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Community and Q&A

Using Shipping Containers for Workshops, Sheds, Living Spaces – Designs and Mistakes

rockies63 | Posted in General Questions on

Recently I watched a video on a prepping channel about using shipping containers for other purposes and they featured a fabricator in Sask Canada who offered a lot of practical advice on how to design and build them.

Canadian Prepper

The Container Guy

I especially like his advice on controlling condensation inside the container, ventilation, spray foam insulation and his method of using metal studs and plastic panels to finish the interior.

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  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    The first mistake is using a shipping container for any living space. There has been many words already said why this is expensive and generally a bad idea.

    The reason most of use are living in stick framed homes is because they are flexible, cheap to build and efficient. A container is none of those.

    Containers do make for great outdoor storage and workshop space though.

  2. plumb_bob | | #2

    I simply do not understand the infatuation with using shipping containers for living and other purposes. Aside from storage or a seldom used work space, they do not have many redeeming features. Yes they are strong, and they may be found cheap, but the amount of work to turn one into a usable building far outweighs the benefits.
    I have dealt with many inquiries form people wanting to build a home from shipping containers, but after explaining what the process will entail to make the space livable I have yet to see somebody take on the project. Maybe it would make more sense in a warmer climate.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #5


      This architect very effectively goes through the drawbacks one at a time:

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    I completely agree with Akos here: The first mistake in building anything with a shipping container is using a shipping container as the basis for the project. Shipping containers are not a good dimension to work with (long and skinny, and a low ceiling), they are hard to insulate, because they are a great thermal conductor, you have to move them around in one piece, etc. The only place I can see some practical use for shipping containers is as a low budget secure storage locker placed on an existing slab or corner of a parking lot. Even here though, weather tends to eventually get in and cause problems.

    All that insulation on the interior shrinks the living space even more, and the ceiling height. You just cannot build a comfortable home in one of these. I don't see why some people seem to be drawn to them, maybe a sense of reusing something, or an idea that it's "different"? There are far better ways to build that offer a lot more flexibility in design.


  4. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #4

    There is a market waiting for stick-framed buildings the size and shape of a shipping container, ready for renovations. They would have all of the benefits and none of the downsides of steel shipping containers.

  5. rockies63 | | #6

    And now a rebuttal on why shipping containers are a poor choice for buildings by Christine Williamson from Building Science Fight Club.

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