You’ve seen them sitting on shipyards, trains, and construction sites: big steel boxes that usually come in lengths of 10, 20, or 40 feet. But who would’ve thought that steel shipping containers would become popular for any other purpose beyond storing and transporting goods? The great thing about these storage units is that they work a lot like Legos. You can connect them side by side or stack them on top of each other. This provides the basic foundation and framework to build anything you want. Just as with a conventional build, features such as lighting, electrical, plumbing and HVAC can be included.
Here are the top ten alternative uses for storage containers:
- Bar – Believe it or not, many bars in urban areas are being constructed out of storage containers. In places where space is limited and building is pricey, storage containers have become a trendy alternative to a conventional build. Not only that, they actually look pretty cool, giving off a modern vibe and eco-friendly feel.
- Restaurant – The restaurant industry knows that how they present their storefront can either draw or repel a crowd. Even though it’s not always the best way to make a decision, we tend to judge a restaurant like a book: by its cover. If you drove by a restaurant created out of a stack of metal containers, wouldn’t you want to check it out, at least just to see what it looks like inside? If you’re lucky, you may end up enjoying a delicious meal while you’re there.
- Residential – If you haven’t already seen one, many high-end homes are being constructed out of refurbished containers. Right now, it is a little more expensive to build a home using containers because it’s a new structure that the city or county has no idea how to write into their existing code requirements. Local authorities are scrambling to regulate this alternative form of building. Additionally, the cost of building materials and labor is higher as it is a fairly new industry with a limited number of suppliers.
- Retail – Shopping malls and outdoor retail spaces are another popular use for ISO shipping containers. Because they are stackable and come with a structure ready to work with, they make a great alternative to a traditional build. Construction time is faster too, which allows the retailers to open their stores quicker and start selling their products sooner.
- School – This is different from a modular building that is used as a temporary classroom until permanent space is available. Education facilities are actually choosing to use storage container units to create permanent building additions. Think about it: schools are a place where innovation, creativity, and sustainability are encouraged. So why not practice what you preach?
- Medical Facility – Similar to schools, medical facilities are choosing to use storage containers as their primary building material. With a much shorter construction time, hospitals, doctors offices and other medical facilities can save money by getting their clinics up and running sooner.
- Hunting Cabin – Have you ever traveled to Colorado and seen one of these on somebody’s land? Believe it or not, steel containers are being converted into hunting cabins or lodges. Because they are easy to transport and cheaper to build, it makes sense to use this alternative form of building. And depending on your budget, you can outfit your hunting cabin to be as fancy or simple as you want.
- Bunkhouse – Industries like oil, gas, or government facilities often need to provide temporary living space for their staff. Storage containers have become a great way to do just that in a short amount of time. The units can be retrofitted to include features like fold-out beds, kitchens, bathrooms, and a work space.
- Wine Cellar – Building a wine cellar can be costly, especially if you need a lot of space. In certain places, it’s not feasible to build underground because the surface is too rocky. Metal containers are a great alternative because they provide the space and separation you need to store your precious collection. Plus, the container can be designed with air temperature controls that ensure your wine is stored properly.
- Event Site – If you haven’t already seen these at your favorite concert or sporting event, you will in the near future. Storage containers make a great temporary event site because they are easy to set up and remove with the help of a flatbed truck. Plus, they are sturdier and more weather-proof than the typical event tents and portable structures you see thrown up to accommodate a crowd.