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Discussion Starter #1
We should be buying our first couple of shipping containers next month. I was looking up online the best way to cut containers and it looks like Plasma Cutter is the way to go. However, how do you put them together? Is standard welding the way to go? Do you to put them back together before you put them in their final resting spot or should they be easy to move once put together? We are looking at getting 2 40ft containers and 2 20ft containers. We were going to put together the 2 20ft containers first and the when we can afford it get the 2 40 foot containers and put the 20 ft on top of the 40. Just want to make sure I do everything in the right order. Anyone have experience with these?
 

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Lifting your two twenty footers will take twice plus some more crane if they are welded together instead of single. Going to cost more cash.. I would buy one 40 footer.. Then the next 40 footer.. set those up weld together.. Then when you can do the 20 footers do them.
 

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Ok, so is welding the best way to put Steel back together? Is that the strongest way to bind them back? Getting the 40ft then is probably the most logical thing to do. It will then require me to go concrete pillars a foot or so off the ground put together first and measured out so that we can go ahead and get them into their spots. Any thoughts on how to attach them to the concrete pillars? I do not want these just laying on the ground and not sure if doing a concrete 40 x 16 foundation is the way to go. I see most shipping containers with at least a foot of space below them. I am also in a prime hurricane area so I will need these to be hurricane safe so not sure if putting space underneath them would be a good or bad thing. I am not a construction guy so if anyone has thoughts on how to go about the two bottom containers I'm all ears.....well eyes. Thanks!
 

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Instead of going up, have you considered going down? Bury the first 40 footer so the roof is at ground level, weld the other on top, cut your access and bingo! Just a thought, I've wanted to do this for years but haven't yet. I like the idea because one shipping container doesn't draw as much attention as two on top of each other. And yes I believe that welding the two will suffice either way you go. -Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great Idea Mike! However, the 5 acres we have 2 and a half is considered dry and the other 2 half is wet lands. Most of the year even the wetlands is dry just after a rainy season we get about a foot or so of standing water. We were clearing trees out and decided to bury them. We got about 6 feet down and hit our water table so we still put the trees there and covered them back, but that would probably cause a problem putting the containers under. I also secretly worry about sink holes and already having a container under would scare me a bit unless I knew that there wouldn't be an issue. But Florida has sink holes all the time. Just not sure what causes them. I think the safer option for this situation would be to go up, but I might play with the idea of trying to bury one to see if I can do a food shelter that way.
 

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Yes welding will work.. As long as you know what your doing. We use those containers for oilfield shacks a lot up here.. had a camp made out of four 40 footers.. Weld top and bottom and every corner. I would burry the two and just have the 20's up top. Make sure to have a drain system around them and to have a sump fitted.. Just like building a home. Heck if you wanted natural light in the bottom cans you could use those solar tubes. run from the top of the top 20 footers and down into the burried ones. I would do a 12 inch pile every six feet. You could to those big screw in posts and have the c can welded to them but i heard those screw posts move a little.. personally.. set your cans on the ground and burm up to them with dirt.. great insulation.. and hides em in plain view unless your on flat land and no trees..
 

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I would think you could bolt them together. Drill some holes and backing plates, simple enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bolting them might not be a bad idea with plates as a safety measure on top of welding. As I mentioned before I'm very nervous about burying them with the water table so low and the complications that could arise from that. I do like the idea of moving sand up for natural insulator. We do have flat land, but almost forest like conditions which is nice. I guess right now I am curious about the pros and cons of having the containers a foot off the ground or putting them on concrete slab or putting them right on the ground. Keep in mind I am in a wet lands area that the spot I'm at is not wet lands but 20 feet behind it the wetlands line starts (Mind you I haven't seen standing water yet, but that is a concern as well. I know after our really rainy summer, about 100 feet back there was standing water of about a foot on the back half of the property.
 

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Have them delivered as close to position as possible. You can use jacks & shims to get them aligned then connect with come a long to pull them together. Tack weld the frames together then grind the welds flush. Use 6-8" wide plate where they meet & weld to both container frames. Doing it this way will prevent water leaks plus distribute any stress of shifting. DO NOT bolt from wall to wall as it will be too much stress on the walls.
 

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Containers do not withstand inward pressure do not bury.

Careful cutting you do not want to decrease their vertical stacking strength.

I would put them in place before modifying their structural integrity.
 

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Also if you are worried about sinkholes you can hire a team to come out and(I think) run a sonar Mechine around where you plan to put the containers are that might give you peace of mind later on down the road. If you have any hills on your land you could bury the containers half way into the hill. I've seen a few people around me here in Florida do that and make kind of a fake basement. But like I said "if" you have any hills. It is Florida we are talking about
 

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You are correct on the side pressure.. burring them needs to have precautions taken to not collapse them. But you can cut out 50 percent of the wall with no ill effects (i have done this and had another can stacked on top of it for over a year) We built a 16 foot wall shop and needed access to the top from from the inside of the space.
Containers do not withstand inward pressure do not bury.

Careful cutting you do not want to decrease their vertical stacking strength.

I would put them in place before modifying their structural integrity.
 

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You don't necessarily have to dig to bury them, you just need a lot of dirt and you will have a new hill on your property.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think we are going do the "Hill" idea for our food storage area. I do want to try doing that. Here is the end result we are going for THOR_960 | MEKA WORLD except we are going to try to do most of it ourself and it is going to be used just for bed and bathroom areas only. We are building a open air pavilion style structure for our living room, dining room, kitchen, and other activities. Storage units will be for bed/bath as well as for shelter from storms and armored protection should it be needed as a fall back.

From this thread it looks like I am going to go with the 2 40ft containers first. Going to use a plasma cutter (with compressor) to cut the two sides or at least part of the sides. I think I am going to leave the wall half way in to provide extra support for the top structure. But that would probably be easier drawn than explained through typing.

I also think I have a pretty good idea how I'm going to get the two containers locked in together based on the ideas here. Now it looks like I need to figure out what type of foundation would be best. I'm still torn on setting them on the ground, putting a concrete slab, or like 8 raised pilers that end up being 1 foot or so off the ground. I think I am leaning towards the pilers based on possible flooding since we are on wet lands (Even though we had a heck of a rainy season this year and the dry land area faired really well) I'm just concerned about the pilers shifting over time and making the whole structure lean. I'm also concerned about how sturdy pilers would be in a hurricane and if having the open air underneath would help take some of the force off the container to give the wind a place to go, or if it would act as a lift and put extra stress on the attachment points from the container to the pilers. Should I try to contact a contractor for these questions? I have no idea who would be knowledgable enough to give me a good answer on this. Most of the shipping container homes I've researched on line are off the ground if at least a few inches. But can't find out why this is. Unless ease for plumbing? Anyways. Thank you everyone for your help thus far and I hope to get a little closer to figuring this out so that I can start this project before the end of the year.
 

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Wherever you bolt or weld, make sure you re-establish the rustproofing or you will be creating a weak spot.

You might want to consider a corrugated culvert instead of shipping containers. The round shape is stronger, and they are designed for direct ground contact in buried installations. You should be able to order them in any length you want, in diameters up to 150 inches. You can also get Ts, Ells and other shapes. Some of these pipes have a 100+ year life span.

An example... Corrugated Steel Pipe
 

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If you are going to add pressure on the walls from the outside like dirt you can reinforce the inside of the walls with angle iron.
 

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Unless treated or coated in some way, shipping containers will rust away to nothing very rapidly if buried. They will also not be water tight, and ground water will leak in. Shipping containers are usually made of "Corten" steel, which is extremely durable to physical impact, but not corrosion. The reason that people usually mount them up off the ground is to allow air flow under them, and not allowing trapped water to stagnate and rust out the bottoms. The delivery driver should be able to place them ANYWHERE you want on ground level.
Welding is the best option for connecting them, but the welds must be done right. A bad weld is weaker than a bolted connection, and also damages the integrity of the base metal.

There are many options for attaching the containers to a concrete slab. The most common method is wedge anchors outside the container, and properly sized steel cables over the container and tensioned. You could also put the wedge anchors through the floor inside the container, with nuts and washers. Add lock washers to prevent the nuts from vibrating loose.
 

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We are looking at getting 2 40ft containers and 2 20ft containers. We were going to put together the 2 20ft containers first and the when we can afford it get the 2 40 foot containers and put the 20 ft on top of the 40.
What is the goal here? What are you planning to use them for? Will they be permanent? Is security an issue...they will be out in the open?
 
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