Over the years I have noticed a trend of things having to be done by “experts”. If you watch a lot of TV shows its not a case of doing it yourself but getting in people to do tasks. This is simply removing the ability from many people as instead of reaching for the toolbox they reach for the telephone to get things done. Air conditioning like many other things can be done by people at home. That includes servicing which I recommend every 3 months personally with filter cleaning every month.
Anyway just wanted to share this video of air conditioning being installed in a shipping container as it does show how quick and easy it can be done.
The viability of shipping container homes is something that I am constantly finding an uphill battle with as many people dismiss the idea as unrealistic. I think tied with the peak oil issues and population explosion of the planet although people want the big spaces they are used to with all the gadgets I think its more realistic to see people downsizing in future years as the cost of living increases. Its good to see though this snippet in mainstream TV showing that shipping containers aren’t only viable but also already here.
Many people get puzzled by the fact others are choosing to build a Shipping Container Home never mind wanting to build one. In reality a Shipping Container Home is cost affective but not always in obvious sense. Out here in the Philippines for example shipping containers are getting close to construction costs using concrete. The differences are though by building a Shipping Container Home you are likely to be building a smaller better designed home compared to conventional structures. On top of that utilizing more local materials than you would normally you can see the project being environmentally friendly as well.
But it doesn’t stop there because I know people start to calculate in fuel costs to get the shipping containers to site and the detoxifying the containers before use. But what about aluminum containers as they also exist. What about the fact because you built a smaller Shipping Container Home than you would have built a normal home means your heating and cooling less giving you a lower carbon footprint long term? In fact most people using containers for home are happily minimalistic and looking for a more outdoor surrounding rather than bricks and mortar. This means the inside space may be smaller but also that your more likely to sit on a porch or have an outdoor dining area giving a more friendly environment to live.
These are but a few reasons I choose shipping container homes over conventional structures.
Its probably one of the biggest issues facing container homes as well as the reason many people get put off from building a shipping container home. In reality though there are several options open to people and they don’t all involve specialist equipment.
The best insulation comes from a foam spray currently that can be added externally or internally. Generally I would advise externally as it saves wasting space on the inside of the structure. At the same time the foam spray doesn’t leave spaces for vapour build up which could cause rust or rot long term.
There are DIY kits as shown in the one I added from Amazon personally I advise getting a company in or looking at hiring the industrial equipment especially if doing the entire container also remember to get safety gear as this stuff is extremely sticky and another good reason to get a professional in is insurance.
The next method is using things like glass fibre or injected insulation in between cavities internally or externally. First issue is that it doesn’t seal 100% and if vermin find their way in they can nest inside the walls. It also doesn’t carry the same insulation properties as the foam with a much lower rating currently although like most things in the industry everyone is pushing for better quality and standards so that could change. Also looking at alternative methods there are many other things that can be used on the same principles but I advise a bit of time and research on any insulation methods as every salesman doesn’t give you the negatives just the sales pitch. For me I would go with the batten method with many projects purely down to low cost and also ease of installation.
Specialised insulation or heat reflective paints are still in the early days but do work to some degree can’t really rate them myself as I have yet to find some here in the Philippines but do know the industry says their great while other people are a bit more skeptical so would need some feedback on these types of methods as simply it needs “proof in the pudding” rather than industry fed information
The other method which is my favorite but not always easily available is natural cooling which can be as simple as placing the shipping container home in a shaded area, building a trellis on the side that gains the most sun and growing plants that will cover the trellis. Or raising the building off the ground to allow natural heating and cooling due to using the elements to assist. During the day air travels under the home at the same time the sun heats the exposed ground area which at night naturally can heat the home. Adding into the mix air ducts to naturally force cool air through the home with no running costs or adding a secondary angled roof to use as shade as well as rainwater harvesting are all alternatives. One I thought of while visiting someone’s farm recently with spring water everywhere is running natural water flow under or over a building to cool the building from the water supply while using the same feed to the fish ponds so that the water isn’t wasted.
For me the Shipping Container Home is not only likely to become the home of tomorrow but the moral choice of today. There are many reasons behind my thinking although recycling is part of the reasoning more importantly is abandoning consumerism as this isn’t recycling its stopping things being used and wasted in the first place.
Shipping container homes generally are smaller and designed round specific needs to peoples requirements rather than the cluttered lives that many people live. I remember as a child a teacher mentioning that he nailed his loft hatch shut and the reasoning behind that is if something goes up into the loft its very likely you don’t need it and more importantly it will never come down again. Different teacher had similar thoughts about a bag in the fact you might as well have a small bag that is easy to carry as carrying a big bag you carry a lot of things you don’t use. Both thoughts have method in the madness as I look at many homes and I see under utilized space all over the place. But also just as important disregarded items which is why you see things like “send in your old mobile phones for charity” as they know people shove last years phone in drawers never to use again after they got an upgrade. But for me I think why do I need an upgrade? can’t I have a downgrade in my costs? Last years phone is designed for many years of use why would I want to shove it in a drawer just for the sake of getting a new shiny toy?
I think this is part of the consumerism gone mad that has leaked into society that shipping container homes can improve how people see the world for what it is. If there is a TV company out there maybe its a reality show you can work on and take some major consumers away from all the gadgets and give them a more minimalistic lifestyle but monitoring not only the impact it has on productivity and general wellbeing but also financial gain from not wasting money on things they never needed. Although don’t see advertisement companies too keen on this idea.
The discussion came up the other day with a friend of ours heading back to the UK as we live in a similar way where all our possessions can quite literally fit into 2 bags ready to move anywhere in the world. Neither of us are hippy, neither of us are poor in fact when you balance it up we are probably a lot more wealthy than the majority of people as we abandoned everything that was associated with fixing a location or more to do with increasing our burden. We rent rooms when we are working in a location and long term we don’t live in the UK we just work there. Someone’s going to convert my air miles here to do with my carbon footprint I am sure at the same time take into account that my energy consumption in the Philippines is well below consumer UK not only in home wastage but the fact my commuting is heavily reduced.
But getting back on track it was the abandonment of consumer goods that has made huge financial gains for those that choose to remove the iPAD and BMW lifestyle on credit for hanging onto the car for another few years or getting a new unfashionably economical car over ego, or keeping the desktop PC instead of a shiny new iPAD that looks good but offers up nothing worth writing home about. More importantly having money in the bank!
This all fits into Shipping container home lifestyles as the minimalistic approach is what comes as part of the package. As well as the fact you can build yourself and in modular form meaning the only real upfront big investment is the land your sitting the new home on. Everything else can be added as and when it can be afforded or needed. Its the common sense approach to life having what we need rather than what we want, sure its nice to eat lobster and dine out but everyday? having large houses and having to heat/cool them are a wasted expense alongside the fact energy resources are getting more and more expensive yet downsizing you would instantly be saving even if you didn’t go down the shipping container home route.
Its an odd setup living in a shipping container home to others who can’t see the advantages of doing so as its also a life choice as well as every other reason that makes us decide to do it. But who is right and who is wrong? Well you will get every excuse why its not a great idea and in fact many people will think your crazy. Odd thing is though after its constructed and they have visited I do wonder how many minds change in an instant as it becomes practical and moves from a box to a home opening up the possibilities of options to them they didn’t see before.
For myself I really don’t mind peoples negative perception on the subject as I have yet to hear anyone who has either lived in one or used one as a temporary home e.g. troops in Iraq complain about it as those who have used them can see the benefits over other designs and materials. The recycling side of things also interests me but as I live in Asia its a bit of an odd one as most leave here never to return sat on dock sides all over the world where import outstrips exports.
If you don’t believe in it that’s fine as well as everyone is free to make their own choices that’s the whole point of life if we were all regime we might as well be bar coded and have a lobotomy.
Although having a background in modular construction the shipping container as a home was something new even though its initial outer frame is an initial building block I had used before but in a new system involving slotted walls and brand new containers. But this end of the market isn’t viable in many cases for building as many people are looking for a budget solution as well as a green one, starting from scratch simply doesn’t fit into that specifications. This is why it was all new as I had to take onboard the issues of using recycled containers as well as the capabilities within they’re design.
What I would say though is reading through this blog its full of home examples and many are private individuals happy to share information with you. Its worth spending a couple of days going through the different designs to see what fits in with your taste and needs but also there is information regarding the construction methods used in shipping containers as well as long-term maintenance solutions that are being integrated with the blog. We will shortly be starting to add designs and ideas into the blog as well from designs I have personally worked on.
On top of this its worth doing what I initially did which was spending hours online looking at different companies that manufacture as often they give planned layouts of projects they sell. Not always ideal for everyone’s needs but the ideas and layouts are good frameworks to start from and look at when deciding what you want and where you want things positioned in a shipping container home. I have also added several useful resources below with ready made shipping container home plans :-
quik-build.com – This link will open you up straight into the .PDF with drawings for the home design.
demariadesign.com – Link will take you to they’re project page based in California they can provide plans as necessary.
Another interesting place I haven’t mentioned before is spending time on YouTube as its a strong source of shipping container home examples but also worth going through Google Sketch up as you can find some designs to use as building blocks.