Would You Live in a Shipping Container? Some People Are.

14 November 2013 by


container blue colorTimes are tough. Rent prices in major cities are making affordable options difficult to come by. If you are looking for a new home, you may feel desperate to find something, anything to live in, but would you consider living in a shipping container? In London, a local charity has made this an option by importing shipping containers from China to convert into bargain homes in an effort to reduce homelessness. There has even been talk in New York City about using a similar program to address the city’s own homelessness problem, especially in the wake of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. In fact, the use of shipping containers for short-term homeless solutions and disaster relief is cropping up all over the world.

Shippingcontainerarchitecture.net explains, “Shipping containers have been integrated into construction of commercial and residential structures in Europe and Asia for years. In crowded Amsterdam, for instance, these once-orphaned, and abundant, containers have provided much-needed low-income and student housing. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and we don’t disagree. From emergency shelters for soldiers to housing for densely populated cities, container architecture has helped fill a pressing need for affordable, sustainable structures.”

This may seem like an absurd idea, but not only does it create affordable housing options, it also is an excellent method of recycling and reusing. According to Mother Nature Network, there are over 300 million shipping containers just sitting empty around various ports of the world. Not only that, but these shipping container homes can be built in areas that are not in use, and when the permit expires, they can easily be moved someplace else.

Living in a metal box may not seem ideal, but Andy Winter of The Guardian explains, “Before embarking on this venture, we spoke with our homeless clients about the concept. They loved it. In particular, they loved the fact residents would have their own kitchen, bathroom and front door. They felt that being self-contained is far more desirable than a room in a shared house even though the floor space, at 26 sq m, is roughly the same as they would have if they were sharing.”

Shipping containers provide sturdy and durable foundations to create comfortable living spaces, and they can be insulated and made livable at a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. Plus, since shipping containers are made to be stackable, they are perfect building blocks to create multiple story units, which simply need the addition of stairs to access.

According to bobvila.com, “Savings and reliability are the hallmarks of ISBU (Intermodal Steel Building Unit) building. Homebuilding crews save time, money, and wood by using a product that is manufactured, pre-fitted for installation, and structurally sound. The speed and ease with which the shipping containers are ordered, prefabricated, and installed streamlines the entire construction process.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Using shipping containers as dwelling spaces has inspired chic architecture to transform shipping containers into high-end living. Architect Jim Poteet was inspired by this concept of “container architecture” to create a guest house/art space on a San Antonio property. Maziar Behrooz Architecture builds what they call the “insta-house,” two-story live/work/art spaces, in just one week for $99,800. New Zealand architecture firm, Atelierworkshop, creates mobile holiday homes to travel with you on vacation. Sleeping Around is a mobile hotel made of shipping containers that makes its way around the world. All these designs are sleek and sophisticated with unique aspects and gorgeous views. Just performing an internet search of some of these incredible shipping container structure possibilities is enough to have you daydreaming about creating your own shipping container home.

So are you convinced? Do you think you want to create a shipping container home for yourself? Before you get your containers delivered, there are a few things you should take under consideration. First you will have to get your construction documents and quotes from an architect and construction crew to present to the building authorities for a permit (sorry, but you can’t place a shipping container just anywhere, even if you own the plot of land). Then you will have to purchase and transport the shipping containers to the location. You can buy a used shipping container for as little as $900 and a new container can be up to $6000. You will have to build a foundation to keep the building secure and all modifications require welders to work with the metal and weld the containers together. You will need to insulate the inside and consider plumbing and electrical requirements. All in all you can build a beautiful shipping container home for only $40,000.

What do you think? Would you ever consider a shipping container home for yourself? Have you ever been inside a shipping container building? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.

SSF Team

SSF Team

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