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How to Make your Shipping Container into a Home

by Kathleen Donohoe

Have you ever thought of creating your own space out of a shipping container? Many of us admire those who can do it and wish we could do our own – and Container Traders are here to help with that. With the growing demand for customised containers, we’ve compiled the following steps to help you make your own living space out of these structurally sound building blocks.

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Design, Planning, Preparation and Research

Planning for any shipping container modification is essential – for the obvious reasons, like budgeting and being able to forward plan the accessories, but also for the least thought of extras like council submissions. By starting off with a rough idea of your plans, you can then evolve these into proper budgeting tools, specific details for any contractors and engineers, accessories or the council.

When creating a floor plan for your proposed home, its important to take into consideration a few points: that you are building with shipping containers, not traditional materials; the structural integrity of the house, before and after altering the containers; and – the set spacing you will be working with. Combine all these ideas with what you actually need from the home (the function) and you will be able to make the best use of space and have a house that precisely suits your needs.

Take your time, think about what you really want from your house and have a clear picture in your head when you start designing the floor plan. How many people will be living there or potentially visiting? How many bedrooms, bathrooms or living spaces will be needed? What is the landscape and weather like where the home will be placed? How much space is available to place the containers? Because of their supreme versatility and ability to be placed in many different combinations, the area you will be working with is important to contemplate before planning.

Research other floor plans for ideas and inspiration – there are a wide variety available on the internet now, and this is a great way to think of new ways to create and see concepts you may not have considered yet.

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Remember to Stick to your Budget

Budgeting is an important tool with any type of build – and building with shipping containers is no exception. One of the simplest ways to blow your budget is to not follow your carefully made floor plan. Once you have your floor plan, use this to create a set budget, and get pricing for each and every detail and accessory you have included, and record all these in a spreadsheet. If this total amount of this comes in over what you are willing to spend, then you need to head back to your floor plan and revise it until you come in within your budget. Scour the plan, looking over it with and engineer and shipping container specialist to ensure you don’t miss any details that could cost you more later on. And include a 5% ‘blow out’ extra for unseen costs!

Contractors and Engineering

One of these unseen costs may include labour from contractors or unknown costs from engineers. Engineers will be needed to sign off on any paperwork and designs put before the council, especially if there is any modification to the containers like cutting out, welding, or reinforcement. Although counted as an added extra, there are many benefits to having a decent engineer looking over your plans for you – they can add in some inspiration or ideas you haven’t already thought of, or even think of ways to condense or combine extras to save time and money.

Some things to include in your planning – any plumbing, or electrical you want to include, as well as insulation. Also consider again the position and orientation for the home as a whole with layout of the containers – including the ground – material and the plane, potential views, and vegetation. Planning the vegetation now or working around it can greatly impact the heating or cooling and energy efficiency of the home each season.

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Local Council Rules and Regulations

Each council around Australia have a different set of rules and regulations when it comes to building your own living space and working closely with them will mean you have a greater chance of having everything approved on your build timeframe. Doing this earlier on also helps with any changes you may have to make are completed earlier rather than later, which can save you a vast amount of money in the long run. Start by getting a list of building or zoning restrictions, height limitations, drawings, permits, fees and inspections that may be required.

By now you will have collected all the information you need to be able to create your own shipping container home, to your own specifications. If you need help or information in purchasing the right shipping containers, call Container Traders on 1300 89 89 70