I hear more people say they wouldn’t live in a Shipping Container Home than I hear do. But in reality what if you had no choice? Western society is used to being able to pick what they want since before I was born. Times are a changing however but at the same time people are still able to get a good standard of living without as much work as those in China for example.
I came across these photos of workers in China who do have a Shipping Container Home the boom times China are currently in means many people cannot afford housing but will take what is available often that is shipping containers on the edge of a construction site.
The element of choice has been removed from the equation and not only that the shipping containers are in a sorry state as well. Although it does seem China hasn’t dealt with the housing crisis yet its going to keep hyper inflation affecting the economy until it does solve the problem.
Can’t live in a shipping container home because its too small? Well imagine this setup where a 20ft shipping container is shared with at least 4 people does look rather grim.
For the couples you get a whole 4 square meters of space as you can see here with migrant workers 35-year-old Jiang Zhirong with her 35-year-old husband Gong. But this is the problem we are now facing as reality is kicking in that people in China will put up with a real struggle that makes things in the West seem almost trivial in comparison. They suffer with elitism and corruption that affects their entire trade and markets while damaging ours due to the counterfeiting and companies moving East to save money.
Thing is I do believe things can be done better and that China should be doing more for its workers homes like these below can be cheaply mass produced and its stacking system making it cost affective for workers by lowering the space needed such as below.
Problem for the rest of us is China doesn’t seem to be slowing and although the West seems to think there is some miracle in propping everything up by a capitalist empire its proving that manufacturing and farming will always be the backbones of economies regardless what people tell you with a pin stripe suit and shiny shoes. Fuel prices keep going up and “worker homes” may eventually become a norm in some areas especially for large scale projects. I worked in construction nearly all my working life and have to admit I have no issue with living in a shipping container home and with the end of peak oil and things changing it may not be “choice” but demand that will make the final decisions in future.
I’m a bit bias in this because I am used to hotel working as a contractor, being able to fit everything into a bag or a suitcase is normal and with container homes its also getting into the same realms. But then I start looking at projects around the home as my type of work changed from hands on to a laptop and meetings. In reality the woodworking and other tools I collected are pretty much just gathering dust in the garage of my parents. Over £10,000 of equipment that aren’t even seeing regular maintenance never mind usage.
For the home they will never be needed again but it gets me to the DIY issues that crop up where people head down to the hardware store at the weekends to get all the bits and pieces to do a simple job. Talking to them they will say they can’t afford a professional yet what they have been buying says otherwise. The tools will often only be used once and the job never completed to a professional manner. If it is that normally means its taken longer than it should, in reality people exchange weekends for repairs. The best example I seen was the head of a university I was at when his kettle broke. He had started to repair it when he suddenly just threw it in the bin and got one ordered for next day delivery with our usual supplier of other goods. Why? Because his hourly rate was £50 per hour and its going to take him an hour to fix the kettle by the time he stripped it down, fixed it and put it back together again. Whilst buying a brand new kettle was less than £20 and at least it should work for another year or more.
This gets back to the argument of giving up weekends as time with friends and family are precious. We work hard all week why should we be taking up our time under the sink or repairing something else? A professional can come in and get the job done in half the time and although not going to be cheap it ma work out to save a lot of time in the long run and if done properly money as well.
Doesn’t mean don’t have a woodworking shed or some other hobby it just means if you are going to go to the hassles and cost of buying machinery and tools make sure your really going to use them. Otherwise its a waste of money,time and space. All in all its how most people live these days with a lot of stuff around them they hardly use. Even if not considering a shipping container home I bet there is plenty of things you could de-clutter your house with and benefit from it.
The world changed from being social to being more in a bubble, I don’t call Facebook or Twitter being social its text across the airwaves its not sitting in a library with real people or going to a local pub with friends. Its isolation in the modern age where people banter about the little things in life generally that most people aren’t interested in. Real social engagement seems to be unfashionable for many yet for humans it is normal. Shipping container villages have probably got more going for them in a community sense than most streets these days. If we look at caravans and trailer communities the bonds between people are a lot better than most neighbourhoods. One of these aspects is that limited space makes people spend time outside with others. Sitting on the porch talking to neighbours, community group meetings, children playing together many of these things have been removed from general society. Not all to do with what people live in but how things are built and how people interact.
SNAP Hydroponics is something that has been developed in the Philippines for sustainable living and livelihood. What makes it a little unique compared to most hydroponics setups is that it doesn’t need any electricity which is a huge difference in money cost for production. Obviously the Philippines climate is a country receiving 12 hours of sunshine as well as constant heat which helps. But the SNAP solution which is mixed with water is a cheap solution for plant production that is initially designed for leafy plants. Maybe this is the first step towards developing different solutions for different types of plant to get maximum growth while still being organic. But for me living out in the Philippines with these lightweight boxes how many would you fit on a shipping container home roof? The boxes themselves come from discarded fruit boxes normally carrying grapes which means your recycling a product that is normally scrapped. How to make a SNAP hydroponics setup from a fruit box can be found here.
There are many locations throughout the world that house building from shipping containers is not only viable but financially beneficial. The main reasoning behind this is primarily for those looking to do house building themselves. The shipping container as a building block is not only robust but is built above housing code expectations for a building. They may initially seem a small building block until you start cutting and adapting them something that those with even limited skill and knowledge around the construction site would be able to manage. In reality a competent DIY person could just as easily complete house building from shipping containers as a local building contractor.
Initially the project will seem daunting but that is another advantage you have with the shipping container as its already a completed unit. Your cutting away rather than trying to work out how do I build a second floor? how do I build a roof structure? In reality your actually going to be removing sections for doorways and the awkward bits such as insulation you can even get specialists in to help you.
The concept of house building with shipping containers has grown hugely throughout the current fuel and housing crisis. Some talk about it being green but I am not green in the way where I wake up and ride a bicycle to go to work and lets face it the green movement hasn’t grown that fast since 2008! In reality people are looking to save money on construction, others are looking to be able to build a sustainable home that is also minimalistic which also means reduced bills for electric,water and gas. If anything the shipping container homes are part of a price conscience revolution over anything else.
But what about all the negative stuff out there about shipping container homes? Look at them and how many are opinion only? to be honest I haven’t come across anyone so far that says its a bad idea that has even visited a shipping container home never mind constructed or lived in one. Everyone I know with a shipping container home loves them and on top of the reasons above you have the added benefit of being able to build modular and as your budget allows. How many other houses can be constructed that way?
If its not catching on with some people its probably more likely they lack the vision or the desire to own one rather than even looking at the benefits. For me it has one huge benefit at least 40% cheaper than conventional construction. Don’t know what that means to you but in the UK that’s 10 years of slave mortgage payments I will never make.
This type of house is obviously designed to be cheap and quick to construct. My biggest concern would be the costs of this type of operation as I know more often than not NGOs (Non Government Organisations or Charities) will exploit the situation. E.g. why construct it here when it can be done in places like Haiti very cheaply as well as create some short-term work for people badly needing it? Why go with the fancy bath and sink when people just need basic functions such as a sink for kitchen use! The bunk beds look very cheap at the same time I think they would also work making them functional. But the rest of the layout I think needs work as its just not practical for the sort of areas these would be needed.
I live in the Philippines myself and we don’t use a shower for example generally its a bucket with what would look like a plastic pot to most people. Why don’t we use a shower? because the water has a lot of sulphur in it and we find we go through a lot of shower heads for that reason. Yes the mains water is likely to be less harsh but we run on a deep well as its free.. At the same time most people in developing nations are used to such hardships so having a big shower room and bathroom like in this just isn’t practical. Much better to have increased the sleeping capacity as well as a simple sink for cooking, at the back a simple wet room would be more practical and take up less space.
disaster relief shelter–shipping container home
Not trying to rip into this container too much as they may be a very valid organisation trying to do something practical. But at the same time I would question it simply because I see these sort of organisations in the Philippines all the time and its generally just a money making machine fed on poverty and hardships.
I hear it so often here that nobody wants to or would live in a shipping container home but I ask you “would you?”
For a start its economical if your renting or even buying purely on the structures size. Then the fact the structure is already constructed in basic form before you start cutting and adding you already have a roof over your head.
But on top of that lets think anti-consumerism its a small space are you going to think twice about anything you buy? the answer will be yes as the first thought is where to put it. In reality your cutting the consumerism trend and becoming more in control of your life. The western world wastes a huge amount of resources and money on stuff they don’t need and often never even use. Living in a container every bit of space has consideration and consequences if given up.
Living in a shipping container home can offer freedom that many people can’t even see that they have removed. Cut consumerism, cut costs it all equals a better quality of life.
There are several companies out there now offering tubular skylights but the reason I picked this one to show is that the video shows its basic functions but also the fact it has a dimmer feature and LED light installation available means you only need to install one setup. Often you end up with skylights running alongside another set of lights. Having this type of unit allows everything to be in one which is not only more economical but its also better cosmetic wise on your shipping container home. I came across these style of skylights mainly on large corporate buildings I was involved in previously to help reduce electrical costs on the buildings. Introducing redirected sunlight saves companies fortunes on electricity at the same time why can’t it be saving us all a bit of money? I would recommend looking at adding in skylights into any shipping container home design. If your going into a multi levelled home its also worth looking into ways of moving the light down inside the cavity walls that are less obtrusive than tubes that may not fit inside the cavities. Using fibre optics is a good way to get light to travel inside walling and worth a scout round the internet net for information on gathering light from skylights for your shipping container home to move the light to other parts. This gets things away from having to be directly below where the skylights sit making it more practical.
ALSO BEFORE ORDERING ANY SKYLIGHT MAKE SURE ITS SUITABLE FOR A SHIPPING CONTAINER FLAT ROOF AS MANY ARE DESIGNED FOR PITCHED ROOFS.
I was never 100% on shipping container homes as a solution to the housing problem until I started looking at the skill level and availability of capital people have.
Where does the negativity come from that puts people off? Maybe its the fact even poor people on TV land have huge houses which makes people think they aren’t doing so well themselves and should look to do better.
Maybe its that they aren’t brick built, yet timber frame is a lot more flimsy. In fact I look at everything about a shipping container home and wonder why not?
For a start its a basic model that most people can adapt a home from. Which starts getting into the realms of conspiracy theories of why people are trying to put others off the construction. Remember when you worked on your car and repaired it yourself? Today its got to be plugged into a computer that identifies the problem reducing your ability to fix the vehicle even though you own it yet the garage extracts money from you that you may not have had to pay before. I think this is the issue in the housing industry with codes and legislation to try and make it impossible to do things yourself and in the end relying on contractors who in turn rely on their suppliers giving them information for the latest products, that the goes back to the manufacturers who in turn go back to shareholders. Is it a conspiracy theory to stop people doing their own thing? I really don’t know these days and as a surveyor I come across many a legislation that makes no sense yet is followed because its taken as gospel even if nobody thinks there is a valid reason.
ISO’s for example some are relevant some are not. Did you know that some are just about a process being in place and copied over and over again rather than actually putting a value on if the process is correct? Well companies have to pay for these and the more companies have to pay the less the people on the street can decide what they want in their own life. A big rubber stamp will come down with the biggest excuse of all “safety reasons”. Based on what?
Now the shipping container units themselves are already ISO approved as container units and have specific weights that they adhere to. They are built to a much higher specification than many homes ever will be and at the same time the mopping up of excess shipping containers for homes is still slow moving. I know myself that specific areas are never keen on such developments as it bases things as “in keeping with the area”. There is very little thought into the fact as social housing these buildings can offer up a very cheap alternative to the normal buildings. But even that falls into a funny area in the UK as houses were taken from council ownership into housing association the reason being that council housing is bound by law to provide a home where housing association is more inline with a rental agent being able to evict and choose its residents. Many people believe this came about due to the coal mining strikes in the UK as the social housing at the time may have meant back payment in rents had to be paid but at a negotiable rate to suit the miners and the courts. This isn’t how private enterprise likes things to work. Create social housing with a threat of eviction you remove the ability to strike and this is why people believe housing associations exist.
What’s this got to do with shipping container homes? as I showed on my previous post you can be debt free within no time as well as be the owner of land and the shipping container home. This makes many people self sufficent which also means that governments may see this as a threat because your not bound by debt or portfolio development. Which for me pretty much says everything about a shipping container home being viable. If it makes governments feel uncomfortable as your land area is smaller, so less tax and your more likely to utilize the land to the max as well as more likely to be smart investing with the spare capital you have it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for government but it does make sense for an individual or family.
I remember living in Germany before and finding the banks often in odd remote locations. Partly because we were with the military meaning there are plenty of soldiers in remote places needing access to money as well as having a good tax free income offshore. But also the farming communities still needed servicing for bank access. Odd to think though that many banks go extreme on security when more often than not reducing funds available or putting in a public place may actually reduce the risk of robbery in the first place. I remember talking to a bank manager before regarding “front of house” the counters we see when we are withdrawing funds. The maximum he said he ever had on the front of house was £30,000 which isn’t a lot considering 10 years in prison if caught in the UK robbing a bank.
At the same time modern banking today has tried to remove cash from the system where possible meaning most people don’t need large cash amounts and more likely just after money for a night out on a Friday and ordering a curry. Which makes these smaller shipping container banks ideal for many locations especially with banks being keen to squeeze as much profit out of us while downsizing branches all over the place.
There are many reasons. Firstly you have to look at the current economic situation and the fact property is dropping in value rather rapidly. Long term it will recover but where do you really want your money tied up? In a house that may drop by 30% next year? Or maybe you would prefer to build modular which could also allow you to adapt and expand as your budget allows rather than trying to find large amounts of cash you can literally do this in segments depending on your design. Big advantage of that being you don’t owe the bank! There are a lot of properties within container designs that make them an ideal starting point for a new house or cheap accommodation for renting out. But first you have to decide is it what you want..