I remember living in Germany before and finding the banks often in odd remote locations. Partly because we were with the military meaning there are plenty of soldiers in remote places needing access to money as well as having a good tax free income offshore. But also the farming communities still needed servicing for bank access. Odd to think though that many banks go extreme on security when more often than not reducing funds available or putting in a public place may actually reduce the risk of robbery in the first place. I remember talking to a bank manager before regarding “front of house” the counters we see when we are withdrawing funds. The maximum he said he ever had on the front of house was £30,000 which isn’t a lot considering 10 years in prison if caught in the UK robbing a bank.
At the same time modern banking today has tried to remove cash from the system where possible meaning most people don’t need large cash amounts and more likely just after money for a night out on a Friday and ordering a curry. Which makes these smaller shipping container banks ideal for many locations especially with banks being keen to squeeze as much profit out of us while downsizing branches all over the place.
When looking to buy a Shipping Container for property use of some description the first issues should be what planning issues you may hit. In many cases the regulations don’t interfere with shipping containers as they are seen as “temporary buildings”. I know someone who has a huge shed which has only two restrictions which were height and square metre size “per year”. This meant that although he couldn’t go any higher than one level he has literally built to his maximum square metre limit every year for the last 10 years giving him a workshop that covers at least 800sqm of floor space more than he will ever need. At the same time due to the type of work he did it also suited him as the majority of materials were recovered from replacements on roofs of properties he was repairing that the owners were just glad to see the end of.
Now if your unsure or thinking your going to struggle hit the car and head round looking for people in your area and maybe ask in places like Yahoo answers about “city building codes” in your areas. The reason for this is if you can find people who have already done it you can find out how they got round the problem. Often it can be a green city engineer involved who can help push the idea and get it passed. Before I submit any paperwork for requirements I normally sketch up some rough plans and invite those who are likely to oppose the idea to come and view the location and talk about it as well as show them how it won’t become an eye sore to the area but actually enhance it.
Once your sure the planning isn’t going to be an issue its time to start hunting a container down. Ports may be the obvious way to find a container but what about searching for hauliers in the area? For example one near my parents delivers wine to a warehouse everyday but the containers leave empty back to port. This means there is a good chance you can cut a deal on the container delivered to your door if they have a spare one available saving on the commuting costs as you will hopefully only be paying for the container plus the delivery cost from when its unloaded at the yard if anything.
Classified ads are another place to find containers but often you will come across containers that don’t have any way of being loaded which means you have the expense of loading and unloading which is fine if you can locate equipment near both locations to do it or negotiate that loading is the sellers problem. Often though in the classifieds you can find shipping containers for free because they may have been put in location for a tool shed for example while an office complex or house was built and now its in the way, which is why it may pay to get one of these especially near the end of a construction job as there may be a JCB or other machinery that can lift it already on site and a quick £20 in the drivers pocket and your loaded.
I moved out to the Philippines due to thoughts running through my head in 2007 that firstly the housing markets were overpriced but secondly there was no starter homes being built to get me on the ladder to pay off the debt 100% within 10 years. Instead I was looking at homes bigger than I needed which in turn would leave me up to my neck in debt as well as expensive heating and electricity bills for space I would under utilize. All these were signs the world had gone housing mad based on presuming more people would be paying more at the bottom to feed the obsession of profit on houses at the top.
In reality it wasn’t and isn’t sustainable and the collapse of the markets today show it to be fact. Problem is now banks are lending less money to less people where do you get on the ladder to start with? Homes are often still too big for first time buyers due to budget restraints yet shipping container homes could be the alterative for low cost housing. I have to admit though I don’t think low cost has to equal low quality.
Advantages of low cost housing using shipping containers is that your development can be done in phases and done correctly adding enough insulation in the walls to make the home have a great insulation property from not only the elements but sound proofed. Adding to that designing the house round the environment it exists is also an important factor. For example living plant walls or shade provide a way to shield the house if in the country side making it pretty difficult to notice its even there. Same as constructing along mountain sides or other locations that obscure the fact the home is there. On a city front colours can be used to brighten up the location or blend it into its surroundings all adapting to existing buildings in the area.
Most importantly the footprint is small in square metres allowing land to be purchased for the task at reasonable cost or should I say could even be bought cash in some cases. Allowing the budget to also be phased in over time. As the budget allows you can adapt construction to it matching the funding to the containers being bought so that the first container offers up a 1 – 2 bedroom small functional home which is limited but once a second level is added you can expand the home out and continue to rise 3 – 4 storeys high on a small piece of land.
Planning issues may be an initial problem which is why I request anyone with photos to share the homes they have built and how they got round any doubts town planners had on your projects.
I believe shipping container homes can give homes to families on limited budgets just as much as it can give homes to an eco friendly couple or architect looking to win a design prize. They are a housing solution being embraced in many countries already but with the excess containers at ports this could be a recycling project that can solve both housing and the dumping of the containers no longer needed.