Shipping Container Homes Provide Low-Cost Housing: New Communities Are Springing Up All Over The World

Shipping container homes, communities, and apartment complexes are springing up in all sorts of unexpected places, from Houston, Texas, to New Zealand. Caversham in England is now building with them, as well. Long used for military and refugee applications for temporary housing, some container houses are becoming almost posh.

Shipping containers already come bullet proof, watertight, and resistant to earthquakes, according to Stuff. They are so structurally sound they can be stacked almost to infinity, and in some places, they are being incorporated into skyscrapers. The eight foot wide and 20-foot or 40-foot long metal boxes can be placed either horizontally or vertically, according to taste.

Shipping container homes cost only a fraction of the price of a regular home of equal size. However, the cost is continually debated due to the fact the greater cost is not the container itself. A well-built container home can resell with the best, according to the Fiscal Times, who cites a 1,280 foot home made of two 40-foot shipping containers that sold for $189,995.

Jeff Hartless, a container home builder in Houston, explained to the Fiscal Times that is more than twice the median home price for the area, but he also pointed out that his homes are not necessarily cheaper to build than conventional homes. They are, however, cheaper and easier to maintain.

“You don’t have to replace the roof or the siding, and no termites.”

Shipping container homes do not have to be single family residences, nor do they have to be owned by the occupants. Jeff Hartless told the Fiscal Times he intends to build 42 rental duplexes and rent them for $1,000 to $1,200 per month.

Shipping Container Homes by FooTToo iStockphotos c
Red Shipping Container Homes Photo by FooTToo/iStock Photos]

Daryl Taylor, a New Zealand container home builder told Stuff his homes are fully code-compliant there, even though he does them himself and is not an engineer.

“We can now fit out a twenty footer in around six weeks and they go out the door fully code compliant. There is no condensation, they’re all double-glazed, insulated, and ventilated. They actually exceed council requirements but you do still need a building consent for your foundations.”

Daryl Taylor disagrees with Hartless about the building cost. Daryl told Stuff the costs are less than a standard home, but material costs vary in different areas, and codes vary even more. While some areas are open to shipping container homes, potential builders and home buyers should check their local codes and get a permit before building.

“A 12m would cost closer to $75,000 and two this size can be bolted together to form a four bedroom home “

Blue Shipping Container [Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]
Blue Shipping Container [Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]

Shipping container homes can be built for even less for those comfortable with big Do-It-Yourself projects. It is important to talk to the building inspectors and code experts in the area before building to make sure the design is safe. The main principle is that when cutting away parts of a container to make an opening, it weakens the overall structure and supports must be attached to ensure structural integrity.

Are shipping container homes really cheaper? While these sturdy metal boxes cost only $2,000 to 5,000 each, with used ones being cheaper than new ones, plumbing, wiring, windows and insulation are the main expense in any home. Ceramic paint can serve as at least some insulation, but in many parts of the world, it might not be enough. The Conversation points out inserting real insulation and drywall inside or siding outside the home would require at least some sort of studs to nail materials to attach insulation and materials to cover the insulation. Not necessarily, though. Creativity abounds for D-I-Y builders and decorators.

Shipping container homes are capturing the imaginations and the thrifty side of home builders all over the world.

[Photo by Hansenn/iStock]