Here are the main 6 mistakes in the construction of a container house. This trend of building with containers is not surprising, as container homes are: Eco-friendly, Affordable, and Incredibly strong.
When you look at examples of container houses, you find that all the houses that were built extremely quickly and for a much lower amount of money. However, there are also examples of container houses that have failed because their owners have made simple mistakes that could have been avoided.
6 mistakes in the construction of a container house
1. Buying the wrong type of container
The biggest mistake people make when they want to build their house with containers is buying the wrong type of shipping container. In fact, this was the most common response we received when interviewing 23 container owners.
Most people built their house with standard height containers, only to later discover that there are high cube containers that have an additional foot of height. Standard shipping containers have a height of 8 feet 6 inches, while high cube containers have a height of 9 feet 6 inches.
Get more information about container sizes here. An additional foot in the height of your container is perfect for people looking to insulate the roof of their container without sacrificing space in height.
In a standard container, if you insulate the roof, the remaining roof height is only 7 feet. By using a high cube container, you can install insulation and still have an 8-foot roof height. High cube containers tend to be only $1,000 more expensive. This isn’t too expensive considering the benefits they offer.
2. Buying used containers
Another crucial mistake to avoid that people make is buying their containers online without verifying the seller or over the phone. If you can’t inspect and see the containers in person before purchasing, then pay close attention to the credibility of the seller.
Look for official online sellers and don’t just look for any owner selling cheaply. If you buy containers without seeing them first, you risk ending up with damaged or dented containers that will cost you money to repair.
Even if you’ve seen photos of the containers, it’s not the same as seeing the containers in person. Seeing the containers in person allows you to check for things like dents and corrosion, which can go unnoticed when you’re just looking at photos.
Review our pre-purchase container inspection checklist before choosing the containers. If you can’t inspect the containers in person before buying, make sure to ask for photos of all the corner joints, as well as below and above the containers.
Next, you can conduct a photo inspection using the checklist mentioned above.
3. Not researching local building regulations
One of the worst feelings in the world is when you’re told that your house doesn’t comply with local planning regulations and that you need to tear it down.
Always communicate with your ministry, department, or public works construction division, your city’s zoning office before starting construction. Be prepared with a very clear idea of what you want to build and where you want to build it.
Usually, this means having scaled architectural plans and foundation plans drawn up before meeting with your locality’s planning department. The planning application process can take from eight weeks to a few months and will cost several thousand dollars. Unfortunately, each area has its own rules and standards, so there’s no standard approach that fits all situations.
Keep in mind that in every country, province, district, and city, a building permit is needed. If you’re in a non-urban area and don’t need permits to build, consider yourself very lucky. But in most cases, you’ll need permits. Make sure to do your research first.
The most important thing is to never start construction until you have thoroughly researched local planning laws and obtained the relevant permits. You don’t want to end up like the person who had to remove their $1.5 million house because they didn’t apply for a permit.
4. Using the wrong type of insulation
Another mistake to avoid that people make with insulation is not considering the climate of your locality. For example, in areas with a lot of rain, you should ensure that your insulation provides a perfect vapor barrier.
The best option would be to use spray foam insulation. In very hot and dry climates, insulation should focus on keeping your container home cool. Generally, in this case, you wouldn’t want a problematic vapor barrier. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to insulation. It depends on many factors, such as the local climate, your budget, the age of the container, and the style of home you want.
Most people agree that spray foam insulation is the best to use in most circumstances. Certainly, it’s not the best choice for every situation.
There are many other types of insulation, such as insulation panels, blanket insulation, and even environmentally friendly insulation like recycled newspapers. Choosing the right type of insulation to use is crucial.
If you’re using the wrong type of insulation, or worse, have no insulation at all, you’ll face many problems.
Your container home will freeze in the winter and become too hot during the summer. However, your major concern is condensation and moisture. Condensation can cause your containers to rust.
This is very expensive to repair and can take a long time. If you’re not familiar with insulation methods and techniques, read our beginner’s guide to container house insulation.
5. Cutting the container walls too much
This is a very common mistake to avoid: cutting too much steel from the walls of the containers. A key feature of containers is that they are incredibly strong. In fact, they can be stacked up to eight containers high when fully loaded.
Containers are the perfect building block to use in quick and affordable construction. Unfortunately, some people over-modify the containers.
By cutting large sections of steel from the container, you’re reducing its strength and therefore its structural integrity. Doing this will also require you to incur additional costs as you’ll need to reinforce them with steel beams.
You’ll also need to weld the steel beams in place, which can further increase your costs and also requires a lot of time.
You can remove sections of steel for windows and doors without any issue, but when removing entire walls, you’ll need to use support beams.
6. Choosing the wrong builder or contracto
The final mistake to avoid that we’ll look at is people choosing the wrong worker to build their container house. Many people like to build their own container home.
People without the time or construction experience will need to hire a contractor or worker, which is different from a mason, to build their house.
When choosing a contractor, make sure they have experience in building container houses or at least know the basic standards of container homes and are enthusiastic about building one.
The last thing you need is a builder who knows nothing about maritime containers. This will cost you time, money, and certainly won’t be of exceptional quality.
Additionally, make sure to choose a contractor who is capable of overseeing the entire project’s construction. You don’t want to use multiple builders during the assembly, if possible.
Let me know in the comments section below about any mistakes you’ve made while building your container house.