Shipping Container Barn: Part 2 – Placing the Containers

This is the second installment of a multi-part series on how we turned two shipping containers (conexes) into a four-stall barn, milking parlor, and feed storage room. 

Please note: I will not be giving any prices during this series. Prices are always changing. You may choose to do some of the jobs yourself that we hired others to do, or you may choose to hire out some of the jobs we did ourselves. Please do your own research for pricing in your area for the items you need to buy and the jobs you need to hire out.

You’ve already read how we decided to use the shipping containers for our new barn. The tricky part was getting them in place….. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We ordered our two shipping containers (conexes) from Anchorage and had them delivered. As I said in Part 1, we wanted containers that had only been used once and were in very good condition. If you’re not particular about the condition of your conex, you can surely get a better price than what we paid, but we are glad to have spent the extra money for these really nice ones.

The conexes are delivered.

The conexes sat at the front of our property for a while, being used as feed storage, until we could get the piers installed for the conexes to sit on. We chose helical metal piers (essentially, giant wood screws that can penetrate through clay and fairly big rocks and roots) and hired Techno Metal Post* to install them for us. We chose them because our narrow, sloping access would have been difficult to get big machinery into, and the little robots used by Techno Metal Post could easily fit into our space with plenty of room to spare. The small machinery causes minimal damage to the surrounding lawn and soil, and although that was not a big concern for us, it’s nice to know there isn’t much cleanup to do afterwards. Because the operator is outside the robot and the robot is small, it’s easy to place the pier exactly where you want it – without having to dig big holes to pour concrete into. We were also concerned with frost heaving, and the frost protection “green sleeve” that fits over the shafts of the helical piers allows the soil to move the sleeve – but not the pier itself. The final reason we chose them is that, when we considered all our alternatives, we found the helical piers to be the most economical for our situation.

This surprisingly adorable machine installed the piers with a minimum of fuss, and was operated by a remote control worn around the operator’s waist.

Setting the piers

Here are the locations of the eight piers. Some are hidden by grass, so I’ve marked them with arrows so you can see them. You may need to enlarge the photo.

There are eight piers. Some are obscured by grass, so I have marked them.

If you look closely at the photos above, and at the photos to follow, you can see a run-down uninhabitable cabin and some tall trees bordering our lawn. Those trees and cabin, as well as the power pole you can see in the photos below, are on the neighbor’s property. The narrowness of the passage between our house and those trees and power pole (and the slope) caused us some logistical problems when it came time to place the conexes on the piers. I’ll spare you the details but suffice to say, in the end we needed to hire two companies to place the conexes – one (Weaver Brothers) with a moving truck to physically move them to the back of our property, and another (Spenard Building Supply) with a boom truck to pick them up and set them on the piers.

Both operators were extremely helpful men, and together they got the first of the conexes moved to the back of the property, set it on the piers, then (because of the narrowness of our space) picked up the second conex, lifted it up over the boom truck, and sat it on its piers. It was a tense and exciting morning, watching the conex lifted up so high and sat back down so precisely. The boom truck got stuck in the soft dirt (it had been rainy) and the moving truck helped him get his truck out.

Stay tuned for Shipping Container Barn Part 3: Doors and Windows

Celebrating the end of a big day!

  • I am not affiliated in any way with Spenard Building Supply, Weaver Brothers, or Techno Metal Post. No consideration was paid to me in any way whatsoever for choosing or mentioning them.

2 thoughts on “Shipping Container Barn: Part 2 – Placing the Containers”

    1. Yes! As soon as I get more time, I have much more to write. I hope you’ll check back for more updates as I get them posted.

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