From tiny tumbleweed houses to sprawling, ultra-modern family homes; pop-up holiday accommodation to low-cost student housing, repurposed shipping containers turned into homes have grown massively in popularity in a concise space of time. And while there are certainly a variety of benefits to making use of this readily available resource, why would anyone want to live in what is, when you get down to it, a metal box?
We take a look at some of the benefits and advantages associated with container homes, as well as some stunning examples of container creativity and quite literal outside-the-box design in action!
Benefits And Advantages Of Container Conversions
Housing prices and student debt have been soaring the world over for several years now. As a result, coming up with the funds to buy an existing traditional brick and mortar home is not possible for many. Container homes, especially on the simple, smaller end of the spectrum, are available at a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. If you have the skills to do much of the conversion work yourself, it’s possible to create an essential container home from just $4,000!
Even large homes made from several units and requiring professional assembly and planning typically end up costing around half the price per square foot you’d pay for a conventional home.
Another factor which holds a lot of appeal for potential homeowners is the ability to upcycle and repurpose rather than using raw materials to construct their home. Each time a 40-foot container is used for this purpose, about 3,500kg worth of steel is effectively recycled. With millions of abandoned shipping containers piling up at ports around the world, taking advantage of this resource makes a lot of sense from an environmental perspective.
When well insulated, container homes can be impressively energy-efficient, and their affordability means buyers often have more cash available to invest in solar panels, rainwater harvesting, or other off-grid features.
As the appetite for container homes has grown, companies around the globe have stepped in to offer conversions and customizations. There are even several ready-to-go options you can now order from Amazon! Because most of the work can be completed off-site, with the home-delivered and assembled when the site is ready, construction time can be reduced from several months to just days in the case of a prefab unit.
Mobility And Ease Of Transport
Since the primary purpose of a shipping container is transport, the infrastructure around the world has already been designed with them in mind. From the cranes that lift them, to the forklifts that load them and the trucks which transport them overland, getting them from their place of origin to the site of your eventual home is remarkably easy. For those who enjoy the idea of being able to pack up their life and move when the mood takes them, portable container homes are ideal. Because it’s easy to find or hire used forklifts wherever you happen to find yourself, ‘moving house’ can take on a whole new definition!
Transporting, offloading, and assembling container homes almost anywhere is generally quick and straightforward with readily available equipment.
Virtually Endless Possibilities
Like a child playing with Lego or building blocks, the standard sizes and proportions of shipping containers lend themselves to an almost infinite range of layouts and designs. They can be stacked to create multi-story homes, arranged into geometric patterns, and even laid diagonally to create eye-catching stairways. From a tiny off-grid homemade from just a straightforward unit to mass housing and apartment blocks created from hundreds of containers, they are incredibly versatile. As they say, the only real limit is your imagination.
Strength And Durability
While you do of course lose some of their inherent strength when creating openings for doors and windows, shipping containers are designed to withstand some pretty harsh conditions – like months at sea in high winds and lashing rain. Unless you’re going for an out-there design, this makes them ‘over-spec’ for standard housing when it comes to strength.
Cheap, easy to transport, eco-friendly and adaptable, it’s no surprise that there’s been such an explosion in the container home market. While there are of course unique challenges that come with building using a non-traditional resource like the humble shipping container, they’re also opening the door for a more creative and sustainable approach to affordable housing – for everyone.