Home | Blog | 8 Steps to Planning your First Container Home

Step 1: Buying a Container: New vs Used Containers

Taking the time and effort to research just a little bit about the container industry, can have a huge impact on your overall container home price.

Firstly, we suggest getting at least 2 -5 comparative quotations from local suppliers to ensure that you get the right price. With enough research and luck, you could get containers at nearly wholesale prices. Although most people would want to build their container home from New Shipping containers, there are a view advantages and disadvantages of new and used shipping containers that we feel need to be considered. New shipping containers have the advantage of not being sprayed with any chemicals to protect against ocean erosion. You also have the peace of mind that a new shipping container has not been used to transport any harmful chemicals.

On the downside, new shipping containers are very costly, and with the rise in container prices for 2017, this could impact your budget quite seriously.

Apart from just the cost being very high, you also have to wait quite long to the container shipped to you. Although most container suppliers in South Africa sell New Shipping Containers, it is important to notice that most of these containers are less than 5 years old, and are considered as new containers. Hint: When requesting a quote, always specify that you would like a photo of the information plate on the container(s) you wish to buy. This information plate will give you all the information about who manufactured the container, and when it was manufactured.

The advantages of a Used Shipping container is most notably the price. There are many used shipping containers available for sale that are in excellent condition, so again, do your research and try to find the best deal possible.

As mentioned, the prices on containers have increased quite a bit from mid-2016 leading into 2017, and we’ve tried to give you some estimate of what you can expect containers to cost you in 2017 (remember that most container prices differ, depending on your location).

  • 6m New Shipping Container (less than 5 years old):
  • 6m Used Shipping Container:
  • 12m New Shipping (less than 5 years old)
  • 12m Used shipping container:

(The above prices do not constitute a quotation or estimate and is merely an indication of what we expect the average pricing would be). Please contact us for an official quotation.

Step 2: Container Modifications – Who will convert my container?

The next step to consider Is the modifications that you wish to do on your shipping containers. If you want to the price as low as possible, we suggest doing most, if not all, modifications to your container home yourself.

Should you wish to contract a company that specialize in container conversions, you might have to pull out more money than what you budgeted for. The advantage of using a company to do your container conversions for you, is the quality behind the work.

Most companies that specialize in container conversions have expert teams that modify containers on a daily basis, so the quality of work is excellent.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to pricing. If you have time and money, we suggest contracting a professional company to do the modifications for you.

Step 3: Container Transport: How do I get the container to my site?

This is probably the most neglected aspect of any container sale or container home buying.

Clients do not assume that transport will affect the overall that much, and therefore under budget 99% of the time. Container Transportation has become a very specified industry and will South Africa Traffic Laws effecting the type of transport you may use, has also made pricing for transport increase. The main factor when it comes to shipping container transport is how far you are located from the delivery depot.

Again, we suggest you contact as many local transport companies as possible to ensure you are not over quoted.

Also make sure that whoever, and whatever truck is used to relocate your container that the following is in place before committing to anything:

  • Twist Locks – South African Traffic Laws only the transport of shipping container on trucks that have working container twist locks
  • Road worthy – Ensure that the transport vehicle is road worthy and allowed to carry the minimum wait of the empty container, to avoid any delays
  • Crane Trucks – Although most 6m containers are these day delivered with rollback trucks due to the cost saving, it is important to know exactly how your containers must be placed before arranging transport. A rollback truck cannot stack a container on-top of another.

Step 4: Foundation: What type of foundation should you choose?

One of the most important aspects of a container is placing it completely level. If for any reason your container is not placed level, you might experience huge difficulties when converting your container.

When deciding what you want to use for a foundation, we suggest one of the following:

  • Full concrete foundation
  • Concrete Plinths
  • Base Jacks

Full Concrete Foundation:

This is our number 1 choice, simply because of its strength, durability and safety. Although this would almost certainly be your most expensive option, we suggest you get a registered builder to quote and through your container home foundation. A registered builder will be able to provide you with the needed advice with regards to how deep the foundation must be, and how much the ground must be compacted.

Concrete Plinths:

Definitely our second choice, and probably the most used option due to the financial savings. Concrete plinths are very strong and secure and most importantly cheap.

Base Jacks:

Base jacks are by far the cheapest option and will reduce your container home project a lot. However, it provides very little stability to the container, as most base jacks are place on the 4 corner-posts of the container, and sometimes one on each of the long-side of the container.

Step 5: Insulation

Insulating your new container home might be a bit costly, but the benefits to insulation is definitely worthwhile. Although South Africa has pretty good weather all-year-round, it does tend to get very hot and also very cold sometimes.

Insulation will not only help you in the winter and summer to better maintain your perfect inside temperature, but will also reduce your electrical costs over time. Since insulation keeps your inside temperature from changing to drastically, you’ll save on heating and cooling costs during the course of the year.

The 3 most common insulation types that are used in South Africa are:

  • Think Pink Aerolite
  • Eco-Friendly Polyester Isotherm
  • Cellulose Fibre

We’re not going discuss all 3 of the above insulation types, merely the one that we suggest: Eco-friendly Polyester Isotherm.

The main reason why we would suggest Eco-Friendly Polyester Isotherm is made from recycled PET bottles and has absolutely no chemical additives.

And as with Think Pink Aerolite that is made of fibre class that can be harmful if breathed in and that does not work well with allergies, Eco-Friendly Polyester Isotherm has not of that, making it the perfect insulation solution for your container home.

Another upside to Eco-friendly Polyester Isotherm is that its R-value is almost the same as the other 2 mentioned above.

Step 6: Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring for a container is actually one of the easiest parts, mainly because you don’t have any ceiling to crawl into, and you don’t have any thick wall to drill or cut through.

The most important thing to remember about the wiring, would be the planning. Planning your insulation and electrical wiring together will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Making sure that your conduits are easily accessible will make this very easy in the long run to upgrade or even repair possible electrical problems.

There are many great ideas when it comes to wiring your container, that will make it almost unnoticeable whether you’re using insulation or not.

A lot of people use triangle-trunking that you can place in the corners of the container, to make it appear flush.

We suggest you hire a registered electrician for all your electrical wiring to avoid possible dangerous situations in the future.

Step 8: Finish Touches

It is important to notice that building a beautiful container home is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. You can express your ideas without having to spend millions of rands on contractors or building material.

Research is the most important aspect of building the container home, to ensure that the idea that you have in mind has maybe been tried and tested.