Container Homes: A Modern, Eco-Friendly Take On Housing
Container homes are gaining popularity not just in the United States but globally. There is a 2,600 square foot school made out of blocks of containers in South Korea and a 75,000 square foot live-work high-rise in South Africa. People are using their imaginations with these “legos’ to construct homes of varying shapes and sizes, but where are they getting the containers?
There are upwards of over ten million shipping containers lying around ports all over the world that have been deemed not in service. They had no purpose until a gentleman by the name of Phillip Clark decided that they needed to be reused in the way of housing, and he patented his idea in 1989. He was by far not the first, though. They’ve popped up in movies as dwellings over the years, they were used as the basis of a thesis for a man by the name of Nicholas Lacey in the 70’s, an architect, who felt they should be habitable.
The earliest of them all was in 1965 when a patent was granted to a company that wanted to be able to use them as an exhibition booth for their products when they went on tour and make it so other businesses could do the same. The surge in popularity has been coming but the concept has just started to catch on with the need for inexpensive options for housing and eco-friendly living.
WHY GET A CONTAINER HOME
No one wants a cookie-cutter house anymore. The days of the white-picket fences are long gone. People want to express their taste and showcase their own personalities in their homes. Using container homes is the perfect way to do that whether you use just one container or build blocks of them together.
You can take the container as it is straight from delivery which would be considered like a modular or prefab shipping container homes and build a tiny house or you can custom-design a home using numerous containers welded together in any shape or combination to create your own architectural masterpiece.
Your home can be mobile depending on the type of foundation that you decide to use. If you want to stay at a place for a temporary period of time, probably using just one container is the way you would have to go. A very simplistic, tiny house design and a wooden-beam foundation so that a contractor can come in and move your home to its new location without any difficulties.
If you keep within a minimalist approach to living space, the cost can stay very low for the container home. It can be as low as $15,000. Doing things yourself can keep the price especially lower. If you get extravagant with your options or choices is when the cost can get as high as if you’re building a new stick-built home equal to as much as upwards of $300,000. Welding is expensive, so if you want multiple containers that are required to be welded together, it will be costly. Cutting holes in the container will compromise the structure’s integrity making it so steel beams will need to be installed to strengthen it which will be expensive. Insulation is going to be very hard on the wallet because you need to be sure that you have protection. In this container, you will experience the heat twice as much and the cold just as much. Browse more: shipping container homes cost
– Easy to get.
These containers are easy to find online. It’s not like going through a regular house-buying process. It’s much faster and construction is much simpler to go through with the container home.
Using the containers gives them new life and keeps them away from the trash where they would stay forever.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WITH THE CONTAINER HOMES
There are things that you need to consider when thinking about the container home as an option for housing. You have to look at both sides of the coin when you make a purchase.
Some folks want one of these homes because they want the flexibility of being able to move the container whenever they feel like going to a new place. The problem is, though they are durable, they need a platform to sustain a lifespan. If you don’t maintain and care for it properly, it won’t function as a home in the way that you need it to. They can twist and then doors and windows are not going to open/close properly. There’s rust, condensation, moisture, corrosion, mold. Any number of things can happen that will lead to the decay of the container.
It may cost more but professionals recommend that you get a new container as opposed to one that has been worked hard. The ones that are overused have dents and rust and other damage that would be too difficult and too costly to correct. The issue with this is, you won’t be saving a container from the landfill by doing this.
What was it carrying on it’s journeys? Could it have been hazardous material that may make you or your family ill? What about the paint and the finishes that were used on the container? A lot of paints used for these containers needed to stand up to harsh conditions so they used lead-based paints. Lead abatement would be necessary and is excruciatingly expensive per square foot. Also, they would use pesticides on floors and other spaces to keep rodents from gnawing away at the materials. That would require replacing things like wood flooring.
These container homes are truly tiny houses if you just want an inexpensive, minimal cost, one-unit home. The ceiling is generally about eight foot. The only thing is when you put up the wiring and insulation, you lose height. The same is true with the interior walls. If you put in insulation, you will lose space. You have to put in insulation because of the material the unit is made out of. The temperatures will be too extreme without it. You could build out and do the insulation that way but then you lose the integrity of the container which is why you bought it to begin with. If you put in a lot of windows and doors, it’s going to cut down on furniture placement.
– Walk through.
You don’t get the same opportunity to see the ‘house’ as you would with a regular buy or build. You don’t know the condition of the container until it gets to you. This is why when you find one, you need to request very detailed, up close pictures of every inch of the container so you know exactly what you’re getting. This is also another reason why it is a good idea to get a new one as opposed to one that has been used hard.
You will want to spend the extra money to get one contractor who specializes in container home construction. It will save you a lot of hassle in the long run, and that person will know exactly what to do throughout every phase of the whole process.
If you choose a location that is windy, you will need to be prepared for a lot of noise coming through your home. The containers being made of metal will have the effect of rumbles of thunder rolling through in the wind. You should try to pick an area with little wind or where there is a windbreak.
It’s important to check the local building code and zoning regulations. The zoning regulations determine where a house can be built. They try to keep similar homes in the same areas. The building codes tell you how something can be built. Sometimes there are areas where there’s no specific zoning regulations enacted. That would be perfect for the container homes.
TYPES OF CONTAINERS TO BE USED FOR HOMES
There are a lot of different containers that you can use as homes or mix together to shape into a multitude of different style ‘mansions’. Some places are using them for apartment buildings, businesses, all different types of buildings.
– Dry Storage.
This is the most common of the containers used. It comes in either ten or twenty or forty feet blocks. They use these to ship dry products.
– Flat Rack.
This container has sides that are collapsible. The sides will fold down and make a rack that is flat to ship various items. This would have all kinds of architectural elements that would be awesome to work with for a home with the sides able to fold down.
These have a convertible cap so the top can be completely taken off leaving it open so the tallest of cargo can be shipped. It would be like a sunroof in a home.
These have wide side doors that would make for the sides to be completely open. That would be nice to put like barn doors on. Make for a real unique look to a home.
– Side and End Doors.
The standard size for these come in twenty and forty foot. These generally carry things like iron or steel for construction. You wouldn’t need to do hardly any cutting for doors or windows with these containers. The holes are already there for you.
– Refrigerator and Insulated.
These have the temperatures controlled for either perishable goods to be transported in cool temperatures or for things that don’t have an aversion to really warm temperatures.
These are made out of very strong steel for a long lifespan and to protect the liquid material that they transport.
– Cargo Roll.
This is a storage roll, a container that is can actually be ‘folded’. It’s called the ‘cheery’ container because it comes in numerous happy colors which means you wouldn’t need to paint your house.
These would be good to use as an addition to another container in building a home. They’re half the size of a regular container. They use these to haul things like stone or coal.
– Car carrier.
They have doors on the sides too which make great openings for a home.
– Intermediate Bulk.
They were used as an in between kind of deal. They take the products to a destination to be repacked and taken on to the final destination. They carry large amounts. They may work harder than most containers, so they may have some dings and dents in their body.
These are made of different types of materials. Some are steel or light metal, or even harder plastic. They’re a smaller size. These, too, would be good to add interesting architecture to another container to make it your own style.
– Special Purpose.
These containers are special made by their carriers for whatever the purpose they want to use them for is. Usually they’re for security reasons. They mostly transport weapons and such like that. Because they’re custom-made you may get some really cool choices with these containers. They’ll all be completely different.
– Swap Bodies.
These are containers are special and used mostly in Europe but they’re suitable for shipping all types of items. They have very strong bottoms and they are another container with a convertible top. That type of container may need to have a new roof in order to use it for a home. It may not be weather resistant. Although, if they’re using it to transport things, it has to stand up to any type of conditions.
This is a very intriguing type of housing alternative. They have to be extremely durable. It would definitely be a good choice if you want something unique to speak for you and your particular style.
The problems go back to cost and eco-friendliness. In order to keep cost to a minimum, you have to stay true to the container concept. You can’t go out on the architectural limb and live out your designing fantasies by building these legos into all kinds of geometric shapes. That will cost you just as much as if you stick built a regular house. There’s no cost effective in that at all. Most of us would stay true to that minimalist approach because that is the purpose of doing this in the first place, right?
Also, you have to get a brand new container if you don’t want the damage that comes with a very worn out container that has worked its years. How is that saving a life? Hmm.