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.
I have already heard of some people struggling to get hold of shipping containers due to demand at the same time I do believe its more of a regional problem as freight containers end up more in ports than obscure areas of a country. Fact is the governments may be telling us its all a glitch, a recession, something that will just go away but in reality we have been importing way more than the economies of Western countries can afford to pay for. On top of this when I look round I see most of the stuff is things we don’t even need. So is it a bad thing if all this stuff travelling half way round the world reduces and you don’t get this years replica shirt of your favourite sports personality? I don’t think so as simply consumerism is a beast that has almost brought the West to its knees about time freight being imported was re-evaluated and even tighter embargo’s being put into place to help reduce debt.
Freight into homes is still not a problem even with the rise of people picking up on the shipping container living simply because there are millions of containers sat in ports all over the place. A reduce in freight tied with the recession means that shipping containers are just as likely to stay in ports if not more as quantities of goods reduce. I am sure even if container living when mass production in recycling containers we still wouldn’t get through the excess stock over a 10 year period. So those thinking its a fad and that shipping container prices may get out of control due to demand, I would just say its not going to happen. If anything rethinks of shipping containers is going to happen and redesigns such as foldable containers are going to be more and more on the market if the container business stayed the way it is. On the other hand with huge drops in exchange rates in the last few years its more likely we are going to see more containers on return journeys and a balance of trade starting to develop, Time will tell.
When you go through shipping container homes you will find a trend in the majority of them that they are recycling and trying not to mess around with the area they are housed in, But is this enough?
Earlier looking at the shipping container house in Maui it hit me how they had added to the area by shading the building at the same time hiding it. What this also means is they had actually brought new plant life to the area as well as the new home.
Which gets me onto the subject of are we thinking enough “out of the box?” as obviously planning permissions and permits are often a headache but wouldn’t being over green actually hide the house and enhance the area making it harder for them to say no?
We are in the middle of a so called green revolution of some description, disappointedly it seems more of a middle class fad of fashion in the UK rather than actually trying to do our bit. Driving 20mins to offload the empty bottles at a bottle bank isn’t exactly helping the environment. In many cases the recycling isn’t even viable or green its more a case of “look we are trying something so give us a pat on the back”.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t have home knitted jumpers with a Greenpeace badge or smoke roll ups. I’m a realist not a green activist. For me its more about downsizing and being less of a consumer than bottle banks and paper recycling. Container homes are a step in the right direction but also have to think we could be doing more for the areas around our new container homes.
As you can see in this blog we collate container house designs and projects all the time but is it just a modern fad? In the UK doing your bit for recycling people will talk about the fact they bought a hard wearing reusable bag and no longer use plastic ones at the supermarket. But to me its simply a token gesture and it shows more on the fact the bags are made to look trendy over usage, and where did the bags come from in the first place they weren’t made in the UK!
At the same point people argue about toxic paints and moving the containers to their final destination as someone’s container house. But these eco greens never talk about the cost of doing it in traditional ways or practical solutions. Why am I looking at building a container house? well its not to do with the environment its down to the fact its affordable and I can do all the work myself which in real terms for the UK labour costs 40% of the build cost. Reduce the material cost as well drastically how much are we talking to build a shipping container home in the UK?
In reality people take pride in ownership of a home and isn’t more “eco friendly” to actually be building homes that are sustainable and affordable than arguing about how much toxic paint was used in the original painting? Damage was already done and its unlikely most of the paints people are talking about actually do any harm unless you start messing with them too much.
A container house is something I can see governments not being happy with as its borderline temporary accommodation which also means there must be reduced tax implications on the land that it sits. But for most people its the achievement of being able to own a home that takes priority and a container house can offer that.