What kind of home appeals to the survivalist, the budget minded home buyer, the ‘go green’ crowd, and the innovative contractor at the same time? This is the start of an article about the fast growing and fascinating world of container homes.
Container homes are, simply put, homes made of shipping containers. This may conjure the image of rusty, graffiti covered metal box that would be singularly unappealing to live in. But the reality is quite the opposite. Container homes can be made every bit as pretty as traditional homes, but at a fraction of the cost. According to Bobvila, a large container home can cost between $150,000 to $175,000 (excluding cost of land purchase), which is about half cost of a traditional home. This satisfies the budget-minded home builder, especially when you consider how versatile these structures can be. Simply typing ‘container homes’ into Google images provides literally thousands of different configurations.
But at such a low cost, how safe are container homes? Well first of all, they’re literally made of steel. This means they’re heavy and inherently strong. If they’re attached to the foundation correctly, they’ll stand up to most storms and some are even ballistic-resistant (or bulletproof, depending which term you prefer).
One aspect of safety to consider is what may have been in the container before it became your home. In the case of brand new containers, that’s not an issue. For used containers it can be, since you have no way of knowing what may been stored in it before it became yours. That being said, this potential problem is easily solved by sandblasting the container and removing any and all wooden flooring.
So now we’ve covered cost and safety, but what about the sustainability factor? Well, utilizing shipping containers saves literally tons of steel from being scrapped, meaning that less of it has to be converted from various ores into steel. This means fewer foundry emissions, which means less pollution from foundry smokestacks. Since the entire frame is made from steel, much less wood is needed to construct a home. Logically this means that less trees need to be cut down, since less wood is needed. It stands to reason therefore that container homes reduce our rate of arboreal loss. In summary, container homes are certainly eco friendly.
On the logistical side, not every contractor makes container homes. There are companies who specialize in it, but they’re not in every state. If you were set on having one built and didn’t have the know-how yourself, you’d have to call around and do your homework to find a reputable building contractor. The labor isn’t particularly harder than building a traditional home (it’s actually probably easier), but it does take some knowledge to build these correctly.
And speaking of building it correctly, what are some things that can go wrong with a container home? Well, generally the same things that can go wrong with any home. Contractor error can cause any number of problems. Poor land surveying or foundation pouring may lead to settling and cracking. As a rule, though, building and living in container homes isn’t any more dangerous than living in a traditional structure.
So if you’re considering building a home, don’t rule out the humble shipping container just yet. They’re a safe and eco friendly alternative to traditional housing, and can be made as beautiful as any other home. Best of all, a container home will save you a lot of money.