Contained Living

By on Aug 8, 2017 in News

With skyrocketing rents and a spike in the homeless population across the country, one of the growing niche trends in sustainable design over the past years has been the re-use of shipping containers in order to create the structure of a building.  Because of their convenient size, shipping containers are well-suited for use in houses and their appeal lies in their apparent simplicity:  a room is delivered in one piece, and you can stack them tocontainer1gether to create multiple rooms or join them up to make larger rooms.

Particularly as the idea is still relatively new, there are few people with the expertise required to build one without a hitch. However, the containers are converted into modular buildings much faster and cheaper than traditional building projects, all without public funds. The whole concept is a lot easier than using private capital, as there are different regulations involved. From this point of view, affordable housing developers have a lot more challenges on their plate than designers and owners who have overcome the challenges to build their own container houses.

Trend Is Here to Stay

Shipping containers are in many ways an ideal building material, as they are designed to carry heavy loads and resist harsh environments, such as ocean-going vessels. Many people decide to build a shipping container home because they offer exceptional value for money; however, there are many more benefits to building one.

Another major advantage when considering building such a development is the unprecedented availability, as they could be found anywhere across the globe. They are also easily transported by any means because they already conform to standard shipping sizes. As they are already designed to interlock for ease of mobility during transportation, structural construction is completed by simply placing them.

Working with containers also saves time unlike wood frame construction where attachments must be drilled to the outer skin, which is more time consuming and requires different job site equipment. Although the cutting of steel is considered to be specialized labor and can increase construction expenses, it is still lower than conventional construction.

As for the expenses involved, many containers are available at a considerably low value compared to a finished structure build by other labor-intensive means such as bricks and mortar, which also require more expensive foundations. Shipping containers require only simple modifications and can be purchased from transport companies for as little as $1,200 each.

A Long Way Ahead

container3However, there is still room for improvements, a lot of room. One of the main drawbacks of using shipping containers is the fact that steel conducts heat extremely well so containers for human occupancy in an environment with extreme temperature will have to be better insulated than most structures made of brick or wood. Even more, in temperate climates, moist interior air condenses against the steel, turning clammy and forming rust unless the steel is well sealed and insulated.

As for the residential developments, the unit breakdown can be problematic. Although shipping containers can be combined together to create bigger spaces, trying to create spaces of different extents than their default size can be expensive and time consuming.

Also, the use of steel for construction, while prevalent in industrial construction, is not widely used for residential structures. Contamination problems may arise as a container can carry a wide variety of cargo during its working life. Spillages or contamination may have occurred on the inside surfaces and the space ought to be cleaned before habitation. Ideally, all surfaces should be abrasive blasted to bare metal and repainted with a nontoxic paint system because solvents released from paint and sealants used in manufacture might be harmful.

All in all, building a shipping container home can be an extremely rewarding option. One of the biggest advantages being the cost saving aspect and also the incredible speed at which they can be completed. Not only are they cheap and quick to build but they are also environmentally friendly, saving around 7,716 pounds for every container upcycled. However, just like traditional home building, shipping containers still have their drawbacks that will hopefully be ameliorated in the near future.