Containers are exceptionally strong, robust, widely available, relatively inexpensive and better for the environment than using other types of building materials.
They also have become a desired aesthetic in themselves, and due to their eco-credentials have become seriously considered as a way to provide cheap temporary and permanent housing during a time when the construction industry wants to get greener.
Beyond the home, shipping containers have become immensely popular as pop-up shops, restaurants and street food vendors, in no small part because of their size and rugged looks.
However, there are some quirks with working with containers as opposed to other materials, especially if you plan to live or work in it on a regular basis.
Here are some top tips to bear in mind.
Closely Inspect Containers, Especially Used Ones
Shipping containers can be bought either new or used, but be careful as containers that are used for international freight can take an absolute pounding during their seven to ten years of active service.
Find out how many trips your container has made, whether it has carried hazardous waste (toxic chemicals, biohazards or nuclear waste), and if you can see any rust or corrosion.
Check the door, the wooden floor and the weatherproofing. Being selective early on can save huge expenses later on to repair an especially worn container.
Replace The Floor
Most shipping containers have a natural wood floor, that, especially if well-used, may perhaps be less than ideal as a flooring solution for your shipping container workspace.
For used shipping containers, in particular, they may have been treated with insecticides featuring hazardous substances.
Instead, one of your first priorities should be to replace the flooring, which thanks to the modular, straightforward design of most containers, should be easily found.
Do Not Forget About Climate Control
Shipping containers are popular for construction because they are inherently strong, and this strength comes from the CorTen corrugated steel most containers are made from.
The problem with steel is that it conducts heat and a lot of it, meaning that in hot temperatures it can make ambient temperature fairly unbearable.
Sealing and insulating it will help, as will using effective ventilation and air conditioning.
Be Careful With Alterations
Naturally, you will want to add windows and that will involve cutting holes in the body of the container.
However, when you do so, be sure to reinforce certain structural elements so the container does not fall apart as you cut away. If you are uncertain, bring in the experts.
Try To Use Taller Containers
There are several container standard lengths and heights defined by ISO Standard certification. Whilst all containers are 8 feet wide, lengths tend to be either 20 feet or 40 feet, and standard heights are eight 8 feet 6 inches, or 9 feet 6 inches.
If you have the option, try to choose a taller height for containers intended for residential use. The reason for this is that your floor and ceiling are going to reduce that height significantly, and this can compromise the height of your living space.