FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How much does it cost to build a container home? Building sites vary so we quote all construction costs without the utilities, septic, well, and foundation. Please refer to the Modular Designs Page for modular home building costs. The average cost for a custom home can range from $140-$200 a square foot depending on finishes.
2. How long does it take to build a container home? At this time it takes 7 to 8 months from the time it comes to our shop until the day you move in. As manufacturing processes improve we will reduce that time.
3. What services do I need on my property to build a container home? If you are on vacant land you will need well, septic, and electrical service, as well as a foundation on which to set the Steele House.
4. I heard that formaldehyde is used in the container floors and off gasses when the containers are sealed as a building structure. Is that dangerous? In fact the container manufacturers discontinued using formaldehyde several years ago as an effort to become more environmentally friendly. They now use Radaleum FHP-60 which is basically a cockroach powder that’s impregnated into the flooring. Radaleum FHP-60 has virtually no vapor pressure, and therefore virtually no fumes. (2,000% less the usual or prior treatment).
We only use containers with Radaleum in the flooring and it is written on the registration plate of each container. If a client insists, we can coat the floor with a polyurethane sealer but experienced builders typically leave the floor as is particularly since there are covered with a sub-floor and flooring material.
5. If I am in a rural NYS location, how much should I allow for a well, septic and electric on my site? About $25,000, NOT counting the foundation, but that 25k number can vary depending on topography, labor costs and location of the power pole.
6. How are container homes insulated? We use closed-cell spray foam
7. How are container homes heated/cooled? We use a variety of methods. A mini split unit that heats and cools, and we also use electric wall heaters that are inset into the wall, as well as wood stoves.
8. Where does Steele House build container homes? Our homes can currently been seen in Upstate NY.
9. Are your construction plans for sale? Not at this time. However, on our site we have schematics of some of our designs, with more coming soon!
10. Does Steele House offer consulting services? Yes, on a project-by-project basis.
11. What about zoning? Though zoning is not an issue in upstate NY, it will depend on the area where you are building. The good news is that container homes are quickly becoming recognized as a legitimate way to build.
12. Can I finance a Steele House? Yes but it’s dependent on your local lender. We do not offer financing at this time
13. Can Steele House take orders for, and build multiple units? Yes
14. Are your floor plans and/or designs available for review? Do you have a brochure? No brochure at this time, but we have schematic floor plans available on line… specifically, some of our designs can be seen in the Modular Designs portion of the site.
15. Can I order my container “move in ready”? The only potential turn-key design is the “Escape Pod”
16. What about water heaters and solar panels? Of course you can install a standard water heater or an on-demand water heater. Like most roof structures, our metal roof system can accept solar panels. Your Steele House orientation would need to be considered in order to take advantage of the right exposure to the sun.
17. What is the average install time on site (From container arrival to move in)? Approximately 5-6 months at this time. However our goal is to shave this time down.
18. Are there standardized foundation requirements (thickness, size etc.) for a Steele House? We have used several designs for foundations. In Upstate NY we must have a foundation that is insulated 4 feet below the frost line, however, the type of foundation is ultimately determined by the building location and the particular home configuration. In most cases, there will be attach points allowing the installer to weld the Steele House in place.
19. Are the designs and containers modifiable and/or expandable outside of the current designs? Any expansion or modification of our designs will be the responsibility of the owner. Having said that, we have one design that we are developing (the base module, which utilizes two containers) that will have the option to expand to a second floor, effectively doubling the square footage. COMING SOON!
20. Do you work or ship outside of NYS? (I.E. CA, KY, FLA, VT, MD, CO, LA, ID, Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico, Haiti) On a case-by-case basis. In each area the plans would need to be stamped by a local architect and/or engineer and the install would need to be supervised by Steele House, and executed by a local contractor.
21. Do your container homes meet the building requirements or standards in any state? By design we build to an extremely high standard, however to date the only place where we have been tested is NYS, which has extremely strict building codes. Additionally, each state and city or town will have their own restrictions.
22. Are the homes flood and/or hurricane rated in any state? Fema will have their own particular requirements for certain flood plain zones, mostly having to do with how high the house is situated above the flood plain. Our homes are naturally more hurricane and tornado resistant than most small structures because of their uni-body steel construction, optional impact-resistant windows, and the fact that they are welded to the foundation.
23. Do we act as the contractor for the install? For certain locations, yes. For other locations we will act as consultant and/or client rep.
24. Are there any issues regarding moisture/condensation in the walls with the closed cell insulation? We have not experienced any problems with moisture or condensation.
25. What are the maintenance requirements for the finished container homes? The containers are made of steel, the roofs are standing seam metal, (24-26 gauge steel) and the windows are thermo-pane and usually vinyl. So the maintenance is minimal, i.e. repainting the exterior when needed.
26. What are the interior/exterior dimensions for each container that you use? The containers we generally use are 40’ long “high cubes” X 8 feet wide X 9.5 feet tall (with a net interior height of 8’2”). The net wall dimensions are dependant on design. These containers can hold up to 64k pounds. The interior square footage varies with the design and the type of container from 320 square feet, to 640 square feet, to 1,280 square feet.
27. How do you deal with prior cargo toxic contamination on the containers (the walls and timber floors)? Typically, there is no way of knowing the life of a container prior us buying it. A few points though, we would not choose a container with a bad or toxic smell, and all of our containers are power washed thoroughly.
28. Are the plans, drawings, floor plans etc. stamped by an architect, engineer etc? A local architect and/or engineer (registered in the state of the build) must stamp the plans. We are registered to stamp plans in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.