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Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are gaining acceptance as above-ground housing, and it's a more recent trend to see them used in underground housing. In areas that have colder winters, underground homes will protect you from the cold, and the earth will keep the temperature in your home moderate in warmer summers, too.

Shipping container going underground

If you want more than a small underground home, you'll need to use more than one storage container. One may work for a shelter, or even as a micro-home for one person, but it's generally not comfortable for more than one person to live in.

Full size underground homes may be closer to four shipping containers in size, arranged in a rectangular shape. You can add a tempered glass light in the ceiling, to bring in more natural light.

Coding Home ...

Each container used for an underground home would have one or more doors that open into the natural-lit center section, and gardens can be maintained year-round. The exterior walls are covered with a sealant, to protect against leakage. Foam around the exterior of the containers will bring them up to local codes, if they apply to underground houses.

Used Shipping Container

Depending on the type of lot you select, the containers can be placed into a hillside, allowing the space to use for an extra solar wall. Be sure that your builder allows two routes of escape from your structure, in case there is a fire.

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NOTE: Now corrosion and structural integrity of the cargo containers are two main issues that need to be addressed. So, make sure that your builder convers these issues in detail or else this may not be an avenue that you want to pursue.

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People are now more than ever utilizing the natural temperature of the earth to easily maintain year-round temperatures in underground housing. But when you add appliances and people that will usually bring the temperature up. Ventilation for air flow will allow you to shed excess heat from your storage container home as well, serving two purposes at one time.

Natural light is important for people, and you can use solar walls and light wells to bring in welcome daylight. Be sure they are well-insulated, so they don't lose air at night. For this purpose, you may use sliding covers, sliding walls or insulated curtains. Be sure to have your light walls shaded during periods of warm weather, so that your house does not become too hot.

Pour Housing ...

A properly designed underground storage container home will be cheaper to build than a conventional house, and your cooling and heating will be mostly provided by the earth, as long as the home is designed to utilize light without overheating the area. During past periods of sluggish economies, people lived in simple poured foundations, so it's not totally a new idea.

Going Underground

When you build underground, you won't need a large air conditioning or central heating system. People can adapt to living underground, and it's not the dank, dark environment that others might have you believe. We can learn by looking to the past, and the ways people had to live in tough economic times. Even in relatively secure economic times, it still makes sense to build underground and use the earth to do most of your heating and cooling for you. You can even get off the grid as far as utilities are concerned, with the proper use of other alternative energies.

Conclusion ...

And if you want to be a bit greener you can buy used shipping containers and build with those instead of buying new. Some used cargo containers sell for less than $5,000 each so it's worth checking out if recycling and saving money are a couple of your main goals.


Written by Kevin Knatloa

First Published on November 05, 2012

Updated November 22, 2013


External Links

Youtube video detailing step-by-step instructions of using a shipping container to build an underground home.

More details on addressing corrosion and structural integrity when burying shipping containers underground: