Size doesn’t matter springs to mind in conversation but often it does in some strange way. Mainly because people don’t realise how much space they aren’t using or more importantly how much electric, cooling,heating they waste for floor space they don’t actually need. Here is the joke though this is the apartment I work from and rent out to tenants, none of which have ever complained about size if anything its bigger than a lot of apartments of the same budget :-
We decided to keep it as a studio type (no central wall) to help keep the air flowing as well as giving extra space when needed. There is actually now a wardrobe I built covering the electrical box in the corner to the bed, giving a lot of extra storage space. But as you can see there is even space for an extra sofa bed.
Now this is where its funny as you can see the sitting room area isn’t actually being utilised as generally people sit on the sofa bed and watch TV in what would be the bedroom. an 8ft by 10ft floor area not being used.
A galley styled kitchen keeps things simple but has everything that people generally need. This is the Philippines so microwave food doesn’t exist so neither does the need for a microwave. Bearing in mind I will add more shelving at the end of the kitchen above the refrigerator for the dry goods.
Well what is the point to all this nice look round an apartment but its not a shipping container?
Fact is I was sat working up here the other night and realised something its smaller than 2 x 20ft containers. But I guess if I did the same with a shipping container and gave more space I bet people would say its “too small” simply because they knew it was made from shipping containers. Yet this has been rented out for over 2 years now with several tenants the last leaving a couple of weeks ago while the next arrives in 2 weeks. Not one person has ever said “its too small”.
A bit of a plus on the shipping container side as simply people have been living in spaces smaller than 2x20ft containers but didn’t even realise. In construction terms though here in the Philippines you could build the same sized home with containers for less than P300,000 can’t give an exact figure simply because container prices fluctuate. But your containers come in at around P60,000 – P100,000 each (big price variance).
When I originally started looking at shipping container homes I was specifically looking at modular construction. As time has gone on more people seem to be developing much smaller homes using the same concept. I don’t think its down to just a tiny home movement but a sign of the times. In the last few months I have noticeably seen the price of gas increase for cooking, food prices increasing and petrol at the pumps. All in all things are going up in price and we can either prepare for the worst and hope for the best or look at downsizing to help accommodate the changing world.
My previous home was a Victorian terraced town house, tall ceilings, open fire places and brickwork that let the wind just breeze through. In the winter times even with heating on it was not only expensive but still struggled to warm. Insulation injected into the walls, changing sash wood windows to double glazed, installing gas fires over the old coal fires all these bits of modernisation helped solve bits of problems but created more. First one being the expense of the upgrades next as the upgrades went in things like the gas fires over the coal cost more to run. A case of developing an old house with new problems and its one of the reasons I started looking at container housing. Building something that could be developed efficiently from the start, but also using recycled materials would allow the home to be built at a reduced rate.
Now the picture has changed a bit more as I see the sizes I originally looked at may be still viable but are they needed? I rent my apartment out here which is a studio type where the sitting,dining and sleeping are are in what would be dimensions of around 20ft x 12ft. Bigger than a shipping container in width but also looking at the room you can also see a lot of wasted space in the middle of the room. The bed is there day or not as well as a dining table, 3 chairs, 2 computer desks, 2 sofas and a wardrobe. This space isn’t maximised but shows it is extremely livable.
Its why I can see the world changing as the balance of wealth between East and West alters which will see people trying to maintain a standard of living in the West and downsizing the home is one way to do it. Also adding to the fact the population explosion globally is going to see some severe affects on resources such as oil and food, we are already seeing the start of the decline of peak oil.
I love this house! The design offers up spacious areas for a shipping container home. But also a lot of thought has gone into how to use each section. The “box” type wardrobe for example maximises space while still functional and the kitchen reduction of worktop width on one side gives the feeling of a larger room yet still completely usable.
Debbie Glassberg a Kansas City designer made this her home created out of 5 shipping containers. I hear the argument stepping forward about this not being environmental and just a novelty but is it?
The price tag on the construction was no doubt heavily reduced because of having the original frame construction of the shipping containers already intact. Completion time was also no doubt heavily reduced as was labour costs. Its the battle between living completely Green and common sense, the fact is she didn’t want a 20ft single container home she wanted an American sized home but the containers offer a cheap and practical solution to the problem.
Still a bit of a rant with me simply because the size of a shipping container home makes a lot of sense and many units are a lot smaller that people reside in round the world. Maybe people complaining should look at the home they are living in and ask do they need all that internal space? do they utilize it? Would they have been better with a smaller house and bigger open spaces outside?
Because I have lived both lives and to be honest I prefer the minimal living to the cluttered life of consumerism. I still have my gadgets, I still have a double bed and plenty of clothes but what I don’t have is stuff I don’t use and don’t need.
This is our bedroom currently as you can see its got a bunk bed for our two kids plus our double bed. Out of shot is a chest of drawers,bookshelf, wardrobe but the size of the room is actually smaller than a 20ft shipping container, our kids are 3 and coming up 1 so they are still young at the same time we are only running one light at night and one air conditioning unit, not one of each in Ewe’s room, Zoei’s room and our room. Our energy costs are 1/3rd of what they would be in a western styled home. Next door we have a room that is around the same size with a bathroom attached to the exterior. That is used for a day room with kitchen, dining and TV facilities. Are we struggling? Are we crammed in like sardines? Answer is no we have plenty of outdoor space and generally I will work in my office during the day (the bedroom has my desktop PC, Laptop and desk as well). All these things give us a space to live in without costing too much in space or energy. Its not a shipping container home but its pretty much built in similar dimensions due to the shape of the bit of land that was available for it.
I think its peoples perspectives that need to change as Filipino’s here generally live in smaller homes, Japan is similar in fact most of Asia. So who’s right and who’s wrong?
The problem in the West we think home we think big.. we think of more and excess and the “we can’t live without items”. But then again how many of those items can you really live without?
Once you have an idea of reduction you have a step forward in the way your container home can be.
Here you can see the bed, small steps and side table alongside a wardrobe. Maximising the width of a small space. Underneath the bed is the storage space which is ideal for those with luggage and I can see this being used in things like modular hotel systems.
Combining wash and cooking facilities into one reduces space drastically as generally we are doing one or the other so makes sense. At the same time strongly advise good earthing (ground) to reduce risk of electrocution.
You have to remember you may be losing some of the worldly goods of excess inside but you are gaining the environment on the outside allowing living spaces such as gardens and views over a concrete jungle.