Have you ever wanted to live in a cube? You might get your chance as shipping container homes sweep the world, a response to increasingly congested cities, clogged apartments, and rising housing costs. Part innovation, part conservation, and perhaps, part desperation, container houses provide low-cost, affordable alternatives for individuals looking for a cheap or simply unconventional living experience. In Amsterdam, more than 1,000 houses exist in a sort of post-apocalyptic neighborhood. Continuing this almost dystopian theme of architecture, many aspiring container-heads have taken their houses entirely off the grid, admiring nature from within a twelve-foot long steel cube. Is this the right option for, you, however? There are some things that you should consider before you own one:
1. How to purchase the correct shipping container: Generally, shipping container homes aren’t available for purchase; if you want the genuine experience, you need to find one for yourself and work to upgrade the container into a home. Navigating the used container market varies by country and can be a confusing experience, so always make sure you purchase a container from a trusted and reputable seller.
2. Regulations and planning: A biggie: if you want to fulfill your dreams and live off the grid, you’ll have to make sure that your new home fulfills zoning regulations. There’s some fun and entertaining loopholes here, though: depending on the size of your new home, many crate houses are too small to legally count as houses for zoning purposes.
3. Financial considerations: How many containers do you want? Depending on where you live in the world, you might have to shell out several thousand dollars to get your hands on the raw materials. On average, a shipping container costs approximately 5,000 dollars in North America. Furnishings, retrofitting, and turning your purchase into a livable environment remains a major part of the container house experience. A tiny bungalow will be easier on the wallet than a sprawling container mansion.
4. Insulation: Living in a container house can fluctuate between chilly and sweltering in alternate measures. Most container crates incorporate metals like steel and iron into their construction: perfect for transporting bulky boxes and other things that don’t much worry about temperatures, but not so ideal for long-term habitation. Depending on where you live in the world, temperatures could turn your dream home into an ice box or a sweltering oven. It’s important to take the local climate into account when preparing your home.
5. Finding a contractor with experience: Unless you’re interested in doing all the gruntwork by yourself, hiring a contractor or construction company is an option. Some contractors have made a living specializing as container converters, so keep an eye out in your local classifieds and hardware stores for any potential leads.
Buying a container home can represent a major break from traditional real estate. Those who tackle all these preliminary considerations, and are willing to put down the time, money, and effort into converting a shipping container into a dream home, will find their efforts richly rewarding.