Subscribe or Renew Membership Subscribe Renew

Container Apartment Walls

drk1368's picture

Hello all! Happy to have joined this great forum!

I'm in the process of designing an apartment/student housing/temporary disaster relief building made out of 40' long shipping containers that almost literally snap together for rapid, low cost construction and can be shipped anywhere. However, because they're so thin (7' 8" metal to metal inside), my walls have to be as thin as possible to preserve space. However, since I'm not altering the long sides of the container, they don't have to be structural.

Because of this I'm thinking that I can take some 2 1/2" angle iron and weld it to the top and bottom of the container to create a kind of channel between the angle iron and the inner wall of the container. Then 1" EPS insulation glued between two 5/8" plywood sheets would be slid into the channel and bolted/screwed (unsure which yet) to the angle iron with either wide flat washers or a steel strip along the back side to distribute the load (if bolting). The sheets would be stood on end so that each sheet creates a 4' wide section of 8' tall wall. Essentially making thin, non-load bearing (except cabinets, shelves,etc) SIPs. This is to keep the number of holes in the metal container walls to a minimum.

I'm designing these apartments to have three 24Wx20H wall cabinets on one wall and a 24Wx30H cabinet with a 30Wx15H and under-mounted microwave on the other. All wall cabinets are 15 deep. I'm also assuming these cabinets would be the greatest wall load in the apartment, in particular the 24x30 cabinet. Other things attached to the wall will be miscellaneous shelves, a full size Murphy bed, and possibly a Murphy-ish bunk bed. I'm trying to keep everything as floor mounted/supported as possible to avoid wall strength issues, but the kitchen just needs wall cabinets to be worth anything since it's so small.

My biggest concerns right now are:

1. Will this design pass code? Or would I need to provide the math to show them this will work and go through the hassle of convincing them? As a mechanical engineer, I can do the math. Convincing them is another story. I'm not a lawyer.

2. Will these walls support wall mounted kitchen cabinets? I'm assuming so since two 5/8 sheets with an EPS "webbing" would act like a sort of I beam (like a normal SIP) and would therefore have plenty of strength to hold the cabinets or anything else. I'm unsure if this is 100% true though, because I can't seem to find any calculations for SIPs online and don't want to assume these act like an I beam and then have them fail. Everything I've been finding says they are engineered with an FEA model, which I'm not going to shell out for just for a rough design and eventual prototype to show investors.

Hopefully this is making sense. If not please ask for clarification. I can draw up a cut-away view of the wall if needed. Thank you in advance for any tips/advice/info!