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Shipping container foundation

Posts: 2
Location: San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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I'm new to this site and happy to have found it. My wife and I just bought a fixer-upper home on the Sea of Cortez in Baja California. It is 30 miles south of the last power pole, and completely off-grid. No power, no water. The house is a small concrete block structure. Everything has been ripped out including wiring and plumbing, but the brick fireplace is still intact and the structure is solid. We are currently designing the solar system and water system, incorporating gray and rain water collection. We really want to make this place as self-sufficient as possible.

To get started, we want to install a shipping container so we can securely store all of our things, and construction tools. Eventually we envision this shipping container will become part of the garage.

So I'm looking for ideas to support this shipping container. The attached photo shows the house, and we plan to put the container to the right of the motorcycle: deep sand. One option is to just set it on the sand, but I prefer to keep the dunes as they are and support it slightly above them, maybe a foot off the ground. Concrete piers are an option, but digging in this sand to build forms will not be easy, and I'm concerned they may move over time.

This is an interesting footing I found, and thought maybe I can make something similar by driving steel rods into the sand:

Does anyone have experience or creative ideas on an easy way to support a 10,000 lb shipping container in sand?

[Thumbnail for IMG_20200807_120859.jpg]
Posts: 1775
Location: southern Illinois.
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I certainly have no experience with sand like is pictured.  But I have worked on very wet land that may share some characteristics.  Have you considered a platform that would "float" on the sand?  
Wilder Grippo
Posts: 2
Location: San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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well, I believe you could just float the shipping container directly on the sand. But the sand is not level, so I think I am going to pour concrete piers and pound long rebar deep into the sand to tie into the rebar in the pier. at least that is my current thinking....
Posts: 268
Location: Beavercreek, OR
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Interesting footings - there was another discussion of a somewhat similar "star" footing on another thread.  

Here's the thing - that footing and similar designs are designed to go into soil and to provide resistance against uplift AND against sinking.  You're not going to get any uplift resistance in sand with a rod design (with a buried anchor or giant auger... yes).  And the foot area is nearly infinitesimal vs the area of the container bottom - so you'll get less settling with the bare container.

I'd suggest a reasonable leveling of the sand, plop the container down and let it settle.  Since you're probably having it delivered by a tipping flat-bed, you might place some heavy (3/4"+) plywood under the far end and it comes down so it doesn't dig in.

I'd be curious about the container industry there ... here in a port town flooded with containers a 20' is still about $2000 and a 40' is about 3,000.  Delivery isn't impossible but it ain't easy - especially on a 40'.  These chunks of steel are meant to be moved around and picked up by giant mobile beasts in industrial settings.  I would figure out exactly how to purchase and move one before worrying about where to put it.  You've probably got a cement foundation on the house ... you might even find that pouring a garage slab and tossing up a carport-like structure is preferable.

I've had a love of shipping containers ... but that love has left me after actually purchasing and using one.  On my current project, everytime a shipping container seems like a solution it turns out there is a better solution.  That said, I've never dealt with your conditions!
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