We take a lot of questions about whether or not it's a good idea to put a shipping container directly on the ground, or to place it on some type of a foundation. We've posted a few times about this in the past, and the most popular article is about "putting a shipping container on concrete footings". In this post we're going to share some of the more recent updates, questions, and ideas.
If you're planning to use a shipping container as a storage unit, you'll want to consider if it's necessary to put it on some type of foundation. There are really two reasons to put a container on a foundation: moisture control, and structural integrity.
One of the main benefits of a putting a container on a foundation is that it will allow air circulation to flow under the container, reducing the potential for rust accelerating condensation. If the container will be kept in a humid area, or area with a reasonable amount of rain, at the very least you'll want to consider putting the container on top of on rail road ties. Bricks and cinder blocks aren't good options as they'll crack and crumble under the constant pressure from the weight of the container. Follow this link to read more about shipping containers on a wood beam foundation.
The second reason for putting a container on a foundation is structural integrity. The container can either be placed on concrete footings or a concrete pad. Putting the container on a more permanent foundation like this will keep the container sitting square and prevent any shifting or settling. Without the risk of any corner being lower than another, all seams and welds will remain tight. If there's concern of high winds or tornados, the corner castings can be tied down to the foundation through the twist locks, which can reduce the risk of severe wind damage.
Every county and township in the United States has its own rules and regulations regarding the use of shipping containers for storage and modular housing. A call to the county planner, or search on the local website will provide you with the information needed. You'll want to look for any restrictions about putting the shipping container on a permanent foundation, and specific building permits and requirements.
Depending on the length of time that the shipping container is going to be kept in one place will have an impact on the need for some type of foundation or type of structure to keep it slightly off the ground. If you have any questions about how to best maintain a shipping container, if you need build a foundation for the container, or just general questions about shipping containers, feel free to email our office any time.