Shipping container home builders are an increasingly familiar sight in parts of South Africa where city regulations do not apply. Hence they make perfect farmsteads and superior accommodation in rural areas and informal settlements. Elsewhere, municipal authorities are still catching up with the new technology so special permission is required.

Shipping Container Home Builders

The 5 Things Shipping Container Home Builders Need to Know

Inspect Your Future Home Before You Buy: Intermodal shipping containers have a tough time as they travel the seven seas, and ride on railways and roads to the four corners of the earth. Some are in surprisingly good shape except for light surface rust. Others are badly dented with weakened welds. Insist the seller lifts your container up with a crane so you can check the underside.

Understand How Structural Integrity Works: A shipping container is a box with rigid doors adding extra strength. There is no internal cross-bracing. Hence it follows cutting openings without careful thought could weaken the design. Ask your container supplier for advice. It’s their business, they should know.

Begin Your Upgrade with Thermal Insulation: Experienced shipping container home builders know intermodal container insulation is limited. They begin their work by spraying foam on the inside walls that double as a flame retardant. Then they fit a false ceiling inside that vents through the roof and feeds power to the overhead lights. Finally, they fit a slightly raised floor to their new home.

Use a Single Contractor for the Entire Project: Project-managing the conversion using multiple contractors works well if you understand the various trades. If not, they could run rings around you by blaming each other for defects. If you are unsure, find a decent shipping container supplier who can manage the whole job. Even better, have them do the conversion for you, and deliver a complete home to your site.

Then Let Your Imagination Run Riot: Experienced shipping container home builders provide the basics. Then it’s up to you to add the furniture and the drapes. Use some of your savings, compared to brick and mortar to spoil your family just a little. How about buying that home entertainment centre you always wanted?

An entry-level shipping container home builder new to the game can make a difference in their family’s lives with this brilliant technology, and things can happen fast with the right provider. Explore more ideas through these selected posts from our popular blog.

Selected Posts:

Request a quote

There is no doubt that the popularity of steel shipping containers for offices and accommodation is growing rapidly. But are container conversions prices really a lot less than the costs involved in traditional construction methods?

Factors That Lower Container Conversions Prices

Generally, shipping container conversions are cost-effective and they are a lot quicker to complete than traditional structures, particularly buildings made with bricks or blocks and mortar. They don’t require extensive foundations and are particularly useful on sloping land where traditional housing becomes expensive. So yes, shipping container conversions prices are lower than regular buildings – unless the finishes and fittings used are very expensive.

They also have their own unique advantages.

For instance, steel shipping containers are exceptionally strong and durable and will last a very long time. They are generally resistant to fire, mould, and bugs like termites which is favourable when assessing container conversions prices.

Units can be converted in a factory and delivered to site for completion. This might include cladding and roofing as well as connection to water supply and electricity. It can take as little as three weeks to fabricate in a factory environment. Completion time will depend on the complexity of the design and whether steel reinforcement and/or welding is required.

The first of London’s famous container cities was erected in the Docklands in 2001, and it took only five months for the developers to complete 12 work studios in the three-storey structure. Soon after, a fourth floor comprising apartments and studios was added.

Another of the advantages of using shipping containers for housing is that, because they are modular, they allow for flexibility and avant-garde creativity. They can be placed alongside one another or stacked, and sides can be removed to increase the dimensions of spaces. Also, it is very easy to combine containers with traditional building materials. Obviously, the more containers that are incorporated in the design, the higher the total shipping container cost will be. But then incorporating traditional building materials will also increase cost, not just of the materials but of on-site labour too.

It is possible to cut costs even more by using old steel shipping containers, although many companies that specialize in container conversions prefer to use new units. That will, of course, also increase the shipping container cost. It is worth noting that London’s Container City was constructed from recycled containers, and recycled materials made up 80 percent of the total building materials used. This reduced the container conversions prices dramatically.

Disadvantages of Using Shipping Containers for Habitable Buildings

Old shipping containers are often dented and there may be some rust. They might affect their structural integrity. If they have been coated with lead-based paint to protect them from saltwater these surfaces will have to be covered for safety. It is, though, usual for designers to incorporate a new floor, ceiling, and both internal and external wall cladding in converted containers.

It can be difficult to fit extensive heating and cooling systems in shipping container buildings. But if insulation is included at the outset, this needn’t be a problem.

20ft container

Container Buildings in Africa

There are a growing number of construction companies in southern Africa that specialise in shipping container conversions. Most will deliver the partially finished containers to the site and then complete the building on site. So the basic shell can be assembled in just one day, while the finishes will take about three months, depending on the design.

Some provide “plug & play” options that may even include furniture. The container building is delivered to site and simply has to be connected to the services including water and electricity.

Almar Container Group offers “plug & play” solutions that are popular for office and accommodation use, particularly in remote areas of Africa and the Middle East. The company also supplies containers to construction companies that specialise in container conversions, including those that manufacture up-market dwellings. Call us today to see how we can help you.

Request a quote

There is no doubt that shipping container buildings are trending worldwide right now. People are using them for offices, shops, and homes, sometimes retaining the look and industrial feel of the insulated shipping container, sometimes stripping so much away most people would have no idea that the basic structure of the house was, in fact, a series of mobile storage units. But how do you go about building a container home, and how do you go about generating shipping container home plans?

Local Building Regulations for Converted Shipping Containers

Whether you are planning to use a dozen or more converted shipping containers or just one single unit, before you even start thinking about plans you need to familiarize yourself with local building regulations. In South Africa, for instance, the National Building Regulations require anyone building a house that does not follow standard construction principles to have an agrément certificate that confirms “fitness-for-purpose” of materials and components.

The building regulations also require a “competent person” who is essentially a person who is qualified and has the necessary experience to prepare the design (or plans). That person, usually an architect or engineer, will also have to ensure that the design meets the requirements of SANS 10400, a series of detailed documents that specify the requirements of the regulations, from structural design and foundations to glazing and fire protection, allowing for deviations specified in the agrément certificate.

If you want to buy shipping containers that can be converted, you really will need to use the services of a designer or architect who has the specialised knowledge relating to insulating and ventilating metal containers. Alternatively, you could find companies that offer shipping container homes for sale. Just check that their shipping container home plans have been drawn in accordance with the local authority bylaws and the country’s building regulations.

Shipping Container Home Plans

Whether you are planning to buy ready-converted shipping containers or simply an ISO container that was previously used for mobile storage, it’s a good idea to look at photographs of shipping container buildings as well as shipping container home plans that are available on the Internet. Even if you can’t use these as is (in most cases you will have to have existing plans redrawn, at very least to show the converted shipping containers on the required site plan), they will give you some idea of just how container homes can be configured. Existing shipping container home plans will also show you how fixtures, fittings, and furniture can be laid out.

Shipping container home plans can be drawn in so many different ways, accommodating as many containers needed, either on one or multiple levels. The plans can have containers:

The options really are endless.

Converted Shipping Containers From Almar

Almar Container Group offers converted shipping containers that are suitable for offices, clinics, workshops, training and boardrooms, as well as accommodation facilities. We specialise in plug and play solutions for remote locations in Africa and the Middle East.

Almar has more than 25 years of experience in the container industry and has an in-house team of designers and engineers that handles all our conversions. Call us today to see what we can do for you.

Request a quote

Shipping containers have become an increasingly popular choice for housing solutions for many reasons, including the fact that they are cheaper and quicker to erect than brick-and-mortar houses, and imaginatively designed, they can have an appealing contemporary industrial style. They may also be designed for a minimalistic lifestyle look. But, whatever the design and style you opt for, container homes must comply with local building regulations. So when you see advertisements for container homes for sale, you need to evaluate compliance as well as aesthetics and functionality.

Of course, if you buy a container home from an established company that offers a construction or installation service, they will usually ensure that the conversion to a house – or office – meets the relevant codes and regulations. But some companies only offer containers for sale, and then it will be up to you to employ knowledgeable professionals who can advise on design and procedure. In South Africa, for instance, container homes aren’t covered in the country’s National Building Regulations. Instead, erection of the “building” will need to be carried out in accordance with an approved agrément certificate that confirms “fitness-for-purpose” of products, materials, and components that aren’t standardized in terms of South African National Standards.

Shipping Containers Used for Habitable Buildings

Containers, dubbed “the strongest box in the world”, have been used for shipping for more than six decades. First used in the USA, they were – and still are – extremely strong, stackable, quick and easy to load and unload onto trucks, trains, and ships; they are simple to store, theft resistant, and they keep cargo clean and dry. Ultimately they revolutionized the transport industry and saved companies a fortune since in 1956 loose cargo generally cost US $5.86 a ton to load and only 16 cents (US) when a shipping container was used.

Although transport entrepreneur, Malcolm McLean is widely considered to be the father of the container, the precursor of his shipping containers was the Conex Box that was used by the US military during the Korean and Vietnam wars in 1950-1953 and 1955-1975 respectively.

It was also the US military that first identified the possibility of using shipping containers as habitable buildings. In July 1977, long before anyone had tried marketing container homes for sale, the US Department of Defense released a report titled, Shipping Containers as Structural Systems. It considered the feasibility of using containers for logistics and shelter, and for theatre of operations facilities. The researchers found that four 20 foot or 6-metre containers joined end-to-end in a certain way could save US $2.3 million on facilities. Furthermore, the design proposed would meet both snow and wind design loads that might be encountered anywhere in the world.

In August 1989, US inventor, Phillip C. Clark was granted a patent for a method he devised to convert steel shipping containers into habitable building, he described as a “novel product”. The method described was short and sweet and required the use of weight-bearing foundations at the ends of the containers. If more than one container was used these could be abutted side-by-side with parts of the side walls removed, or placed on top of one another. At least one door and one window, as well as raised floors and dropped ceilings, were incorporated in the design.

Advantages of Using Containers for Sale for Homes

Containers continue to be used for shipping all over the world, which has resulted in an increase in the availability of shipping containers. And their popularity for architectural use continues to grow.

The advantages of using container homes for sale for residential housing include:

Of course, any container homes for sale should be finished in terms of local building codes and regulations. This includes all elements that relate to ventilation, insulation, and heating, plumbing, and electrics. This compliance will ensure that your innovative new home is warm in winter, cool in summer, and will operate in an eco-friendly manner.

Almar Container Group operates in Africa and in the Middle East and has both new and old shipping containers for sale that may be used as a building solution for a wide range of uses including homes, offices, public facilities, and retail outlets.

Request a quote

Whether you need to ship belongings, need somewhere to store bulky items, or want to convert a shipping container into an office or even living quarters, old containers for sale provide a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive option.

Most commonly made from non-corrosive “weathering” steel that is coated to protect it against rust, mould, and mildew, shipping containers are incredibly strong and will withstand extreme conditions. After all, they are made to protect and safely transport all kinds of cargo across the ocean where damp, heat, humidity, and salt water are consistently uncompromising. They are also designed for use by road or rail where heat, dirt, and vibration are all a potential threat to the contents.

While large businesses operating in the shipping industry, in fields of transportation and logistics, are more likely to purchase new shipping containers, there is a large demand for old containers for sale. Like new shipping containers, old ones are available in different sizes, and like secondhand cars, their age varies. Generally, the older the container, the lower the price.

Internationally, the standard sizes of general purpose containers used for dry freight and storage are reflected in their length:

Whatever the age or size of the container, and whatever the intended use, it is important to ensure it was manufactured according to strict international ISO standards for standard shipping containers. These specify materials, characteristics, components, and also both external and internal measurements.

The Versatility of Old Containers for Sale

Recycling and repurposing old shipping containers has become very popular in recent years, particularly for homes, offices, schools, and businesses. Intriguingly, their popularity ranges from the need for accommodation of various kinds in impoverished regions to ingenious high-end housing designs. Sometimes just one container is used on its own as an office, a classroom, or perhaps an ablution block. Alternatively, because they are modular, several shipping containers can be used alongside one another, or even on top of one another to create a multi-storey unit.

Where budget is an issue, or the container is being used temporarily, perhaps as a site office or even for emergency shelter, the exterior of the container is usually left as is. When converted into a classy home, both internal and external cladding are commonly used, although some architects like to leave sections of the characteristic corrugated steel visible, giving it a contemporary industrial style appeal. The interior is fitted like any other house, to meet the needs of the occupants, with plumbed bathrooms and kitchens, lighting and ventilation needs, and home comforts.

Of course, old containers for sale may also be used for temporary or permanent storage for just about anything. For instance, they may be used to store materials on a building site where it is essential to keep things like cement clean and dry, and fixtures and fittings safe and secure. They may be used on farms for storing animal feed or farming implements. They are invaluable in equestrian environments where there isn’t a secure tack room to store expensive items like saddles and bridles. They are great for storing equipment required by schools, or stock for shops or food outlets.

If you spot an ad for containers for sale, you might even consider converting it into a swimming pool, or a camper!

Almar Has New and Old Containers for Sale

If you are based in Africa or the Middle East you will find that Almar can offer the full range of quality containers at a competitive price. You can buy one or a large volume, depending on your needs. Request a quote today.

Request a quote