Do I need proper foundations?
The foundation for the containers will depend on the project and location. All units need a good solid base to sit on.
The two major factors that need to be considered when designing your foundation are cost and what’s required structurally.
To calculate what’s structurally required it is best to consult with a qualified builder or engineer, however both your soil type and the amount of containers you are planning on using have a large impact here.
If you are building on a soft soil type then you will need a deep foundation type such as pile foundations. In Thailand there are certain regulations for each zone on how deep these should be.
If you’re building on a hard soil type, you can use minimal foundations because the majority of your containers’ weight will be distributed onto the existing hard ground.
Sometimes people prefer to ‘over-spec’ their foundation, which is where you make your foundation stronger than necessary, either for peace of mind or because you prefer that particular style of foundation.
Ultimately though, the decision will revolve around cost, design and what’s structurally required
Types of Foundation
Typically any foundation which is used in ‘traditional’ home construction can be used for shipping container home foundations.
These can be classified into either shallow or deep foundations.
Shallow foundations are laid very near to the ground level, as opposed to deep foundations which can be laid at depths of up to 10 meters.
The main types if foundations are :-
- Concrete Piers
- Slab On Grade / Cement Slab
- Pile Foundations
Concrete piers are a type of shallow foundation and are one of the simplest and cheapest routes to go. In their basic form, they are concrete cubes which have reinforced steel bars within them. A reinforced steel bar is either a steel bar or a mesh of steel wires and is used to strengthen the concrete.
Cement Slab (also known as Slab-on-Grade) foundation is more time-consuming and more expensive than a pier foundation, but it is an exceptionally good foundation to use on softer soil types. We often see the raft foundation used in warmer climates where freezing isn’t a concern. Its advantages are that it’s quick and easy to build; also because there are no hollow spaces in the foundation they are less vulnerable to termite infestation. Shuttering can be laid in the shape of the slab required and cement with rebar can then be poured. The disadvantages of a raft foundation are the lack of access to utility lines once the concrete has hardened and there is potential for heat losses where ground temperatures drop below the interior temperature.
Pile foundations are used when the soil type is too weak to support a concrete base- they are the most expensive type of foundation. Piles (which are normally cylindrical solid steel tubes or cement pillars) are hammered into the ground through the soft soil until the piles reach more suitable load bearing ground. Once the piles are secured in place they are traditionally capped with a block of concrete. So once you have secured all your piles you end up with a grid system of concrete caps which above ground look visually similar to concrete piers.
If you are unsure of what to use then ask us.