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
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.
* * * * *
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.
* * * * *
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
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.
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.
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
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: