Shipping container shelters

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by shirls, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. shirls

    shirls shirls

    We have brought for our retirment 140 acres,, nice and rural, so that we can be self sufficent , run a few cattle, and hide away if things get bad. It already has a shed on t that has been made into a house, very cozy, but is a shed although it has flushing toilet and power and so on. We are thinking of building something more secure, that we can utilize in the mean time and use as a shelter if needed. We are thinking of using shipping container, lifted a foot of the ground and totally cover with concrete blocks.
    Would it be fire proof, ie. insulated from the heat by the concrete blocks?cyclone proof?because its so heavy. We are hoping because we are building it off the ground to have a trap door and a tunel off into the bush making an exteral exit. Would it be bullet proof, any ideas and thoughts welcome.
  2. Herbalpagan

    Herbalpagan Well-Known Member

    Shipping containers are rapidly becoming a popular means of raising a shelter. The green channel just did a story on how people are using them in traditional neighborhoods as ultra modern, but somewhat "green" building materials. They are still reasonably priced and if nothing else, would make an excellent storage space for extra preps. A search on google should bring you lots of results on how to get them and use them.:)

  3. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

    They are really handy. The Canadian army uses them in Afghanistan. They work out of the containers until they can build a concrete bunker shell around the container. Then they have a fortified container. People have been making buildings out of the old containers like this one.

  4. dukman

    dukman Greenhorn

    Here is a couple suggestions to build it as sturdy as possible while not burying it...

    >Cover the container in a Tyvek type water barrier. Start at the bottom, overlap as you go up. Lots of mortar and grout... seal the bricks tight. This should help make it sturdy even against hurricane force winds.

    >Fill the centers of the concrete blocks with gravel or sand. Make the bricks 2 layers deeps to help with penetration of small arms if you are worried about that. Interlock some of the bricks from the inner and outer wall.

    >The insides of the container will need to be reinforced to support the weight of bricks on top of it. The bricks underneath will probably have to be 3 rows deep to support the weight without breaking. Remember to install any large interior items such as furniture, latrine, and water storage barrels before sealing the container up.

    >Make sure you stash a couple extra bricks underneath to seal up your entrance. Cover it from the outside with a piece of plywood to keep critters out of there in the meantime. Plant lots of foilage all around so the entrance is better concealed. I might even make some small walls underneath to hide behind if you are worried that attackers might find your entrance. The hole to get into the container should be at the far end away from the entrance.

    >You need ventilation... maybe running two pipes out the side, then down through the holes in the concrete block, then away from the structure. One for inlet, the other for outlet. I would make them separate from the entrance in case anyone saw you come in the entrance.

    EDIT: Just realized you mentioned external entrance... make sure it is well hidden... and I would make a second one
  5. Magi

    Magi Active Member

    Im not so sure they are bulletproof. The army used (may still) something similair to this. We called them Conexes, I heard of a Bn Hq set up in one and it got all shot up, several died. Im not sure it would be Cyclone proof either, if a Cyclone is anytihng like a Tornado it could get lifted off its foundations and dropped several feet away.

    Sorry i missed the part that u were covering it with cement blocks.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2009
  6. shirls

    shirls shirls

    Thanks for the feed back , its given me somthing to think about, suppose the concret blocks...would insulate enough for it to stay cool, we have on on our back cottage we use for a spare bedrooom and it gets hell hot in summer.
  7. Expeditioner

    Expeditioner Well-Known Member

    Dukman had some great ideas. The bricks, concrete blocks and sand will do more to stop bullets than the steel. Bullets can those containers and you could have bullets ricocheting on the inside. The bricks and concrete should also help insulate the container from fire. Otherwise you might end up being in a big dutch oven. I would build a trap door into the floor of the container that is bolted/secured from the inside.

    Also make sure you have thoroughly cleaned out (scrubbed and rinsed) the container. There is a good chance that the container may have had numerous applications of fungicides and pesticides.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2012
  8. allen_idaho

    allen_idaho Well-Known Member

    What you could do is simply modify the container slightly and use dirt. This would be similar to using hesco barriers, which are basically just large square sandbags capable of stopping everything from gunfire to car bomb explosions.

    Here is what I would do.

    1. Position the shipping container where I want it to sit permanently.

    2. Add steel reinforcement beams between the floor and ceiling to provide extra resistance to pressure.

    3. Weld on steel plates to the top and sides of the entrance, to provide a channel for your cover dirt.

    4. Waterproof the container. This can be done with plastic sheeting or spray on materials such as rubberized asphalt or liquid polyurethanes.

    5. Cover with dirt. For maximum safety, you will probably want at least 4 feet of dirt on average covering the top and sides. This should give ample protection from anything that gets thrown at you on 4 sides from a wild fire, to a hurricane, to gunfire and explosives.

    6. Now all you need to do is reinforce the entrance from attack. I would probably go with several inches of steel or possibly a wall of concrete blocks. And a very strong door to keep you safe.

    7. Grow some grass. I don't mean drugs. I mean plants some grass seed on your dirt mound. This will keep the dirt secured in place and dramatically reduce the amount of maintenance you will need to do.
  9. allen_idaho

    allen_idaho Well-Known Member

    To illustrate what I mean, I made up a couple of images. Forgive the crudeness of the model.

    You will see that this container has 3 beams installed to provide extra strength.

    You will also see the channel around the entrance which will keep the dirt away from your entrance. This is so heavy rains wont cause mud to spill over in front of your door.

    Attached Files:

  10. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    As a civil engineer who has built 2 of these, (plus one out of a railroad car), I can tell you that the 3 "columns" you have shown there - (not beams) is inadequate for reinforcing containers for an earth-covered shelter.

    We ran a complete structural analysis on a 40' corten steel shipping container back in 2008. You can't bury them safely, but you can cover them. (I know there is an article of someone placing one in an excavated rock hole somewhere on the net, but that particular one isn't backfilled, so it's OK.

    Just to prove I'm not just blowing smoke, here is one of the projects:

  11. VUnder

    VUnder Well-Known Member

    Yes, but he can put the three posts and a beam on top of them running longitudally and pour a re-bar reinforced concrete top and take the posts out if you want, after the concrete is set. Build shelves down each wall, out of angle iron, and you will have posts and little side trusses the entire length along the sides to prevent caving after backfill. Weld the shelf posts to the floor and the ceiling, the support from the wall to the posts being welded also. There are many ways to skin a cat.
  12. backlash

    backlash Well-Known Member

    A cyclone is a synonym for hurricane
  13. questor

    questor Well-Known Member

    Cover the sides of your container with . . .

    Earthbag Building Index

    then put some reenforced 'beams across the top and cover.

    A colleague used burlap bags filled with a cement, stone and sand mix. He didn't use a container but covered several Geodesic Domes we built.
    Dome, plywood, Rinoliner type material, Tyvex (1/4 overlap) from the bottom up. Then the "sandbags". After a layer of bags were put in place,
    that layer was well soaked then two strands of barbed wire on top of it, then another layer of "sandbags".
    Last spring he blew on some dirt and grass seed.
  14. Diego2112

    Diego2112 Well-Known Member

    This has given me GREAT ideas.

    There's a little plot of land just up from where I'm at-it's not really big, but it's got a STEEP hill along the frontage. Containers can be had for just under what the land costs.

    In a SERIOUS :shtf: situation, that could make a nice, secure, safe, unnoticed bunker. Couple'o'three of 'em in a row, side by side, with some corrugated steel pipe type bunker structure under 'em for an escape.

    Or something like that-a bit buzzing right now, not going to lie.
  15. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

    Here is a great way to build...

  16. JoKing

    JoKing Well-Known Member

    If you are containing your container, why not go James Bond and use a van trailer?
  17. JoKing

    JoKing Well-Known Member

    A Seabee would span the top with poles or logs, backfill/compact in lifts, and crack open a beer in between each lift so he could keep track. The skin is the only part that is vulnerable to the weight and the logs will provide the necessary support for the dirt.
  18. fedorthedog

    fedorthedog Well-Known Member

    I would consider some type of in ground anchor and wire tie the container down in an area where wind could be a problem. It is done with mobile homes and appears pretty simple.
  19. JoKing

    JoKing Well-Known Member

    That's a good idea for an out building but, if your going to harden it properly, Katrina's gonna run home crying whether or not you use the straps.