What is an expert in shipping container home conversions?

Matt Wilkie

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.

Modular home on concrete posts.

Klaas Modular House

After recent email exchanges with Brandon regarding the Klaas modular building I have started to look at the idea for a current project we have here in Minglanilla,Cebu,Philippines.

Because we have an area that has a roof on it already but it was originally supposed to be dismantled and a new concrete base added as a second floor. Then looked at the idea of a shipping container being added instead to save dismantling the roof as we could just extend the pillars then dismantle the roof later. This would save disrupting the store that exists underneath where the new building would be going.

But now looking at the construction methods of the Klaas I get the feeling not only would it be cheaper to create a steel deck and build up from it in a similar manner but it could easily be done in stages across the pillars. The design of the Klaas home/office is well suited for this type of work as well as other locations. I will advertise here Brandon’s website once its up and running for those in Malaysia.

The project isn’t going to happen overnight as I do have to head to the UK shortly but it will certainly be happening once work is setup in the UK. I prefer doing things while I am out of country simply because I can balance the books easier as the cash flow reduces rapidly when I am in the Philippines. With my wife as site supervisor and working with modular construction something I have worked a lot with this should be a project that is easy for others to follow. But more importantly one that can also be kept within its budget.

Recycle Or Build A Container Home?

This may seem to defeat the idea for some being “green” but here in the Philippines its not always about recycling simply because containers aren’t readily available.

shipping container structure

Take a shipping containers basic structure and what I see is a very simple building block that can be replicated side by side. and more importantly easy to build. Now what your doing with the container blocks will make a difference in the support structure and density of the steel for load bearing purposes. Why I am pointing that out is that someone may go “its cheaper to buy a container” well here in the Philippines its not unless you know something I don’t.

Your main dimensions you need to work on are based on transportation needs and not the home itself. For example if you took this open sketched version as a real building block you can actually attach other containers in any direction. Even stacking one on top and removing several of the floor beams for a staircase.

Why this is important is that from an engineers point of view it becomes extremely easy to put a value on materials as well as labour costs. You can decide on sections do you weld or bolt? but all in all you can get a real accurate price structure on your modular container construction.

Building them within standard transportation design metrics also means that you can make these off site or more importantly speed up production and lower costs. These buildings can be built in a factory and shuttered along on a conveyor system or as we used to do in the UK moved by forklifts. E.g. outside we used to weld the frames together before they were transported indoors to have the walls installed.

Pretty much the whole thing can be produced on site in a factory then all the modules can be joined together at their final destination. But that’s not always useful and with many of the areas in the Philippines its full of mountains. How many containers can you fit inside one if just cut and stripped down ready for putting together and welding/bolting? 2 – 3 trucks could be transporting virtually the entire house in parts that could physically be carried and erected on site.

This idea is something I have thought of due to one of my wife’s relatives having half a mountain for sale and this could see homes perched on the top and the most sensible way of transporting materials to the location.

Klaas Cabin–Malaysia

Klaas Cabin by Kinwai marketing in Malaysia offered this modular home design which I think will stir up a lot of interest in the design not just in Malaysia but most of Asia for those interested in modular design.

I have been talking to Brandon from the company and looking at the design of the home can see why this would be something that could be picked up by many markets in Asia. The first thing being that exterior wise the Klaas cabin has a rather unique and modern feel to it. Which if your used to the concrete jungle like the Philippines where hollow block concrete blocks are king then it brings a nice contrast to everything around us. The exterior cladding no doubt sits on an internal frame work which is then sees ply overlaid on the interior. Ok ply may not suit everyone but in reality its a “choice” and that’s part of modular building the ability to change parts to suit peoples choices and needs.

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The exterior layout with its roof light openings allow a lot of natural light to enter the building throughout the day. Obviously another section that can be altered to suit someone’s needs be it glazed, glass blades or even just vented depending on the persons needs. The wood framing around the windows add a finishing touch will adding a bit of security grilling for the home or office. Finished off with exterior lighting along the length of the building.

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The interior ply walls seem at home in the design which is a little bit strange for me as its not normally a “finished” use product for me. I do use ply like this but generally its flooring or sheeted over and then cladded. but with the wood flooring it looks very at home.

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All in all can see a lot of uses for this here in the Philippines as well as other countries and I am interested to find out more about the structural building and how it fits together. Is it built on a wooden frame, aluminium or steel? Because to be honest I can see my next office being built in the same way as this building with a similar design. I would like to thank Brandon for sharing their company design of their modular home product which by the way hasn’t got the limitations of shipping container dimensions due to being custom built! You can alter the dimensions to suit your needs and land space. You can contact Brandon regarding building enquiries at leisurehaus@yahoo.com

Shipping Container Office Buildings – Philippines

Gothong Southern - Shipping containers 

Shipping container modular buildings may not be the first thing to spring to mind when thinking of filling a companies needs in a tropical climate. At the same time anywhere near the ports it makes a lot of sense as its in keeping with the local area as well as easy to have delivered. Here in Cebu, Philippines I spent a day looking for shipping container modular buildings around the city and port area. A couple of reasons in doing so the first one being most people can’t believe people would use a shipping container to live or work inside because they are “too hot” and secondly I am very interested in cargotecture and shipping container modular buildings.

shipping container office and seating

This one I noticed when I first came to Cebu and it makes a lot of sense during the day to have seating so high up. Road dust off the main road is bad as well as the surrounding area being built up restricting airflow but also concrete density increases heat. Sitting up above three shipping containers your literally getting the best the local area has to offer with airflow and arguably cleaner air.

Shipping Container Office - Cebu, Philippines

Another Shipping container office one of the better developed ones but also its located in a shipping container yard so no issue in getting shipping containers for the project!JAJ Aggregates - Shipping container offices Cebu, PhilippinesJAJ Aggregates - Shipping container offices Cebu, Philippines

JAJ Aggregates is one of the most interesting cargotecture designs I have come across in the local area as its suspended one side of the building in air sat on two concrete pillars (you can’t see its Sunday which is obviously wash day). The two concrete pillars are sat behind the laundry.Shipping container building - Cebu,Philippines

 A shipping container office still in development. Something to do with a local truck haulier, often people live in the trucks and its likely this is either going to be an office for the vehicle owners or a rest place on route for the drivers. That extra bit of paint will make a huge difference to the left side!

shipping container office (32 inter connected containers) Road Island – Box Office 460

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Boxoffice460

This is a rather interestingly designed building that makes a colourful modern statement. Built from 32 recycled shipping containers it offers 12 office/studio units for business rentals. Constructed on a waste piece of land in road island previously the Harris Lumber yard. you can see how swiftly the construction came about in the video below. Another reason why shipping containers make an ideal modular framework.