Mistakes to avoid when building with shipping containers

We have discussed the use of shipping containers as the basis for building various structures on multiple occasions and our customers have shared some incredible builds with us. Some of the most creative takes included pop-up stores, homes, swimming pools, outdoor markets and more! But along with sharing the stories behind their builds, we learned that they also came across a number of different challenges.

In order to simplify your future endeavours, we compiled a list of the most common shortcomings when it comes to building any structure out of shipping containers.

One of the first and most common challenges we’ve come across is people having unrealistic expectations related to the final cost of their build. While it is true, in theory, that the cost of building with shipping containers is generally seen as less expensive than with traditional building materials, it is not necessarily the case. Shipping containers require extensive modifications including insulation to become habitable and those costs can add up significantly. We advise customers to maintain realistic expectations for costs involved in supplying and modifying they’re for liveable structures (as is the case with homes, garages and outdoor living enclosures).

Another very common challenge we have heard from customers is issues with municipal bylaws regarding building permits. Many just assume that because they are not using moveable cargo containers, traditional materials and contractors, no permits are required. However, that is not entirely the case. Depending on the municipality that you live in, permits may still be required depending on the purpose, materials and process used to setup such a structure. Local bylaws should always be consulted prior to the start of any project to ensure these materials are permitted as building alternatives in your neighbourhood.

Another common mistake we have heard of is not building a strong enough foundation before the containers are finally set down. An improper foundation can affect the rigidity of the build and events such as heavy rainfall, earth vibrations or the changing of seasons can be costly. We have shared on our website on numerous occasions tips and suggestions for placing containers on flat ground, but we will say that every site is different. The most secure way of setting up a foundation is with concrete, so we will recommend everyone to work with a reputable contractor and get their advice.

Deciding between a new and a used container might also be a choice some people may regret. Depending on the usage of the finished product, saving money on buying a used container may be the most appropriate solution. However, for long-term buildings such as homes and swimming pools, we would recommend customers buy new containers.

Lastly, another common misconception is the work involved to frame & insulate the containers. The best advice we can give here is to opt for spray foam insulation, thickness will depend on the R factor insulation you are trying to achieve. This will provide the most comfortable ambient temperature inside the container for liveable space. It will be a smart solution in the long-run, especially because it will help keep heating and cooling bills cheaper.

We would love to hear more stories about your success stories. Please feel free to send us pictures to info@atscontainers.com