We have a number of suppliers that we use to secure the best quality shipping containers possible.  One of our preferred suppliers is Big Box Containers, founded in Cape Town in 1997. Big Box Containers is one of the biggest privately owned container rental, sales and conversion companies in Africa with branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Beware of shipping containers advertised at very low prices.  There are many scams in the industry.

Shipping container prices fluctuate significantly since they are dependant on the exchange rate.  Currently 6m (standard height) containers are available at R32 490 (VAT inclusive), 12m high cube containers are available at R39 675 (VAT inclusive) and 12m high cube decommissioned refrigerator containers (reefers) are available at R49 100 (VAT inclusive).


  Standard High Cube Containers High Cube Reefers
External measurements 12.19m L

2.44m W

2.90m H

12.19m L

2.44m W

2.90m H

Internal measurements 12.00m L

2.34m W

2.68m H

(without insulation)

11.50m L

2.30m W

2.53m H

(with insulation)

The project duration is determined by factors such as:

* The availability of suitable containers.

* How quickly site preparation can be completed.

* How long it takes to finalise your design and lay-out so that formal plans can be drafted.

* How long municipal approval of plans takes (when applicable).

* The number of other projects in the job queue.

* The complexity of the conversion that is required.

* The weather. (rain can cause unavoidable delays.)

They would definitely be if it is not well insulated.  Without good quality insulation, a container is just a huge steel box!  As a rule of thumb: the better the insulation, the more comfortable the shipping container building (or any other building for that matter), and the less you will pay for heating or cooling the building.  This is also why it is a good idea to put a roof over your shipping containers.  It provides an additional shield against heat, and allows for rainwater harvesting.

We use at least 50mm expanded polystyrene (EPS) to insulate the walls and ceilings of containers.  This is why decommissioned refrigerator containers (i.e. the refrigerator engine is removed) can be a very good choice (depending on the design of the building).  Their existing insulation is superior rigid foam polyurethane insulation that far outstrips the insulation value of equivalent EPS.

There are no automatic building restrictions.  Restrictions could be related to historical areas in a town, or the specific rules of a body corporate or rate payers association.  You should check with the specific municipality in the area where you want to build a container house.  Take into account that it may be possible to adhere to such restrictions by using cladding so it does not look like a shipping container from the outside.

Our designs, plans and drawings are done in such a way that they adhere to the principle of “rational design”: “any design by a competent person involving a process of reasoning and calculation and which may include a design based on a standard or other suitable document.”  We have a draftsman, architect and engineers as part of our team to ensure that all design aspects adhere to the National Building Regulations, including the SANS 10400 XA energy requirements.

Know what you buy: Regular vs. Reefer Containers