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Steel shipping containers are an interesting, quick, and cost-effective way to install a robust, portable building in your yard, on your flatbed trailer, or at your business. You can also stack them (8+ tall at sea, in hurricanes), transport them inexpensively, and create an instant rooftop deck.

Like other industrial detritus, metal shipping containers can be a bit difficult to find and move. This instructable will help you find containers for sale and obtain one — or ten.

You can learn more about containerization and its impacts in this fascinating Wikipedia article.

This is the first entry in a (long) series I'll do on converting a shipping container into an off-grid, open-source, affordable house. If you enjoy it please consider supporting my Kickstarter project and/or forwarding it on.

Thanks!

Step 1: Research Regulations

If you're going to go through the trouble of placing a metal box that weighs several thousand pounds in your yard, you should start by making sure your local code enforcers aren't going to promptly make you move it.

As of this writing, I live in Austin, Texas. Codes vary substantially from place to place, so you'll have to verify for your own locale what the deal is.

Here's how I found out I'd (probably) be enforcer-free:

  1. google: Austin city building code
  2. click on first result, go to some Austin city webpage
  3. click on 'frequently asked questions' then 'inspections and permits' then 'permits' then 'do i need a permit?'
  4. sweet! under 'work exempt from permits':

"Building One-story detached accessory structures, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet (18.58 m2). Please keep in mind that although you do not need a permit to build or install the structure you must still abide by any zoning rules and regulations in regards to height, setbacks and trade permits. If you decide to install electricity or plumbing systems into the structure you will be required to obtain those trade permits. Please visit the ‘Zoning’ page to find out what which regulations apply to your home in regards to structure height and/or yard setback areas."

I want to make sure I'm ok on my planned rooftop deck, so on to the zoning page. Yikes: forget it. I'll just do it and take my chances. I think I'm supposed to be at least 5 feet from my neighbor's fences or something.

If you can't avoid zoning issues through an exemption, you're in for a process. Check out what others have done for inspiration/examples. The good folks of The Shipyard, a collection of workspaces consisting largely of shipping containers in Berkeley, California, have been so kind as to publish their use permit details. You can check it out here.

<p>Why has no one mentioned Shipped.com? The largest marketplace to buy shipping containers online is at <a href="https://shipped.com" rel="nofollow">https://shipped.com</a></p><p>:)</p>
Prices are very decent on shipping.com verses the places ive researched locally
<p>The article mentions you can stack the containers, but this is not always a reality with shipping container homes. Containers have to pass a CSC survey before they are stacked on cargo ships... any container with doors/windows installed in the side-walls would fall a CSC.</p><p>It's REALLY important to contact a professional if you're going to stack modified containers. A single level home is one thing, but modifying a container and then stacking it should only be done with help from an architect or engineer.<br><br>We have links to some companies on our website that are experts in this field: <a href="https://westerncontainersales.com/about-shipping-containers/shipping-container-homes/" rel="nofollow">https://westerncontainersales.com/about-shipping-c...</a></p><p>Shipping container homes are awesome, but it's not as simple as to just buy shipping containers and stacking them up several stories high.</p>
<p>hello . Anyone that have any good ideas how and where to find a cheap container in Tanzania, or how I can get one and cheap transport???</p>
<p>Shipping container homes &amp; containerized modules are awesome, they are affordable and fast to build. The best part is that you can save on the dismantling costs when you relocate to a new location! If you happen to get one or couple of shipping containers, visit us at<a href="https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.joycontainers.com%2F&h=vAQFbqSfJ" rel="nofollow">www.joycontainers.com</a> for the best wholesale deals!</p>
As we know the shipping container is totally steel. When you touch it in Winter, it will be very cold. Conversely, it will be very hot in summer. Besides,The decoration will cost you much. If you want to make a saving, but fear a bad insulation. Then why don't think about prefabricated shipping container? We use the EPS sandwich panel as wall material . We can solve the heat insulation and water proof problems. You can get a similar container home with less money, why not? Check this: http://en.yukehouse.com/
<p>I built my storage container home using <a href="http://www.easycontainer.info/" rel="nofollow">http://www.EasyContainer.info</a> - I'm currently living in it writing this post! I'm so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EasyContainer is the best resource ever! You'll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money... not to mention time! It's easy to make your container home dream a reality!</p>
<p>I built my container home using <a href="http://www.easycontainer.info/" rel="nofollow">http://www.EasyContainer.info</a> - I'm currently living in it writing this post! I'm so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EasyContainer is the best resource ever! You'll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money... not to mention time! It's easy to make your container home dream a reality!</p>
<p>I built my storage container home using <a href="http://www.easycontainer.info/" rel="nofollow">http://www.EasyContainer.info</a> - I'm currently living in it writing this post! I'm so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EasyContainer is the best resource ever! You'll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money... not to mention time! It's easy to make your container home dream a reality!</p>
<p>I built my storage container home using <a href="http://www.easycontainer.info/" rel="nofollow">http://www.EasyContainer.info</a> - I'm currently living in it writing this post! I'm so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EasyContainer is the best resource ever! You'll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money... not to mention time! It's easy to make your container home dream a reality!</p>
<p>I built my storage container home using <a href="http://www.easycontainer.info/" rel="nofollow">http://www.EasyContainer.info</a> - I'm currently living in it writing this post! I'm so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EasyContainer is the best resource ever! You'll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money... not to mention time! It's easy to make your container home dream a reality!</p>
<p>I built my container home using <a href="http://www.easycontainer.info/" rel="nofollow">http://www.EasyContainer.info</a> - I'm currently living in it writing this post! I'm so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EasyContainer is the best resource ever! You'll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money... not to mention time! It's easy to make your container home dream a reality!</p>
<p>So, is the information that 's mentioned on step one apply to making a shipping container a home? If so, then it would something for me to maybe talk to my aunt about. Her husband found a shipping container and has come up with an idea of converting it into a second home.http://tasbulk.com.au</p>
<p>We can help you buy shipping containers, and won't make you call for a quote.</p><p>For wholesale shipping container prices, and to buy online, visit <a href="https://WesternContainerSales.com" rel="nofollow">https://WesternContainerSales.com </a></p>
<p>I recommend checking out Saf-T-Box (especially if you're in Texas). I've worked with them for construction projects in Houston and San Antonio and have been pleased each time. Check 'em out at http://www.saf-t-box.com/</p>
<p>Can anyone explain why the price of these keeps going up? I live in the L.A. area, and the ports have more of these than they can ever get rid of. I know they have scrap value, yet prices seem to climb regardless of scrap prices. At 5cents a pound for steel scrap, a 5000lb container would only be worth $250 max. And there are so many stacked up at the ports, they can't be worth any more than that,</p>
<p>It's a little more complex than scrap value... shipping container prices are impacted by multiple variables (inventory, shipping demand forecast, the owning company's accounting/book value of the unit, etc.).</p><p>The same container can have different costs in different places at different times.</p><p>And, as we enter a period of potential volatility within the international shipping market, you might see more pricing instability to come.</p>
<p>Can anyone direct me in how or who might donate a shipping container. I'm a volunteer firefighter/emt for a small Eastern Nebraska town. We are seeking a container or 2 to use for live fire training. Any info would be much appreciated. </p><p>My email is Traumahawk61@Gmail.com</p>
<p>Found at: <a href="http://www.track-trace.com/container" rel="nofollow">http://www.track-trace.com/container</a></p>TRIU1924017 - 20' Dry Van Container (D2) <br> <br> <br>Status : Retired1st move from factory (Local) : 02-Feb-1996Manufacturer : QUICHistoryInterchange Type Retired Direct Interchange Lease OutOn Hire Date (Local) 31-Jul-2006 25-Nov-2002Release # RSELC00194On Hire Port SeoulOn Hire Depot KUKDONG Total LogisticsOff Hire/Retired Date (Local) 22-Oct-2009Redelivery #Off Hire PortOff Hire DepotContract MAEX48-200000 MAEX65-200000Customer Maersk Line A/S Maersk Line A/SInterchange Sequence<p>SPECIFICATIONS:</p> <br> <br> <br><strong>TRIU1924017</strong><strong>Internal Dimensions</strong> <strong>Weight &amp; Payload</strong> <strong>Floor</strong> <strong>Cargo Lashing System</strong> <strong>Ventilation</strong> <strong>External Dimensions</strong><strong>Width: </strong>2438 mm<strong>Height: </strong>2591 mm<strong>Length: </strong>6058 mm
<p>Great tips! The first tip is extremely important since local codes greatly vary. We've never ran into an issue with any of our structures. www.modsinternational.com</p>
<p>Great purchase, and good find. Trust me, you will enjoy it for years to come. There are so many things you can do with an old shipping container that is still in good shape for the most part. I plan on purchasing two in the nearer future so that I can use as a painting room. Of course, some work will have to be done to get it to that point, but I am up for the challenge.</p><p>Eric | http://www.allviccontainers.com.au/sales-and-hire </p>
Ericb12 I may have 2 shipping containers for sale if interested call me (812)568-3755
I may have 2 shipping containers for sale. If you are interested my number is (812)568-3755.
<p>http://designspacemodular.com/office-trailers-and-modular-buildings-for-sale/</p>
<p>This place has shipping containers listed with prices, you can also make offers: &lt;a href=&quot;http://designspacemodular.com/office-trailers-and-modular-buildings-for-sale/&quot;&gt; http://designspacemodular.com/office-trailers-and-modular-buildings-for-sale/&lt;/a&gt; not sure how to get the link to work...</p>
<p>This place has shipping containers listed with prices, ou can also make offers: http://designspacemodular.com/office-trailers-and-modular-buildings-for-sale/</p>
<p>I was researching online about shipping <br>containers and found this really helpful resource to locate local dealers <br>who are renting and selling at affordable rates here-<a href="http://shipping-containers.soundfame.com/" rel="nofollow"> http://shipping-containers.soundfame.com/</a></p>
<p>I was researching online about shipping <br>containers and found this really helpful resource locate local dealers <br>who are renting and selling at affordable rates here - </p><p>http://shipping-containers.soundfame.com/</p>
<p>I was researching online about shipping <br>containers and found this really helpful resource locate local dealers <br>who are renting and selling at affordable rates here - </p><p>&lt;a href=&quot;http://shipping-containers.soundfame.com/&quot;&gt;http://shipping-containers.soundfame.com/&lt;/a&gt;</p>
<p>I was researching online about shipping containers and found this really helpful resource locate local dealers who are renting and selling at affordable rates here - </p><blockquote>http://shipping-containers.soundfame.com/</blockquote>
<p>How fortuitous....I have a Class A CDL and have hauled containers for many years.</p>
<p><a href="http://toronto.craigslist.ca/tor/bfs/5024150157.html" rel="nofollow">http://toronto.craigslist.ca/tor/bfs/5024150157.ht...</a></p><p>free delivery $1 each </p>
<p> <br> <a rel="nofollow"></a> <br> </p><p> <br> <strong>Construction begins in Corktown on new housing units made from shipping containers</strong> <br> <br></p><p>We're getting a sneak peak at a project that is using shipping containers to create new housing in Corktown. </p><p><a href="http://www.wxyz.com/news/region/detroit/construction-begins-in-corktown-on-new-condominium-units-made-from-shipping-containers" rel="nofollow">http://www.wxyz.com/news/region/detroit/construction-begins . . .</a></p>
<p>We plan to store our dried Salmon and veggies in them!</p><p>www.wildcaughtfishco,com</p>
How about if you completely coated the metal exterior with something to permanently rust proof it. (Maybe a tar based product) Dig a big hole and bury it. Make an underground house. It wouldn't be an eye sore to the rest of the world then.<br><br>I have a thing for underground houses lately. Insulation is perfect, cool in summer and warm in winter. You would have to put it in a location not prone to flooding. A customarily undesirable sloped lot comes to mind. One that isn't really useful to anyone traditionally building a house.
<p>I read that u cannot bury them cuz the sides will crumple under the weight of the ground pressure.</p>
<p>You need to reinforce the roof panels, all of the structural integrity is in the frame (if you notice, shipping containers are stacked on their corners and frame and not the roof of the container). </p><p>The roof panel of a shipping container is just a piece of steel welded to a very rigid frame. It's meant to prevent the elements from getting in and not to hold weight.</p><p>If you decide to bury a container, make sure you reinforce the roof panels somehow. For more information on shipping containers, you can visit our site: <a href="http://www.WesternContainerSales.com" rel="nofollow">www.WesternContainerSales.com </a></p>
<p>No they won't. I was at a buddies house that had 5 of them buried in a T shape, 3 one way and 2 perpendicular at one end. It was about -15*F that day and with the geothermal heat, the inside of them was 50+or-. They're great bunkers </p>
<p>Make a good fraidy-hole in tornado country.</p>
The is a lot of interest in burying a container as instant underground building but there are number of reasons that you should not do this including structural integrity and corrosion management. <br><br>There is a video that explores and explains all the issues here<br><br>http://www.containerhome.info<br><br> <br><br>
<p>When I was living in South Korea, I saw whole houses built from these. One school where I was teaching was renovating and had placed about two dozen classrooms built from these on the property. There were little yards along the highway much like you see mobile home dealers here in the US, where you could buy houses made of them in all kinds of configurations.</p>
<p>If you have a long flat-bed trailer and a truck or a long enough flatbed truck that are strong enough to pull it and none of them are for hire (commercial). You should be able to haul one of them without a commercial license so long as the max height is less than 13 feet from ground to top of trailer. Think of it as moving your personal property.<br><br>Yes, you will need to make sure that your trailer does have working lights and that truck and trailer are up to the appropriate weight requirement. <br><br>Some local and some State laws vary a little. </p>
Suggest looking into hiring one of the roll off dumpster carriers for delivery.
them suckers are between $1000 and $2000. Used containers are being sold for a reason. Most have damage or rust/corrosion. Usually on the top. You'll prolly have to weld some repair panels up there. Maybe build another roof above it. A friend made a car port lookin thing with a 4 foot space to keep the hot sun off it. <br><br>Here's my dream retirement complex....
<p>If you buy the &quot;As-Is&quot; containers, you're right. However if you buy shipping containers directly from the cargo pool you're getting a container that can still be CSC certified (approved to safely stack up to 7 high with 300,000 lbs of cargo on top of it).</p><p>For more information on the difference between &quot;As-Is&quot;, &quot;Wind/Water Tight&quot; and &quot;Cargo-Worthy&quot; shipping containers, you can visit our website: <a href="http://www.WesternContainerSales.com" rel="nofollow">www.WesternContainerSales.com </a></p>
<p>Looks like the Clinton Presidential Liberry.</p>
Wow!!! Cool pic! Where's that from?
<p>It's an outdoor theater in Amsterdam.</p><p>@Amsterdamse Bos Gardens<br></p>
Megaton? Very Cool =P

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