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CroftonGraphics 06-13-2009 05:23 PM

Shipping Container workshop?
Hi there,

I was wondering if anyone has looked into using those big shipping containers and doing a slight conversion to make a workshop?

I want to do light work, not massive pieces, metal grinding, some welding probably TIG etc.

Any views on using a shipping container? I have also seen some amazing conversions with these for actual housing too!

tonofelephant 06-13-2009 05:38 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
CG, saw a special on the tele about an architect that took shipping containers, converted them to apartments and then stacked them 5 - 6 containers high. Also had some as I remember being cantilevered.

Also have a couple of friends who are independently employed who use these shipping containers as storage.

As to a workshop - It could work well - a little claustrophobic for me but I could see it as a very workable solution. a workshop would be the next use for sure.


Ries 06-13-2009 07:05 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
I owned one, a 40 foot steel container, for over ten years.
I used it primarily for storage, and I never liked it much.

It is the wrong size for human beings. Too narrow to do much in, and unless you are very short, its uncomfortably short inside as well. No, your head doesnt touch the ceiling, but it just feels very tight inside.

Worse, though, is the fact that its an uninsulated metal box- so condensation forms inside very easily, making it damp and moldy inside. Then, if the sun comes out, it gets uncomfortably hot very quickly. Freezing cold, of course, if its cold outside.

Rodents, however, seem to find them very attractive. I also found lots of insects, as well as small bats, living in mine.

Flat roofs, so of course they are prone to pooling water and leakage.

Compared to wood construction, they are difficult to cut windows and doors into, and to seal them.

On the other hand, they are cheap. Mine was about $2500, including 3 doors- the standard double doors at one end, and then a rollup door in the middle and at the opposite end.

I found it a stifling and uncomfortable place to be inside of, but it was great cheap storage.

The Forge 06-13-2009 09:45 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
Actually you can buy them pre-configured as a house, with windows and doors.:)

CroftonGraphics 06-14-2009 04:55 AM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?

Thanks for the info Ries,
sounds like they may not be so suitable after all.

Any other possible 'affordable' prefab solutions?
I know an 'area' where you can buy cheap plots of land here even old disused small factories.

My aim is to hopefully get one and use a part for living and part as a workshop. So I can live without a massive mortgage over my head and also have workspace too.

I am still trying to look into if some jobsworthy from the planning office may restrict me from doing something like this.

GlennT 06-14-2009 12:12 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
If you have an aptitude for construction (you are a sculptor, right?) you can put together wood framing, and if you have access to architectural salvage places, find used windows to occupy much of the wall surface. I have a supply of used sliding glass doors, mostly without the casings, which can be used as individual fixed windows, 3' x 7' each. With insulated glass, that is 21 sq. ft. each of wall surface with light and a view of your dreadful Scottish industrial landscape.:D

For an interesting roof alternative, you could creatively use the polycarbonate greenhouse glazing that is composed of two layers of translucent plastic with long thin ribs in between, creating trapped air channels. These come in large sheets that can flex to a curve, are lightweight and easy to cut and work with, have a wee bit of insulation value, and admit light but no view. It can also be used as wall siding.

I'm describing here a hodge-podge means to easily construct something that would probably cost less than the cargo containers, give you much more for options and comfort, and can be refined by adding more conventional construction methods and materials depending on budget, etc.

sculptor 06-15-2009 12:57 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?

Originally Posted by CroftonGraphics (Post 78424)
... 'affordable' prefab solutions?
I know an 'area' where you can buy cheap plots of land here even old disused small factories. ...
My aim is to hopefully get one and use a part for living and part as a workshop. .

by my thinking,
it seems you've answered your own question here;
"old disused small factories." are usually well constructed and well fenestrated and should have flexible zoning restrictions built right in---assuming you can get a permit to live in the structure---(not always the case here)

CroftonGraphics 06-15-2009 06:35 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
Ok thanks again for feedback.

It sounds like ready made factories or even self build is a better idea.
Planning permission can be sticky here, and seems sometimes wrong in my view,
ie over scaled builder's whitewashed houses allowed but pine log cabin prefabs very hard to get planning permission.

sculptor 06-17-2009 09:44 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?

Originally Posted by CroftonGraphics (Post 78497)
It sounds like ready made factories or even self build is a better idea.

the upside to self build is get exactly what you want
the downside is unless you enjoy the building process as art, you're spending a lot of time and money doing something other than your art

this has been my choice, and i enjoy being master of my domain and creating the aesthetic of my desires-----------but, it takes a damned lot of my time

leaving me to sometimes wish that i'd have chosen a move into an old factory path----------
but then, again, i'd have likely spent as much time taking it apart and remodeling it to my tastes as building from the ground up
but, that's just me

the question is, what do you love doing?

EJB 07-16-2009 10:10 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
Can be done, has been done in innumerable ways. Today's NY Times had a story about one of these:
Not so sure if I would like it as a living space. They are only about 8ft. wide and can make a shotgun shack seem roomy. By the time you finish things off and install all of the comforts of home, it's not much more work to use more conventional building methods as mentioned above. The best thing about them are the speed and portability for making work space. Set them on a flat piece of land, swing the doors open and your ready to go. Electricity and water source is a plus as is an outdoor shade awning. Working inside of one of these is like working inside a marching drum if you're using power tools. My preference is for the 20ft models. Easier to move and place even when loaded with a couple thousand pounds of tools and materials. If I were to get a 40ft, I would definitely get it with doors at both ends. The other upside to these is that they're typically not considered buildings and are not taxed or require building permits in most municipalities. Don't know how living in it might affect that. Back to the speed and portability......if having these runs afoul of local ordinances, you simply pick them up and move them. They tend to hold their value for resale unless you cut them up and reconfigure it crazy.

CroftonGraphics 07-19-2009 11:13 AM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
Ok thanks interesting article,
I live in a rainy area, about lat N57.
currently on a surf trip using gprs in my van to type this.

Kind of gone off idea when in a cramped van with rain and wind outside! lol.

I wonder if those ones in the article get too hot in sun, I guess they have some system to prevent that.

The cost mentioned also seems quite a bit and surely a more conventional meth of could be used?

Must be amazing skies and sunset there though!

Mordachai 07-19-2009 03:14 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
not ideal, but years ago when I was working as a moldmaker for an architectural concrete casting co., we built a workshop in a shipping container.:D:D

only thing, is we started with the kind that are 'refrigerated' usually used to transport food/frozen items.

They have all the insulation you'd want already in place, and often have doors on the side as well as the back.

We needed it, because we worked outside(well, under canopies) and the heat/rain/humidity would wreak havoc on out molds. We were using poly-urethane and latex rubbers and having assorted issues, from curing problems to problems relating to shortened pot life. mainly the rubber would set up before we could vibrate any bubbles out.
After alot of talk to the tech guys from our suppliers, and eventually in-person meetings to show the problem, and our working environment.
Multiple techs suggested it was more enviro than anything else.
being we were on a super tight budget, we got the container.
we set up stairs to the side door, and that's what we used the most, then we built rolling tables that we could push to the wall when not needed, or if making smaller molds. Then if it was a larger mold, we would roll the table to the middle.
We built shelving around most of the walls, and cut a hole in the front wall to house the window shaker A/c unit. We put an exhaust fan in one of the rear doors, and usually kept the rear doors closed.
if we needed to put a larger piece in, we'd use the forklift to load it in the backdoors, and usually worked it right on the floor.

I'm sure there's something or alot that I'm not remembering about that set-up but it was 8 or so years ago.

This was only a temporary solution until our real building was built, but it ended up being used for about a year+. Then once we had our building, it was the perfect place for controlled climate mold storage...:cool:

so anyways, a container can be a halfway decent workspace, but the 8' width is a bit limiting. Also, you can get containers in different heights, I think 10' tall is pretty standard.

Just remember if you do use a container- that it is a sealed environment, so you have to do something for ventilation. Also the doors on a container are designed to be closed from the outside, not the inside. So you will have to do something, so you can secure the door closed while you are inside, and to prevent you from being locked in the container on accident.:eek:

timblacktim 12-06-2009 12:50 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?

your dreadful Scottish industrial landscape etc!!!

What makes Minneaplolis such a grate piece of Eye Candy??? How dare u write such a Blarzay comment? u hav no idea what his lansdcape is like?? Some snobby people....Artists who need em??

The Container is small 4 work but easy to heat and very secure ...mine was carpeted and linned with plasterboard...downside FREEZING cold in in the Midlnds but it get bloody cold.....gud luk anyway. TBT

grommet 12-06-2009 03:08 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
Okay, I saw the "shit eatin' grin" on Glenn's post, but no sarcasm smiley or anything to indicate you got his humor, TBT.

GlennT 12-06-2009 07:03 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
TBT, I seem to remember on this thread or somewhere a link, apparently since then removed, perhaps it was on post #5 after the words "like this" which showed, what in fact looked like exactly what I described.

The picture of the dreadful industrial landscape happened to be in Scotland, but it could have been anywhere, as dreadful industrial landscapes are pretty interchangeable.

Now, it happens that I have been to Scotland, and enjoyed the landscapes very well, not having spent much time site-seeing at the dreadful industrial sites. Jedburg was one of my favorite places.

On the other hand, back in the late 1980's, a composer/harpist friend of mine, William Jackson, was touring with his then group Ossian, and one of the band members talked about how if he ever missed Scotland, all he had to do was put on a raincoat, stand in the shower and turn on the cold water, and hold a cold meat pie in each hand. Then he got over being homesick.

Minneapolis has a lot going for a city I don't know that it would beat Scottish countryside in a picturesque landscape contest, but our Minnesota-nice attitudes could certainly kick your skirt-wearing Scottish arses* in congeniality!

*Scottish for "asses". As per the next post, I assume evaldart promises to provide a waiver to Saint Peter at the pearly gates on my behalf for using the "A" word.

evaldart 12-06-2009 07:12 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
Oh Glenn, just say "asses" wont go to hell.:D

The Forge 12-07-2009 03:37 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
I would look into one of the companies that makes pre-built or build-on-site shed that can be configured as you want them. Here in Utah we have Tuffshed and A-Shed. My son had them build a garage for him and it was well constructed with windows and doors. Depending where you live, the 'shed' might need no further modifications. :)

CroftonGraphics 12-08-2009 04:53 PM

Re: Shipping Container workshop?
I think metal sheds are better as I found out u need planning permission for where I am.

With regards to Scottish picturesque landscapes, you are going to the wrong Scotland, come to the barren moonscape landscapes of the north coast and the western isles and the golden sands, turqoise beaches, cold winds, sometimes sun, sometimes rain lots of wind, light all night in the summer! I came back here today passed Loch Ness on the way.

Everyone goes to Loch Ness and its too chocolate box in my opinion compared to the north.

Also, industrial landscapes, nothing wrong with them, as long as I pass them on the train! Scotland has quite a few in the borders, however, I have seen grimmer in the midlands of England, which can be beautiful in their own way.

I am sure its going to get grimmer here when the UK goes bankrupt, that is the spirit!

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