How to Build Off Grid Shipping Container House On a Budget

Shipping containers are primarily used for transporting goods between the seas. Today, though, there is a growing demand for shipping containers to be transformed into a house. If you are wondering how to build off grid shipping container houses, then we’ve got you covered.

A lot of young people today try to avoid being slaves to the old-school, 30-year mortgage for a small house in a suburban area. It is an understandable scenario too, given the unpredictable economic situation that we are all in these days. What these young people do then, is transform shipping containers into cost-effective, secure houses.

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How to Build Off Grid Shipping Container House

If you are among the many who consider transforming a shipping container into a house, we are to provide you with some easy tips to build one without breaking the bank.

Choose the type of container that suits your needs and budget

There are different types of shipping containers: dry storage, open top, tunnel, and more. While you can use more than one type of container, keep in mind that the more containers needed to make up your floor plan, the more expensive the entire home will be.

If you are on a budget, a 40-foot shipping container is already more than enough. It can support a 320-square foot house. The open top container provides more space to allow for interior height, which is very important if you need more space for the roof and insulation.

This type of container will cost you around $2,000 to $8,000 depending if it is brand-new or second-hand. To save on shipping costs, you might want to find a shipping container supplier near your construction site too.

Build the foundation for your container house

After choosing the type of container, build a foundation where you can lay the container on. Some people think that the foundation is important because it holds the container house; hence, they invest in big concrete slabs. On the contrary, a 40-foot shipping container doesn’t need such a massive concrete foundation.

There are two foundation types that you can build yourself without spending huge money: the concrete piers and the rubble trench. The concrete piers are concrete cubes secured with metal mesh wire and rebar. For a 40-foot shipping container, you would need between six to eight concrete pliers.

Another type of foundation is the rubble trench, which is used if the ground where you lay your foundation is not stable. It is done by digging down along the perimeter of the container walls. After digging, it is filled in with gravel to create a solid foundation and cement the concrete piers rather than over the trench.

Aside from concrete, the solid foundation it provides, it also gives the container home good ventilation because it elevates the house off the ground.

Cut out the doors and windows

To do this, you will need a strong angle grinder to enable you to cut through the thick steel material of the container. After that, lessen sharp edges and weld pieces of metal frame tubing on the edges. Then, mount the door and window frames and install the door and windows that fit the cutout dimensions.

You can also hire someone to do it, but it will cost you more. To help save you money, buy a low-pitched shed roof. It is the most affordable, and it can be framed apart from the original shipping container. Its timber-framed structure also creates a more natural look when combined with the metal parts of the container.

Insulate the interior of the container house

After laying the foundation and installing the door and windows, you can start working on the interiors of the container house. The most basic way to insulate your home is to use spray foam. You can spray the foam directly onto the interiors and exteriors of the container. The foam will stick to the uneven surfaces of the container.

Using the spray foam, however, poses a threat to the environment. It can trigger global warming, but some manufacturers are starting to implement safer insulation agents. Ask the manufacturers for a safer alternative to spray foams.

You can also add some solar panels and rainwater catchment

Solar panels are a great way to make your container home completely off the grid. You can hire a professional to install it and connect it to your home’s electrical wiring system. A good gutter system is also a smart installation. It can catch rainwater from the roof and deliver it to your water tank, providing you with a stable source of water for your household.

Design the interior according to your personal taste and needs

Now that your entire container house is fixed, you can work on the interior design. The design and set-up are completely up to you and the people who live with you. You can add partitions or leave the space wide and open.

You can also consider replacing the container wood flooring with safer flooring. The original wood flooring is usually made and coated with some chemicals and pesticides that are threats to health.

If your budget permits, you can also add an outdoor deck that can serve as an outdoor dining area or a living room. Add some decorations that will make your house cozy, as well as mirrors to make the corners appear bigger or retractable furniture that will help save space. Be creative, or hire an interior designer to help you make your house cozier and space-smart.

Final Words

Learning how to build off grid shipping container house is easy and inexpensive. While you can always choose to spend more money on it to make it look more modern and spacious, there are several ways to build it on a budget.

Shipping containers as a house are the best way to avoid the traditional 30-year mortgage. Plus, it has a lot of advantages, one of which is the fact that it is easy to set up.

Compared to building a house from the scratch, a shipping container is readily available and only needs few adjustments and assembly. Since shipping containers are waterproof and made of highly durable materials, they are perfectly secure and prevent corrosion.

Our top pick for container home designs

If you're looking for the best container home designs, look no further!

Learn More

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