' material inside, vertical, and store it that way. Unfortunately it was WAY more expensive than a regular height container.


In the back, loaded with stuff, it is indeed a bit dark, and a 53' would be so much worse... BUT, a good flashlight pointed at the white ceiling lights it up beautifully. I've got a magnetic clip that holds my roof-pointed light to whatever piece of container wall I want, and it's plenty good enough to make me abandon all thoughts of a permanent lighting installation.


The 40'/53' cans strike me as fantastic value, and I hope to install a couple of them for storage once I'm settled somewhere permanent-ish, in the roof-bridged config you describe... but it is not possible to get one onto this property without an impractical amount of work.


If you buy from Vancouver, I'd advise avoiding RTC Container. Time wasting imbeciles trying to pass off rusted out garbage as good containers. I went to their yard, with an appointment in advance; nobody there, just 30 minutes of them insisting via phone that someone would be there in '5 minutes'. The containers they'd described in text and (very carefully taken) photos as 'good shape' with 'a bit of rust to fix' were crap. I had to use a pipe I found in the mud as a breaker bar to work the door mechanisms, and even that wasn't enough to open some of them; once open you could see that the roofs were perforated with holes up to a couple feet across; and they all reeked of urine. Turns out they'd been used for fertilizer.

I dealt with bigsteelbox as nobody else had a high-cube in a timely fashion; service was good, pricing terrible. Delivery was HD Trucking via flatbed with a HIAB that could position the can 12ft off to the side of where the truck could get.


The nicest container I ever saw, which I really wish I could have bought, was a 20' highcube in pristine condition with two extra double container doors installed on one side, so nearly the whole side of the container could open up. Looked fantastic for a workshop.


William, I've seen clapped out tractor trailers for sale at similar prices as the big containers... IMO the container is a much better deal. You can have it transported on someone else's truck, rather than trying to make/keep it roadworthy for transport; it's more weatherproof, and they're much more heavily built so they can be stacked. You couldn't(safely) use a tractor trailer as the foundation for a building!
 
Burra Maluca
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We had great fun helping out with a container delivery, and thought you might like these photos.

The access road was a bit steep and winding. And it had been raining, so a touch slippery too.







We needed to give the delivery lorry a bit of a hand getting back out again.



 
Ron Helwig
Posts: 132
Location: New Hampshire
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You can use self-tapping metal screws to attach 2x4s to the insides, which will be flush (enough). Screw from the outside while someone holds the 2x4 in the channel from the inside. That makes it a lot easier to attach all kinds of wood and stuff to make a nicer interior.

We have three 40' containers welded together with the interior walls cut out to make a big workshop. It needs a few molly columns to hold up the roof in the middle but it works well. The wall pieces were cut out in big enough chunks to be useful - they are just under 8' tall by about 4' wide.

Putting two containers near each other with a roof between them might be a good spot to dry lumber.
 
Dale Hodgins
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If I could find an old truck, I might use that for my in town storage. It would have to be cheap. But then there's a visual problem. A truck with similar storage capacity will be even larger , because you have the height of the wheels and the nose of the truck sticking out. When heavy goods are stored, it's a pain to climb up and down from the truck. I have temporarily stored goods in roll-off bins. It's nice to only have to step up 6 inches or so.

I'll remember the name of that company with the shitty containers. All of the ones I looked at where in excellent condition. The first interior photo that you see, is from the inside of the red container. The doors worked perfectly. It's sitting in Sidney, right near the ferry. $2,800 for that one.

How much did you pay for your high 20? I don't know that a few inches in height will make that much difference to me. I'm quite a bit under 8 feet tall.
 
Dillon Nichols
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My 20' HC was $4100 FOB Sidney, in November 2014; it has a couple minor dents on one side at the bottom, and was otherwise mint. Bigsteelbox was quoting a few hundred more for a mint 20'HC, and $3800 for good condition 20' standard height.

The delivery from Sidney to my site(~6 km from Keating) ran a bit over $200.

I don't know that the premium for the HC is worth it in most cases, but I could only bring one can to this property, and needed all the space I could get as it was my only dry workspace as well as storage for that winter. Being able to carry and store 8' material vertically has been worth it to me.



The step up into a shipping container is low enough to roll heavy wheeled items(like my tablesaw) up a ramp by oneself. Most 20' trucks, not so much, unless you have an extremely long ramp. I would expect insurance to be a substantial cost for a vehicle that size.

 
Anne Christgau
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Can anyone advise me on how to reduce the condensation inside
an unlined unheated container?
Anne
 
dan collins
Posts: 73
Location: Nova Scotia
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Great timing for this topic. I bought a 20' rust colored red one this last month and not quite sure how I will move forward using it.

Today I compacted a gravel pad where I plan store it and likely will see it delivered in the next week or two.

I too would be interested in knowing best way to insulate.

 
Dillon Nichols
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From reading up on this when I thought I liked the idea of a shipping container house, the best option IMO is complete external insulation; sprayfoam directly to the container with siding over top, or a more green but less portable option like strawbale. In either case you need a roof... A fair bit of work and expense.

Internal insulation eats valuable inches of width, and if you don't heat I would expect you'd still have condensation issues, except now you have insulation for the mold to live inside...

If you've got enough room/time/funds, a complete building can be constructed using cans as the main support structure; just take care as they're really strong vertically at the corners, and much less so every other place. A single container is a pretty inefficient shape to insulate, being so narrow; multiple cans locked side by side are better. And then you want doors between them, and maybe some windows, and you're lost down the rabbithole!

I really think that they shine as unheated storage and/or support for an open carport/workshop sort of structure, and (outside of special circumstances, like a major need for secure steel walls, or to ship units in pre-built...) become progressively less compelling an option as the structure complexity increases. Accordingly, I have no interest in insulating mine at this point; condensation has been very minimal over the last 2 winters. I've had a small amount of mold on a bit of the wood stored inside, I think this wood must have gotten wet before entering the container as most has not had any trouble. I see a bit more rust on tools than I would expect from in a heated structure, but nothing I'm losing sleep over.
 
chad duncan
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I don't have direct experience but people have told me that spray insulation inside those 'steel structure quonset huts' keeps them from forming condensation and that without the insulation they are supposedly terrible for it.
 
Anne Christgau
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Many Thanks for your replies, suggestions. We rent our container purely for storage
but the condensation gets out of hand. Buying a container may seem like a
cheap option for housing / storage etc, but when you factor in insulation etc it is
not ideal.
Thanks again
Anne
 
Dale Hodgins
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For some reason ,  I didn't notice some of the replies last time.

Burra, how hot does that container get in the summer?
.....
Much of what I see done to containers, makes no sense to me. I can't see building a large house and being constrained to having all the rooms the same width. When containers are chopped up this way and that, the structural integrity is compromised.
.....
I was searching for a place to plant a container in the city yesterday, when I stumbled upon a really high quality storage space in a perfect area, for $200 a month. I had been willing to pay $150, just for a place outside. For $50 more, I got a place that has electricity, water and some heat included. It's a secure location close to a scrap yard and organics dump that I frequent.
.....
So, I will now only be looking for large containers for the farm. No need to shop for 20-footers. Due to shipping cost, I'm stuck on the idea of a 53 footer, that is large enough to contain a 40 footer. Once I make a choice, I will photograph the units chosen and write my name on them with paint. I can see that a person could choose a container and then receive one that is in poor condition, if you're not vigilant.
.....
There are substances that absorb water. These can be purchased or I may make something myself. A few trays of sawdust could be placed around the container, when the sawdust is very dry. During the winter, it could be taken out and dried in the greenhouse. It would also be possible to create a small section of trombe wall from a portion that faces South. Plywood or some other cover could prevent overheating during the summer. It would even be possible to use the trombe wall as an exhaust fan during hot weather. Passive heating and cooling like this , should deal with condensation problems and extreme temperature swings.

 There are already vents built into the top of containers. A small solar chimney strapped to the roof , could draw air through the unit , whenever the sun is shining. They are quite air tight when being used on long ocean trips. Once attached to dry land , it makes sense to ventilate them in the same way that other structures are ventilated.
.....
I really like the barn pictured below. It uses containers as the foundation. Hay and other low-value items can be stored above. Expensive equipment goes into the containers. When I look at the cost of a concrete foundation for a building that size , the $6000 or so delivered cost of the two containers, doesn't look like so much.
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Miles Flansburg
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This guy, and his wife, are my hero's. Building a huge house with containers .

 
Burra Maluca
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Burra, how hot does that container get in the summer?


We don't know yet, but I suspect it will turn out to be a bit like a solar-oven and no-one in their right minds would want to go inside during the daytime in August. It's purely for storage.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Could a container like this be buried in a hillside with just the door sticking out for access? That would seem to reduced the temperature fluctuations. I would assume that they can take the weight of a few feet of soil on top of them. Are they equally reinforced to handle pressure from the sides? What would be an effective way of eliminating corrosion? The paint must be able to stand up to the solar exposure and also the salt from being at sea or in ports all of the time.

Any ideas?
 
Ron Helwig
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:Are they equally reinforced to handle pressure from the sides?

Nope. Burying them isn't really a good idea.
 
Jennifer Meyer
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I and my husband researched building a home from shipping containers last year. We spent a rather long time discussing the pros and cons. If you are handy with a welder and a cutting torch or grinder, then a shipping container may be just the thing for you.

PROS:
1. Requires minimal footings.
2. Instant walls and roof at minimal cost and labor.
3. Endless configuration options.
4. Add another section at any time.
5. Very secure.

CONS:
1. Requires extensive insulation on all exterior walls.
2. Eight-foot width limit in many rooms.
3. Nine-and-a-half foot ceiling limit.
4. Walls cannot support the weight of earth or berms.

My husband was all for leaving the trailer doors on over exterior doors and windows, so the house could become a fortress in our absence. I, however, am very interested in a home with a high insulation values. After we researched the cost of applying spray foam and/or adding sheets of styrofoam, I decided I really wanted a berm home for the thermal mass.

We are currently building with earth bags.

I still recommend shipping containers for anyone who wants a fast above-ground solution, provided you are prepared to insulate.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Kirsten posted this video of an underground container like you were asking about Craig.

 
Jennifer Meyer
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Fantastic video. I wish I had seen it when we were considering containers.
 
Jennifer Meyer
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Thanks for posting on the CFLs. I have to wonder who is paying to produce these films?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I ventured down a YouTube rabbit hole yesterday, concerning houses made from shipping containers. There were a few that seemed like sensible homes. Many were incredibly large, very expensive to build and would consume vast amounts of energy.

The house in the video above used 31 containers. It appears to be over 10,000 square feet. That's a nice size for a small motel, but rather large for a small family. One summer cottage built in Maine was over 4000 square feet. The owner stated that they would only use it in the summer and very occasionally in the winter. He said that the vast area of glass made it a challenge to heat. They heat it throughout the winter.
 
Larry Tannenbaum
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Well here's another random idea for reusing surplus shipping containers...retrofit them so that they are converted into an enclosed, aerated composting vessels (complete with a mixer) similar to those custom designed and custom made enclosed composting containers that were expensive and site specific (i.e. stationary).  These vessels convert organic wastes into compost in around 3 weeks vs an average of 3 months for typical windrow composting - with generating the odors and putrescent puddles common to those mega recycling facilities. And a container could be retrofitted with a couple of trips to Home Depot/Lowe's and a few clicks on eBay or Amazon.  It's efficient because it monitors conditions and then optimizes them through active aeration and periodic mixing of wastes.  Simplified, that would entail mounting an array of perforated pipes on the bottom of the container, which is the connected thru hoses and bulk head fittings to some squirrel fans which are in return  hooked into a form of variable resistor (to control fan speed) and this is in turn connected to relays from a STC-1000 digital PID temperature controller (which takes the reading of a thermocouple sensor). As for mixing the enclosed wastes, think pole auger mounted on guide rails (with a motor system, like a linear actuator to create a 2 axis movement). Again, this would be tied into a temperature/humidity PID.  Total cost of container, delivery charges, materials, control equipment...under $15,000. No fuss, no muss (whatever muss is) and your capable of recycling about 70-100 cubic yds every 3 weeks -food wastes, farm manure, etc.  If you're interested in getting fancier, mounted some PEX or copper tubing on the top panel to act as a heat exchanger and capture the compost heat.

My thought was that something like this could be used to take wastes from a city and dock it on a small pad on a farm, where it will take up a minuscule amount of land, provide a farmer with income from the disposal fees -- and provide recycling capacity without creating another waste land from taking virgin land to big one of those huge composting facilites. Sure, one site, even with 10 containers, is a drop in the bucket, but a network of mini sites would.

Perhaps it's time to think small.

My random thought of the day...oops it's early morning


Larry
 
Emma Jacob
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Not quite sure about efficient services but there are few things to be taken care of while selecting a particular shipping container.
Don’t bother with those websites that have you fill out your info and up to four suppliers will contact you with competitive prices – THEY WON’T!
Always remember that stick build a building with the same amount of square footage, that is just as water tight and structurally sound using traditional construction methods for less than the cost of a shipping container – it just won’t weigh as much. You may need tilt bed roll off truck.to get it delivered. Rust is the only natural predator that can harm a shipping container, so don’t scrimp on a good paint job.

most sites only show computer renderings, and actual completed structures have been built at astronomical cost.
 
If you are using a rototiller, you are doing it wrong. Even on this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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