Is flat pack housing the future?

Its not the latest idea but I do wonder if flat pack housing is the way to go for the future especially if labour costs are critical factors.

Because mass producing stackable wall units and other sections of a home can not only be cost affective but also extremely quick in comparison to traditional housing methods. The same can be said for “unique” homes as you take a standard design and construction method using original flat pack building methods and introduce with it the odd shape or alteration in the design. Which in reality leads to mass produced panels coming off a factory floor while the unique parts go to a bespoke part of the factory.

flatpak,flat pack,house,slot walling

But it doesn’t stop there because when you work with things like a slot wall system where your literally dropping walls in then sealing them up. Your talking a huge saving in labour construction time compared to a traditional home design.

Its things to way up when looking at if you should go down the flat pack route or go with a traditional home. Because on the surface going down the usual routes may seem cost affective but factoring in labour costs and some of the maintenance issues. You may find that the change into flat pack which if they are adapted from industrial and commercial design could have some unique benefits. E.g. easy to clean and maintain, easy access for cable runs etc.

Personally I like both although not a fan of “modern” mass produced housing that you find on estates but do like flatpack and traditional older type houses. Mainly on the older traditional houses as they do have better construction methods but also extremely expensive ones (I am talking houses over 100 years old). With things like traditional oak beams and lath and plaster methods used. But with a carpentry background I do like the unique and original wood.

At the same time understand the world is changing and things are beginning to get expensive. Moving away from what we would “like” and to what we need is going to become more of an issue as time goes on. The same as the materials and resources used in construction. I can see more and more foam injected panels becoming the norm because they are both cheap and efficient. In the same way the outer and inner skins becoming more acceptable as “finished” and quick to install.

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.

Should the UK look seriously at container housing for homelessness?

Brighton,homeless

Big problem in the UK these days is the fact housing prices are over valued. You will still get people argue the fact that there is a huge demand but at the end of the day the market cannot support the pricing structure that is currently in place.

In fact so much so things like the government buy back schemes that were introduced when the last Labour government were on their last legs politically are a prime example of propping up the market.

In reality though many people struggle to make it on the housing ladder or in a lot of cases are literally living destitute in the streets all over the United Kingdom. For years now though I have been watching to see if anyone will grapple with the strict housing laws to introduce a bit of common sense on. Because lets face it a container house is better than no house at all.

Also after working as a Building Surveyor for many local authorities and housing associations I can see a market for these types of home and I will explain why.

Its not from the clean bit of promotion of container living but dealing with parts of society that are often difficult. For example drug addicts that have rights of housing often destroy the place they call “home”. Containers are easy to strip out and refit due to their design. The minimalist structure also reduces costs on refits.

But what about the people don’t they deserve better than this? Have you seen the container homes that exist in Amsterdam? They are more than sufficient for housing needs and its supposed to be a home not a palace.

 container housing,shipping container home,container,shipping container

You have a nice size kitchen, functional bathroom and sleeping area how big do you need to have a property when living alone? Even as a couple these homes are extremely functional.

Now I take you back to what I was saying earlier about damage done to properties because often these figures get hidden from the public eye. Imagine this home with the plasterboard punched through, a lighter used to burn names in the ceiling, kitchen smashed out, door on the toilet punched, windows smashed.

Now your talking about many properties I have dealt with over the years. But the advantage of a container home is you can rip it out same day and start a complete refit the following. Because lets face it one of the key factors here is that everything is to shipping specifications which means all the dimensions are fixed. No measuring of the kitchen counter as you know how big it is. No funny shaped walls or doors being a different size. You can refit as modular units.

These types of homes could save councils and local authorities a fortune for the rough tenants they often get stuck with. But moving forward from that you also have care in the community projects. These are also ideal for that part of the community as they can be easily adapted for people with special needs who still want independence.

Students, first time buyers you name it there is someone who would say I would live there! So what is stopping it happening?

Planning regulations and artificial inflation of property prices. That’s pretty much it because the need for it is there and personally if I was single I wouldn’t have an issue with living in one as my first home. In fact I know many working men (I say men because its primarily them!) that are stuck in crappy old bedsits due to the costs of maintaining an ex-partner and at least one child. These could be a cost affective,clean modern solution to housing problems all over the place for multiple needs.

Yet I think we would have to argue with the government and protest to actually get them to accept that these types of homes are a real solution to part of the UK housing issues.

Shipping Container Homes Flexibility In Being Modular.

Shipping container homes are the home of the future due to their extremely flexible structures.

Although many people have an idea of what their ideal home looks like in their mind ask them to sketch or design it and things start becoming rather foggy. In reality we are often told things or fed things via media without even realising it. Is your ideal home for example going to have a rather pitched roof? Why is that? This is a typical example of what I am talking about as its a TV stereotype that is often seen as the home we want. There is no real reason the roof has to have a pitch in the way people imagine except for the fact we are pre-programmed with many things as right and wrong without any thought to does it really make any difference?

In reality we are often put off things as being a bad idea or not the norm because everything is based round particular social designs and thoughts. But the funniest thing here being that shipping containers can be modular design and this is why it also fits into this even though its thinking out of the box.

The modular way to join containers side by side or stack means people can physically imagine an object when designing a shipping container home. Measurements are fixed into each container giving you fixed measurements for each module in the home.

What can put people off though is the space odd thing is living in Asia I have seen people living in single rooms with 6 – 10 people and pretty much everything is in that room including cooking facilities. That is taking minimal living to the extreme but the point being homes have gotten bigger and bigger over time. Yet our debts have grown with them as well forcing up land and home values with it and for what? Its an artificially inflated market and I am much  happier if living in a 4 bedroom home with 3 rooms rented out paying my mortgage off. Than I would be with an empty 4 bedroom house where I am working night and day to pay for it.

Quality of life is all depending on the routes you take in life, modular shipping container housing can give you low cost housing that can be adapted and extended as a family grows.

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.

klaas cabin,kinwai,malaysia,modular,prefabricated,prefab,house,home,construction

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.

klaas cabin,kinwai,malaysia,modular,prefabricated,prefab,house,home,construction

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.

klaas cabin,kinwai,malaysia,modular,prefabricated,prefab,house,home,construction

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

Podd – Australian Prefabricated Shipping Container Housing

podds - Shipping container homes Australia

Podd have also caught onto the niche of container/modular housing and are producing these modern designed homes for use in Australia. The construction takes an estimated 5 hours on site which isn’t bad going and internally looks great. The roof is also hydralulic to save time. Initially designed to help boost moral for mining employees but I can see a lot of people finding a use for these little homes.

The houses are made using shipping containers. The additional walls, ceilings, and floor structure are constructed using Austral exflam sandwich panel composite.

Podd Container housing - Kitchen and sitting room Podd Container housing - bedroom Podd Container housing - bathroom Podd Container housing - sitting area

Although the space seems small due to its design and colour and lighting affects the place does seem a lot bigger than it is. I love the design which is more inline with professional business than hobby farming or off-grid living. A rather unique shipping container house which others may find acceptable as a hotel chalet or conferencing rooms. Very professional finish love it!

Shipping Container house – Studio H:T

 Studio H:T - Shipping container house

This house was constructed and designed by Studio H:T and resides in Nederland, Colorado, USA. Its floor area is approx 1,517 square feet and to be honest the design they put together did get me first wondering if it was just a modular house until I seen the construction photos. The paneled walls make the home look rather unique but also to the point that its use of mixed colours contrasting with the environment actually make it blend in with them even more. Add to that the home is set in a V shape the sitting room opens up the wild open spaces and fantastic views. One of the most unique and interesting designs for a shipping container house I have seen so far and probably one of the best.


 Studio H:T - Shipping container house  

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Homebase Shipping Container House Advertisement

Not a functional house as such and more about promoting “rooms” than a home yet each shipping container module does show what can be done with a bit of thought and obviously the Homebase range!

The other positive side to this is obviously its brought shipping container housing to the main stream media without even discussing it but showing what can be achieved in a modern way.