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Published: August 2, 2023

Shipping Container Construction Myths

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Modular construction using shipping containers is a growing trend, but there are still many misunderstandings surrounding using shipping containers to create new spaces. If you’re wondering about shipping container construction and whether it may be an option for your business, it might be helpful to separate common myths from facts.

Is Building With Shipping Containers Better Than Traditional Construction Methods?

Whether shipping container construction is better than traditional construction methods largely depends on the specific project requirements - both methods have strengths and weaknesses. Traditional construction methods offer flexibility in design, proven techniques, universal acceptability, and a range of materials to choose from. However, they might require longer construction time, potentially higher costs, and could have a larger environmental impact. The choice between shipping container construction and traditional methods should be based on a variety of factors, including your budget, design preferences, the local climate, and building regulations in your area.

Common Myths About Shipping Container Construction

Myth:

Building with shipping containers is always cheaper than traditional construction.

Fact:

While shipping container buildings can be cost-effective, this isn't always the case. The costs for modifications, site work, foundation, delivery, insulation, and finishing can add up quickly. This makes it particularly important to work with a trusted Modified Shipping Container provider.

Myth:

Shipping container construction is always faster.

Fact:

Modular construction can often be faster due to off-site fabrication, allowing the components to arrive and simply be assembled. But other factors can lengthen the process, such as obtaining planning permissions, site preparation, and the intricacy of the design. A complex and highly customized shipping container building could take longer than a basic structure using traditional building methods. Rest assured, M1 Containers is here to partner with you for every step of construction, including figuring out zoning and municipal requirements. 

Myth:

Shipping containers should only be used for temporary buildings.

Fact:

While shipping containers are often used for temporary structures, with the right modifications they can also be transformed into high-quality, permanent container offices, restaurants, shops, workplace command centers, employee sleeping quarters and more. With proper design and construction, container buildings can last as long as traditional ones. Ways to ensure lasting durability and integrity of shipping container structures include:

  • Proper insulation to regulate temperature
  • Protective coatings like rust-resistant paint to prevent corrosion
  • Adequate ventilation to prevent moisture accumulation
  • Pest control to avoid infestation that can cause damage
  • Regular cleaning to help spot any rust or damage in early stages
  • Professional maintenance from experienced shipping container companies like M1 Containers

Myth:

Because of their rectangular shape, building with shipping containers limits your design possibilities.

Fact:

While containers come in standard sizes, they can be highly flexible in terms of design. Containers can be stacked, cut, and combined to create a wide array of architectural forms and spaces. The resulting angular designs can look quite creative and artistic, making them uniquely appealing.

Myth:

Building with shipping containers is always the most eco-friendly option.

Fact: Yes, construction with modified shipping containers is a step in a greener direction. If making the lowest impact on the environment is a priority for your company, it will be important to consider other factors like insulation, energy use, and the embodied energy as well. Modifications used to ensure that your shipping container is sustainable include:

  • Solar panels
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Rainwater harvesting systems
  • Non-toxic finishes and interior materials
  • Water-conserving toilets, faucets, and showerheads
  • Green roofs
  • Quality insulation

Myth:

All shipping containers are the same. 

Fact:

There are various types and sizes of shipping containers, each with different properties. Understanding the differences is essential to choose the right container for your project. Professionals understand the best uses for each type of container, and may use a few different container types in the construction of a multi-container building. Besides the most common “dry” style containers, shipping container construction companies may use:

  • Flat rack containers
  • Open top containers
  • Open side containers
  • High cube containers
  • Double door containers
  • Half height containers

Myth:

Shipping containers and container structures are indestructible. 

Fact:

While shipping containers are built to withstand harsh conditions at sea, they aren't indestructible. They can rust, get damaged, and their structural integrity can be compromised if large sections are cut out without adequate reinforcement.

Myth:

Insulation is not necessary. 

Fact:

Just because containers are made of steel doesn't mean they are automatically insulated. Without proper insulation, they can become extremely hot or cold depending on the weather. Efficient insulation is crucial for energy efficiency and comfort.

Myth:

Shipping container structures can be built anywhere.

Fact:

The suitability of land for container construction depends on factors such as soil stability, accessibility for delivery, and local building codes and regulations. Not all plots are suitable without additional work or cost. The experts at M1 Containers can help you determine if your site is container-ready, or what steps should be taken. 

Myth:

Using shipping containers for construction is a budget option - they aren't suitable for luxury or high-quality buildings. 

Fact:

Container buildings can range from very basic structures to luxury designs. Many high-end, innovative commercial spaces have been built using containers.

Myth:

Permits are not required for shipping container buildings. 

Fact:

Like any construction project, building with shipping containers usually requires permits and adherence to local building codes. In some areas, container construction may face additional scrutiny or limitations.

Myth:

Shipping containers are too small to be functional spaces.

Fact:

While a single container might be narrow, combining multiple containers can create larger spaces. Containers can be stacked or placed side by side to create homes of various sizes.

  • Office buildings
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Health centers
  • Schools

Considering a Shipping Container Structure for Your Business?

M1 Containers has decades of experience creating, renovating, and maintaining shipping containers and shipping container buildings. We pride ourselves on superior customer service, combining construction expertise with a deep understanding of how shipping containers can be used and modified to suit unique business functions. Contact us today to discuss your needs and whether shipping container construction may be right for your next building!

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