I was sent an article regarding shipping container homes and buildings saying how toxic and impractical they are with a lot of information but with no facts backing any of it up. Toxic paints in what way? Pesticides in wooden floors what hazards do they pose after they are installed already? In reality its what I call Green Propaganda. Its irrelative as nothing is factual and just opinions a lot of hot air without actually delving into such things as have you spent any time with shipping container home owners? have you talked to them about real costs in the construction? have you even bothered to find out if there was anything dangerous or toxic relating to the containers they used?
Answer to all these questions will be without a doubt no! they haven’t bothered to look and ask, also there is no scope to anything outside of their window. For example the basis may be that they are living in America and can only think of America. What about Africa, Asia or other locations that have a huge slum population that modular shipping container buildings can offer a real solution?
Why can it offer a real solution? because its cost affective in many ways, talk of many of the countries first issue you come across is CORRUPTION. Shipping container projects can be prefabricated and dropped onto site reducing the risk of money disappearing from the projects. Secondly its cheaper especially if labour is scarce which in the Philippines getting good trades people is often difficult. So having building block structures that remove the risk of things like poor mixed concrete where its common place for the mix to be reduced so money can be stolen gives a school as is shown here that will not collapse in the way we seen schools collapse in China during earthquakes. Its not just practical its a secondary safety net.
The argument that also came up is shipping containers are too small to live in. Really??
Better rush down and tell these guys they should be rioting instead of happy for the housing the received. Here in Talisay, Philippines because they are smaller than a shipping container, but then again they don’t have plasma TV’s, need a bedroom for every child, large kitchen etc. etc. because they used to one room living. The advantages of this type of housing is its cheap and fast but also reinstates self pride and self respect. Yes I know they aren’t shipping containers and its currently something I am looking into as I want to do a price comparison on construction. The point was the physical size of houses people are prepared to live in.
Now as a foreign national I can understand space being an issue yet the article didn’t cover cutting out wall sections and welding units together. Neither did it look at any other real solution to combining units together. One solution could be to attach an empty unit (similar to this below) which is a basic shell. Its dimensions are the same as a sealed unit and allows for containers to be attached in whatever direction you want. Depending where you are its likely to be cheaper than a contained unit as a contained unit here in the Philippines has a “scrap value of the steel”.
Now what if I am a westerner wanting to build a shipping container in the West??
Labour costs in the UK are around 35 – 40% of a house construction, shipping container homes can be done mainly by the owner and friends bringing that cost down by at least half if not more.
Land needed is reduced as shipping container homes are generally smaller in dimensions meaning they need less land which means they cost less to construct because you buy less land.
Running costs are lower because your using a smaller land area and if insulated correctly its likely to be more energy efficent I have had a victorian and edwardian house in the UK and they are cold in the winter even with the heating burning money away due to the high ceilings and type of brickwork.
Modular costing is the main reason it makes sense to me. Because if you buy a house in the UK you pay up front and stuck with a mortgage for 25 years. But if you buy land in one phase then your containers as you can afford to add things in a modular costing form how much cheaper is it?
Well I will give an estimate based on Worcester England as its where I live generally when I am in the UK. More expensive to live than many other regions but will work for a comparison I will take what is available which left 2 properties one is in a council estate and the other is a 1 bedroom home :-
Mortgage period 25 years
Monthly cost £614
£614 x 12 x 25 years = £184,200 (COST OF LOAN £84,200)
Shipping container home version :-
Land for Sale in Evesham (why Evesham because we want to move out of the City to a more rural location)
Guide Price: £20,000
Size: 2.5 acres (This is a big piece of land for the money)
Land Type: Small Holding
Planning Permission: No Planning Permission (not yet although allocation of temporary structures will be)
First concern is the £20,000 which is a huge chunk of change, I can either wait 2 years and save the money to buy the land cash (if its still available by then) or look to get a loan. Either is an option although if taking a loan on would involve a lot of hunting around for price comparisons and being able to pay it off early without penalty.
Even so if we estimated a cost of £35,000 to complete the purchase after all the interest was added in a worst case scenario we now have land to start our project on. The issues would be trying to negotiate the land usage with a “temporary structure” as shipping container homes often fall into this category and if needed look at pushing forward on other developments. I would be keen on a site as large as this to look at raising cattle for food as well as vegetables and fruit trees. Isn’t this more viable, sustainable and a better option than the house at £100,000? Wouldn’t it also be cheaper to construct, cheaper in loan payments, and cheaper to maintain? Isn’t it also a better location away from the city to give children a better environment to grow up in?
I struggle to find the logic in the fact assumptions that shipping container housing isn’t viable. May not be everyone’s cup of tea and I know many people sceptical of the idea at the same time they have never lived in or been to a working shipping container home which leaves their imagination thinking of a rusty old container.
Could go a little further than that with the holiday home concept where you will find literally thousands of caravans in the UK or in the US “trailer parks” full of temporary homes or weekend retreats depending who lives there. Many are smaller than shipping containers yet people pay a small fortune to live in them during peak holiday seasons near the coast.