Here's a construction design thought: make a secondary entrance to
the container. I don't mean cutting another doorway in one
of the 3 walls (although that's a fine option, and a bigger project), but
something located just behind the big metal swinging doors.
Unlocking and unlatching the closure mechanisms, then swinging open a 4x8
foot heavy metal door each time you enter will get tedious.
Personally, I would keep one door closed and locked all the time, but build
a doorway (probably wood and steel) with a more standard locking residential
or security door. Advantages: door windows and screens
would allow light and air to enter, easier entry/exit, and a real door
goes a big step toward removing the feeling that you might be living in
a big metal box. Bigger reason: how do you lock yourself
inside at night if the container doors were designed to open and close
ONLY from the outside? Seems like a necessity. In fact,
I might even make sure the open door was locked in an open position until
I wanted to close it for security when away for longer periods.
simple passive features would make a container home more comfortable and
pleasurable. Depending upon climate (and maybe season) painting
the outside to reflect or absorb the sun's heat. I haven't
discussed insulation. A metal box would heat up and cool off
fast. Refrigerated shipping containers are insulated with four
inches all around (10cm). The outer walls are always made of
aluminum with stainless steel interior walls and floor. But
I think this would cause difficulty for cutting vent holes and windows.
A twelve inch deep refrigeration unit covers the entire rear wall and normally
runs off of electricity supplied by a truck, train, or vessel.
For insulating a basic steel container, I'd plan on wood paneling with
some foam or fiber-fill that might add two inches or so onto the interior
walls. Or I might pick the right climates and skip insulation
altogether. That plan would also keep my water pipes from ever
When moving or transporting the container home, I imagine a significant
amount of time spent securing and packing it. Drawers and cabinets
need to have good latches to hold in packed contents. All loose
items would be packed or tied down. Outside vents, ports, and drains would
be sealed. The empty living spaces can be filled with gear
and equipment such as large water tanks, awnings, canopies and poles, generator,
greenhouse panels, bicycle,
maybe a motorcycle. Roof vents and any windows should be bolted
over with steel to insure structure and attract less attention from customs
officials. Then kiss it good bye and wait for it to arrive
at your next new home town!
As I said before,
I originally thought about using two 40 foot containers to create a living
arrangement. Now I see no need for more than one container
unless you plan to develop an elaborate site. However, for
greater ease of moving and site locations (especially urban sites) I think
it¹s interesting to consider just a single 20-foot container.
In my design efforts I first tried to solve the issue of efficient basic
utilities like a shower, toilet, and kitchen. After making
full-scale floor plan drawings, I developed a kitchen and bath layout I
think is comfortable using only twelve feet (3.6m) of the container.
And it includes lots of storage and a big table. Tightening
the layout could easily shave a couple more feet, but it's comfortable
and fits within a 20-foot container leaving space for a bed and closet.
I'd put the same 12-foot bath and kitchen plan in a 40-foot container and
just have that much more living space. Take a look at the sketches
and let me know what you think.