Shipping Container Home with Basement


A shipping container home can be constructed in many ways. Building a home with a basement provides you with some extra space. You can use it as your storage area or utilize it for creating a living space. With containers offering limited space, these basements allow you to expand your home and build extra space. If you are planning to construct a shipping container home with a basement, you must consider a few things:

Purpose of creating a basement

You must determine the purpose of building the basement. It helps you decide the type of walls to be used and the need for insulation for your basement.

Size of space required

Knowing the size and measurements is extremely important for the construction process. Even a little confusion can negatively impact your whole structure. Ultimately, your purpose will help you decide the size of the basement to be constructed.

Building a foundation

The foundation of a container house with a basement varies a little from the other houses. For other foundations, you need to dig much less as no underground construction is carried out. Here, since you are constructing a basement, you need to dig out a lot of soil.

faundation container home



You must know the exact measurements for your basement. Decide these figures in your planning stage while creating your construction design. For instance, if you need a 10 X 10-foot space, mark the area accordingly and perform digging. Dig some extra space on all the sides for adding water pipes or exhausts later.

Wood boundary

Once you have formed a desired pit, you need to create a boundary of wood for carrying your cement. Place wooden strips inside the pit vertically breadth-wise and level them. The breadth, now height here, of your wood, will decide the depth of the cement you pour later. So, choose the strips accordingly.

Using rebar

When you create a wood boundary, you need to leave some space for putting steel rebars. These steel reinforcements provide additional strength to the foundation. The horizontal and vertical placement of steel rebars is as important as pouring concrete. You will have to tie the steel rebars in the grid form before pouring a concrete mixture.

container house basement

Pouring cement

Once you have leveled your land and placed the rebars, it’s time to pour a mixture of sand and gravel. You can also use rocks for adding extra strength below this mixture. A rock-bed can be formed just before you pour the cement mixture. Once you finish with pouring, level it out for creating a stable concrete base.

There are a few things that you must consider while pouring cement for your basement:

  • Properly mixing all the components of your cement is important. A well-mixed cement is much stronger than the other. You can use your hands for mixing small quantities. A cement mixing machine can, however, be utilized for mixing larger quantities. You can hire it for a weekend from a local building contractor.
  • Cement needs some time to cure and settle. Your cement will have good strength and durability if it cures well. Leave the basement floor for 5-7 days to cure, when finished. You can leave a week’s gap to continue working with the walls next weekend.
  • Keep your cement’s temperature in a suitable range for proper curing. You must also provide it adequate moisture while it cures. As concrete has a high water-absorbing quality, it tends to fill its gap with the moisture you provide. This temperature regulation helps the cement to expand and contract. At the end, the whole process adds strength to your concrete floor.
  • If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you need to be extra careful. Please consider our foundation-related topic for a detailed guide to pouring concrete in such cases. You will find all the tips for properly curing your concrete both in extremely hot and cold weather.

building basement

Building walls

Once you have constructed a floor for your basement, it’s time to build the walls. You can consider using cement blocks for basement wall building. Place them one by one while securing them with cement in between. Provide vertical bracing for holding the wall together and adding lateral stability.

You must consider the following things while building your wall.

  • It is important to ensure that the cement mix is not too runny. Even a little too wet mixture won’t keep the blocks stable. A thicker mix will set the blocks better.
  • Maintain the same level of cement thickness between your blocks. If your cement layer is thick from one side and thin from the other, the blocks will tend to tilt. This will affect the final shape of your basement wall.
  • Tie the rebar after every 3 horizontal lines of blocks are placed. You also need to continue adding the vertical bracing as and when required. Both these things add strength to your basement wall and prevent it from collapsing.
  • Add air ventilation at any top corner of your wall just before you finish it. Leaving a space for the circulation of fresh air is important in the basement as well. You can consider adding a fan here later. This ventilation part is completely dependent on your purpose of creating this basement. For instance, if you are planning to use it as a food cellar, ventilation is a must. Adding a vent for the outflow of air can also be built at this point.

Waterproofing the basement walls

Water leaking is a major problem in basements. This makes it necessary for you to waterproof the basement walls for longevity. Else, the walls will absorb moisture from the surroundings. For waterproofing, you can consider using a coat of waterproofing membrane. An asphalt-modified polyurethane can be applied or sprayed over the basement walls from the outside.

This application seals the basement against environmental moisture. These asphalt-modified membranes are known as elastomeric membranes. These are considered best for waterproofing because of their flexibility. This flexibility helps in accommodating cracks that will build in your basement wall over time. If you tend to choose some other product, it is recommended to avoid a damp-proofer for your basement waterproofing. These products usually don’t work for the basement walls.


shipping container concrete basement

Cleaning the wall bricks

Once you finish your wall, you need to clean up the hardened mortar from your bricks. Smoothing the mixture out while building the wall creates less of this mess. Since you are following a DIY approach, the mortar will harden a lot on wall completion. It is because you will take many more days to finish the job than normal. Cleaning the mortar in the first few hours is easy. But since you are not an expert, do it when your wall has become sturdy.

For washing off the mortar from your wall bricks, you will need Muriatic acid. This is a variation of hydrochloric acid used for dissolving mortar. Add this acid to water as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Wet the bricks with water before applying this solution. You will hear a sizzling sound when the acid solution dissolves the excess mortar. Rinse the wall with water after a few minutes of sizzling sounds. This powerful acid can rinse away the mortar from within the bricks as well. So, don’t forget to rinse it off. You can, however, repeat the process at the problem points.

Painting basement walls

Painting the basement walls

On finishing up with the acid-rinsing process, you are left with clean-looking walls. This is the stage when you can paint them up. Choose the color you desire for your basement walls and get started with your paint-brushes. Along with the paint, you also require a primer for painting these walls. Don’t underestimate the role of primer in painting. It enhances your paint’s durability, protects your walls, and helps the paint to stick well on the walls.

Follow these steps for long-lasting paint on your basement walls:

  • Apply a coat of waterproof primer on all the walls. Let it dry.
  • Apply a coat of water-resistant paint of your preferred color. Let it dry.
  • Apply another coat of paint if desired. It will add more durability to your paint layer.

If you are planning to use a dark color, choose a gray-colored primer for the base coat. If, however, you have selected a lighter color for your basement walls, go for the white-colored primer.

Use your creativity to the best you can and enjoy the painting process. This is the most enjoyable part of building a basement.

Adding support to the containers

When you construct a basement, you must provide support to the shipping container from below. This adds strength to the overall structure. Two or three beams can be utilized for carrying the load of the container. Also, wooden planks are used across the ends i.e. the concrete walls. These planks support the container from the ends while beams support it from the middle.

Final words

Constructing a shipping container home with a basement involves a ton of extra work. But all this work is worth every effort you put in. You get additional space in the form of a basement that can be used for anything you desire.

2 thoughts on “Shipping Container Home with Basement”

    1. Hi Wanda,

      Thank you for your question. Please let us know in what part of the world you are (country/state)
      so that we could put you in contact with the builders in your area.



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