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Living in a steel box: shipping container homes

Updated on May 23, 2015

With real estate rates going through the roof, more and more people around the world are embracing alternative, left-of-centre ideas in order to make their home owning dreams come true. One such out-of-the-box housing concept involves the use of – ironically, boxes – or rather shipping containers, to create modular homes. Here are a few facts you show know before buying a shipping container to create yourself a home.

Shipping Containers
Shipping Containers

Reuse and recycle shipping containers

This new form of architecture consists primarily of using discarded shipping containers to assimilate unique, practical living spaces. And there are millions of discarded shipping containers around the world, quite literally, lying round.

More than 300 million shipping containers have been abandoned by carrier companies around the world, because transporting them back to where they came from is neither feasible nor cost-effective for the transporting agencies. In this backdrop, shipping container homes are also emerging as an eco-friendly option, as they reuse these unused containers in a unique way.

What makes shipping containers suitable for building a home

If your brain naturally resists the idea of using a container as a room, consider these merits.

  • For one, shipping containers are sturdy and durable, being built to weather the elements in long overseas journeys, protecting the goods that they carry.
  • They are always built of extremely durable, sturdy material.
  • Their innate strength makes them ideal as building materials.
  • If they can weather tides, oceans, waves, scorching sunlight, fire, and keep goods dry and undamaged in the face of a storm, it stands to reason they will do a good job of sheltering you and securing your possessions.

  • Another advantage of using shipping containers lies in their dimensions, which give them a modular nature.
  • Since they are almost always made to standardized sizes – 8 feet x 8.5 feet x 40 feet being one norm – they can easily be assembled together, atop one another or side by side, to produce compact, symmetrical structures of uniform proportions.
  • Another interesting advantage is the fact that shipping containers are always built in a manner that they can be interlocked, for ease of mass transport on vessels.
  • This serendipitously adds to their value and ease of use as individual elements (rooms), which arranged together, create a home.

Shipping Container Home
Shipping Container Home

Advantages of shipping container homes

  • Putting together shipping container homes is practical, time-saving, and cost-effective, as you save on building materials.
  • They make for chic, fashionable, and inexpensive weekend homes, office spaces, dorms, and emergency homes.
  • The great thing about them is that they can be used long-term as well, and are constructed very swiftly.

Buy shipping containers online

Shipping containers are easily accessible in most cities or states that have ports. They can also be purchased online, at affordable rates. Websites selling these will give you rough estimates for the construction of these pads – including expenses for venting, plumbing, electric connections, shipping, and installation. Prices of shipping containers are mostly subject to negotiation, depending on their age, size and the places they have been.

A word of caution if you’re buying a shipping container – make sure you find out if the size, shape and other aspects of your shipping container home are in keeping with the local building regulations.

© 2014 Juana

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    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 

      4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      What an interesting article. I'd never heard of this concept before.

    • THarman7 profile image

      Terry Harman 

      4 years ago from Lacey Washington

      wow interesting concept! Voted up!

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