When I originally started looking at shipping container homes I was specifically looking at modular construction. As time has gone on more people seem to be developing much smaller homes using the same concept. I don’t think its down to just a tiny home movement but a sign of the times. In the last few months I have noticeably seen the price of gas increase for cooking, food prices increasing and petrol at the pumps. All in all things are going up in price and we can either prepare for the worst and hope for the best or look at downsizing to help accommodate the changing world.
My previous home was a Victorian terraced town house, tall ceilings, open fire places and brickwork that let the wind just breeze through. In the winter times even with heating on it was not only expensive but still struggled to warm. Insulation injected into the walls, changing sash wood windows to double glazed, installing gas fires over the old coal fires all these bits of modernisation helped solve bits of problems but created more. First one being the expense of the upgrades next as the upgrades went in things like the gas fires over the coal cost more to run. A case of developing an old house with new problems and its one of the reasons I started looking at container housing. Building something that could be developed efficiently from the start, but also using recycled materials would allow the home to be built at a reduced rate.
Now the picture has changed a bit more as I see the sizes I originally looked at may be still viable but are they needed? I rent my apartment out here which is a studio type where the sitting,dining and sleeping are are in what would be dimensions of around 20ft x 12ft. Bigger than a shipping container in width but also looking at the room you can also see a lot of wasted space in the middle of the room. The bed is there day or not as well as a dining table, 3 chairs, 2 computer desks, 2 sofas and a wardrobe. This space isn’t maximised but shows it is extremely livable.
Its why I can see the world changing as the balance of wealth between East and West alters which will see people trying to maintain a standard of living in the West and downsizing the home is one way to do it. Also adding to the fact the population explosion globally is going to see some severe affects on resources such as oil and food, we are already seeing the start of the decline of peak oil.
The relative to this and shipping containers is were are seeing severe turmoil in the shipping fleets right now as they are being forced into bankruptcy or downsizing as the global markets change and Western demand reduces. The International Transport Workers Federation said it would support taxes on bunker fuel and vessel emissions as a way to pay for air pollution reduction efforts. For me I ask what have the “taxes” we have already paid and regularly pay done so far? In the UK we have multiple taxes on cars yet no effort is made to reduce the emissions in a sensible way. If anything its only used as an excuse to get more money from tax payers. Adding another tax onto ships just adds it on to the end consumer.
The belief being that these taxes would help developing countries fight poverty and climate change. I live in one of these corrupt banana republics and the fact is aid has stalled development for decades because it blocks rebellion. The UK government for example are well aware that getting the current financial system wrong will lead to rioting and a forcing out of the current politicians. Here in the Philippines, doesn’t exist there is a constant stream of cash coming in from abroad from overseas workers, NGOs and charities to keep a false state of security and hope. Stagnant but bleeds money from the West has it fixed the problem? no its kept the same regime in power and no doubt for the benefit of private companies over that of nations.
You see when I hear about things like a “green climate” fund and all this ideal world and healing it there is no depth to it. In reality there has been no leaps in nations developments simply because the governments are corrupt and civil wars. The reality is they don’t want development unless they control it at which point Billions disappear into private bank accounts and sent overseas.
The ITF are a typical example of either living outside of reality or in fact looking to ride the gravy train of so called change. We have employed thousands of people worldwide with sorting out the climate but how many have produced anything of value? Everyone wants to tax us but nobody seems to offer a solution just a hand out for a pay cheque.
“Negotiations are at a complete standstill – despite us being in a situation where emissions are still rising, the forecasts are becoming increasingly grave, and extraordinary weather conditions are destroying jobs, homes and peoples’ lives,” said Alana Dave, ITF climate change coordinator.
There are more jobs lost due to the economic turndown and in reality these jobs have been recreated in the East due to the greed of the corporate world wanting to produce things cheaply sacrificing Western workers for Eastern. If anything corporations needed to be heavily taxed on any of their imports that “could” be made at home. Its not rocket science if something can be produced at the same quality or better in a home country it should be highlighted as the one to buy over ones transported thousands of miles. Taxing ships makes no difference to trade whatsoever but taxing the businesses that have encouraged the exodus of business could be simply by reducing the distance travelled by goods. No extra revenue needed from you or me and at the same time generates jobs locally.
I apologise for this on containerliving.net but often I feel the world has gone mad with things. I hear people talking about they’re rights in a selfish manner as if they have the right to destroy something because it benefits them. In reality the planet is changing and nobody is sure why completely, the fact is though I have lived in the UK and seen tax after tax introduced for environmental reasons yet nothing changes. The fact is I am happy to live in a “box” a shipping container home and downsize everything which even in the global crisis pretty much can show if done how it makes very little difference to ones life if everything is put in balance. The fact is Western land is overpriced in many regions causing the cycle of debt and homelessness. Changing from a consumer world to a world that can tell the differences between want and need would really change the environment we live in. Education is more important than anything else these days.
This is a bit of an odd scenario to be in as I have been hearing for the last year about shortages of shipping containers in specific areas. But now we are starting to see the downsizing of trade and ships taking goods from Asia into Europe with Maersk as well as other companies cutting 20% of its capacity between the regions and no doubt as things continue to worsen that will reduce further.
This does put at risk the shipping container home movement as obviously the less containers to go around, the less viable shipping container homes because of containers starting to maintain a value and the scale of imports and exports may actually improve due to the growth in Asian economies, as people start to want more European products as things level out.
The green movement will no doubt approve of the decline at the same time those just wanting an affordable home may need more convincing.
The thing about this concept is its something we are looking to do in the near future depending how the rest of our projects go. The roofing for example could have another use due to its span and that’s to add rainwater harvesting either for irrigation or things like toilets. The complete project came in at $200,000 and could have been halved if it wasn’t for the issues of location which left no man power in the area and access difficulties for transportation/machinery.
The concept has been simple which has raised the containers from the ground to reduce risks of bugs, snakes and rainwater but also to keep them individual units as this allows for moving to another site without too much damage to the environment. The inside of the units have been fitted out but at the same time the exteriors have been left pretty much intact.
All units are joined together by a simple decking area which I could see the opportunity of something like this in the Philippines as a simple retreat or cheap accommodation rentals with a bit of privacy.
All in all the whole idea makes a lot of sense to me with the maximising of space which also throws up the question how much stuff do we really need when most Western homes are at least 4 x the size of a container. Not only would downsizing save on the obvious of electricity, gas etc it also helps to reduce consumerism.