Personally I am never keen on the word expert as I prefer that everyone keeps an open mind and constantly learning.
The fact is that container conversions are not a new technology but many of the products on the market to do with the conversions as well as the way people live and think have changed.
The other side of that being the arguments between what products to use and if they work or not. Ceramic paints for example are an on going argument. Personally I think multiple solutions to insulation are worth the effort but isn’t this all to do with container living?
The fact people have choice and more control over the home they are building?
Bit like people who say that its not viable and they get too hot yet I have just recently returned from Oman and guess what container units are used for workers all over the place. The company I was working for has their own pre-fabricated modular unit structures and that camp houses 5,000 people. So is it viable? Of course it is and extremely cost affective.
Even if you looked at container living for a short period of time as often you hear the 10 year life span of container units used. I would estimate this is based on little to no maintenance rather than regular. But even if you worked on that scenario and the cost of constructing the unit how much would you have saved in that period of time on what you would have spent on a mortgage elsewhere?
Basically for me an expert in container living needs to way up all the options and not what often seems to be narrow opinions. Because its not all about sustainability or living green. Sometimes its about cost affective other times bringing food to the arctic circle. There is no outright expert.
Big problem in the UK these days is the fact housing prices are over valued. You will still get people argue the fact that there is a huge demand but at the end of the day the market cannot support the pricing structure that is currently in place.
In fact so much so things like the government buy back schemes that were introduced when the last Labour government were on their last legs politically are a prime example of propping up the market.
In reality though many people struggle to make it on the housing ladder or in a lot of cases are literally living destitute in the streets all over the United Kingdom. For years now though I have been watching to see if anyone will grapple with the strict housing laws to introduce a bit of common sense on. Because lets face it a container house is better than no house at all.
Also after working as a Building Surveyor for many local authorities and housing associations I can see a market for these types of home and I will explain why.
Its not from the clean bit of promotion of container living but dealing with parts of society that are often difficult. For example drug addicts that have rights of housing often destroy the place they call “home”. Containers are easy to strip out and refit due to their design. The minimalist structure also reduces costs on refits.
But what about the people don’t they deserve better than this? Have you seen the container homes that exist in Amsterdam? They are more than sufficient for housing needs and its supposed to be a home not a palace.
You have a nice size kitchen, functional bathroom and sleeping area how big do you need to have a property when living alone? Even as a couple these homes are extremely functional.
Now I take you back to what I was saying earlier about damage done to properties because often these figures get hidden from the public eye. Imagine this home with the plasterboard punched through, a lighter used to burn names in the ceiling, kitchen smashed out, door on the toilet punched, windows smashed.
Now your talking about many properties I have dealt with over the years. But the advantage of a container home is you can rip it out same day and start a complete refit the following. Because lets face it one of the key factors here is that everything is to shipping specifications which means all the dimensions are fixed. No measuring of the kitchen counter as you know how big it is. No funny shaped walls or doors being a different size. You can refit as modular units.
These types of homes could save councils and local authorities a fortune for the rough tenants they often get stuck with. But moving forward from that you also have care in the community projects. These are also ideal for that part of the community as they can be easily adapted for people with special needs who still want independence.
Students, first time buyers you name it there is someone who would say I would live there! So what is stopping it happening?
Planning regulations and artificial inflation of property prices. That’s pretty much it because the need for it is there and personally if I was single I wouldn’t have an issue with living in one as my first home. In fact I know many working men (I say men because its primarily them!) that are stuck in crappy old bedsits due to the costs of maintaining an ex-partner and at least one child. These could be a cost affective,clean modern solution to housing problems all over the place for multiple needs.
Yet I think we would have to argue with the government and protest to actually get them to accept that these types of homes are a real solution to part of the UK housing issues.
We have had a few container homes in Canada but this is definitely the most recent. 12 Containers are being utilised to form social housing for women in the downtown Eastside of the city.
The project is looking to complete by April 2013 and is the brainchild of the Atira Women’s Resource society, which bought a lot in 2009 to build traditional housing.
The idea was put forward by the society to BC Hydro who were giving away two containers to a non-profit organisation. Which eventually seen a further two containers donated by Atira with the remainder being purchased from the Port of Vancouver.
The design has been modelled on existing shipping container homes in the Netherlands and Europe. Which to me makes sense as you learn from other peoples mistakes and experiences.
The residents will be women over the age of 55 who currently reside in a shelter.
“What we hope is to set up an intergenerational program,” Abbott said. “We have housing for young women next door and we’d like to set up mentoring relationships between them.”
The accommodation will see the older women paying $375 a month rent while younger tenants will be charged 30% of the market value to help pay the $500,000 mortgage on the project.
The containers which give a floor area of 320sqft are going to be stacked 3 high and offer private bathroom, kitchen and in-suite laundry to the tenants. Window coverings from floor to ceiling offer up a lot of light on the ends of the unit with an external staircase linking each unit.
There will be an open house on completion before the properties become occupied with an estimated $100,000 per unit in construction and material costs.
“While getting them here and getting them stacked is extremely satisfying and exciting, what I’m really looking forward to is handing over the keys to the women who will live there,” Abbott said from the site where the containers were being unloaded Friday.
On a green note if the containers hadn’t become housing they would have very likely been shipped back to Asia and eventually melted down as scrap. That’s if they didn’t sit at some port rusting away.
Shipping container houses are still a bit of a Taboo subject when people talk and think about housing but good to see the market is changing. Not only for recycling but also container housing often means downsizing the excess that people often live with. So whatever way you look at it container housing offers some valuable and environmental lessons for sustainable living.
As I was up in our transport office (some of you are probably not aware I am currently working in Dubai and Oman) but noticed some container units had turned up and were busy having electrical wiring done.
They are from another site where we have worker camps and currently these are being moved off site as the construction project is finished. Nearly 500 of these units.
Sturdy and clean due to the design but also gave the opportunity to show what you can do with sandwich panels you find in things like cold room stores at restaurants. As changing the type of panelling on the units that are foam centred in a slot wall system does give quite a nice finish.
Internally looking just as clean and fresh as well as functional. As you can see the wiring is on going and the electrician was wondering why I was poking my head round the corner taking photos.
Would have to look at changing the roof design if building these though. But the photo also lets you see what the end of the foam panels look like.
Gets back to the argument often used where people say that they are too hot to live in. Well after several month out in the desert and also spending time in portacabins for accommodation on sites we were surveying I can honestly say the containers work! We have had temperatures above 50 degrees and sandstorms and the containers stand strong and offer comfortable living.
My three months in Oman on contract has been an interesting time as I have travelled large parts of the country. From Muscat to 1000km away into the desert with many places in between.
A bit of time in the oil fields I can see there is a market for container buildings and not just in accommodation and offices. One of the biggest problems I faced was related to health and making sure I got enough daily fruit and vegetables.
It got me thinking about the issues relating to large scale camps and improving diet. How many lost work days are caused by a weak immune system or other diet issues?
This is where I think trying to promote shipping container gardening would work well. For other areas maybe electricity is an issue as the energy used could be expensive. But in reality there is excess power due to by products from oil removal actually being used to run turbines so power isn’t a problem at all. Transportation is for getting goods to the remote locations and so is it generally in Oman as its a fairly dry hot country.
Shipping container food production however could actually give great rewards by reducing the amount of sick days people are likely to have but also improve peoples health and wellbeing. Will be pushing the idea forward as part of my recommendations before I leave the country for the Philippines.
Also there are issues of subsidence relating to the fact many structures are quite literally built on sand. Modular or container construction could also be a way round many of these issues as they are more robust but just as important can be moved when needed.
Work camps work well here and impressed with the rapid setup of structures. Setting a steel frame structure up then over cladding gives a clean living space which is also very strong and functional. Will drop some photos later as I need to get the camera from one of my work colleagues.
The Maersk Triple-E vessels are the largest shipping container ships in the world and there are several design reasons why.
Ok not going down the route of the obvious being “its bigger” but there are some design features including the altering of the hull shape to allow more cargo to get carried as its designed to go slow and work more efficiently. Sacrificing some aerodynamics to gain space at the same time the ship is designed for load not speed.
I think when Maersk started looking at the Triple-E vessel they were realising the world markets were changing and being more efficient doesn’t just lead to reduced running costs but adapting with a changing market. Going bigger than other large container ships that it has in its fleet while getting running costs down have been a major feat in the success of the Triple-E vessel.
Another interesting feature of the Triple-E vessel the largest container ship in the world is that as speed is not its primary goal optimisation of its fuel use has taken more of a priority and they actually utilise the exhaust gases to make more energy making it one of the most efficient ships on the planet.
What many people don’t realise is due to the scale of ships the faster they go the bigger the Co2 problem becomes. Not in that 1 knot = 1 pollution but as you increase in speed the problem of Co2 emissions magnify to a much larger scale. Making a ship that runs at lower speeds and more efficiently reduces this problem and this is partly why the Triple-E vessel has become a world class leader in efficient shipping. What this realistically means that we are seeing on average a 50% reduction in Co2 per container moved from Asia to Europe.
The worlds largest container ship Co2 emission comparison against other transportation.
- The Maersk Triple-E vessel has 3g of Co2 per container per 1 Km.
- Average train has 18g per 1km Co2 emissions per container moved.
- Truck 47g of Co2 emissions per 1km travelled per shipping container.
- Airplane 560g of Co2 emissions per 1km travelled.
All in all you can see why shipping is one of the most efficient ways to transport goods but also why the largest shipping container in the world is also extremely green.
Shipping container homes seem to be becoming not only for the DIY and emergency housing market but also as a trendy green choice.
The shipping container home that has appeared in the Hamptons is a symbol of what you can do with a shipping container home even if your moving away from being green and looking to be a bit more upmarket.
Meet Beach Box, its a shipping container home in the dunes of Amagansett, New York, off Montauk Highway. The home isn’t so striking externally but internally its a completely different thing. The idea was developed by Andrew Anderson with six container units from New York-based SG Blocks.
What may seem a little strange is that the SG Blocks containers on the upper level house the kitchen whilst downstairs there are four bedrooms. The upper though has been utilised as open plan allowing for the sea breeze and light to carry through the home. A large kitchen, sitter and dining room upstairs gives a feeling of space due to the layout. With an exterior roof deck gives somewhere to unwind in the evenings enjoying the scenery.
2000 square feet of home with 1,300 square feet of exterior deck space this isn’t a cramped shipping container home.
To help with cooling and the look of the home the exterior has been cladded with fiber-cement and the windows are all low-E glazing to make them energy efficient.
This won’t be a cheap beach home though by the way your looking at an asking price of $1,395,000 and with more lots already purchased by the developer there are more shipping container projects likely to be appearing in the Hamptons with asking prices of over $4million.
These projects are being done by a UK Based charity their website seems to be a work in progress but the concept of the conversion of a shipping container as you can see is a lot more simple than many people realise. Not sure about the solar panel side of things as they don’t have a battery backup as well as no ventilation for the heat build up from the computers in the container.
But then again I am not in Africa and acclimatised to the environment as the kids there may not even notice. I have computers here in the Philippines which are in arcade boxes sat outside the home. I can’t go there because of the mosquitos they seem to love my white legs, but the local kids will sit there for hours completely undisturbed as they are used to it but also I have noticed that with some things locals don’t seem to get affected the same way. Red ants for example I was stood near a beach and they were climbing all over my feet and biting me. But I could see my wife’s feet they actually just went round. Haven’t a clue what the difference was but its happened with other things as well.
Anyway getting off tangent! The shipping container internet cafe is obviously a project that is already working and spreading computer training into developing nations. But another area people often overlook when sending aid is why not convert the containers in advance then load them with the materials that they are sending for projects? Instead of shipping the container back it stays and actually becomes part of the community. For example this where its all panelled and ready to be used as an internet cafe but could just as easily have the far end prepped for shipping with the computers etc. and the rest of the container utilised for sending other materials and equipment.
Darsky dreamed up the idea as he wanted people to see the authentic 5,000 pound wood fire oven he had imported all the way from Naples for his pizza’s. This seen the removal of one side of the shipping container before it was refitted with glass framed doors.
A very unique use of a shipping container but also a very practical one with being able to open out the side of the unit as no doubt it gets extremely hot with the oven reaching temperatures of over 800 degrees.
60 seconds it takes to cook a pie from the oven and its lowered to a cashier via a special rack. I could see this being great for concerts. Although coming in at $180,000 to build in the right venues this could easily be in profit in a short period of time.
Going the authentic oven route is something that food lovers will saviour but also making it extremely visual will also help increase sales. I wish Darsky well with his venture!
Images :- Del Popolo’s Facebook page