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Container structure construction FAQs

Can I permit my container structure, is it legal on my property?

Yes, we have been issued many bldg permits. The bldg/planning dept’s do not like dealing with individuals. It is frustrating for them to explain everything in detail to people not well versed in home building, and they do not particulary like container structures. Our team knows everyone there, and we always get permits with no problems. We have had many meetings with every Hawaii County official and have a great relationship with them. They have expressed their preferences and concerns, and we have addressed them. Going in on your own will yield a much different result.

Legal on your property is a question best answered by getting the by laws from your subdivision and reading them many times until you understand them well. Look for language that might say “must use all new materials” or “shipping containers are not allowed”. You can satisfy the new materials clause by using new containers, which are better for a number of very significant reasons. You cannot satisfy the “no containers” rule. Do not go into their office blarring out shipping container, be discreet. Same goes for anyone wanting to go to the bldg/planning depts, which we do not recommend. Finally, some subdivisions have rules on minimum sq ft that your home must have. No matter what that number is, we have designs that will meet the requirements and hopefully satisfy you and your budget.

With an owner/builder permit, can I do everything myself?

No, everyone needs to work with a licensed electrician and plumber. They pull the permits for those jobs and call for inspections. If we are fabricating and building your containers at our Oahu facility, we will work directly with them, and do as much of the wiring and plumbing as they allow us to. That is perfectly legal since they are taking responsibility for our work and inspecting it etc. We can suggest these professionals if you wish or you can arrange your own. They are often super busy, so you want to try and schedule them for the future at the beginning of the project if possible. We advise checking out their reputations via the applicable local contractors associations. If you give money up front to any contractor, put the agreement in writing, and do not give a huge percentage up front. This can be hard when everyone is super busy, but none the less, we recommend not to cave in, and always put the precise time line and work promised in writing. Let them know you are fair and reasonable, but not stupid or timid. 

Aren’t these metal homes hot as hell? Any solutions to the heat?

Yes there are perfect solutions to this problem, and yes a metal structure is hotter than hell unless you do at least one of the following, and preferably all solutions below:

First off, shading the structure as much as possible is obvious. Having generous eve extensions on your roof structure is smart with any structure because even a wood home will get very uncomfortable with direct sun blasting your roof and walls. So what can one do about a hot roof and hot walls?

Heat-reflective coatings, of course! Most of our customers go with metal roofs due to the low labor and material costs. Heat reflective coatings make ANY metal surface cool, including the walls of a shipping container structure. The difference is incredibly dramatic. For anyone doubting this fact, consider the explosive growth of heat-reflective coating sales and installations. There are specific products designed for roofs and vertical wall surfaces, and they definitely work very very well. Contact us for more info. We sell all the various products, know which ar the best, and sell them all for the lowest cost.

Finally, last but certainly not least- generous ventilation combined with all or even some of these recommendations makes worlds of difference. Doing all of these things is obviously best, and works for any type of home. There are different ways to ventilate a structure. The most obvious is lots of windows and an efficient flow design inside the home. Next, there is attic space ventilation, which is generally not necessary for those who apply a cool roof coating. Finally, there are ventilating skylights and vents that allow hot air to rise directly from your living space and straight up and out. Not to be confused with attic space ventilation. These systems are often not needed for those applying cool roof coatings! Reflecting the suns rays is by far the best way to cool a structure off. It is so much easier to do this vs managing the continuous heat source with additional wall or attic insulation. There are also entire home fan systems, which are incredibly effective, but they are also not generally needed once you have a cool roof and walls. Cool wall coatings also dramatically decrease mold and rust problems caused by condensation, which is caused by temperature differentials between outside walls and inside of the structure, which are caused by the sun blasting your walls continuously. In Hawaii, heat-reflective coatings are a no-brainer without a doubt! If all this is confusing, contact us for your personal Q & A session! We sell all the products for much less than you will pay anywhere else.

What about financing container homes?

Right now, most mortgage bankers have tight money supplies and will not consider financing these homes, which is going out of the box for them when they have traditional loan requests going out the door. There are a few institutions willing to take this on, but finding a company to bond the project has been the greatest challenge. We finally found 1 company willing to bond container home projects, and also AAC superblock homes etc, so we can make things happen for you now, finally! Our customers now are taking things in phases:

Phase 1- Clear land while drafting home plans, plot plan and septic or cesspool plans depending on your subdivision’s requirements. Our team walks your plans through the County and obtains a permit.

Phase 2- Order containers from our Co. to be modified and outfitted while constructing your post and pier foundation. Interior walls are left open so inspection can take place on site.

Phase 3- Modified containers are trucked to your home site, forklift carefully places them on post and pier foundation. Multiple container homes will bolt containers together. Roof structure is built, plumbing is finished, inspection performed, drywall installed and painted, kitchen cabinets and countertops installed. Call for final inspection.

This process is light years faster than conventional stick construction, but guess what- it still takes time, action and patience. We get calls everyday from folks that think this process is supposed to be super dirt cheap, incredibly fast, simple and hassle free. We wish it was but it ain’t. Our process is as simple as you can get, but please do not forget that you are building a home and dealing with the county for inspections, so a little patience and faith in our Co. is most appreciated.