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Temporary support for shipping container

Doug Gillespie

Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
We're going to be having a 40' ISO Shipping container (high cube) placed on our land as a storage facility in the near future, and I'm wondering about the best way to support it and keep it at least minimally up off of the ground. 

The location where it will be placed is temporary, with temporary in this context probably being a span of a couple of years.  The plan is for us to start construction in one are of our land with outbuildings, then build the house later in another area.  As such, we'll eventually want to move the thing from one site to the next.  Before we realized the placement would be temporary, we were thinking of pouring sono-tube pilings for each corner, but that seems way overkill now.  I've heard people talk about just setting them on railroad ties.  The ties I've been able to find locally look like I could take them apart with a hammer though, which make me wonder about using them to support that much weight.  Would PT 6x6s be sufficient?  Say 5 of them - one 8' one across the width of the thing every ten feet? Would I be better off with cinder blocks around the perimeter?

Larry Schlicker

Joined: Sep 19, 2010
Posts: 79
Since it is just temporary, you really only need to support the corners. I would use anything that is cheap and would last for 2 years or how ever long you think it will be there. Rocks, treated 4X4's, concrete blocks, whatever you just want to keep the frame off the ground and your supports big enough that it wont sink to the side rails in your time frame. 

My shipping/sea container cabin/shelter blog
Roger Merry

Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Posts: 109
Our 2 containers at the community garden are on recycled railway sleepers been there 6 years and counting  Anything will do because the weight is evenly distributed (assuming you get the base level) The only time there is unequal stress is when lowering the container into position - depends how good your delivery guy is at the job. We had them - temporaily - on concrete blocks - damaged one set of blocks at one corner which took all the weight first as it was lowered........... it was fine once down though even then.


Joined: Mar 15, 2011
Posts: 1
Your idea for 6x6's is perfect.  I sell containers and get this question all the time.  I recommend to my customers that they buy 2 x 8' long 6x6s.  Have the lumber yard cut those into 2' long lengths (so now you'll have 8-12 pieces of wood).  That will be easier to move around.  When the container is delivered, make sure you get one under each corner and then spread the rest around the perimeter of the container.

One other hint for while you are using the container.  If you find the doors are getting tough to open and close, that can be because the load inside the container is shifting it ever so slightly.  Get out your car jack and reposition the blocking a little bit and that should make everything easier.  Since most of the container will still be held up by the blocking, you don't need anything stronger than that to readjust.
Lewis Walch

Joined: Nov 20, 2013
Posts: 1
We do a container leveller in recycled plastic. Would this do the job? It will also not rot over tine and you could use if for other purposes too. Apologies if I seem to be promoting our company, but I just saw the post while looking for something else, and thought we could help. Just go to recycledplasticbuildingmaterials.co.uk and type leveller in the search box at the top right.
Sean Rauch

Joined: Nov 03, 2013
Posts: 136
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
At our office we have several containers and we have them sitting on railway ties. The ties have the benefit of having a larger footprint over most wood you can buy at the store. Our containers are semi-permanent so we level them out with gravel so the cans sit nice over time. This would be my recommendation especially if you want the container to be there for a while after you finish building, or plan to live in it while you build. Comfort is pretty important.

"Think of your mind as a non-linear system that you constantly have to train"
subject: Temporary support for shipping container