Similar to conventional houses, shipping container homes also require a firm foundation on which to be built upon. The type of foundation used for cargo container homes varies depending on the structural requirements, local building conventions and the type of soil.
If you are looking to build a shipping container home, you’ll need to select the right type of foundation for the local environment as well as your budget.
Since this is the first step in building your home, a wrong decision at this point could be devastating and could even bring the entire project to a halt. In fact, the foundation is where most people building shipping container homes go wrong.
The type of foundation to use for a shipping container house
There’re two main factors to be considered when designing the foundation for your container home: structural requirements and the type of soil with the budget playing a somewhat important role.
Structurally, you will need to build a foundation that can handle the expected weight of your house. Here you will also need to put the soil type of the building site into consideration. We recommend consulting a professional so as to get your location evaluated by a person with the necessary skill and expertise.
Generally, houses that are built on loose or soft soil need deeper foundations for firm anchorage while those build on firm or hard soils require minimal foundations as the ground can handle the weight safely. Sometimes, if the budget allows it, builders will choose to go for an “over-spec” foundation for peace of mind or as a design preference.
Types of foundations for cargo container homes
To help you out with this crucial step in container home building, we’ll take a look at the various kinds of foundations you can use for the different kind of situations.
1. Concrete piers. This is one of the simplest and cheapest types of foundations you could use. Concrete piers are built using concrete reinforced with steel bars or steel wires. Although this is the most DIY- friendly form of foundation, the soil type must be firm enough to support this simplistic foundation.
Usually, six piers are placed; one for each corner of the container and two for the middle part. More may be used if deemed appropriate. This type of foundation prevents the formation of condensation beneath the container (which would encourage rusting) by providing adequate ventilation for the containers underbelly.
(Image Source: http://www.containerhomeplans.org/2015/09/shipping-container-home-foundation-types/)
2. The Slab on grade foundation. Also known as a raft, this kind of foundation is more expensive and time consuming to construct. It is, however, the ideal kind of foundation for soils of medium to soft hardness. It’s especially popular where the climate is warmer and freezing is not a concern as it can cause a significant loss in heat where ground temperatures drop significantly lower than those inside the house. Make sure to plan appropriately for utility lines before you start.
(Image source: http://www.ecohome.net/guide/slab-grade-technical-guide)
3. Pile foundations. This kind of foundation is used for especially soft soils that cannot support the concrete slab foundation. They are the most expensive to construct. They resemble concrete piers from above ground but will usually go deeper into the soil and have a larger base at the bottom. These are a bit complex to build and will require a qualified contractor to install.
(Image source: http://www.containerhomeplans.org/2015/09/shipping-container-home-foundation-types/)
A firm foundation ensures that your shipping container home has a long, stress-free lifespan, so it’s very important that you choose the most appropriate one.
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