City Mall in Christchurch, New Zealand has come up with a quick construction project after New Zealand’s earthquakes earlier this year. This pretty much put the central area of the city off limits except for demolition work. The shipping containers have been converted into two clusters of 25 shops with 2 cafe’s hoping to get the city centre back to life and the centre of the community. Maybe a thing we are going to see more and more with the reduced costs of construction of shipping container buildings as well as the earthquake resistant designs.
Intermodal Design although putting emphasis on disaster relief for container homes as you can see here in their “stages” of construction it also makes sense for low budget housing. For me it also makes the difference between government handouts and people taking responsibility for themselves as evolving their home from what would be just a live in shipping container to an evolved home where you can’t tell its a container is what can change the perspective of many on how container living works.
Building villages in these types of units allows the whole community to develop together, it also bonds the community together as they are more likely to get involved in each others projects to complete the homes into their finished state. Which in reality is what any architect in housing development wants more than anything or should be social development and community building.
When I started looking at shipping container homes I had already spent a few years working with modular construction of hotels as well as timber frame housing. It was easy to see how a concept of one could fit the other at a lower cost.
On the other hand though many people are very against the idea without even listening to the argument. Bit like a friend of mine who had no money week to week, flash car and upmarket home but an empty pocket. In reality the shipping container home can do a role reversal because you start with money not debt due to cheaper costs of living as the one thing we can’t do without is a roof over our heads.
In China its having the same problem as Shenzhen where a lot of the manufacturing is done in the country has seen house prices climb to unrealistic levels for most people to purchase. In steps the shipping container home which may even before be seen as a “joke property” its now seeing a development as a low cost housing solution across east and west of Shenzhen City. The main reason for choosing one is obviously cost where they can be rented for 6 yuan (US$0.88) per day, which adds up to only 180 yuan (US$26) a month, and 2,160 yuan (US$316) a year.
The owners of the shipping container homes often don’t have rights of land ownership that leave them a fear of being towed away in the middle of the night. the houses are often seen in woods,under bridges, near construction sites or highways in Shenzhen. A price to pay if you want to be in the City but with the average price of housing being 20,000 yuan per square meter (approximately US$272 per square foot) there is more likely to be an increase in container living rather than reduction in the area.
A report by the Economics Daily said that a Mr Wang purchased a container for 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) and rents the land it sits upon. He had originally dreamed of owning a home when he first moved to the city but quickly found the cost of living increasing a lot faster than his salary increases. Because property rentals were also too expensive to rent he took residence up inside an abandoned container that he found in a construction site.
The one good thing out of this is that Container home manufacturers are finding a growing market which will no doubt also improve the quality of the homes. They are now able to successfully compete in the housing market due to the huge demand for low-cost housing. A real estate specialist remarked the interest in “cargo shipping-container houses is the best indication of China’s high price of housing.”
To get an idea of the severity of the housing problem the land has seen prices rise around 40% between December and January. The area has not been affected by China’s stiff measures to control pricing.
Its still something that is being debated on the practicalities of using shipping containers as homes. At the same time showing some of the benefits of shipping container housing can hopefully answer some of those questions.
- First thing is excess to requirements, they are easy to come by and not hard to find ports full of them and at a cheaper price than traditional construction methods would cost for a similar structure building block.
- In international shipping the shipping containers are cheap to come by due to having a short life expectancy for shipping often only a few years, unless your living somewhere like the Philippines where I have seen containers still in daily use from the 80s!
- By design they are made to resist harsh seas and oceans and this gives not only a strong building structure but also an anti corrosive structure avoiding the salt air. The strong reinforced floors with marine glade plywood or timbers, vandal proof robust doors as well as weather resistant paint make it a hardy building block.
- Modular construction use is also something that is important as you can build a home in phases with a bit of planning adding shipping containers as your budget allows.
These are but a few of the positive reasons shipping containers make great homes but lets not stop there, searching through ContainerLiving.net you will see many other uses from doctors surgeries to schools and even radio stations. Then add to that the emergency housing aspect allowing moving containers around the world to disaster zones or construct on site as well as being able to construct entire villages in a short time period make the shipping container not only a single based solution but a multi functional concept for many of the worlds problems.
For me its another bite at the apple pardon the pun, but its taking another direction for shipping containers but also one that makes sense in my location that is full of parasites not only from slugs,lettuce and greenfly but thieves!
This business was setup by a former software engineer and has already received nearly $1m in funding as a way to provide food in cities. These growing pods have been designed to literally grow food anywhere and may be a long term solution to moving many products we don’t need to half way round the world. Its partly the fuel prices that are sparking a major interest at the same time I am also very sceptical on the fuel pricing by such a corrupt industry as the oil business. But lets face it they play stock markets with our lives everyday. We go local it takes a little bit of control back into our lives.
Roof top farming is another concept as well as hydroponics, vertical gardening, aquaponics and the list goes on all trying to make it viable to do things from home or within a community. The PodPonics which is what we are looking at today seems to be heading in the right direction receiving over $725,000 in seed funding which says it may be on the right path at least from its investors.
Podponics is developed by Matt Liotta and began in 2010 he is a serial entrepreneur and noticed a gap in the market and started to ask the questions and then finding the solutions to make it possible in local produce production.
Now the crunch is although these pods are designed to supply the correct amount of water, pH, light levels, Co2 as well as lighting giving different spectrums of light throughout the day they still rely on power from the power grid which does make me wonder how much power? In the Philippines we have one of the most expensive suppliers of electricity in Asia so is it still going to be viable? 320sqm of space in a shipping container produces the same as one acre of land except the obvious advantage you can stack shipping containers and I believe upto 11 high if the foundations are correct giving you a huge farm on a tiny lot space, IF the electric side of the business is viable.
The original startup supplies 150lbs of lettuce,arugula as well as other crops to local restaurants and grocery stores in Atlanta every week. The demand still currently out ways production which shows the demand in the industry.
The key here maybe though not to grow what you want but what you haven’t even thought of. E.g. the Middle East will struggle with general greenery yet doesn’t have a problem with fuel and lighting costs setting containers up there as green farms would no doubt be a huge change in the ability to produce locally. At the same time could we see instead planes flying in food regularly the rise of shipping container farms in countries all over the world producing crops that before needed to be flown in?
Are we looking at the future of military food production and other services reliant on things being sent/given. Could you imagine freight ships having gardens on-board supplying daily needs? this may be one of the biggest developments in shipping containers we have seen.
They can do it in Mexico so why can’t we do it here in the Philippines?
The first issue is not funding but accepting the problem is only going to get worse not better. Reorganizing and developing infrastructure as well as new housing is badly needed to clean up slum areas. There may be land disputes at which point why haven’t the owners cleared these slums and fenced them off? For other areas that are legal these types of units could make affordable homes for the masses due to their flexible nature of being stackable upwards and sideways allowing dense populations to exist without looking like the photo below :-
Nowhere should ever get to this stage in the first place. But the finger of blame should only be representative of things to learn from so that we can move forward and stop it from continuing to happen. There is an influx of constant people to Manila looking for work as well as the birth control issues that are giving Manila its baby boom which no doubt goes hand in hand with high disease rates and death rates. Housing is not the solution but part of it, education is the key to all of the solutions and awareness that things can change. Especially by the actions of many individuals instead of one body trying to help thousands. Take the same area and utilize it the way a container village has been built in Amsterdam :-
Its not a quick fix and its not the be all and end all of problems in slums but it could be a step in the right direction. Additions of things like schools within the communities to develop education for those that need it more than most to help not only with basic education but teaching the links between poverty and family size, disease and waste management as well as many other key things that can help people out of poverty. Social awareness of responsibilities of people within a community and forming a real bond within the community to keep it clean and functional. Strict controls on the numbers that can occupy units and enforce it as over capacity living gets things back to square one.
But how do you get people to take action in the first place is my current dilemma as I want to make this happen and would love to be able to start on a small scale project and work towards a large scale slum to village conversion. I have been putting together costs for the last 12 months on materials and equipment to build the first shipping container home as I need a show piece here in Cebu that people can see how viable this is and can be to utilize. I would like to place it in a prime location and be able to invite people in to the home to see the benefits and dispel the myths on shipping container homes.
Its not going to be cheap initially because of the way the Philippines has an insular protective economy to protect the rich. Basically meaning the initial equipment won’t come cheap due to import duties at the same time its value is in the fact we can use it over and over again so this investment would be an initial one and after that will only need maintenance and repairs.
It won’t be an easy step and I have already spent 12 months on this project looking at the viability of it at the same time I need to prove it works to get other people on board more importantly Charities, NGO’s and Governments to make this happen. The initial stage is in our hands to create the first modular shipping container home to show piece the possibilities. After that I am sure even people looking to build a home can see the benefits of recycling containers as homes which also helps the environment.
If you would like to donate to the project please do so at Low Cost Housing Project
There are many locations throughout the world that house building from shipping containers is not only viable but financially beneficial. The main reasoning behind this is primarily for those looking to do house building themselves. The shipping container as a building block is not only robust but is built above housing code expectations for a building. They may initially seem a small building block until you start cutting and adapting them something that those with even limited skill and knowledge around the construction site would be able to manage. In reality a competent DIY person could just as easily complete house building from shipping containers as a local building contractor.
Initially the project will seem daunting but that is another advantage you have with the shipping container as its already a completed unit. Your cutting away rather than trying to work out how do I build a second floor? how do I build a roof structure? In reality your actually going to be removing sections for doorways and the awkward bits such as insulation you can even get specialists in to help you.
The concept of house building with shipping containers has grown hugely throughout the current fuel and housing crisis. Some talk about it being green but I am not green in the way where I wake up and ride a bicycle to go to work and lets face it the green movement hasn’t grown that fast since 2008! In reality people are looking to save money on construction, others are looking to be able to build a sustainable home that is also minimalistic which also means reduced bills for electric,water and gas. If anything the shipping container homes are part of a price conscience revolution over anything else.
But what about all the negative stuff out there about shipping container homes? Look at them and how many are opinion only? to be honest I haven’t come across anyone so far that says its a bad idea that has even visited a shipping container home never mind constructed or lived in one. Everyone I know with a shipping container home loves them and on top of the reasons above you have the added benefit of being able to build modular and as your budget allows. How many other houses can be constructed that way?
If its not catching on with some people its probably more likely they lack the vision or the desire to own one rather than even looking at the benefits. For me it has one huge benefit at least 40% cheaper than conventional construction. Don’t know what that means to you but in the UK that’s 10 years of slave mortgage payments I will never make.
Worldwide container shipping was a newer development than people realise as it truly began as an industry after WW2 when America’s shipping industry was in dismay. Germany had successfully managed to close down sea lanes and cargo handling prices had gone through the roof at the seaports due to being labour intensive, A solution needed to be found and fast.
Malcom McLean bought Pan-Atlantic 1955 and was looking to merge trucking with shipping and knew to get it to work standardising shipping methods to not only accommodate the ships but trucks were going to be the solution. This is when the idea started to develop for the shipping containers and Mclean brought in engineer Keith Tantlinger to create the first containers. They would need to be not only weatherproof but also theft proof and capable of transferring between land and sea. On land its either onto trucks or railroad trains, the initial problems were more about getting organisations on board that could make the new international standard difficult to operate but it quickly became a huge success.
It was in 1956 Tantlinger altered a refurbished T-2 tanker with 58 x 30ft shipping containers which took 7 minutes to load a container in the Port of Newark. This set the president for others to follow and by 1958 Pan Atlantic was running freight between Puerto Rico into mainland ports. Between Hawaii and California a similar operation had sprung up by Matson Navigation.
It was in 1965 the demand and use of shipping containers overseas seen Port Elizabeth in New Jersey dealing with routes into Europe. It was the containerisation that seen Port Elizabeth rapidly over take New York Authority in International shipping trade for many years.
As the process spread of automating the containerised system it eventually moved into longshoremen’s labour contracts in the mid-60s at ports on both coasts this gave a huge injection to international commerce and the standardisation in 1961 and 1970 were the final steps in creating the stepping stones for the industry we see today.
The first trans-Atlantic container service started in 1966 with company Moore-McCormack Lines who transported mixed freight to Scandinavia, and within the same year also sea – land operations began with Newark, Baltimore and Rotterdam.
More changes came during the Vietnam war period which increased West coast shipping which began regular services in 1965 with military cargo. A year later seen Japan embrace the shipping container automation and a lucrative and highly competitive business between Japan and the U.S. opened up.
The consumerism market that opened up though may be as much a curse as the blessing it became as we are now seeing Western countries importing more than they are exporting which has created the rise of China against all other markets.
The discussion of cosmetic appearance as well as cooling and insulation properties often come up when talking about shipping container homes but half of the issue is people don’t think out of the box or that nature can often have the solution right in front of us. This development in the photo is actually inside an office complex providing natural beauty, a changing scenery as well as cleaner air all from a vertical garden which is artistic in design. The reason I picked this one out of the projects that Gsky have already completed is that its shape i similar to a shipping container,its indoors and if they can do this indoors why can’t we outdoors? May also help get round planning permission issues as it would be a living piece of art. Gsky do sell the products as well although not sure if they do international shipping. One thing is for sure though is this can be replicated with a bit of thought.
Things may appear a bit quiet lately but its all good to be honest except the cause! What happened is prices got to a point where I couldn’t see it currently being viable to buy one as it strained my budget too much to the point I couldn’t complete to sell the first one to buy the second. So being practical skipped it for a few months moving to things we need for the workshop as well as the apartments I am currently constructing here in Cebu, Philippines. What is happening instead of buying an expensive container and struggling through with trying to finish it to sell on a shoestring budget I have started to put together a shopping list of tools and machinery to allow rapid conversion once we get things in full swing. At the same time I have decided to abandon selling unfinished containers simply down to the fact the sellers are greedy and if I am being ripped off I don’t want to rip you off so advise go look for yourself then I am not the one over charging.
Currently the shopping list will consist of :-
- Table saw
- Router table (Will build)
- Air compressor + tools
- Welding machine
- Cross cut wood saw (we already have one for metal)
- New drills
Not a big list but an expensive one, ideally though the tools will be offering a better finish on many parts of the internal fittings as I was a cabinet maker/carpenter previously so being able to construct some things like under drawers for chairs and other furniture allowing maximum storage space as well as other useful things for within the units. I am currently taking caravan designs onboard as they offer the maximum amount of practical use for the minimum of space. So although the site has gone a bit slow doesn’t mean I have forgotten!