Author Topic: Cargo container storm shelter  (Read 7655 times)

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Offline Gingerbreadman

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Cargo container storm shelter
« on: January 05, 2011, 08:15:03 PM »
I have been thinking about burying or partially burying an ISO shipping container to use as a storm shelter. I've done some preliminary reading online on this topic, but have not seen anything definitive yet. Some say its a great way make an inexpensive shelter, and others say it will crumple when dirt is applied.

My idea is to dig a hole, pour some concrete for a solid base, set a 20' shipping container in the hole, anchor it to the concrete, and fill in the empty space around the container. Access would be through a hatch installed in the top of the container. After the container is in place, a perimeter foundation would be poured and a cabin built over the container (the Builder's Cottage is what I have in mind).

The biggest concern I have from my reading so far is that the containers are not engineered for side loads, and the walls may buckle. My thinking is that a 20' container would be less susceptible to this than a 40' container because there is less area for the dirt to press on. Also, I'm not planning on burying it deep underground, just 7'-8' up from the bottom. The house would not even be resting on the container, it would straddle it. I'm also thinking that building an internal frame tightly against the wall would help it keep its form.

Has anyone tried this or know of someone who has? Did it work out? This isn't something that I will be doing any time soon. I don't even own the land to do this yet. Right now I am just bouncing ideas off the internet and seeing what comes back.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 08:38:19 PM by Gingerbreadman »

Offline astidham

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Re: Cargo container storm shelter
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2011, 09:06:23 AM »
What would keep it from taking on water?
I had an estimate for a concrete storm shelter, installed it was 2800.00
"Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice"
— Henry Ford

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Cargo container storm shelter
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2011, 10:33:13 AM »
The sides will eventually be pressed inwards. There would also be the issue regarding water ingress as astidham mentioned. The walls could be braced but even with great paint, eventually there will be corrosion, unless sacrificial anodes were also installed and maintained.My self I would not want to place my cabin on top of something that will eventually face those issues. If a storm shelter is required I believe a concrete walled and floored basement with proper drainage and water sealing would also serve as an excellent foundation. A concrete slab could be poured for a "lid" on the emergency shelter portion and laundry, furnace, water heater placed in a corner of the rest of the space.

Shipping containers make great above ground storage buildings.

That's my opinion.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline sinner

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Re: Cargo container storm shelter
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2011, 11:52:56 AM »
Plus all those chemicals they use in those things would not be good for you buried under the ground.

Offline Gingerbreadman

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Re: Cargo container storm shelter
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2011, 02:42:42 PM »
Thanks for the input, I will not be building over a metal box.