Shipping container living; benefits and risks

What are the benefits of container housing developments.

There are generally a few reasons that you could use to describe the benefits of building a home using shipping containers.

The primary motivation for people to develop such a property is cost.  The cost of these homes can be less then $30,000, much cheaper than the cost of building a suburban home.  Style is also another factor and you can get style is also another factor and there are architects who have done some amazing things building container homes with designs that rank side-by-side a architecturally designed suburban home.

Shipping container homes are generally environmentally friendly and weather resistant.  structurally their strong and weatherproof providing a ideal starting point in developing your habitable space without placing significant displacement of the environment as conventional construction methods do.

Development timeframes are usually shorter and sometimes on-site there is little work or as little as seven days of development to weatherproof condition of the home.  That is according to a New Zealand shipping container housing developer and architect.

The final thing to do would shipping container housing is that the footprint is generally smaller and therefore the home has low maintenance, requires less energy to maintain and there is minimal waste specially during the construction process compared to traditional homebuilding.





What are the risks and downsides involved in developing a shipping container home project?

There are a lot of advantages to owning a shipping container home but there are also some disadvantages.  Some people believe that cost may be a factor for getting into a shipping container project but this may not be the case not all projects are cheaper than building conventional forms of housing.  For example, if you’re looking to add multiple shipping containers on top of one another going to need additional expenses.  These extra costs may be incurred for insolation, HVAC systems, foundation work for the building and reinforcing and more.  Then there is the problem of lifespan which will shipping containers they may rust and have issues after around 30 years.  As shipping containers don’t include any lining inside them you will be responsible for the add-ons including plumbing, doorways, construction of the windows, countertops – everything you can think of to make your home habitable.

Then there is the other question – what was the container used for transporting, to the transport hazardous chemicals as previous life.  This you will have to research time of purchasing container because you would not want to have completed a project and find that you are in a toxic timebomb.  Pressure washing of the chemicals may not have been sufficient enough to remove them.  There may have been different wearing and tearing of the containers depending on what they have been shifting over the period of life.  This gets affected by the weight of goods which are different in each container and each shipment.  Wearing tear is similar to that of the wear and tear of a motor vehicle and therefore you may be able to get references from people who are purchased shipping containers from the supplier and that had built projects out of them and find out how their shipping container homes have lasted.

It cannot be stressed more than anything to do research prior to committing money by a shipping container for use for development into your home.

If you want a really good article on the pros and cons of living in a shipping container home this way out.  Written in 2011 by Arch Daily writer Brian Pagnotta article is still relevant today on the pros and cons of cargo container architecture.  Brian in this article point out that chemicals may have been transported in the shipping tennis such as wood flooring which generally gets treated with pesticides and paint and paint shipping containers have chromate and phosphorous in them.  This list is by no means exhaustive but Brian has raised a very important issue in his article.  Even more so when you are building you will have your floorboards treated with the pesticide and have specific coats of paint that will be applied.  You might for having peace of mind want to buy a brand-new container that is a costly game to have to wear over and above a secondhand container.

Second-hand containers themselves may have been treated for purposes of protecting the goods that they were shipping, moisture, pests, etc.  you will need to contact the original manufacturer owner or supplier or seller and find out what it was treated with and whether it was treated with anything hazardous.  Each container have unique identification number and contact the manufacturer of the conveyor.  For example if the container has flooring and it is already been put in, there is a likelihood that the timber of this flooring will have been treated.  It is likely that this will be of a chemical that you would not want have in your own home.

Some people go to great lengths to treat the materials that may have been in the container previously.  I have seen examples where people have insolation form of foam spray and spraying the entire interior of the shipping container that will form a vapour barrier that resists any fumes from chemicals seepage.

Shipping containers have been well known to be strong and can take up to 26 tons of pressure of stacked load above them.  I have seen situations such as hurricane Trina where shipping containers stood up quite well as well as in Fiji after a large hurricane.  Search the example of container village in Fiji and there was a great article about a project we aided from shipping containers by an Australian engineer.

Another concern about living in a shipping container home is a level of security they provide.  Sometimes people on rural blocks may not be at the property for weeks on end possibly months on end.  Security is a factor that you will have to consider in the planning and design and these are the things that can be discussed with the architect or builder that you employ.

Not everyone out there is favourable of the idea of living in shipping containers.  Some comments of seen from professionals idea that they can be used ideally for short-term occupation or humanitarian purposes but the long-term they aren’t really practical.  Possibly this is changed since the Berman tiny house construction and shifts in mindset the smaller homes.  I have seen references saying that the idea of living in a shipping container as a home is a bad idea suggesting that you only have seven put of headspace is tired and by the time you insulate and construct the walls you’re left with building code minimums as habitable space.  There are some very good designs which have high ceilings and lots of open space so maybe this comment is less relevant today as the industry matures.  Another concern that was raised was that insolation is a factor.  Insulating walls and also electrical and plumbing installation that will cut down the living space area within the container.

Some may also use the structure of a shipping container home in have issues as they have been developed with a solid “steel frame”may have engage steel wall.  Once you start cutting a shipping container then may be issues with structural integrity designed to stack other containers on top.  Extra steel forcing a bit needed but beyond the scope of my qualifications to suggest workarounds on any issues.  You will need to discuss builder issues around reinforcing, structural integrity especially if you are stacking more containers on top and developing a multi-story home.

There is also another concern with temperature control.  You will need a high functioning HVAC system that will regulate internal temperature of the shipping container.  Given the need put ducting all wiring through the container home having insolation et cetera will add to the reduced height of living area within the container.

This post has just touched on a small number of points to do with the idea that living in a shipping container is a green form of building construction.  When I say green I mean in terms of using less resources and materials than what a traditional home would cost all used to construct.

It is true that there may be a number of containers out there waiting on a industrial property but as I have mentioned above you should always get the contains cleaned or check the history and search the container the presence of any hazardous chemicals.  These chemicals may have been used in manufacturing process on the shipping container or leftover from when the -containing was used to ship goods.