Getting your containers delivered onsite is one of the most exciting parts of constructing your own container home. This is especially true if you purchased your containers from overseas and haven’t seen them yet.
On the day your containers are delivered there are numerous tasks which need completing. This article will guide you through how to smoothly take delivery of your containers and site them onto the foundation block. We will then look at how you can secure your containers to your foundation and connect your containers together.
Preparing the Base of Your Containers
It’s best to clean and insulate the underside of the containers before you place them because the bottoms are more accessible. This can be accomplished by hoisting the container in the air with the crane or other offloading equipment you’re using to get the containers off the trucks.
Sandblast the underside of the container to clean it and spray at least 1” of closed cell polyurethane foam to insulate it.
These steps can be undertaken after the containers have been sited, provided that you have a raised foundation such as concrete piers. Nevertheless, it’s typically easier to do it beforehand. The one downside to this is if you plan to have a lot of utilities running underneath the container (such as your water pipes and sewer drains). The insulation might get in the way of their placement. So, be mindful of that to keep from having to scrape off insulation later! It’s not always possible to complete this step. It isn’t 100% required, but if you can, it’s worthwhile.
Siting Your Containers
If your foundation is accessible to the truck delivering your containers, consider that a plus. Assuming the containers are being transported on a tilt flatbed trailer, the driver can back up to the foundation and let the container slide of the trailer onto the foundation. This is by far the cheapest and easiest method.
If the foundation isn’t directly accessible, you will need a crane to lift the containers up and drop them in place.
Whichever method you opt for, make sure to put polyethylene damp proof membrane in between the foundation pads and the shipping container.
Connecting Your Containers
Now your containers have been sited, it’s time to connect them to the foundation and to each other.
Most of the time you can site the container on the foundation and the containers weight alone is more than enough to hold it in place. If you’d like added security, you can place a steel plate, for each corner of the container, on top of the concrete before it sets. Then you can weld your container to the plates for additional strength.
If you don’t want to weld your containers to the concrete foundation, you can bolt the containers to the foundation instead. Once you have sited the containers on the foundation, drill through the bottom corner fittings down into the concrete. Now place the bolt through the container corner fitting and down into the concrete. A 1″ x 12″ bolt, or concrete anchor, would be ideal here. You may need to use a hammer to knock the bolt down. Once it’s in place, tighten up the nut and remember to use a washer in between the nut and the corner fitting. One in each corner of the container will keep it secure.
Now you need to connect your containers to each other. You can use a whole host of techniques to connect your shipping containers together including, bolting, welding, and clamping.
Bolting Them Together
To bolt the containers together, connect the containers at the touching corner fitting points. You would drill through the corner fitting from one container into the other container. Then place a bolt in the hole with a drilled metal plate inside the corner fitting to act as a washer. Use mastic around the bolt to seal any gaps. Bolting them together is the easiest method but it certainly isn’t as strong as welding them together. Note that if you decide to bolt them together, you can disassemble them later, which you can’t do if you welded them. This is a consideration if you want your containers to be moved at a later date.
Welding Them Together
Welding containers together makes them much more secure and helps to keep both the containers level. You need to weld the roofs of the container together in addition to any floors which overlap each other. You can use 3” x 1/8” flat steel using a stitch pattern to secure the containers together.
Let’s explore an example of siting containers that are standard height and 40 feet long. They were delivered on a tilt flatbed trailer and simply slid off onto concrete pier foundations.
It was decided not to weld the containers down onto the foundations because the weight of the containers alone should hold them in place.
Once the containers were lined up next to each other, foam insulation was sprayed between the two containers. This helps to keep the moisture out and also helps to maintain the containers internal temperature by stopping any drafts.
The containers were then welded together instead of bolting them for the extra strength. The roof was welded with 3” x 1/8” flat steel using a stitch pattern with a 110-volt wire feed welder.
In addition to helping keep the container completely airtight, the end walls were also welded using 2” x 1/8” flat steel.
Courtesy of Larry Wade
Once all the welding has been finished, the steel is painted with latex paint to help preserve it.
We’d love to see some pictures of your containers being delivered and sited! Feel free to send us an email with pictures using the contact us page.
If you have any thoughts about best practices for siting your containers, let us know in the comments below.