If you’ve never stepped inside one, you can’t hope to understand just how inviting shipping containers are. Yes, shipping containers. The workhorses of global trade have an alluring quality about them. I know it sounds strange, but get in one and see for yourself. And that might explain why shipping containers, formerly affixed to ships, trucks and railcars are now playing such an important role in the current home building revolution.
Few things on the planet are as practically-conceived or purpose-built as the noble cargo container. Its design and construction betray qualities of expediency, ergonomics and durability. These attributes certainly lend themselves to home building and home living. We want livable homes that last a long time and are simple to build. And these are the same qualities that appeal to folks who want to minimize the impacts of home building on the environment.
Visited a construction site lately? Beyond the impressive hard work, have you noticed how much waste is generated by home building? Eight thousand pounds of wood, drywall, cardboard, carpet, tile, metal and paint come out of each 2,000-square foot house that’s built in this country. That’s several dump trucks per home and all of it is destined for landfills. Shipping containers boast wonderful benefits when viewed from this sad statistic. They are recycled and repurposed and they are cheap. Used containers cost approximately $2,500 – $3,500 delivered. And while homeowners inevitably modify them, they are already built.
Stack ‘em Up
For folks wishing to build a container home, they’ll be delighted about how configurable they are. Shipping containers are designed to be stacked on top of each other. Each can withstand the weight of eight more atop of it. This works in the favor of designers wanting to create multi-level living. Conventional vertical construction is typically expensive. Not so with container buildings. Units are positioned as desired on top of one another and bolted and welded down. Unique designs and increased interior space are quickly achieved using a crane and chains.
Great Lines: Thinking Inside of the Box
The rectilinear geometry of a shipping container also lends itself to contemporary architectural design. Using an acetylene torch and grinder, a craftsman can cut custom windows, sliding glass and doors into their stalwart frames. In the interior, container homes are plumbed, wired, insulated and finished with sheet rock or paneling. Conjoined containers with a removed shared wall offer impressive space when utilized for great rooms and dining/kitchen combos. From the exterior, finished container homes definitely convey something unique, but most strangers would never know that the home before them once transported toaster ovens and running shoes across the oceans from Asia.
If you’re intrigued and have never seen a container home, get online. There’s a wealth of information out there about the phenomenon. People are building gorgeous, spacious and affordable homes while limiting their impact on the environment and getting something truly unique, not to mention bullet-proof in the process.