Shipping Container Backyard Office For Architects

Berkeley-based architect/owners Karl Wanaselja and Cate Leger’s bought an $1,800 refrigerated shipping container and transformed it into a backyard office/studio.

Cutting out openings allowed large windows to be installed as well as putting the shipping container into a T formation. The fact that the insulation already existed in the container as well as the interior of the container being “food grade” meant that it didn’t need as much work as a basic container and those paranoid about toxic paints its unlikely to have any ill affects due to its previous type of use.

The architects may have had doubts about the viability of shipping containers for this use previously but as you can see in the video themselves they are more than happy with the result.

Why Shipping Container Buildings Make Sense

 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?

shipping container school Manila

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.

Community Housing Project Talisay,Cebu,Philippines – Gawad Kalinga charityNow 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”.image 

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 :-

1 bedroom terraced house for sale

Cost £100,000

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.

Container House A Real Solution Or Just A Eco Dream?

As you can see in this blog we collate container house designs and projects all the time but is it just a modern fad? In the UK doing your bit for recycling people will talk about the fact they bought a hard wearing reusable bag and no longer use plastic ones at the supermarket. But to me its simply a token gesture and it shows more on the fact the bags are made to look trendy over usage, and where did the bags come from in the first place they weren’t made in the UK!

At the same point people argue about toxic paints and moving the containers to their final destination as someone’s container house. But these eco greens never talk about the cost of doing it in traditional ways or practical solutions. Why am I looking at building a container house? well its not to do with the environment its down to the fact its affordable and I can do all the work myself which in real terms for the UK labour costs 40% of the build cost. Reduce the material cost as well drastically how much are we talking to build a shipping container home in the UK?

In reality people take pride in ownership of a home and isn’t more “eco friendly” to actually be building homes that are sustainable and affordable than arguing about how much toxic paint was used in the original painting? Damage was already done and its unlikely most of the paints people are talking about actually do any harm unless you start messing with them too much.

A container house is something I can see governments not being happy with as its borderline temporary accommodation which also means there must be reduced tax implications on the land that it sits. But for most people its the achievement of being able to own a home that takes priority and a container house can offer that.

Shipping Container Homes Are They Practical?

I was up last night writing articles when I came across one about the fact shipping containers are full of toxic paints and need sand blasting clean before they can be refitted etc. etc. in a very extreme “green” view. Now the annoying thing I find about this sort of stuff is there is no mention of why it had to be stripped back to bare metals, no mention of why they assume the paint is toxic or the fact that if dormant its probably not doing any harm whatsoever.

There is also no balance given between regular construction and shipping container construction to way up the options properly. No financial information or even a rough estimate of what the price comparisons would be on environmental or standard home construction. In reality a debate was opened without any facts or data to support either way.

The problem I have with this is that it creates a misinterpretation of how things are or how the conversions take place and if practical or not as its stated as “fact” rather than extreme instances. I have seen people strip back some containers to bare metals before and I have seen hardwood floors removed because they are worried about things like pesticides in the woods. Doesn’t mean they are dangerous and lets face it the container has to be “legally” useable by humans in a working environment contacting the original manufacturers your likely to come across things likes “yes pesticides have been used” and “no they don’t give off an odour or actually do any harm” considering that the floor is likely to be covered over its not going to create any problems. Although often removed for replacing with concrete floors depending on the construction method. Paints are the same I can understand internal paints being an issue to some people wanting to know they are lead free etc. at the same time finding out what paints are used also means you can have peace of mind.

Also the “TYPE” of container and its usage makes a difference, food travels in containers just as much as car parts and new hi-fi systems which is likely to see containers that are in better condition due to the fragile nature of the cargo but also unlikely to have anything that could tarnish the food flavour or pollute it.

I will get off my soapbox for a bit, but would say if your going to say its a bad idea on something run comparisons of other available options and use fact over hearsay.

Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski

When I came across this building I was wondering to post it or not as its not a shipping container home. At the same time though it has got a lot of things that can be done the same as well as some cool ideas that I haven’t seen utilized anywhere else.Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski

It was reworked from a salvaged FEMA type trailer and designed for off-grid usage. A large wall section cranks down to form up a deck area as well as having one of the best designs for natural light I have seen with a geodesic skylight giving plenty of headroom as well as plenty of natural light which would be important for a disaster situation as it would allow medical treatment in a well lit sanitized environment.Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski

A piece of the siding was also replaced to open up the building. During its construction many of the original fittings and parts were removed taking out many things such as toxic paints etc. the insulation is from recycled denim, cabinets made from renewable bamboo, reclaimed wood and linseed oil floor tiles have made it a green unit in many ways and lets not forget the solar panels that were also added.

Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski   Container Home Off-Grid Emergency Response Studio by Paul Villinski