Shipping Container Home

I hear more people say they wouldn’t live in a Shipping Container Home than I hear do. But in reality what if you had no choice? Western society is used to being able to pick what they want since before I was born. Times are a changing however but at the same time people are still able to get a good standard of living without as much work as those in China for example.

I came across these photos of workers in China who do have a Shipping Container Home the boom times China are currently in means many people cannot afford housing but will take what is available often that is shipping containers on the edge of a construction site.

shipping container home china

The element of choice has been removed from the equation and not only that the shipping containers are in a sorry state as well. Although it does seem China hasn’t dealt with the housing crisis yet its going to keep hyper inflation affecting the economy until it does solve the problem.

shipping container home china

Can’t live in a shipping container home because its too small? Well imagine this setup where a 20ft shipping container is shared with at least 4 people does look rather grim.

shipping container home china

For the couples you get a whole 4 square meters of space as you can see here with migrant workers 35-year-old Jiang Zhirong with her 35-year-old husband Gong. But this is the problem we are now facing as reality is kicking in that people in China will put up with a real struggle that makes things in the West seem almost trivial in comparison. They suffer with elitism and corruption that affects their entire trade and markets while damaging ours due to the counterfeiting and companies moving East to save money.

shipping container home china

Thing is I do believe things can be done better and that China should be doing more for its workers homes like these below can be cheaply mass produced and its stacking system making it cost affective for workers by lowering the space needed such as below.

shipping container home china

Problem for the rest of us is China doesn’t seem to be slowing and although the West seems to think there is some miracle in propping everything up by a capitalist empire its proving that manufacturing and farming will always be the backbones of economies regardless what people tell you with a pin stripe suit and shiny shoes. Fuel prices keep going up and “worker homes” may eventually become a norm in some areas especially for large scale projects. I worked in construction nearly all my working life and have to admit I have no issue with living in a shipping container home and with the end of peak oil and things changing it may not be “choice” but demand that will make the final decisions in future.

The Future Of Shipping Container Architecture

shipping container

One of the main issues that are cropping up with shipping container architecture is things are often pushed onto recycling being the green solution, then you get greens telling us how toxic the paints are and how transportation is a waste of energy.

The important thing is though if its available and usable its green. If it isn’t and in many cases they aren’t then we are looking at modular construction for buildings which is a more viable method for many uses. I originally worked on this type of system in the late 90s for use in classrooms and clinic construction in the UK as a temporary solution.

Temporary often means a decade as they are generally put into place as an immediate solution while discussions, planning and funding are found for building the main buildings that will replace them. During this time though many of these units would return after years of being in the field and be revamped before sending back out. Which does show the fact they were extremely reliable and resilient to weather. Add to that having slot walling meant that upon return walls would be rejigged to suit the new layout for the building they were becoming. Very little wastage as all windows and doors ended up back in other buildings if not used.

The fact is the shipping container idea developed this new concept which is now fairly old in use but still has a growing market which does appear China is gearing towards the housing industry with.

I can see this being the future of shipping container homes as the dimensions are still in place although the walling systems have been completely redesigned.

Shipping Container Homes In China

Shipping container home china - The sign reads "Cargo Shipping Container House for Rent/Purchase" (The Epoch Times Archives)

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.

Shipping Container Costs

The cost of a shipping container varies considerably and one of the main considerations when doing shipping container homes.

blue shipping container When looking at building a house from shipping containers, you have two main options constructing the home yourself or by having a specialist company built it for you.

Either way you should first look at the cost of buying shipping containers because locations make a huge difference in price and if the units are in surplus or in demand. Then there is the factors such as size and condition of the container units. Generally though there is surplus in most of the West the deciding factor if its viable for you or not is no doubt going to fall into location from source and price. Searching online you will be able to locate shipping containers easily but also worth keeping an eye out in your local classified adverts or even contact some local companies that have deliveries of containers. May even pay to put an advert out for shipping containers “wanted” as it may throw you some options you wouldn’t find otherwise.

Used shipping container costs are considerably cheaper when buying second hand units over new, it costs more to send them back to China than it does to manufacture one in China and send it, which is why you can often get shipping containers at low prices. Add to this though the costs of alterations and transport and handling of the shipping containers when considering this as a home building option.

We currently operate mainly in the Philippines but are open to external sources wanting to advertise shipping containers on a database to help people locate a shipping container. As well as shipping container manufacturers are also welcome to submit information to also be added into Shipping Container Living.

For a brand new standard 40’ Shipping Container you can expect to pay $1,500 upwards in the United States. At the same time here in Cebu Philippines its around P90,000 for a 20’ and P140,000 for a 40’. Although prices vary on demand drastically due to what would be unseaworthy elsewhere are still utilized between islands.

Solar Decathlon Entries Offering Up Some Amazing Energy Efficient Modern Homes.

image China’s Tongji University offer up this shipping container home for new couples on a budget.Appalachian State University entry, the Solar Homestead Team Canada - TRTL design is based on the mound shape of Southern Alberta’s Native peoples' homes. The perFORM[D] House by Florida State University Hawaii's Model home Re_home, by the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign The Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem was the inspiration for the University of Maryland’s WaterShed house. Middlebury College designed this 2 bedroom gabled home. It has a green wall in the kitchen and its primary focuses were family orientation in communal areas. Victoria University of Wellington From New Zealand entered with First Light Ohio State’s enCORE is a family friendly energy-efficient solution. Stevens Institute of Technology partnered with Habitat to create Empowerhouse. This 1 bedroom home offers up great energy efficiency that consumes 90% less than most homes for heating and cooling. INhome offered up the Purdue design home which has a self watering green wall, air purification system and also conserves warm and cool air Team Belgium’s E-Cube - Modular home

Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology offer up the CHIP home a house of the future which has a layer of "outsolation and its energy use can be controlled with an iPAD application  The State University of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of Technology - created the ENJOY House which has an inverted roof hip that is calibrated for optimal solar energy and rainwater collection

 Team Florida’s Flex House offers passive cooling and shuttering to reduce heat. The Solar Roofpod is from Team New York - based on reclaiming wasted roof top spaces.

4D comes from Team Massachusetts utilizing passive cooling aswell as still keeping the home simple in design.   Living Light’s UT Solar Decathlon House - Designed by the University of Tennessee

Unit 6 Unplugged by Team Tidewater Virginia to create a solar home with a beautiful porch and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The 2011 Solar Decathlon has seen 20 teams enter the competition from around the world at the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. it opens on September the 23rd and well worth taking a look if your in the area. I find the most interesting entry from China doesn’t offer up anything too fancy but I do find a lot of the entries a bit rectangular in design. Nothing wrong with it but the China’s Tongji University design seems to offer something a bit more interesting in shape. Its a personal choice though. Plenty of ideas on show as well as unique and interesting buildings.

Shipping Container Restaurant – China

Looks like China is getting in on the Shipping Container buildings although not the first project I have come across, although most are modular buildings being sold for export prefabricated and fitted in China. The seafood restaurant in Tianjin, China is a different setup though as its using recycled containers and part of the Beitang Container Project. Not a lot of information on Beitang can be found online although does seem to be some major fish food production going on in the region. The smart thing with the container design though is the utilization of roof spaces for seating as it obviously makes a lot of sense to put the diners in the open air and create a secondary seating area.

Shipping container seafood restaurant in Tianjin, China

Shipping container seafood restaurant in Tianjin, China Shipping container seafood restaurant in Tianjin, China Shipping container seafood restaurant in Tianjin, China Shipping container seafood restaurant in Tianjin, China

Wish I could find more information on this project but there doesn’t seem to be much on the internet and I can see this is likely to be a fairly large scale project with more interesting photos from inside etc but can’t locate them. If your in the region or have photos please send them over as I would love to share them on this article with everyone. Also if you have more information on the Beitang Container Project and if its an ongoing project or if they have multiple sites etc would also be interested to know more.