You may already know that shipping containers are recycled and repurposed for a wide variety of commercial and residential needs today. Since they’re made of high-grade, durable steel, they’re commonly used for storage and building needs. In fact, the steel that shipping containers are made out of is so versatile that shipping containers are used to create tons of commercial buildings today. One of these types of buildings are schools and classrooms! Shipping containers can be used to build single classrooms, small schools, or large educational facilities. In this article we will show you the benefits, types, features, and cost of shipping container classrooms, as well as the process for building one.
Benefits of Shipping Container Classrooms
When it comes to building a school or classroom, there are lots of reasons to choose a shipping container classroom over traditional construction. Take a look at just some of the benefits to learn why so many educational facilities are choosing shipping containers for their classrooms.
Low cost is one of the top benefits of shipping container classrooms. Choosing shipping containers to build is a great option for schools on a budget. Additionally, shipping container classrooms give schools the opportunity to redistribute their would-be building budget to other important education needs. Usually, shipping container construction costs roughly half of what traditional construction costs (depending on the size, condition, and customizations to the shipping container). Visit our cost guide to learn more about how much a shipping container costs.
Suppliers can easily transport and deliver shipping containers to just about any location. This provides great benefits to schools who need classrooms quickly:
- If the school needs extra classrooms quickly, the pre-assembled shipping container can be delivered in no time.
- The shipping container classroom can be relocated easily if the school needs to move it or no longer needs it
Durable and Weather-Proof
Shipping containers are made of a highly durable, sustainable, weather-proof steel. They can withstand the harshest weather conditions and last you decades (depending on the condition when purchasing). This will allow you to use the shipping container classroom for years to come – often 10-20 years at least.
Stackable and Customizable
Did you know you can stack multiple shipping containers to create a larger building? This is actually quite common with shipping container classrooms and schools. If you need more than one classroom, you can work with a shipping container supplier to stack or combine containers to achieve the square footage you need. In addition, suppliers can help you add the customizations you need to complete your classroom – such as windows, doors, ramps, stairs, and electricity, etc. (Note: speak with a supplier beforehand on the customizations they offer)
Shipping containers are one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable building materials. They are recycled intermodal freight containers that were once used to transport cargo overseas. Therefore, when choosing a shipping container classroom you are using sustainable building materials that are already in circulation. In addition, if you no longer need your shipping container classroom it will likely be recyclable again.
Shipping containers are extremely time-conscious when it comes to construction. They are prefabricated structures that are essentially delivered to your location immediately. If you customize your shipping container classroom, the modification process should only take 4-10 weeks. Compare this to 6 months or more that it would take to build a traditional classroom or school. This can be extremely beneficial for schools that need new or additional classrooms quickly.
Types of Shipping Container Classrooms
You may think that your only option when it comes to a shipping container classroom is a self-contained single classroom, but this is not the case! Shipping containers are extremely flexible and can accommodate lots of different floor plans and designs for your educational building. For instance, using shipping containers you can build:
- Additional single classrooms: If you need to expand or accommodate more students, you can add single classrooms to your main school building.
- Single class facility: If you need a one-classroom building for a small group of students, such as a daycare or single-class school, you can build a facility with just one shipping container.
- Small School with Stacked Containers: You can combine shipping containers side-by-side or stacked on top of one another to build a small school with a few classrooms.
- Large Facility with Stacked Containers: You can use as many shipping containers as you need to create a large educational facility, as needed. For example, check out this school that uses 32 combined shipping containers.
Steps for Constructing a Container Classroom
The process for implementing a shipping container classroom is quite simple. As mentioned, you can have your entire shipping container classroom ready to operate in 10 weeks or less!
- Plan: Map out a plan for your shipping container classroom by determining your total budget, location for the classroom, space designated, ideal timeline layout/floor plan, and other priorities for your classroom.
- Contact Suppliers: Once you have a plan, reach out to shipping container suppliers to get a quote for your project. Share your plans with them and be descriptive as possible so they can give you an accurate quote that doesn’t exceed your budget.
- Buy: Once you’ve spoken to a few suppliers, gotten quotes, and weighed your options, pick a supplier and buy your shipping container(s) for the classroom.
- Prep your site: As the supplier prepares your customized container(s), you will want to prep your classroom location for delivery. You will want to make sure the ground is level, there are no obstructions in the way of delivery, and more. Check here for tips to prepare for your delivery.
- Delivery and Assembly: When it’s time for your shipping container classroom to be delivered, the builders will assemble and weld together your shipping container units (if you are creating a multi-container building). At this time, they will also modify and add pre-chosen customizations such as windows, doors, stairs, etc.
- Finalize: After assembly, you will need to install electrical and plumbing, as well as perform inspection. Then, you can add final touches such as desks, whiteboards, and more – so that students and teachers are ready to use the classroom!
If you have any questions about the process for building your shipping container classroom, just ask your supplier. Rest assured that they are experienced in the process and can help you understand what to do to prep your classroom for use.
Features to Add
Keep in mind that during the planning and buying stage, you will need to let your supplier know what features and customizations you want to add to the storage container classroom. To help you plan, here is a list of common add-on features and customizations for shipping container classrooms:
- Air conditioning and heating
- Electricity, outlets, and lighting
- Plumbing, sinks and bathrooms
- Windows and doors
- Security locks
- Stairs and ramps
- Customized paint
- Security systems, such as access control and video surveillance
- Built-in furniture, such as shelving
- Carpeting or other custom flooring
- And more
Rooms to Consider for Layout
If you are designing a multi-classroom educational building with shipping containers, there are several rooms you may want to consider when deciding on a floor plan. Here are just a few you may want to incorporate in your layout:
- Individual classrooms
- Administrative and teacher’s rooms
- Cafeteria or Kitchen area
- Custodial closets
- Security office
As we mentioned, you can create just about any square footage for your shipping container classroom building as needed. You can do this by combining shipping containers, either by stacking them on top of one another or combining side-by-side. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind the standard sizes for individual shipping containers (by length):
Most standard shipping containers are 8 feet wide by 8.5 feet tall. You can also opt for a “high cube” container, which adds an extra foot of height. Learn more about shipping container dimensions here. Keep in mind that if you are combining containers, your building’s length will be in multiples of 10, 20, or 40.
The cost of your shipping container classroom will depend on the size, condition, and features added to the container(s), among other factors. Shipping container cost depends on its condition and other factors. (Note: due to inflation, you will need to speak directly to your supplier for updated pricing). Then, you will need to pay for additional customizations plus delivery.
Take a look at our complete shipping container cost guide to learn more about pricing. Also, make sure to ask each supplier how they calculated your quote when you speak with them.
If you are searching for a shipping container classroom, here are a few more articles we recommend reading:
Keep in mind that in addition to using a shipping container for your classroom, there are portable classrooms available to you as well.
If you are ready to compare prices, we can help! Visit our online form to get up to 5 free quotes from shipping container suppliers in your area.