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How to Make your Shipping Container into a Home – Part 2

by Kathleen Donohoe

So far, we’ve covered for you the beginning of creating a shipping container home – and the planning, preparation, research, budget, and local council rules and regulations – but where do you go from there? Quite often this is a sticking point for those designing their own home, as each home and space are different, which is why you often need an architect or engineer. But you can save time and money by having a set plan or idea of where you want or need accessories and modifications to be situated before you even get to the contractors!

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The Site Plan

The site is a major factor in any house plan, and especially in shipping container modifications. The block needs to be considered with its own set of pro’s and con’s. For instance, which direction do you need the home to be facing – or which direction would it be most beneficial for your container to be facing? One of the main influences of placing a container is the sun. You want to have solar access primarily to the living spaces and optimise the amount of sunlight that these spaces receive for lighting (and heating, but more on that later). However, rooms like wet areas, garages, storage spaces or even bedrooms may not need as much sunlight, so therefore may not need to be prioritised to the north for solar access.

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Once you have identified and placed your container in the best position possible, you can then amplify the amount of sunlight accessed by enlarging glazed areas like doors and windows, frame cut-outs or the pitch of the roof. It is important to understand that the pitch of the roof can influence your site in different ways in both summer and winter –  the sun sits at a higher angle in summer, for which you can keep the structure in shade to reduce the impact of the sun’s heat, but still benefit from natural light; conversely, the sun sits lower in winter where you can benefit from natural heating, and direct natural light to interior of the space. The correct pitch in the eaves can encompass all of this (see diagrams above & below) and combining this with cross ventilation takes full advantage of your site conditions to create a comfortable container home.

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Environmental Factors

Not only is the site environment significant, but so is the general climate. Depending on the weather, the container will have diverse needs, and this will most likely change for every site, and every location. Factors for instance, like prevailing breezes, need to be taken into consideration when trying to take advantage of the climate to help heat and/or cool your container home. Cross-ventilation and insulation combined are essential in this when creating a container home – by having the ventilation or whirly birds facing in the right direction and having double insulation or single insulation on the correct walls, you can easily reduce the need for heating and cooling systems, saving you money overall.

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All these factors need to be taken into consideration when you are building your container home to make it function in the best possible way – and by considering all of these options before meeting with contractors or encompassing these notions into your pre-existing ideas of design you will have your home plan made and drawn before you end up spending excessive amounts on contractors. And don’t forget, Container Traders can help you along the way – simply call us on 1300 89 89 70 to see what we can do for you!