When most people think shipping container they are thinking a solid steel box used to transport goods around the world. A unit that is able to rust easily and overheats in the sun at the same time cold when temperatures drop.
In reality you have this on the left, a blank canvas for modular construction the box like shape gives you a starting point that has many alternatives in its construction and not only that its easy to work with. The skill set needed for self building is reduced drastically down to weights and possibilities, design is reduced down to budgets and creativity. So when you think container think of the drawing as its the basis of modular construction that is sustainable and often from re-cycled units allowing a reduction in waste at the same time putting it to good use. Also using the shape from the drawing takes away a lot of the boundaries people set in their mind and allows the thoughts to flow on how to attach multiple units together to form up a home. The important thing to remember though is the strength comes from the outer frame the wider parts shown on this side of the drawing.
The cantilever house is a prototype project to be built near Granite Falls, Washington in the Cascade Mountains North East of Seattle. There is also a second prototype in development for an urban site in San Diego. These projects are part of an exploration of opportunities in prefabricated techniques and modern construction methods. Ideally to develop low cost high quality housing.
Although the building site for this prototype has quite unrestrictive zoning constraints, the challenging topography and geotechnical conditions play a strong role in defining the overall design strategy. The small ground floor building footprint/foundation reduces the cost of this expensive area of the house, and allows the points of attachment to adapt to varying slope and soil conditions.
There are two main systems for this project standardised mass produced building elements, prefabricated steel frames commonly used for inexpensive light weight commercial buildings. As well as SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panel Systems) that provide non glazed building areas. Significant savings are made by using the same low labour intensive structural panels for walls, floors and roof section.
Although the materials and methods of construction are chosen for efficiency and affordability, the underlying design principles guiding the development of the system have the larger goals of producing affordable, high quality buildings that offer variety, adaptability, convertibility, strength, simplicity, spatial richness, and optimized access to views and light.
KLC READY HOME I came across this video earlier today which covers many things in a simple process of why shipping containers make a good home but also issues regarding use of ventilation to help cool the home naturally which in budget housing is critical to keeping costs down. The video has also been put together very professionally which also helps in its marketing. The company is based in Jamaica probably where the name ““Kingston Logistics Center Limited” comes from.
The setup is no doubt internationally but also I believe for organizations looking at helping develop shanty towns for example its solutions are viable.
Not exactly a modular home but its still modular in form. These would be a welcome sight in many an airport as it would allow a quick nap with all your luggage secure, making those long haul flights with long waits between destinations at airports bearable. Arch Group came up with this novel idea and its size is only 4 square metres in floor space. Mood setting LED’s adjust to give you the ambience you need to relax and it has just enough room to suit 3 people to have a power nap before carrying on with the journey.
Thing is travellers are more concerned about time and money. Going to a hotel takes both and shelling out on an overpriced airport hotel at that. These temporary and moveable structures offer up a very viable solution as you can rent it for as little as 30 minutes. Good ventilation also helps keep the Sleepbox fresh as well as electric blinds to help shut out unwanted light and a bit of privacy to get changed.
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?
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.
Now 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”.
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 :-
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.
Similar to a shipping container home but in a modular slot wall type system the Containix units make a nice finish to the home. Eric Criens sent me an email of his home off the coast of Venuezela this morning and I wanted to share the photos as it covers a lot of different stages of construction with shipping containers or modular type homes.
Quite a lot of useful information in the photos and from an installation already complete. I would like to thank Eric for sending over his project photos and if anyone else wants to send theirs in as well they are welcome to do so.
At first it may not seem relevant to a shipping container home but then when you start to see the design uses, size, shapes and overall use of space they do fit into container homes as either something that can be done with shipping container homes or for getting some ideas. At the same time modular floating homes also bring up some new questions such as why aren’t more people doing this. Here in the Philippines there are plenty of locations these types of homes would be safe from tidal damage or bad weather but also may be a cheap solution to some of the housing issues in the Philippines or even space for those yachting enthusiasts looking for a weekend getaway with friends or somewhere to return to in the evenings.
Or for waterways that aren’t prone to heavy flooding or rapid waters they could also make an ideal stop off floating hotel for boat tours or a bit more of a unique experience. The natural cooling of the water will help keep these buildings at an ambient temperature although the power connections could initially be an issue to get to the homes at first unless solar/wind is used.
Back in the UK its good to see the 6hrs construction going in, I came from the construction trade and spent years in modular as well as exhibition carpentry. The fact a house can be located within 6 hours shows how good modular construction as well as shipping container homes can be if done on a mass production. Dropping houses in one after the other. This home had its interior finished that day and part of the following, at the same time having several teams dropping these types of modular homes you could literally be looking at a completed house every 2 days after released from factory making it a quick turnaround to live in.
1st place has to go to D3 Architects for this unique home design that is not only functional but very modern.
2nd place goes to Blue Brown for their modern home design utilizing a second roof as well as maximizing their floor area.
3rd places goes to this Restaurant and home in Thailand that puts practical and functional to the test. Small floor area but the added spaces and canopies make this place look a lot bigger than it really is.
4th Place goes to Port A Bach in New Zealand mainly down to maximizing the containers usage and space. Best use of space I have seen yet.
6th Place goes to Seattle for the C320 home by Hybrid Architecture for this modern retreat.
8th Goes to Queensland Australia for this very functional and practical building that puts usage before anything else every part of the container is utilized to the needs of the research site.
9th Place goes to Texas for this artists home/work area which is cozy by design as well as offers a pleasant home that doesn’t leave a blot on the landscape.
10th Place goes to Sri Lanka for this retreat maximizing local materials to form up a second level as well as offering a practical weekend retreat.