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Things to consider when converting a shipping container into an office

Things to consider when converting a shipping container into an office

Working from home has become the new normal for many in the past year but unless you have a designated work area like an office or a spare room, it is easy for your work life to overspill into your free time and vice versa.

Setting up a shipping container office can provide a good solution for those requiring a home office and small businesses alike, in this blog we look at the considerations required when embarking on this type of project.

Shipping Container Office

PLANNING PERMISSION

Shipping container offices don't require foundations, so they are generally classed as temporary buildings which means that you wouldn't normally need to get planning permission. However, there are some circumstances where it might be required such as if you live in a conservation area or are planning on having plumbing and electrics installed. It is always best to check with your local planning authority before you start the project just to make sure.


PREPARING THE SITE

You'll need to prepare your site for the delivery of your shipping container by making sure the location is accessible to an artic lorry with a hiab crane. The lorry will need hard ground to park on and you will also need to consider the route into the site (low bridges etc).


NEW OR USED CONTAINER

There are many companies that provide completely renovated container offices but if you are on a budget then a second hand container is usually a better option. One trip containers tend to be in good condition so if you are looking to keep the repair work to a minimum it’s worth spending a bit extra on one of these, if cost is a major factor then a used container can usually be purchased from around £1200. 

ISO containers are made from corten steel and engineered to resist corrosion and endure harsh environments, so if your container is going to be exposed to the elements you won't need to worry about external upkeep.


NATURAL LIGHT

Installing a window into your shipping container office will not only help bring in natural light but also provide a more pleasant working environment, helping prevent eyestrain and headaches. Obviously, it is a lot less effort to put in one large window than many small ones. Sliding patio doors are also a good option, they let in a lot of light, are insulated and also means you don't waste valuable space with a door that swings open and closed.


PLUMBING AND ELECTRICS

Plumbing for a sink should be sufficient if the container is only going to be used by a few people, and you have toilet facilities to use. 

By the time you have a small heater, your lighting and computers, a toaster and a kettle in your little office, you could easily end up drawing over 7000w if everything was briefly turned on simultaneously. Make sure you have a proper 32a power supply correctly installed in a ring main around your container. Avoid lots of extension reels and take the time to install plenty of  plug sockets neatly where you’ll be needing them in the interior walls of your container. 

It’s also worth considering HVAC as containers can get very cold in the winter and warm in the summer.

 

LINING

To provide insulation and prevent condensation you will need to line the inside of your shipping container. Closed cell spray foam insulation is the most efficient way to insulate containers internally. The two-part foam insulation is sprayed directly onto the steel surface and it expands to form a completely seamless insulation layer with no gaps or joints. Once the foam insulation has been applied it can be boarded over with plasterboard or plywood but as an alternative, using melamine can provide a wipe clean interior without the need for further decoration.

Lining a shipping container

FLOORING

Shipping containers generally have a marine ply floor and although it might be tempting to keep the flooring if it is still intact, it's worth knowing that it would have been treated with pesticides to prevent damage to goods by insects and other animals. These harsh chemicals can be dangerous to humans, so at the very least the floor needs to be sealed using an epoxy resin before laying a floor covering on top. However, you may decide that the safest option is to remove the plywood and start again.


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