Is Corruption Stopping Sustainable Development?

I have put a lot of time in looking at alternative housing construction methods in the Philippines from different angles.

Some sustainable living others more cost related to construction. But one of the major factors in disaster relief I think comes down to corruption especially at ports.

Because a lot of the pricing can fluctuate not only for specialised goods that may see a “special tax” added but also even local construction. Concrete, steel bars etc. fluctuate in price and often without any real reason.

But this gets back to some of the housing ideas for not only container housing but also modular and social development. Because a lot of the equipment needed for foam injected walls for example and a regular supply of the sheets and chemicals involved where do they come from? Importing is a huge headache and I believe the same can be said for many locations that badly need not only sustainable but emergency housing.

By the time you have paid all the taxes and cleared ports how much money disappears? But it goes deeper as you can find charities well aware of the corruption and political issues tied to the money that “helping” brings.

So much so that I believe that its budgeted for and as such it then becomes the norm and almost encouraged. The hidden figures on where your donations go, and an encouraged black market that doesn’t help local populations.

For me its frustrating as I like many others like to create jobs and help places develop. I recently started a call center in the Philippines because I know it can boost local employment. As well as many of the population are already suitable and just need a bit of training.

But you start looking into everything it can mean a bit of grease money here and there to get things moving. Something I am not really prepared to do, don’t mind talking politics over lunch but brown envelops or hush money isn’t the way I do business.

May sound a bit off tangent but the same no doubt goes for people looking to develop housing projects and other large scale operations. Its not all on the surface though which is the problem. As helping locals you try your best and deal with the cards your dealt with. Normally people coming from outside won’t be familiar with local pricing and labour costs and obviously this is an easy thing to manipulate without even trying.

 

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.

Why Shipping Container Buildings Make Sense

 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?

shipping container school Manila

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.

Community Housing Project Talisay,Cebu,Philippines – Gawad Kalinga charityNow 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”.image 

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 :-

1 bedroom terraced house for sale

Cost £100,000

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.

Is A Shipping Container Home Good For All Countries?

I find a lot of the information on shipping container homes rather generic and do wonder how many of them actually have or do create container homes themselves. Lets face it there is millions of people out there looking to make themselves the next big thing on the internet but is it possible? Recycling other peoples data only goes so far. I collated the information on here across the web simply as a source of ideas for shipping container homes its not the be all and end all and its not all the solutions in one place (give me enough time it might be though!). But the one thing I can say is that shipping container homes are probably the most adaptable home on the planet to its environment. I have seen shipping container homes in deserts, ice cold arctic conditions, tropical climates (that’s me) and pretty much everything else in between.

Cost affective, easy to source, easy to work with are all good reasons for shipping container home construction. But also add to this the fact it can be made thousands of miles away prefabricated at low cost and then shipped in its own box its also financially viable even for custom built homes. But it doesn’t stop there as cargotecture and green construction are a couple of the main reasons people went with shipping containers as buildings in the first place as its something available and often disused or excess to requirements. Recycling has been a key driving force to the shipping container home moment. For me its a bit more complex as my main reasoning is anti-corruption, I live in one of the most corrupt countries on the planet and pre-fabrication at a factory with fixed pricing will help stop some of the corruption (not all as I have no magic wand) but disappearing funds as much as 70% vanishing from projects is a bit more difficult when the box is sign,sealed delivered on a fixed price. I have no doubt local politicians won’t go for it but doesn’t mean that many of the NGO’s and charities operating here won’t as it balances the books easier especially if involved with the social low cost housing market, as well as disaster relief with water purification plants and generators to get communities functioning again as quick as possible. The shipping container is not only good for all countries but possibly the only real functional building that can do what its asked again and again, this is why the shipping container movement grows year on year.