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Shipping Container Garage Benefits & Considerations

27 June 2024

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ConversionsTips & Guides
shipping container garage

A shipping container garage provides a flexible and affordable way to store and protect vehicles. These garages can be customised for any size, from a small single-car space to a large area for several of your cherished rides. Their design also allows for easy moving and stacking, which is great for people who may move later on and want to take their garage with them.

What is a shipping container garage?

A shipping container garage uses large metal containers to create secure and long-lasting spaces for storing vehicles, equipment, or other valuable items. Being made from steel, they are weather-resistant and highly secure. Owners can customise these garages with additional features like windows, doors, and insulation, making them more functional and comfortable.

Shipping container garage designs

There are many design possibilities for shipping container garages, each allowing for customisation to suit individual tastes, intended purposes, and available space.

Single container garage

single shipping container garage

A single container garage is a straightforward and affordable option for anyone looking for extra storage or a workspace. It uses just one shipping container, making it budget-friendly and easy to get started. You can easily set it up and tweak it to your liking, perfect for individual car parking or small-scale storage requirements.

Double container garage

double shipping container garage

A double container garage uses two shipping containers to make a bigger space. This gives you extra room for storing things, working, or parking more than one vehicle. You can put the containers next to each other or stack them, which lets you adjust the setup based on what you need and like.

Multi-container garage

multiple shipping container garage

A multi-container garage involves three or more shipping containers to create a big area, perfect for those who need lots of car storage space or large work areas. This setup allows for more intricate layouts and styles, catering to various needs and tastes.

Stacked container garage

stacked shipping container garage

A stacked container garage is when you stack containers on top of each other to make a garage with several levels. This way, you get more space without using more land. It’s a smart way to use vertical space, but you have to make sure the structure is strong and safe by planning the support carefully.

Open-sided garage

open sided shipping container garage

An open-sided garage takes away some sides of the container, making a space that’s open and easy to get into. It’s great for when you want a roofed area that’s not closed off. You can also mix this open design with the usual walls of a container, giving you more ways to tailor the space to your needs.

Container garage with roof extension

Adding a roof extension to a container provides extra sheltered space outside, ideal for different purposes like a carport or an outdoor work area. This change effectively increases the usable area, going beyond the container’s initial limits and allowing for more versatile use of the space.

Container garage with windows and doors

Adding windows and doors to a shipping container brings in natural light and fresh air, making it a great place to use as a work space, along with storing vehicles. This change improves how the container works and makes it look more like a regular building, mixing usefulness with a nicer look.

Container garage with green roof

Putting a green roof on a container means adding plants on top, which improves insulation and can also look very aesthetic. This green feature helps save energy and is good for the environment. But, remember, the plants add extra weight, so you will need to make sure the container has the right support to stay safe and stable.

Customised designs

Customising shipping containers lets you get creative and set up unique spaces by cutting and joining containers in new ways. This is great for anyone who wants something truly their own, giving you the chance to make standout spaces with your personal touch.

Hybrid construction

Hybrid construction combines shipping containers with regular building materials, giving you more design choices and ways to customise. This approach brings together the cool look of container buildings and the strong features of traditional construction, making a space that’s both useful and nice to look at.

Pros of a shipping container garage

Shipping container garages are becoming more popular thanks to their low cost and flexibility, as well as being good for the environment. These benefits make them a great option for many different needs, whether you’re looking for a basic place to store things or a complex, specially designed space.

Speed of construction

One big benefit of shipping container garages is how quickly they can be built. You can have a working garage right after the container is delivered, which is perfect for urgent storage or workspace needs.

When creating a garage from multiple containers, the process remains quick because, unlike traditional buildings that require waiting for concrete to cure, shipping containers already have floors. This speeds up the entire project, letting you use your new space sooner and without the usual delay or trouble.

Cost

Using shipping containers for building garages can be more affordable than traditional methods. You can find used containers at good prices, and buying a container often costs less than constructing a standard garage from the beginning.

If the land is already flat and ready, setting up a container requires less prep work compared to laying the foundations for a traditional garage. Also, the work needed to adapt a shipping container usually comes at a lower cost because it’s simpler to modify. We’ll dive into more detailed cost comparisons later on.

Portability

A major benefit of using shipping containers is their portability. Whether you need to shift them a short distance or across the country, it’s straightforward. This is a stark contrast to traditional buildings, which are typically expensive and labour-intensive to dismantle and rebuild, making containers a convenient choice for those requiring mobility.

Durability 

Shipping containers are built with strong materials, such as corten steel, making them capable of withstanding harsh weather, fire, and pests. They offer a secure and durable option for whatever you’re planning to use the garage to store, safeguarding your belongings, vehicles, or equipment.

Security

Shipping containers are made from corten steel, which is strong and resistant to corrosion. This makes the structure sturdy, durable, and able to withstand impacts and harsh weather.

They come equipped with standardised locking mechanisms, often lockable handles, for basic security. To enhance security, you can add extra locks or high-security padlocks.

With relatively few entry points, usually just double doors at one end, monitoring and controlling access is easier. If needed, you can modify containers to add personnel doors or windows, depending on your security needs.

Customisation & aesthetic appeal

Shipping containers allow for lots of customisation to fit your needs, like adding doors, windows, insulation, and shelves, or setting up different rooms inside. They can be designed to look modern or industrial, making your garage different from the rest and adding a special touch to your home.

Environmental sustainability

Choosing shipping containers for garages is environmentally friendly, as it recycles and reuses existing materials. This approach reduces the ecological impact commonly associated with traditional construction. You can also go one step further, and incorporate sustainable features like solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems. These features not only improve sustainability but also promote self-sufficiency, particularly in isolated locations.

Scalability

Containers can be easily stacked on top of each other or placed next to each other to create bigger spaces. This makes them great for different projects, whether you need a small space now and plan to expand later. They’re flexible enough to grow with your needs, making them a practical choice for many types of projects.

Temporary or permanent solutions

Shipping container garages offer the flexibility to be deployed as either temporary setups for events and construction sites or as durable, permanent structures for ongoing storage or workspace requirements. This dual capability allows them to cater to immediate or enduring needs with equal ease.

Cons of a shipping container garage

Before considering a shipping container garage, it’s important to note some potential drawbacks.

Ceiling height

The interior ceiling height of shipping containers, especially the high-cube models, reaches up to 8 feet 10 inches. This dimension might be an issue for housing taller vehicles. However, containers do offer the flexibility to be modified, allowing for adjustments in height to better suit specific vehicle sizes or storage needs.

Interior width

The interior width of most standard cargo containers is 7 feet 8 inches, excluding the rarer pallet-wide and 48/53 foot varieties. To put this in perspective, a 2020 Toyota Camry measures 72.4 inches (6 feet 0.4 inches) in width. Therefore, for wider vehicles, you may need to modify or combine containers to accommodate them.

Heavy doors

Shipping container doors are notably heavy, each weighing hundreds of pounds. While this heaviness contributes to their durability, it also presents challenges. Opening these doors is a much slower process compared to an overhead door and cannot be easily automated with an opener. However, it’s worth noting that through customisations, you can replace the original container doors with roller shutters or even certain types of more conventional garage doors, offering a more convenient alternative.

How much does a container garage cost?

The cost of a container garage varies depending on the size and condition of the container. A new 20-foot container can cost between £2,000 and £6,000, while a new 40-foot container may range from £4,000 to £7,000 or more.

If you’re considering buying a used container, they are generally cheaper, with a used 20-foot container priced between £1,000 and £2,500, and a used 40-foot unit between £1,500 and £3,500. Keep in mind that the price of a used container largely depends on its condition. It might be wise to go for a used container in better condition to ensure your garage lasts for many years to come.

Modifications and customisation

The cost of modifying a shipping container into a garage varies significantly. Simple changes like doors, windows, insulation, and ventilation might cost from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. More complex modifications, like adding rooms, plumbing, or electrical systems, and custom features, can also raise the price substantially.

Labour costs

Labour costs for setting up and modifying a shipping container vary with the project’s complexity. Minor modifications usually keep labour costs low, but more detailed customisations can significantly increase these expenses.

Delivery and site preparation

Delivery costs for a shipping container depend on how far it needs to be transported, as well as what means are used for transporting your shipping container – by ship, train or road. Local deliveries might only cost a few hundred pounds, but the price increases for longer distances.

Preparing the site for your container can involve levelling the land, the type of foundation, and getting the right permits. The costs for these preparations will differ depending on the specific requirements of your location and local regulations.

Local factors

Construction and labour costs for shipping container garages can vary significantly based on your location. You might find higher prices in urban areas or regions with a higher cost of living compared to more rural areas. For the most accurate pricing, it’s wise to get quotes from suppliers, contractors, or modification specialists in your area, tailored to your project’s needs.

Additionally, understanding local building codes and regulations is crucial, as compliance with these rules may impact the overall cost of constructing your shipping container garage.

Container options for your shipping container garage

Choosing the right size of shipping container for your garage depends on your needs. For a single bay, you might opt for a different size than if you require multiple bays. The 20-foot and 40-foot containers are the most common for residential use, both being 8.5 feet high and 8 feet wide. If you need more height, high cube containers, standing at 9.5 feet tall, might be the answer, providing extra space for taller items.

When picking a container, consider its use, the space you have, and any local size regulations. For larger projects, combining multiple containers could create the needed space. They can be stacked or aligned side by side to fit your design.

Besides standard shipping container options, specialty containers like open-top, full side access or tunnel containers are also available.

Types of containers to use for a garage

Choosing the right container for a garage means thinking about what you’ll use it for, the size you need, and how easy you’ll want it to be to get into. The most popular specialised containers to use for repurposing into a garage include:

  • Open-Top Container: These have a removable top or a roof covered with tarpaulin, great for loading tall items. With a new roof, they’re good for garages.
  • Flat Rack Container: With no roof or long sides, flat rack containers can be used instead of a traditional foundation.
  • Side Opening Container: These have doors along one of the longer sides, making it easy to access the whole width, which is handy for some garage designs.
  • Tunnel Container: With doors at both ends, these containers allow access from either side and are great for airflow. They also make it easy to enter your vehicle at one side and exit the other.

Legal and regulatory considerations 

When planning a shipping container garage, it’s important to understand the legal and regulatory requirements. Start by checking with your local council to confirm if you’re allowed to build a garage on your property, and to be aware of any zoning or building code restrictions that might apply. Your area might require permits and inspections before you can start building.

Environmental regulations are another key consideration, covering aspects like waste disposal and the potential effects on nearby properties. To ensure you’re fully compliant and to avoid any legal issues, consulting with a lawyer is a wise step. This way, you can make sure your container garage is not only practical and stylish but also meets all legal requirements.

The bottom line

Shipping container garages are becoming more and more popular for their strength and versatility. Their cost-effectiveness and quick setup save time and money compared to traditional construction. With so many customisation options, they are perfect for a wide range of uses other than just storing your vehicles, including workshops or even living spaces.

FAQs

Do cars fit in shipping containers?

Yes, cars can fit into shipping containers! With standard dimensions of 8 feet wide, 8.5 feet high, and lengths of either 20 or 40 feet, shipping containers are spacious enough for most cars. It’s crucial, though, to measure both your car and the container beforehand to guarantee it will fit. Also, you might need to make some adjustments to keep the car securely in place if you’re planning to transport it.

Does a shipping container garage make a good workshop?

Yes, shipping container garages can also be excellent workshops. Their strong build and resistance to weather make them a creative and budget-friendly choice. The spacious interior is perfect for custom setups and installing equipment. All in all, they provide a practical and eco-friendly solution for anyone needing a flexible and efficient workshop space.

Looking for a completely custom solution?

We have a wide range of base containers that can be customised to your needs, however we realise that sometimes you need something completely ‘Outside the box’.

Contact us and one of our experts will be in touch to help design the container of your dreams

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