With the shortage of housing in some countries, many people have moved to construct houses made from steel shipping containers. On top of that, container houses have become popular in this generation thanks to their affordability, durability, sustainability, and strength. Nonetheless, they are almost readily available around the world and cheaper than some of the building materials. So, what are these container houses in the first place?
What are container houses?
These are houses made from steel shipping containers that carry goods everywhere on trucks, trains, and ships. However, don’t think that people live in these giant blocks without designing them.
You probably never thought a container house would look like something like this, right?
If you haven’t seen one, then you’ll be amazed by the beautiful home’s design these steel containers can create.
Let’s give you a brief overview of what container houses are. First, containers come in different sizes. The smallest container can make a tiny box of a home at about 100 square feet of floor space. If you want a two-story house at about 1400 square feet, then eight large containers will do the trick.
You may ask yourself, why are shipping containers used to make offices, homes, studios, and cabins? Well, with the 14 million out of service containers around the globe, certainly means there are lots of them available.
Apart from the high number of ‘out of service’ containers, you can save a lot of money from these modular and prefabricated homes. Nonetheless, container homes require low construction and maintenance costs. Let’s also not forget the perception that these types of homes are contributing to recycling.
Benefits of container houses
Steel container architecture has picked up pace as many homeowners are reinventing the housing style. A container house will surely make heads turn for many reasons. However, there is more to it than just making people knock their heads on road signs because they weren’t watching the road. The following are some of the benefits of container houses.
The biggest advantage and incentive for container houses is that they are quite cheap. Purchasing a used shipping container and converting it into a home is far less expensive than buying a home in the most affordable place in the city and designing it. And sometimes you may not even find what you are looking for. However, with the shipping container houses, all you need is to search, and you shall have one and design it the way you want.
Easy to use and construct
From just looking at these steel containers, it may seem quite arduous to use and build a home from these containers. Of course, they are made from steel, and they all have a rectangular shape. Contrary to what they look like, it is straightforward to come up with a design for constructing a house from a shipping container.
All you require is a company from where you can buy the container from, guys to deliver it, and lots of ideas from home designers for you to end up with a great home. The advantage of designing container homes is that any design can be incorporated easily into any container. Whether it’s adding windows or doors, or a staircase, you can easily accomplish this on a container.
Comes when prefabbed
Most of the container homes come when they are already as prefabricated modular homes. It is an advantage because it makes the construction time shorter. If you do your homework well, you’ll get to know some companies that offer containers that are already fabricated. That makes things quick and straightforward for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in building a do it yourself home or a custom house, the container offers you a prebuilt structure to work with and you won’t need to start from scratch.
Get your house up in a short time
It is the basic idea behind all ship container homes. On average, a container house takes around two to three months for it to be up and standing and ready to be occupied – that’s from the time of booking with the company. However, if you land on a good company, you can inform them on how you need the house to look like, and immediately those changes will be made before the delivery is made. With that, you’ll see a fully-fledged house being rolled to your backyard, from the back of a gigantic truck.
With container houses, there are no hidden costs. It’s because most of the work is completed while the container is still at the factory for a fixed price. The only variable costs you can expect is the cost of delivery, foundation, assembly, utility, and site preparation. That said, container homes are less expensive when compared to other types of houses.
The environmental appeal of container houses is the fact that you are re-using a product of the shipping industry to make a home. This makes them environmentally friendly. It’s because when you re-use a container, you’ll be saving the environment as there is no better use of such containers. Yes, the steel might be retrieved and used again; however, the process takes a lot of energy and might pollute the environment.
Ease of transport and sitting
There is a worldwide system that exists for moving containers around the world. Nonetheless, the company can get the container exactly where you need them. Shipping containers are generally large; therefore, without the right method of moving the container, it will be quite hard to get the container where you want it to be. Therefore, look for a good dealer, and you will certainly get your house where you want it to be.
Personal style statement
Lastly, the biggest benefit of container ships is that you can be absolutely sure to have your personal style expressed on the design. The architecture used in designing the containers is so ‘open’ that you can make it reflect your preferences. Nonetheless, a container house stands out from the rest, and it will certainly get noticed in any neighborhood.
Tips to consider before building a container house
Now that we know some of the benefits of container houses let’s look at the things you should consider when you want to build a container house.
Building a shipping container may seem like a straightforward process in theory. I mean there are millions of shipping containers lying around in ports around the globe, and all you need is to stack them up, and you have your home already.
If you want a multi-story home, then you simply stack a few containers on top of one another and, ‘eureka’ you’ve got a home. Unfortunately, things are never that easy when it comes to container houses. When it comes to building container houses, there are several things you should take into consideration for you to make the process easy. Nevertheless, make sure that your container home is sustainable, singularly beautiful, and structurally sound.
See the container before you buy
You’d never purchase a used car without first inspecting it, right? Seeing is believing. That applies to when purchasing a used container. It may be difficult to carry out a complete ‘walkthrough,’ particularly when the container is located at some obscure port. Well, you can solve this by asking the seller for detailed pictures and description of the container.
Old shipping containers, may have some dents and issues with rust, and not forgetting structural problems. Therefore, the best thing to do is to inspect the container and get a thorough description of the container.
Know the types of containers
Not all containers are the same. All these containers come in different sizes. For instance, the traditional containers are about eight-feet tall; therefore, adding an extra high cube container adds an extra foot in height. Therefore, with such containers, insulating the ceiling or floors can make you end up in a house that is strangely ‘hobbitish.’ Therefore, understand the type of container you need before starting to build your container house.
Know your building code restrictions
Different cities and towns have different rules that govern against building a shipping container home. Before you invest several bucks in a used container, check your local and state building codes for you to know what is required of you. You don’t want the authorities to come knocking on your door immediately after you settle down.
Have a plan for insulating
An unfinished steel container will be unbearable for you to live in during summer and the freezing cold in the winter. When building your steel shipping container home, ask your contractor about the best insulation ideas.
One key place not to forget is the roof. Ensure you heavily insulate the roof and the walls. The two types of insulation you can use include the blanket-style insulation and the foam insulation. For the blanket-style insulation, you’ll need an interior stud wall. For the foam insulation, you can spray the form directly onto the wall. If you want a sustainable or green alternative, go for the sheep wool or add a green roof on top of your container home.
Get a complete contractor
When it comes to hiring a contractor, go for a complete contractor. That means instead of dealing with one contractor for placing and modifying the container, and another one to work for the interior finishing work, search for one that can oversee the entire process.
The container house business is something relatively new in the market. Therefore, do your homework well for you to be sure to land on a contractor who has specialized in designing shipping container houses.
Protect the body against harmful chemicals
Protection against chemicals should also be something important to consider before you start living in your container house. It’s because before you purchased the used shipping container, it was used for other purposes and designed to withstand life at sea. That means the wood flooring is laced with heavy pesticides to deter rodents and rats from eating through the flooring. Nonetheless, they include chemicals that protect the container from saltwater spray coming from the ocean.
That being the case, you have to put up measures for you to protect yourself from these chemicals. One obvious way is purchasing a new shipping container that doesn’t contain these chemicals. If you purchase a used one, you can consider ripping up the pesticide-infested flooring and install another flooring of your choice. Foam insulation can be a great idea as it prevents off-gassing from these harmful chemical paints.
Avoid cutting the container into pieces
These containers are built from robust steel; hence, they are extremely strong. That means the walls can be load-bearing if you want to build a separate roof structure or add a second story. That said, each time you cut a hole into the container for an extra window or door, you’ll be debilitating the structural integrity of the container. With that, you’ll have to invest in a steel beam reinforcement. Typically, the more you cut into the container, the more reinforcement you’ll need, meaning your budget will rise.
Plan ahead for electrical and plumbing
Don’t forget about where the electrical and plumbing lines will enter and leave your house. Before your contractor finishes with the interior, ask your contractor to cut the holes for electrical lines and plumbing. That’s important as you won’t need again to move your kitchen cabinets and drawers to cut a hole for the extra plumbing line you forgot about.
Prepare for the wind
If you are planning to situate your container house in a windy area, then know how you will handle the noise from the wind. It’s because they are rectangular-shaped, which is opposite of aerodynamics. With the shape, strong winds will most likely hit the walls and cause interior noise. Therefore, it is important to consider placing your home behind a windbreak.
Avoid excessive welding to reduce the costs
You can model your shipping container to any design that you want. Additionally, if you want your home to occupy square footage, then you’ll have to purchase several containers. When this is the case, you’ll need to do a bit of welding.
However, you have to be careful as excessive welding of shipping containers affects the structural integrity of the container. On top of that, welding is expensive. It is, therefore, essential to limit the amount of welding on your container.
Consider local options first?
Many of us would prefer to ship a container because of the sustainability aspect. However, it’s a good idea to first begin with the local options. It’s because shipping these containers requires a lot of transportation as they are heavy. Due to that, it’s most sustainable to find a used container locally. It’s a huge plus if you live near the port as you can easily get one and have little transportation fees.
Top shipping container homes
Container structures and homes are becoming a thing in our generation, thanks to their affordability, durability, strength, and sustainability. As people continue to enter into this new style of homes, let’s take a look at some of the projects and homes that have utilized shipping containers to create comfortable and functional spaces.
Tony’s Farm by Playze
It is one of the biggest organic farm in Shanghai, China. The building complex consists of the main reception, VIP area, lobby, and new offices.
Grillagh Water House by Patrick Bradley
The beautiful home is designed and owned by Bradley, and it’s located in Northern Ireland near the town of Maghera.
Puma City by LOT-EK
The ‘city’ is made from 24 shipping containers. It is the first truly mobile shipping container home of such a size. It consists of three levels of containers with two full retail spaces on the lower levels, a bar, lounge, and event space.
Smaller by Jim Poteet
It is located in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The house has glass doors and windows, a small sink, a toilet, and a shower.
Graceville container home by Todd Miller
It’s located in Brisbane. The home features thirty-one shipping containers spread over three levels. It’s one of the biggest shipping container homes in Australia as it covers a floor area of 506 square meters.
Everyone loves their humble abode, regardless of how humble it may or may not be. The basic idea of a home is having a place you feel comfortable and reflects a bit of your personality. A container house allows you to have both of these at a go. Pick up a design that you wish to have and consider the above tips, and you will surely have a house that has a lot of your taste and character.