container foundations

[editor’s note: this post should have gone out a number of weeks ago, but I’ve gotten bogged down big time with other posts and endeavors]

I’ve talked about walls and I’ve talked about floors.  I’ve also talked about how to design with shipping containers, and in all of those examples I’ve only mentioned two types of foundation systems: slab on grade and stem wall.  But what if you live in a northern climate and need a basement?  Can you still build a shipping container home with a basement foundation?

Answer: Abso-friggin-lutely.


And as with anything, there are several options.  You can pour a foundation footing, floor and walls up to your container bearing height (reinforced with steel obviously); you can pour a floor and footing and build the walls out of concrete block or ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms); you can even use a shipping container as your basement structure, BUT you have to take careful steps to ensure that the container is completely sealed in and out against moisture and the walls are reinforced against the push of earth (like any good retaining wall).  Essentially, any typical basement structure can be used as the basis for shipping container design.  I mean, all you’re doing is stacking a box on top of it after all, right? Right. I thought you’d see things my way. 😉

These options will also depend on your local building codes, so, as with any construction project, consult an engineer/architect and your local building official to make sure everything is hunky dory before you get to digging.

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4 thoughts on “container foundations

      • Thinking to put a container “shed” up on property in Alaska. Can’t quite picture how to do the attachement. Would the plate be welded to the reinforcing rebar or would it be bolted down to the foundation with anchor bolts? Thanks

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