Shipping container houses are on the rise as consumers are thinking outside the box and building these eco-friendly steel homes on locations such as beachfronts, mountainsides and open ranges, to name just a few. Also known as “ISO container homes,” they are created from shipping containers that are typically used for transporting goods across the world.
It’s been reported that approximately 17-20 million ISO containers are scattered across the world – with as many as one million of them simply taking up space. Innovative firms and eco-conscious consumers have stepped up and begun purposing these containers into attractive, economic housing. Shipping container houses have several benefits and advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar homes.
Some of the benefits of shipping container housing include:
- Thousands of unused containers around the globe are being re-purposed.
- Economical. Empty shipping containers cost approximately $1,000 to $2,000.
- Made from galvanized steel, these shipping containers are durable and stronger than wooden frames.
- The modular design lends to an easy, open design plan and allows the capability of placing containers either side-by-side or up to 12 empty containers on top of each other.
- Assembly can be completed on these reinforced, pre-built homes in as few as three days.
- The steel makes them resistant to mold, fire and termites.
- Containers can be converted into homes at a convenient location, and then easily transported to and assembled at their final destination.
- Materials age well and require very little maintenance.
- Can be modified later on to include new modules.
As with anything else, there are some drawbacks to shipping container homes. A few disadvantages include:
- The boxy design is typically long and narrow (typically about 20 to 40 feet long but only eight feet wide and eight feet high) after insulation and interior walls are added.
- Used containers may contain traces of pesticides and other chemicals that were used to protect cargo during transportation. For this reason, the container floors must be removed to ensure the space is habitable.
- Since its original use was not intended for habitation, solvents may have been used in container construction and could be harmful.
- Stripping and refinishing of the interior may be necessary if any cargo spills occurred in the container.
- Steel construction will trap heat and require a larger amount of insulation (compared to traditional homes), in order to keep the house cool.
- Building permits may be difficult to acquire, or may not be allowed in certain areas or municipalities.
There are more than 50 different types of shipping containers – each with different characteristics and cost, and not all are suitable for the foundation of a home. Here is a list of the most common types of containers you may encounter when considering a shipping container home:
- Open-Top Containers
- Dry-Freight Containers
- Insulated or Thermal Containers
- Refrigeration Containers
- Tank Containers
Regardless of their initial purpose or characteristics, all shipping containers have dimensions regulated by the ISO. They are:
- Height: Standard containers are 8 feet, 6 inches in height; however, there are some other containers that can range from 4 feet to more than 9 feet, 6 inches.
- Width: Most containers are 8 feet wide; however, some may be wider.
- Length: The common lengths are either 20 or 40 feet; however, some can get up to 56 feet long.
If you are intrigued about shipping container homes and considering building one, the first step is to locate a builder that offers prefabricated container homes. You can find information on shipping container homes online. Another option is to go with container home plans or kits that you can use to customize your own plans tailored to your specific needs.
It is important to note that doing your homework and researching their expertise is invaluable when considering a builder or architect. Be sure to check references and find other customers who have built container homes to get their feedback. Many capable builders are known to low-ball a bid just to get the job and then increase the cost with add-ons after the contract has been signed. Reputable builders may be able to help you with the permit and approval process.
Cost will vary depending on the size of the house and how architecturally intricate you want to go. You will also have to consider the cost of the land and installation of electricity, plumbing and other necessities.
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