Using Google Sketch Up To Design Shipping Container Homes

Often people looking at shipping container homes are on a tight budget. On top of that they don’t want to go and do a training course as well as buy something like Autocad which may be all the bells and whistles but with shipping containers you already have fixed dimensions. This pretty much means that your working “inside a box” which sort of limits the amount of mistakes you can make construction wise as it will still need to fit into a 20ft or 40ft container  generally.

But what I did come across today was this Google sketch up video someone has put together showing how it can be done and with Google sketch up being free and quick to learn how to use would be a good start for people thinking about container buildings. I am still trying to find the time to get on there myself to start putting models together for different designs that I can give away on the containerliving.net but right now over worked and a busy family life leaves very little time to get started on drawing up homes.

Shipping Container Worker Dormitory Manila Philippines

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Workers in Manila as other parts of the Philippines struggle to get low budget high quality rentals. This shipping container dormitory does seem to have the answer for cheap construction but also a better class of living for those with a small budget. Air conditioning and a bed as well as onsite restaurant for P1,500 a month is extremely reasonable and no doubt a big hit. A lot of cheap accommodation in the Philippines normally consists of a rundown room with no air conditioning or cooling system as well as possibly just access to a single bulb light. This on the other hand seems very geared to peoples needs and no doubt has a lot of extra services downstairs besides the kitchen such as charging stations for mobile phones. All in all I think its a huge step forward in quality for workers in the Philippines and look forward to seeing more of these types of building.

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The second set of photos are from the same place but a different building. As you can see they have traded the bunk bed dorms for more private cubicle styled beds. Not for everyone but if your on a tight budget with a limited salary I know more than a few Filipinos that would happily live in these compared to their current rentals. From a business point of view though is it viable? Counting all the beds up your looking at 98 just for the upper level and as you can see in the yellow one being constructed its beds lower side as well so roughly 200 beds at P1,500 per month giving an income of P300,000 per month even if you took out all the expenses because obviously the snack bar and other things on site increase the revenue I would easily expect to make P250,000 a month from this venture in the right location and obviously someone else seen the same vision.

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Shipping container home on a tight budget, also suitable for bird watchers

 

What I loved about this house is its simply practical. There is no big expense spent on it and its obviously someone who has either a keen interest in nature or like getting away from it all. The video is also shot in sections so you can see the home develop over the length of the video. Not the most complex of designs but its obvious that its functionality was more important to the owner and part of the buildings charm. I could imagine having a place like this up in the mountains as a weekend retreat to just sit and watch the wildlife and the days go by.

 

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Cutting a shipping container opening

First safety tip of the day is be aware that the metal is heavy and your unlikely to know how heavy unless you have either lifted a precut piece or have just cut it out and now realize its heavier than you thought. Would advise when cutting to make sure you organize things so it falls the right way as well as make sure nobody can wander in the way. When moving parts its worth getting another pair of hands to help rather than struggle.

When cutting always try to cut from the outside either by using a plasma cutter or as I have seen several people use an angle grinder. This allows the fumes to escape rather than build up which is what would happen if you worked inside. Would also advise wearing a mask as you don’t know the content of the paint and removal of floor prior to cutting. If using a disc cutter of any kind make sure your working in an area that doesn’t have passers by due to the risk of sparking as well as broken parts of disc flying off. Always wear eye protection.

Plasma cutter will rank above using a disc cutter because of its ease of cutting once setup.Adding metal tubes etc as straight edges as a guide will glide you through the motion of cutting the steel. The time saved especially if working in extreme hot or cold conditions is phenomenal over using a disc cutter but if you have the time and a tight budget would go with the disc cutter unless you can get a rental of a plasma cutter. Bit of an expensive tool to buy for a one off job. Remove the floor in advance of cutting its generally full of pesticides and of no use in a container home, check you have everything it needs as some require a combination of compressor as well as a specialist outlet all can be hired or bought but best to ask while at the store. Be aware there is a potential of fire so be cautious of your surroundings no point cutting on some dried grass on a field for example unless you fancy making the evenings TV report. When your cutting get on with it the tips will burn quickly and are expensive so utilize them as much as possible. You will get hot pieces fall away and this is why you need to make sure there is no hazard that could start a fire from the heat. One of the most important things as a final note is always work in pairs, you could be cutting and not see the potential of a fire breaking out behind you as pieces drop concentrating on the job at hand, you are at risk of falling steel plate and at the same time everything such as measuring is easier with two as your doing a lot of vertical work so if clamping things down for a straight edge to cut having a guy on the top while your lining up the bottom means you end up clamping things a lot easier saving you time and making sure the measurements are correct. Measure twice cut once is the golden rule.