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How to Build a Shipping Container Cabin - Getting Started

29.12.2013 - Posted by Updated On 29.12.2013    

We were recently contacted by a major university that has a problem to solve. Every summer the school takes a group of students to Wyoming for a field class and the issue they asked us to help address was a relatively simple one: where to put their students when it rains? During clear weather the students sleep in tents at the various camp sites, and the school rents a large camper to shelter the students in case of rain. Renting a camper every summer, only to occasionally use it, wasn't cheap and the instructors in charge of the class decided to look for a permanent alternative. Naturally, we suggested a cabin made from a shipping container.

After several discussions and email exchanges, the parameters we outlined were as follows:

  • - 24 cots, ideally bunked.
  • - No bathroom is needed.
  • - A man door installed at one end.
  • - Long, short windows around the top to allow natural light and ventilation.
  • - Vinyl flooring.
  • - If there's enough room, a storage area built on the end with the doors.
  • - Delivered and set on the ground at the specified location in Wyoming.

We're just getting started with the design and sourcing the components, and will provide updates as the work progresses. As of right now, we plan to start with a 40' shipping container, used and in cargo worthy condition. The windows will be "hopper windows" that swing in from the bottom, and are 24" by 8", and a standard sized exterior door. For both the door and windows we're planning on having steel frames produced in our machine shop. The bed frames will also be produced in the machine shop, as they will be “hard sleepers" and not require any mattress or padding.

Ideas we disqualified:

  • - Skylight windows: They'd be good for ventilation, but bad for security.
  • - Power source: Not necessary due to the remote location.
  • - Carpet/Astroturf: Difficult to clean and maintain, especially if any type of soda is spilled.

A shipping container cabin such as this would be a great shelter for any type of hunting cabin, short term storm shelter or prepper bunker, and with some adjustments it could be geared to house people for a longer period of time.

We're just getting started with the process and will provide periodic updates on the progress, including budgeting, sourcing materials, and manufacturing. The end goal is to provide a resource and “how to" guide for anyone with plans to build a container cabin.

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