Transforming A Shipping Container into a Tiny Home

The History of The Relief Box

The Relief Box is a 40’ x 8’ high cube shipping container that was converted into a tiny home.    This is the story of why and how the idea for the “Relief Box” was born.  Many people to not believe what it takes to design a custom home within 8 foot walls, 300 square feet of space and at 50 amps or less.





After seeing the tornado and fire damage firsthand in Joplin, Missouri Moore, Oklahoma and Yarnell, Arizona; the owners at Modern Container Concepts recognized the demand for immediate, safe, on-site temporary housing.  Everyone has heard the horror stories of the “FEMA Trailers” so they sought out to build something different and never seen before.


Relief Box

In putting pen to paper to design their second container home, the owners realized quickly that the tiny home MUST incorporate: safety, design, function, sustainability, a family of five to six with turnkey electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems.  This all had to be done within the container walls, under a reasonable budget and with an electrical maximum electrical draw of 50 amps in the event the home must be powered remotely with a generator.  They had to ensure the home could be picked up by a forklift without damaging the exterior and shipped over and over again to those who need it most.

Container Selection

Modern Container Concepts took their time in sourcing an adequate container because they knew it would be used for housing those displaced after an unplanned event.  They ultimately settled on an Evergreen container and it was purchased in Phoenix, Arizona from a major container supplier. 

Container Modification






The team knew they had only one chance to make the cuts in the container walls and after months of meticulous planning, measuring and re-measuring for the interior walls, furniture and cabinets, the container was modified with precision.  A steel entry door with window was welded to the front of the unit and a steel framed window with burglar bars was welded to the rear of the unit.  The window has a pin with hinges keep intruders out, but to allow for escape, if necessary.

No penetrations were made in the roof or ceiling of the unit and all plumbing and electrical penetrations were made out the rear of the unit in the mechanical area.  Because the intent is to build an entire fleet of these disaster relief homes, it was important that nothing prohibit stacking the homes during storage and nothing protrude out the sides making them susceptible to damage.

At the rear container barn doors, an intake and exhaust vent were installed to allow the unit to be run with these doors open or closed.  Water diverters were added over the entry door and these vents to ensure that when rain fell, it was diverted away from the unit.

Rough Construction




The team enlisted licensed contractors for the entire project.  They know that would cause costs to increase significantly, but they wanted to ensure the project was completed properly.  As seen in the photos, no expense was spared in the framing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical and insulation systems.  Custom designed water tanks with a capacity of 160 gallons each are covertly hidden within the design of the home and are monitored by a state of the art monitor system.  Because of the home’s design, it has an inherent grey water system built right into the unit that allows for further recycling of the grey water.

A highly efficient mini-split Pioneer air condition unit heats and cools the home and is controlled with a handy remote control and USB outlets have been utilized throughout the home.   The living room has been pre-wired for satellite or cable and can be easily accessed on the exterior of the home where the mechanical area is.

The Finish

The Relief Box has enough room to sleep four to six occupants comfortably.  At one end of the container is a full bathroom with bathtub, sink, heat lamp and ample storage space.  On the other end is a master suite large enough for a queen bed!  In between is the kitchen, living room, dining room and a bonus room that can be used as a bunk suite for the kids or office space for an adjuster dispatched on short term or long term CAT duty.  The flooring is manufactured by Protect-all flooring and is a recycled industrial grade product.

Relief Box Before Construction

Relief Box Before Construction
Relief Box Before Construction

« 2 of 28 »

Shipping Container Disaster House