Homes built from shipping containers have many benefits – lower cost compared to many other building methods, stronger structures thanks to the steel frame, and the possibility of building your home much faster than traditional methods allow for.
But there are 3 issues that you must bear in mind before embarking on a project of this type. They can all be overcome quickly and inexpensively, but you must know about them before you can deal with them – something missing from a number of resources on cargo container builds. Here are the main ones to be aware of.
The Paint Job
Many shipping containers come covered in lead based paint. The paintwork must be properly sealed with something like Zap Oil (made by Valspar Corp). This will ensure that if people, especially children come into contact with the paint, and then put their hands in their mouths, there won’t be any chance of lead poisioning.
There’s two parts to this. Being safe while doing the welding, and making sure the structural integrity remains intact.
To ensure that you’re not affected by welding a container that’s coated in lead paint, wear a respirator. Then after welding is complete, go through item 1 on this list to ensure it’s sealed. That way you can absorb breathing in anything nasty. Make sure that any flakes of paint that may come off during the work are caught and disposed of.
As for the structural integrity – containers are very strong – depending on the type you’ve bought, it might be one that is designed to have a number of other containers stacked on top of it. The walls give it this strength, and so cutting out large portions of the sides for doors and windows needs some good planning, and expert advice.
I’d recommend consulting an engineer with your designs, and asking their advice on how to proceed. If you’re just building a single floor, then most standard cuts shouldn’t cause much of a problem.
Cleaning out pesticides
Shipping containers are often treated with pesticides before their first voyage, to avoid infestations of bugs and other nasties damaging the cargo.
Before you do anything with a newly bought container, it should first be cleaned throroughly to ensure that any residue has been cleared off, particularly from the floor of the unit. Obviously this must be done before any work begins on installing your own flooring.
This can be followed by another coating of Zap Primer, mentioned above, to ensure that a good seal is created that won’t allow any problems to seep through after you begin your work.
Those are the main issues to watch out for – if you have any comments from your own container build, please let me know and I can add to the list for anyone planning their own build.
A complete guide is available online – check out our review.