Will your next home be a shipping container?

There are many interesting ways to recycle shipping containers, but one of the most innovative and interesting uses for old shipping containers is to create homes to meet the demand for affordable living spaces. I recently visited Felixstowe docks and it got me thinking about the ways that a container could be used to provide an ‘instant’ home…

In countries across the globe, a lack of affordable homes and consideration for sustainable living has lead to the tiny home movement. This is particularly true in large cities in the Western world, with London, Melbourne and New York being prime examples. Densely populated and fiercely competitive, these areas see housing prices soar to a rate that the majority of city dwellers simply cannot afford. I’ve been watching the Living Big in a Tiny House channel on YouTube and it’s got me thinking that it would be quite enjoyable to have a tiny home if that meant being able to afford a home of your own and the freedom that comes with it.

In a move to combat the issue of affordable homes in cities, it has been suggested that recycled shipping containers could be the perfect material to construct safe, liveable and comfortable tiny homes. But, just how true is this claim, and how likely is it that your next home could be a shipping container? Here’s just how usable shipping containers are and how they are currently being used…

POPULAR SHIPPING CONTAINER USES

Long has the time gone when shipping containers were only used for just that: shipping. In an age of reduce, reuse and recycle, the value of shipping containers has been recognised and utilised. The strong and sturdy boxes are widely used on construction sites as offices, lunchrooms and toilets. The sheet metal they are constructed from is an excellent insulator, which means they work remarkably well in keeping people warm, dry and comfortable. Shipping containers have therefore become popular tiny homes, based their practicality and also their industrial aesthetic appeal. Plus, you’ll see shipping containers used for trendy bars, cafes, offices and studios. It seems that shipping containers are ticking all of the boxes when it comes to construction.

HOW VIABLE IS A SHIPPING CONTAINER HOME?

You may be asking yourself if tiny-home living is for you and whether shipping containers the right structure to suit your needs. In countries such as Amsterdam and France, the size and affordability of shipping containers has been utilised for temporary accommodation for students. Globally, the trend is just starting to take off. Shipping containers tick all of the boxes: cheap; plentiful; compact; strong; easily maintained. In Walthamstow, a block of studio apartments made from individual shipping containers was built by the YMCA to provide safe housing and affordable rents.

Shipping containers are a simplistic, quick and convenient way to create new tiny homes. They require very little excavation and groundwork, they are quick to assemble, most of the construction can be done off-site. On top of this, the containers can be built up in a frame similar to that used in shipping docks to produce a block of flats that are habitable for many households, all while taking up very little space. This makes them the perfect home for built-up cities where construction can be difficult and land very expensive.

SHIPPING CONTAINER HOMES: THE FUTURE?

There may still be a long way to go in designing and marketing the shipping container home in a way that is widely accepted by traditional homeowners and that encourages people to leave their bricks-and-mortar homes in favour of a shipping containers. Nonetheless, it may well be the future for low-cost permanent housing and containers can certainly be utilised for much-needed temporary accommodation so watch this space!

Let me know what you think – would you live in a tiny home? Do you fancy having a shipping container home office? Have you ever visited a shipping container home? Let me know in the comments below.

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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