How to Make a Garage Out of Shipping Containers

Used and new shipping containers are relatively easy to obtain and inexpensive to buy. Built to withstand the rigors of shipping goods in all weathers, the containers have many uses for the homeowner. Whether you need a garage for your car or simply for additional storage space, a shipping container is an option. Manufactured in a controlled factory setting, the containers have standard sizes and quality. The lack of wood makes them an environmentally sustainable choice.

Containers stacked in a shipping yard
credit: Felipe Dupouy/Lifesize/Getty Images
A shipping container makes an excellent garage for cars or household storage.

Lay the Foundation

Step 1

Check with your municipality whether a permit is required to permanently park a shipping container on your property. The container itself may not require a permit, but you may need a permit to make alterations, such as laying a concrete slab on which to locate it. The concrete prevents the container from sinking under the weight of the contents.

Step 2

Find a suitable position for the container and mark out the location. Remove all plant matter and debris, rake the ground level and compact the soil with a pressure roller until it is an inch or two below the level of the surrounding earth. Spread a layer of gravel approximately 2 inches thick inside the frame.

Step 3

Build a framework for the slab. Fasten 12-inch wide by 2-inch thick form boards at the corners with 3-inch nails. Place the frame over the location of the site. Lay a row of bricks along the frame's edge holding it steady when you pour the concrete into it.

Step 4

Pour premixed concrete into the frame forming the slab. Smooth the concrete surface with a wooden strut and let it harden. Once completely dry, place the container on the slab.

Make the Garage

Step 1

Position the container so that the entrance is easily accessible. If you are planning to park your car in the garage, it should have a suitable driveway entrance. If you plan using it for storage, you might want to face it towards your home's entrance.

Step 2

Decide whether the container needs insulation. This is usually not necessary for car storage. However, you may want to protect household items against the winter cold. Rigid board insulation is simple to install using sheets of polystyrene. Attach these to the walls and ceiling and seal the gaps and joins with spray foam insulation.

Step 3

Installing a dehumidifier removes any damp that may enter the container. Connect it to the nearest electrical supply. This helps prevent damp from damaging any items you store in the container, or giving your car upholstery an odor. Make a ramp for driving your car into the container or for wheeling storage items in on a dolly.