Monday, December 2, 2019

Conex based housing

Three of my four kids are more than half-way interested in tiny houses based on Conex shipping containers. It is probably because Mrs ERJ read The Boxcar Children series to my kids when they were wee tykes.

Working the math, two 8'X40' Conex containers run about $4500. A 24'X41' portable carport to shade them and protect them from precipitation runs about about another $4000.

In gross numbers that gives you interior space for $13.50 a square foot.

The exterior walls and ceiling need stud walls, insulation and drywall. Windows and doors need to be Saws-alled into the sides and installed. A hotplate and sink are enough for a kitchen. Add a composting toilet, a small LP heater vented to outside and a window air conditioner and you are living high on the hog.

You would want to wire for 60 Amp service and you need accommodations for grey water.

Source of image

Of course it is not a residential space. It would never meet code. It is a work-shop with a futon and a few amenities.

If you want a really tiny "shop" you can shrink down to an 8'-by-20' exterior shell but the price does not scale down proportionately.

Technically, there is absolutely nothing difficult about converting a Conex container into housing. It might even be the most effective way to deal with homelessness. The trick is finding somebody who is willing to let you park your "shop" on their property.


  1. Assuming the Conex is solidly anchored to the ground I've wondered about increasing their storm resistance by coating them with WW2 Plastic Armour. A blend of granite and limestone gravel held together with a tar binder on a steel backing, it was used to protect merchant ship bridges and AA positions from aircraft machine guns and auto cannon.

  2. I've had a few of these converted into temporary office spaces for construction or drilling sites in remote places. It's quite cost effective and they are pretty sturdy, and of course made to be transported. I've even placed them on either side of an old concrete slab, put roofing trusses across them and made a covered logistics warehouse. And they can be brought to code as well. And of course they are also good raw material for tax boondoggles, as we have seen in California.

  3. UC Irvine had a design contest around homes which could be built quickly in disaster areas. A couple designs started with shipping containers but NONE of them had any computer networking or wireless equipment included. Solar panels and car chargers? Yes to both but no batteries for off-grid operations.

    AFAIK the designs did have to be code-compliant but they made a lot of modifications.

    A steel box is a faraday cage, your cell phones won't work very well if you have metallic window screens..

  4. Alaskans look at anything with walls: "I can live in that."


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