Create a Tiny House With A Shipping Container

Trista - August 15, 2020
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Do Shipping Container Homes Rust?

Since shipping container homes are made out of metal, there is always a possibility that it will rust. Rust is the single most common issue that can reduce the lifespan of a shipping container home. Some shipping containers are initially manufactured with alloys. That is a process that is commonly known as weathering steel or corten steel. It helps to form a surface level of rust that minimizes further corrosion. That might also be a factor to check into when you are purchasing your shipping container. If you find one that has been treated already, it can help prevent you from dealing with further issues.

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Another factor in the likelihood of developing rust is the climate in which the container is located. If you live in an extremely wet environment where it rains a lot, your home may have an increased likelihood of forming rust. On the other hand, dry climates may minimize the amount of rust that your new home develops or the rate at which it grows. The weather plays a large role in whether the container rusts. You should routinely inspect your home and look for any rust spots. Any problem areas should be treated and repaired as soon as possible to reduce the chance of it spreading. 

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Do Shipping Container Homes Hold Value?

When people purchase traditional homes, they often factor in their value or resale value as part of their decision. That is also critically important if the shipping container is not your forever home. The same should be done when deciding to purchase and build a tiny home from a shipping container. The good news is that a well-maintained shipping container can retain its resale value similar to that of a traditional home. Shipping containers can be loaded onto a truck and shipped almost anywhere. This critical component makes them reasonably easy to resell.

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If you are choosing or researching to purchase a used shipping container home, you might want to question whether it is manufactured for your climate before purchasing. If the container was not manufactured to meet the conditions of the environment you are in, you might want to question what modifications you might need to make. Hence, it is suitable for its intended location. Another option rather than reselling your tiny home in the event you move on is to use it for rentals. Your home may be located in an ideal location that renters or tourists might enjoy stopping at for a night or two.

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Treat Shipping Containers

When you decide to purchase a shipping container to transform into your dream tiny home, you have to consider all elements. That includes what may have been done to the container itself. It also depends on what might have been transported inside. Used shipping container interiors are treated. The wooden floor of a shipping container has a high likelihood of being sprayed with pesticides. Also, some of the paints that are used to coat the containers may contain chromate and phosphorus. These are all factors that you will want to take into consideration when purchasing a used shipping container.

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All used containers will have been originally built to withstand continual exposure to ocean spray and fluctuating temperatures while protecting the contents inside. They will have been previously treated with chemicals, sealants, and paints that are not suitable for humans. It is possible to contact the container’s original manufacturer and ask them about all of the fabrication information. You can find the manufacturer from the container’s individual identification number. Depending on the container’s age, the manufacturer should be able to identify what precisely was used to treat and protect the shipping container. Then you have to determine the next steps to make the container livable.

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How Secure is a Shipping Container as a Home?

When you leave a traditional home to head out for a walk or to grab dinner, you are likely to lock the door on your way out. How secure will your shipping container home be? If you have security concerns about leaving your shipping container home, especially for long periods, there is no reason to worry. Keep in mind what the container was initially built to do. It was created to hold goods in the inside of the shipping container while it is securely locked. The access door forms an airtight storage area that remains unbroken until it reaches its destination.

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You can be assured that the shipping container is as secure as it comes. You can leave the container’s outer original structure intact and fit the doors and windows behind it for additional security. It means that you can leave your shipping container home alone for as long as you would like and it will remain sealed up safely. It also depends on how you design and build your tiny house. If you decide to cut a hole in the side and install a traditional door, you will lock it the same way you would like any other home. Have no fear. Your shipping container home is secure!

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Not All Shipping Containers Are Equal 

One of the first things you need to know when you begin thinking about purchasing and building a shipping container into a tiny home is that all shipping containers are not the same. There are a variety of types of containers that you can purchase. The most common types used to transform into buildings are standard, high cube, and refrigerated. In addition to determining the shipping container’s condition, you have to decide which type is the best for you. Many people are unaware that there are multiple types and, therefore, may not be choosing the one that is the best suited.

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A group of shipping container homeowners was asked what they hoped they had known before starting construction. The overwhelming majority identified that they wished they would have known about the high cube containers. These unique containers are essentially the same dimensions as the standard ones. The difference is that they are an additional foot taller. Who doesn’t want a little more space? However, it is essential to keep in mind that the high cube shipping containers are roughly 50% more expensive than standard containers. Many would argue that the extra food of space is more than worth the extra money. 

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Understand Your Financing Options

If you are seriously interested in purchasing a shipping container to transform, you should know your financing options. These generally include getting a mortgage or a personal loan. If the home is built in compliance with building codes for single-family homes, it can be financed just like any other single-family home. However, you should keep in mind that shipping containers might not be considered real estate. To be regarded as real estate, there have to be property taxes on the asset. There are no property taxes without a recorded title, and it is not regarded as real estate.

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It is also important to note that a shipping container must be connected to a permanent foundation with utility hookups. If the shipping container does not have a permanent function, you won’t get a mortgage. On the other hand, when building a shipping container home, you might be able to get a construction loan. Be aware that some lenders might be nervous about offering a loan since shipping containers are not everyday living. Before diving in and planning to build a tiny home, you might want to consult with a lender to see your specific options. 

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Budgeting for Contractors

Since shipping container homes are unique projects, and many contractors are not familiar with the process, you should be prepared to work with 10 percent of the project’s price upfront. The remaining 90 percent will come into play once the shipping container home has been constructed. Contractors also may be hesitant to take on the job for a fixed price. Instead, they may be willing to work on a time and materials agreement. This agreement typically entails paying for all of the materials and then paying the contractor at an hourly rate. That is why it is vital that when you create a budget for materials.

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Not only do you need to ensure that you create the budget at the beginning of the project, but you also need to make sure that you stick with it throughout the process. It would mean that the responsibility would fall on you to get the estimates, the materials and then pay extra if the project requires it. You might have to purchase more materials or additional items that you didn’t realize you would need initially. Lastly, if the project takes longer than anticipated, it would be on you to continue paying the contractor by their hourly rate until the task was accomplished. 

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Don’t Purchase Anything Before Viewing It 

Like any other large purchase and investment, you should never purchase a shipping container without seeing it first. There are many reasons for this. First off, pictures can be extremely deceiving. Online listings can also cover up shortcomings or hide any defects. The last thing you would want is to purchase a shipping container online only to arrive damaged. If you are working to save money, make sure your shipping container’s quality is not where you decide to cut corners. If you do not want to purchase a brand new shipping container, you might think buying a dented container will save you some money.

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While this may be true, and you might be able to save a few bucks by purchasing a used container, you will not want to buy a dented one. The shipping container is the foundation of your home, and it is crucial to purchase one that is sufficient, solid, and not full of toxic chemicals. You want to do your research and ensure that you are careful about buying a container that isn’t damaged, dented, or has been full of harsh chemicals. All of these things can be extremely damaging to your home and even your health if you are not careful. 

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Plan, Plan, Plan

While this has been briefly mentioned throughout this article, it deserves to be mentioned again because it is critical. It has long been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Building a tiny home out of a shipping container is no different. The best shipping container homes have been thoroughly prepared for months. The planning stage allows for identifying mistakes in advance of the build and allows for a change of ideas. The more errors that can be placed before the construction begins, the better for you. Why? It is much easier and less costly to catch a mistake and correct it in the planning stages.

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Like any other large project, the number of details and decisions to be made can be overwhelming. Commonly, you might change the house layout a few times throughout the process to find the perfect fit for you and your family. Another key tip is to allow yourself plenty of time during the planning process. This extra time will ensure you can thoroughly think through your design, sleep on it, talk it through, and change it before genuinely committing. It is easier to change your thinking and plans during the planning stage. Doing so during the construction stage can be costly and cause time delays.