As I look at housing and the way its gone in the last 60 years there has been huge changes from the original prefabricated manufactured homes that were generally concrete built and primarily to house people after the bombings of WW2. Originally designed to be replaced at some point these manufactured homes have only recently started to see their demise and replacement of brick built skins going up the exterior before the removal of the concrete. They were never supposed to be up this long yet even now its still not difficult to find these types of homes in the UK and obviously partly to blame for the term “concrete jungle”. The 60s seen the rise of concrete being used for everything and the housing developments that were supposed to be the cities of the future ended up landing flat on their faces due to high crime, bad planning and poor construction.
Many lessons were learned then and even today things are still evolving, manufactured homes however are part of the housing market that probably can adapt faster than any other housing market as well as offering up and implementing many green solutions as they go. The big argument then is on the fuel usage to move the homes yet they have to be built somewhere and in a factory type condition where they are built in mass production wastage is minimised, labour maximised and new technologies easy to implement. One thing for sure is that its a market that is geared towards the customer to deliver what the customer needs which is another driving force in not only making the houses ultra modern but also extremely green in materials.
Manufactured homes are without a doubt one of the industries that can have a more positive impact on the housing market at the same time help others to improve their services as well. The cost reductions involved with pre-manufactured homes also allows labour savings which can be utilized somewhere else in the home such as adding solar panels or other technologies the house may have not thought of or couldn’t afford otherwise.
An interesting video showing how to utilize shipping containers for classrooms and homes in Haiti. The other important thing here is the strong structure of the shipping container units which if it had been used more prior to the disasters in Haiti no doubt more lives would have been saved. Many lives and houses have been lost due to poor construction and going down the shipping container route does mean for a lot of the safety of the home or school in hurricanes or earthquakes your reliance on a poor builder isn’t needed. The building itself as a shipping container had far excelled anything that the local building codes would find acceptable and a building that will be able to ride out the storm.
Hope more of these types of structures are being utilized in Haiti to help things get back to normal.
I moved out to the Philippines due to thoughts running through my head in 2007 that firstly the housing markets were overpriced but secondly there was no starter homes being built to get me on the ladder to pay off the debt 100% within 10 years. Instead I was looking at homes bigger than I needed which in turn would leave me up to my neck in debt as well as expensive heating and electricity bills for space I would under utilize. All these were signs the world had gone housing mad based on presuming more people would be paying more at the bottom to feed the obsession of profit on houses at the top.
In reality it wasn’t and isn’t sustainable and the collapse of the markets today show it to be fact. Problem is now banks are lending less money to less people where do you get on the ladder to start with? Homes are often still too big for first time buyers due to budget restraints yet shipping container homes could be the alterative for low cost housing. I have to admit though I don’t think low cost has to equal low quality.
Advantages of low cost housing using shipping containers is that your development can be done in phases and done correctly adding enough insulation in the walls to make the home have a great insulation property from not only the elements but sound proofed. Adding to that designing the house round the environment it exists is also an important factor. For example living plant walls or shade provide a way to shield the house if in the country side making it pretty difficult to notice its even there. Same as constructing along mountain sides or other locations that obscure the fact the home is there. On a city front colours can be used to brighten up the location or blend it into its surroundings all adapting to existing buildings in the area.
Most importantly the footprint is small in square metres allowing land to be purchased for the task at reasonable cost or should I say could even be bought cash in some cases. Allowing the budget to also be phased in over time. As the budget allows you can adapt construction to it matching the funding to the containers being bought so that the first container offers up a 1 – 2 bedroom small functional home which is limited but once a second level is added you can expand the home out and continue to rise 3 – 4 storeys high on a small piece of land.
Planning issues may be an initial problem which is why I request anyone with photos to share the homes they have built and how they got round any doubts town planners had on your projects.
I believe shipping container homes can give homes to families on limited budgets just as much as it can give homes to an eco friendly couple or architect looking to win a design prize. They are a housing solution being embraced in many countries already but with the excess containers at ports this could be a recycling project that can solve both housing and the dumping of the containers no longer needed.