Should the UK look seriously at container housing for homelessness?

Brighton,homeless

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.

 container housing,shipping container home,container,shipping container

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.

Charity pressures councils over million empty homes

This is an odd thing in the UK as there is thousands of houses left empty and the worst offender is the government. Failed regeneration schemes, buying out of buildings for other reasons as well as empty caretaker and other ex use homes from past government posts are laying empty all over the place. Working inside the government housing sector before previously the issues are often more complex than they seem.

First issues are many have been left empty for years meaning for them to be utilized by government for social housing it would require considerable investment for any property due to the strict regulations. E.g. rewiring, re-plumbing,renewing the gas installation including all pipework, renewing bathrooms and kitchens over 25 years old etc. etc. these are all part of “politics”. You see what happened is people started to set housing standards that the government past on to its social housing these standards in general cannot be met for multiple reasons the main one being cash flow but also the quality of tenants isn’t great but their expectations and needs have increased.

What happens then is this situation where councils have properties they can neither renovate or rent out and although some of its down to stupidity often more than not its more to do with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. I remember an allocated property lot we received from the Royal Air Force for the housing association I was contracted with at the time. They had specific requirements to be brought up to standard yet even the basics were behind coming from another department. E.g. Our guideline is no more than 25 years on a kitchen or bathroom yet every property we received hadn’t had any major work done for at least 35 many still had coal bunkers and exterior toilets. Although they had a new bathroom installed at some point (still well past 35 years ago) which gave them a toilet indoors you get the picture of the state of these homes.

Why is this all relevant to shipping container homes your wondering? It shows the madness of society we live in where there is so much red tape and legislation that even the government creates problems for itself which also means getting your shipping container home through planning may be an initial battle. BUT the important thing here is the more people push through the more acceptable it becomes and the more people can do it. Personally I think there are many developments the social housing sector could benefit from using shipping container homes themselves as a long-term solution if not short-term for the housing shortages in the UK.

The other way to look at it is most of these houses are old and rundown the investment into them would be extremely costly and a stalemate is currently what we are seeing. Often its easier to rip out and start again rather than renovate and the shipping containers are a cheap option to the solution.

Yes this gets away from the green solutions but there are very few options open for these homes currently not in use and over 2 million families regardless as homeless in the UK but its a thing to ponder on how would you fix the problem?

Shipping Container Homes The Moral Choice

For me the Shipping Container Home is not only likely to become the home of tomorrow but the moral choice of today. There are many reasons behind my thinking although recycling is part of the reasoning more importantly is abandoning consumerism as this isn’t recycling its stopping things being used and wasted in the first place.

Shipping container homes generally are smaller and designed round specific needs to peoples requirements rather than the cluttered lives that many people live. I remember as a child a teacher mentioning that he nailed his loft hatch shut and the reasoning behind that is if something goes up into the loft its very likely you don’t need it and more importantly it will never come down again. Different teacher had similar thoughts about a bag in the fact you might as well have a small bag that is easy to carry as carrying a big bag you carry a lot of things you don’t use. Both thoughts have method in the madness as I look at many homes and I see under utilized space all over the place. But also just as important disregarded items which is why you see things like “send in your old mobile phones for charity” as they know people shove last years phone in drawers never to use again after they got an upgrade. But for me I think why do I need an upgrade? can’t I have a downgrade in my costs? Last years phone is designed for many years of use why would I want to shove it in a drawer just for the sake of getting a new shiny toy?

I think this is part of the consumerism gone mad that has leaked into society that shipping container homes can improve how people see the world for what it is. If there is a TV company out there maybe its a reality show you can work on and take some major consumers away from all the gadgets and give them a more minimalistic lifestyle but monitoring not only the impact it has on productivity and general wellbeing but also financial gain from not wasting money on things they never needed. Although don’t see advertisement companies too keen on this idea.

The discussion came up the other day with a friend of ours heading back to the UK as we live in a similar way where all our possessions can quite literally fit into 2 bags ready to move anywhere in the world. Neither of us are hippy, neither of us are poor in fact when you balance it up we are probably a lot more wealthy than the majority of people as we abandoned everything that was associated with fixing a location or more to do with increasing our burden. We rent rooms when we are working in a location and long term we don’t live in the UK we just work there. Someone’s going to convert my air miles here to do with my carbon footprint I am sure at the same time take into account that my energy consumption in the Philippines is well below consumer UK not only in home wastage but the fact my commuting is heavily reduced.

But getting back on track it was the abandonment of consumer goods that has made huge financial gains for those that choose to remove the iPAD and BMW lifestyle on credit for hanging onto the car for another few years or getting a new unfashionably economical car over ego, or keeping the desktop PC instead of a shiny new iPAD that looks good but offers up nothing worth writing home about. More importantly having money in the bank!

This all fits into Shipping container home lifestyles as the minimalistic approach is what comes as part of the package. As well as the fact you can build yourself and in modular form meaning the only real upfront big investment is the land your sitting the new home on. Everything else can be added as and when it can be afforded or needed. Its the common sense approach to life having what we need rather than what we want, sure its nice to eat lobster and dine out but everyday? having large houses and having to heat/cool them are a wasted expense alongside the fact energy resources are getting more and more expensive yet downsizing you would instantly be saving even if you didn’t go down the shipping container home route.