Any structure will only be as solid and stable as the foundation upon which it sits. Buildings and homes need to have solid, flat foundations, but if you are going to place large shipping containers on a property, whether temporarily or permanently, you will also need to ensure that it has a solid, flat foundation. No matter what your container’s intended use is, you can prepare a variety of foundations for it.
Containers are extremely heavy when they are empty. After you load them up with goods, they will only end up being heavier. Regardless of how you intend to use your shipping container, it’s important to lay a solid and stable foundation.
Particularly important are containers that will become permanent fixtures, such as:
- Extensions to the home
- Shed for the garden
- A workshop in your home or office
- Roadside restaurant/cafe
- Storage and more…
The location you choose for the container needs to have adequate space for the delivery truck to maneuver it into position before you can begin work on the ground preparation.
You should also ensure you have enough access space around your container once it has been delivered and set up in its new location. You must have the room to load and unload the modified container, depending on what it’s used for.
2. Concrete Slabs
If you plan on locating your shipping container permanently and there isn’t concrete where you plan to place it, then having a concrete reinforced slab laid is probably the best option. Yes, it’s an extra expense, but one that could save you from unnecessary trouble (and money).
Consider the example of converting a 20-foot shipping container into a home office on your front lawn. The ground beneath the container could subside a little if it were only sitting on the grass during periods of heavy rain — even on very flat grass.
If one end or corner of the office sinks a little, the entire office will be out of level.
Therefore, laying a solid concrete foundation makes perfect sense.
As an example, imagine building a workshop out of a used cargo container. Any permanent structure needs to stand on a strong and lasting foundation.
3. Placing a container on a block
The container shouldn’t be placed in an area prone to flash floods when there’s heavy rain, even if the base is concrete. In that case, excess rainwater shouldn’t enter the container.
There are many types of blocks, which can be made of solid timber, lengths of steel, or even concrete blocks. These don’t have to support the container’s weight for the rest of its life. You can use anything that will hold up for a few weeks.
It is easiest to organize the blocks before a shipping container is delivered. It is then possible to position the container on top of the blocks.
Using a heavy-duty car jack to raise the corners of the container enough to get it on blocks can be helpful if the container is already on location and you decide to place it on blocks.
If your container needs any repairs or maintenance, check out Shipping Container Repair and Maintenance 101.
If the soil on your shipping container foundation is very weak or has large sand areas, you’ll need to drive piles into the ground so that your foundation is firmer. The objective is to keep it from moving around or sinking below the surface.
Solid steel piles are generally cylindrical tubes. They must drive through the soft ground until a firm purchase is found in solid bedrock or more solid ground below. In this case, the pilings need to be secured before a concrete foundation can be laid.
4. Bring the ground up to level
It’s very important to have level ground, regardless of whether you decide to lay a concrete foundation. A bobcat or small excavator may be necessary to level and prepare the ground.
Having a container with this kind of security might be overkill if it will only be in one place for a few days or weeks, but not for anything more permanent. Level and solid ground are still essential even for temporary container placement.
It would be even better to get a compactor in after the ground has been levelled, which will hammer the ground into an even firmer surface for your shipping container or permanent foundations to be laid.
It’s important to prepare the ground before dumping a modified container, even if you bring it to a couple of events. A solid foundation is still required even if the container is only being parked for a few days.
Tips for Pouring Concrete in Hot and Cold Weather
Concrete should be poured correctly if you are pouring it in hot weather. Place temporary sun shades so that direct sunlight won’t reach the concrete. Furthermore, you need to spray water on the ground before you lay the concrete. When mixing the concrete, use cold water.
The concrete must be poured later in the evening or first thing in the morning to avoid peak temperatures.
Pouring concrete in cold weather requires special measures, just as in hot weather.
Temperatures below freezing for more than three consecutive days are classified as cold weather.
Be sure to clean the forms and base thoroughly before pouring the concrete. Get rid of any standing water. Immediately after laying the concrete, cover it with insulating blankets. This should be done for 3-7 days. Removing the blankets gradually will help prevent the cracking of the concrete caused by rapid temperature changes.
Lay a Solid Shipping Container Foundation
Whether your shipping container is temporary or permanent, it must rest on a solid foundation. A subsided shipping container on the unstable ground could cause damage or even loss of business, so this can save you money and hassle.
Having a concrete slab laid for complete peace of mind is necessary if a converted container becomes a permanent fixture.
At Secure Container Solutions, we have a variety of storage bin rentals to choose from.