FAQs

How is a Cargo house transported to my site?

The container(s) are prepped, sealed and loaded on a truck (or train or ship) and delivered to your site as individual container modules. The 20-foot containers can travel on a standard flat-bed car carrier (with tilt bed), and 40-foot containers can travel via special 40-foot carrier trucks, or a standard semi trailer truck.  You pay delivery cost; depending on distance, this can be a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

How is a Cargo house installed? How long does it take?

Single-Container Structures. The containers set down on your prepared foundation by truck and/or crane, installed per specifications (as a permanent, semi-permanent, or movable dwelling), and utilities are hooked up. We’ll coordinate with local contractors to ensure a smooth install. The entire container modular installation process takes just about 1 day. Decks, roofs and additional structures are built on site after the container is installed.

Multiple-Container Structures. When two or more containers are used in a house where they are joined together (cutting out portions of wall and creating larger rooms), then we do initial metal fabrication and construction at our workyard, then deliver the semi-finished container modules to your site for installation. Joining the units together and final finishing is then done on site.

What kind of foundation is needed?

Depending on the specifics of your site, we recommend concrete piers, foundation stem walls or, in some cases, just a concrete slab.

What about power, water and utilities?

ShelterKraft CargoHouses come with electric power, electric heat, and plumbing for standard municipal utilities or septic system hookups. Other utility selections such as RV-style hookups, gas, solar power, and off-the-grid options are available – refer to our Stock Models page and Green Building page.

How do you treat the exterior of the container? 

There is a specific type of finishing paint for containers which comes in a range of about 30 color choices – or you can choose to keep the exterior unfinished for a more rustic look – the containers are built from a special steel alloy called COR-TEN™ (or weathering steel) which will form a patina of rust that actually protects the container from any further corrosion. Additionally wood siding, screens, murals, or other decorative elements can be used to add visual appeal to the exterior.

What about roofs?

The roof of a container provides a completely weather-proof barrier and is cambered to shed water naturally, so in many climates no roof structure is required.  We can coat the top of the container as an additional protection against weather.  Roof structures can be added, for example in areas with heavy snowfall, or to provide shade in a hot climate, and we recommend a roof when two or more containers are joined together.

What about insulation?

Traditional home insulation methods can be used in containers, but these reduce the interior (livable) space by several inches all around. ShelterKraft is incorporating new, compact solutions such as soy-based polyurethane foam.  Our houses are as well insulated as a conventional house, and we meet or exceed energy codes for R-values and energy efficiency.

Don’t Cargo houses get hot in the summer?

The insulation of the houses provides some protection.  The exterior paints can also be reflective to help keep heat from collecting inside, and we recommend a roof structure to provide shade.  Our team has expertise in tropical architecture with knowledge of  ”passive cooling” design to help promote air flow and keep your house cool without the use of air conditioning.  Finally, the compact spaces of a CargoHouse can be cooled easily with traditional (electric) window air conditioning units if you so desire.

It’s a metal box – aren’t there problems with cold and condensation?

ShelterKraft isolates the interior structures of the walls from the metal of the container, so there is no thermal transfer of cold from the outside.  Using spray foam insulation means there is no air trapped within the wall cavity that would contain moisture, thus eliminating condensation.

What kind of snow load can a container house carry?

Approximately 60 pounds per square foot, ample for most areas in the Puget Sound region at or near sea level.  If you live in an area with more regular or heavy snowfall, we recommend adding a sloped or peaked roof structure on top of the container.

Can you bury a container house underground?

We don’t recommend burying containers. Structural reinforcement is required, and there are problems of standing water/moisture that would defeat the natural protections of the weathering steel, so you would have to build additional concrete or other surrounding structures, which adds significantly to the cost.

Can you use insulated containers to build a house?

Insulated containers (or “reefers”) pose some challenges for house construction and we do not use them in our designs. For example, they are not as strong as the corrugated steel containers, and they are usually made out of aluminum which is more brittle than steel. We do use reefers for some non-residential applications where their attributes are a better fit, including cold-storage units and commercial kitchens.