Vehicles are necessities and investments that we need to protect. We must ensure a safe place for our vehicles to protect them from the elements. We also need to secure them from vandalism and theft. If your house doesn’t have a garage, it’s time to build one. However, garages can be expensive, and a shipping container garage is an excellent alternative to a traditional garage. It is also cheaper.
We know that building something you haven’t built before can be nerve-wracking. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about shipping container garages and their benefits. We will also guide you on building one to keep your vehicles dry and secure and use them longer while keeping them in top working condition.
Table of Contents
- 1 Can I Make a Garage Out of a Shipping Container?
- 2 What are the Pros and Cons of Building a Garage Shipping Container?
- 3 What are Examples of Shipping Container Garages?
- 4 Things to Consider Before Building a Shipping Container Garage
- 5 How to Build a Shipping Container Garage
- 6 How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Shipping Container into a Garage?
- 7 Are There Any Other Options for Your Container Garage?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Conclusion
Can I Make a Garage Out of a Shipping Container?
Yes, you can make a garage out of a shipping container. This is a quick, simple, and alternative solution for people who don’t have a garage.
While most homeowners still prefer traditional garages, more people are now open to shipping container garages. It is a practical option because you can build it yourself. It looks unique, so it is an excellent choice if you want your garage to stand out.
What are the Pros and Cons of Building a Garage Shipping Container?
As with any construction project, there are advantages and disadvantages to a shipping container garage. It is best to know not just the pros but also the cons of this type of garage so you can make an informed decision on whether it suits your needs.
It is cheap
The low cost of constructing a shipping container garage is one of the major reasons why homeowners find this option attractive. Building this type of garage can be cheaper than a regular one.
For one, old shipping containers are cheap. Since they are sold used, buying a shipping container to convert into a garage is more affordable than buying new building materials. If you are a handyman, you can build the garage yourself and altogether avoid spending on labor costs.
However, keep in mind that the total cost of building a shipping container garage depends on its size and design. If we compare a basic regular garage and a basic shipping container garage of the same size, you can save money on a shipping container garage. But if your shipping container garage is huge and has many custom features, you risk racking up a considerable construction bill.
It is easier to build
A shipping container garage is easier to build than a conventional one. This can make it an ideal option if you want to build a garage in record time. If you have basic knowledge of construction, you can build the garage yourself.
If you don’t need anything fancy and are just after a storage space for your vehicle, you can even order a shipping container and use it as it is. Now, if you want something with options for storing tools or vehicle spare parts, you can also build a simple one.
Another option you can explore is ordering one pre-built by the manufacturer. A pre-built one will just be delivered and assembled on your lot. It may be a more expensive option than a DIY garage, but it will be faster to finish. You can choose this option if you don’t have spare time to build the garage yourself. It is also viable if you are not confident with your handyman skills.
It is effective against pests
One of the primary functions of a garage is securing your vehicle from destructive pests like rodents. A shipping container garage can do a great job of protecting your vehicle, provided that you secure any opening that rats or other rodents can use to get into your garage.
Since shipping containers are made of metal, they are also excellent building materials if you want a termite-free garage. A metal garage is a great option if you live in an area where termite infestations are common. Just be sure to use anti-termite treatment on wooden components like shelves if you want to make sure that your garage is completely protected against termites.
A shipping container garage will also do well against mold because metals don’t attract them.
It can be durable
A shipping container garage can be more durable than a traditional garage. Metals are excellent building materials because they can withstand considerable force before getting damaged. Unlike garages made of wood, shipping container garages don’t rot.
It looks unique
If you are looking for a garage that doesn’t look bland, a shipping container garage is an excellent option. It has a distinct look and can be an excellent conversation starter if you have guests.
It is flexible
A shipping container garage is easy to modify if you want a custom garage. You can install storage shelves inside it to keep your tools organized. You can add insulation or an HVAC system if you want. You can also easily expand the garage because the containers are easy to move.
Shipping container garages are also portable. You can move it to another part of your property if needed. Taking your garage with you is possible if you move to a different house or property. You just need to disassemble your garage and re-assemble it in your new place.
It can get too hot
A shipping container garage is made of metal, so it can get very hot, especially if you live in a naturally humid area. If your garage is exposed to harsh sunlight, it can absorb an enormous quantity of heat.
The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent your garage from being too hot. One is by carefully choosing its placement. Choose an area that’s not too exposed to sunlight. If you have trees on your property, they can give adequate shade to your garage and help it maintain a cool temperature. Another option is to use insulation so the interior temperature will be tolerable even if the structure’s exterior gets hot. If you have a large garage, you might consider installing an HVAC system to keep it cool, especially if you plan to spend extended periods inside the structure.
Building permit issues
Depending on your location and the size of your planned garage, you might need to secure a building permit. Unfortunately, some locations prohibit metal buildings, including shipping container garages. If you live in a gated community or a subdivision, some HOAs also prohibit container garages. The best thing to do is get in touch with the local building office or your HOA to get more insight into your planned garage. This way, you can ensure that you can legally build a shipping container garage and avoid penalties or violations.
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What are Examples of Shipping Container Garages?
This is the most basic shipping container garage you can have. It is a bare shipping container on a foundation made of wooden blocks. It can house up to two vehicles.
This is a two-container garage with a workshop. It has an HVAC system to make it comfortable to work in. It also has hanging shelves for storing tools and other equipment.
This is a huge garage made with three shipping containers. It can house up to four vehicles and has enough space for a workshop.
Things to Consider Before Building a Shipping Container Garage
Before heading to the drawing board, there are some factors you need to consider to ensure that your shipping container garage turns out exactly how you want it. These factors will dictate the type and functionality of your final structure.
The kind of garage you want to build
Ask yourself what kind of garage you want to build. Are you after a simple garage for storage purposes, or are you looking into building something more? Maybe you want a garage with storage features for your tools. Or are you aiming for a garage with a workshop area in case you need to fix or customize your car?
The size of containers you will use
Decide if you want to use a regular 20 feet long shipping container or a longer 40-foot container. The length of the container you will use will influence the number of vehicles you can store. You should also look into your lot before deciding on a container size since your lot should be spacious enough for the garage you want to build.
What type of containers will you use
There are different container types to choose from depending on how you intend to use them. The most common type is the dry storage container. These are the ones with metal sidings on all sides but with a door on one end. There are also double-door ones which are essentially dry storage containers with doors on both ends.
An open-top container might suit you best if you want to build a large garage. This type has an opening on its top and is suitable if you plan on adding a roof to your garage. If you are in an area that’s hot all year round, you might want to go with a thermal or insulated container so you won’t need to install insulating panels.
How to Build a Shipping Container Garage
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of shipping containers and container garages, it’s time to build your garage. This can be intimidating, especially if this is your first build, so our goal is to make the process as simple as possible so you can build with ease.
Choose Your Container Garage Style
As mentioned earlier, the first step in building a garage is determining the style of garage you want to have. List down the features you want in your garage. The features you want will affect the style of the garage you need to build. For example, if you want a garage with storage options, a bare single-container garage will not suffice. If you have one vehicle and plan to get another one, you might want to future-proof your garage and go for a bigger one.
Check our Instagram account for style inspirations as you design your metal garage.
Pick Your Preferred Container Size and Type
Now that you’ve decided on the garage style you want, you need to choose the container type and size you want to use. A dry storage container is the most commonly used because just one container may be enough for a one-car garage. It is also a practical option if you are after a basic garage because you can just clean it up, and it will be ready to use.
The size of the container is also another decision you need to make. A 20-foot shipping container is the most common type in the market. Its length will be more than enough for most vehicles. You can go with a 40-foot container if you want a garage with more than enough room for several cars. It is also an excellent choice if you are a fishing enthusiast and want someplace to store a boat together with your vehicle.
Prepare Your Land
Even though a shipping container garage is essentially a pre-fabricated structure, you still need to prepare the land where you will build it. There is the matter of clearing the area for your garage if that portion of your property has weeds, rocks, or rubbish.
Laying down a foundation for your garage is essential to preparing the land for your structure. Remember that you are building a metal structure that will rust or get damaged if it constantly gets in contact with water, and a foundation can help elevate it and keep it safe from floodwater. A concrete foundation is ideal because it is sturdy and long-lasting. You can also bolt or weld down your container garage to keep it stable even during strong winds.
Some homeowners opt for a simple foundation of wooden blocks. These can keep your garage away from the ground, but it is not as durable as a concrete foundation.
Build Your Container Garage
You have two options for building your garage: hire a contractor or build it yourself. Hiring a contractor is the easier option because you don’t need to do anything apart from providing input on the garage style you want. This is a more expensive option since you need to consider labor costs.
If you are a handyman, you can build the garage yourself. If you are going for a basic container garage, you just need to replace the container door. A roll-up door, like the ones in traditional garages, is your best option. You can also go with a pull-up door but ensure you have enough space in front of the container to open the door completely.
Building a garage for more than two vehicles is more challenging since you need to use two containers. The two containers will act as the walls of your garage, with the space between the two acting as the actual parking space. You then need to install a roof to protect your vehicles from the elements. There are instructional videos online that you can use as guides for step-by-step construction. If you are not confident with your handyman skills, hiring a contractor to build a large garage might be more prudent.
The third option is to buy a pre-made container garage. Some manufacturers pre-manufacture them and assemble them onsite. This is a more expensive option but requires a shorter construction period, depending on the supplier your partner with.
Customize Your Garage According to Your Needs
Once you have your garage; you have the option of customizing it. The degree of customization depends on you and your needs. You can install an HVAC system on a large garage to make it more comfortable, especially if you plan to build a garage/workshop or spend long hours inside.
If you don’t want to spend money on an HVAC system, installing insulation in your garage is important to keep the interior temperature comfortable. Another option is installing exhaust fans and side vents on the structure. These are affordable and energy-saving options to help keep your garage cool. Keeping your metal garage cool is also beneficial for your vehicle because a hot garage can cause the rubber components of your car, like the tires, to warp.
You can also customize your garage with hanging storage shelves to keep your garage organized. If you have enough space, you can build a bathroom in your garage to work long hours uninterrupted.
You might want to prioritize customizing the paint job on your shipping container garage, especially if using used containers. A paint job will make your garage look new. In addition, painting is an additional protective layer against the elements. This may help prevent rusting and prolong the life of your garage.
How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Shipping Container into a Garage?
If you already have a container and plan on converting it into a garage, expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000. This is to cover the garage door and concrete foundation costs. You can save money by using a simple garage door instead of a roll-up one.
However, this computation does not include the cost of the actual container. You should also expect to spend more depending on the amount of customization you are aiming for.
Are There Any Other Options for Your Container Garage?
What’s great about container garages is that they are flexible, and you can easily convert them into another structure. Instead of a garage, you can use it as a workshop. You can also convert it into a shipping container storage area if you want to. If your garage has provisions for a bathroom, you can convert it into a studio unit for a teenage child or as a guest house for when you have relatives staying over.
If you want to learn about other uses for your container garage and other metal structures, check our Pinterest page.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a 20 ft shipping container cost?
A 20-foot used shipping container costs between $1,500 and $1,850, depending on its condition. You can also buy a new shipping container, but it will be more expensive and can cost around $3,000.
Is it cheaper to build a shed or buy a shipping container?
Buying a shipping container is cheaper than building a shed. As mentioned earlier, you can buy a shipping container for as little as $2,000 and use it as is. Building a shed can cost you at least $3,000.
Do you need planning permission to put a shipping container on your land?
Yes, you will most likely need a permit. The type of permit you need will depend on your location. The best thing to do is ask the local authorities what type of permit you need because counties have different regulations surrounding shipping containers. For example, the City of San Diego in California requires building permits for shipping containers except if they will be used on a temporary basis. If you are building in Seattle, Washington, you need a permit for building a garage, but instead of a building permit, you can apply for a Subject-to-field-inspection permit. This type of permit is for small projects and has less stringent requirements.
A shipping container garage is a perfect option if you want to have a garage that is cheap and easy to build. It is highly customizable, and you can quickly expand it in the future if you want to. It is also faster to build, and you can build it yourself if you want to. There are also manufacturers that supply pre-built container garages if you need a garage quickly but don’t know how to build one. These advantages make a shipping container garage an excellent alternative to traditional garages.