Why Live In A Shipping Container Home?

The initial problem with a shipping container home is getting over the hurdle that its not just a shipping container but can be adapted for home use. I have worked in several industries that involve travel. The issue with that is you get used to living with pretty much everything you need in a bag and its when you get to that scale of things you realise how much stuff people have but don’t really need.

When I looked at the $4,000 shipping container home in the U.S. owned by a single mother you quickly can see why she did it. Ok she didn’t want to work full-time at the same time its difficult to do with kids anyway. In reality though she has adapted her budget to fit a home and its only in the last 20 years has this obsession been going on to get bigger without reason. Why? because it drove the fake housing boom market through the roof until it all fell apart like lemmings running off a cliff people became obsessed with making money on homes yet there were less and less people coming in at the bottom end of the market which then collapses the whole chain. This happens due to the “Refurbishment” housing people that quickly rip out old, replace with new and sell on with added profit. Do this with enough people you price out the bottom people on the ladder to the point many gave up even trying to get a first home. I know I wasn’t interested in tieing myself down with a 25 year debt for a house that cost three times as much as it was less than 10 years earlier.

Shipping container homes from a budget point of view are a banks worse nightmare. Only loan you may need initially is for land as its likely you will just develop the home yourself in your spare time. This knocks of literally years of debt you would have had going via a bank loan giving you more freedom and better cash flow. Mix in the general running costs of heating,cooling,lighting on a smaller scale property your also reducing your footprint which also lines the pockets with more money. If anything you are probably going to spend more time outside than you would in a conventional home which is also a lot healthier.

I really do struggle to see a downside on doing a shipping container home especially when I see so many people burned with the housing market crash quickly followed by the recessions that have been on going ever since. Being debt free the ability to survive the current trend is a lot easier than riddled with debt with a bigger mortgage than the building is worth.

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.

If you don’t get shipping container homes you probably never will.

Its an odd setup living in a shipping container home to others who can’t see the advantages of doing so as its also a life choice as well as every other reason that makes us decide to do it. But who is right and who is wrong? Well you will get every excuse why its not a great idea and in fact many people will think your crazy. Odd thing is though after its constructed and they have visited I do wonder how many minds change in an instant as it becomes practical and moves from a box to a home opening up the possibilities of options to them they didn’t see before.

For myself I really don’t mind peoples negative perception on the subject as I have yet to hear anyone who has either lived in one or used one as a temporary home e.g. troops in Iraq complain about it as those who have used them can see the benefits over other designs and materials. The recycling side of things also interests me but as I live in Asia its a bit of an odd one as most leave here never to return sat on dock sides all over the world where import outstrips exports.

If you don’t believe in it that’s fine as well as everyone is free to make their own choices that’s the whole point of life if we were all regime we might as well be bar coded and have a lobotomy.