Alternative forms of residences are popping up all over in the world of green technology and sustainable living. From renewable energy homes to tiny houses to container homes, people want to live in ways that have less of an impact on the environment. The idea of living in a shipping container probably seems odd to many people, but advancements have been made in order to turn the ordinary into an extraordinary living opportunity.
What is a Container Home?
Because there are over 300 million empty shipping containers sitting at ports all over the world, these have become an easily accessible resource. Shipping containers are used to transport a variety of goods on cargo ships or trains. They are normally made of steel, are quite structurally sound, and are often widely available at a low cost. These containers typically are around 8′ x 20′ and can be used alone for a smaller one-room cabin or guest home. Or, combined together, they can create a larger space for which the options are almost endless. Some architects use them almost like Legos, stacking and combining until they build the perfect space.
Container Home Benefits
These innovative green homes made from shipping containers have benefits and drawbacks, just like any building material. The low cost and ease of availability of shipping containers is the main reason this trend began several years ago. Recycled freight containers are flexible because they can be arranged in various ways and modified to fit the needs. The cost of labor and resources is significantly reduced as the “shell” of the home is re-used. This also reduces the impact on the environment as resources are recycled and re-purposed.
Container Home Drawbacks
Steel can be a difficult material for living in because of the way it draws heat. Also, if not properly insulated, there can be a significant amount of noise associated with these types of containers. Some of the containers may still be coated in their original paints which addressed weather-proofing needs related to ocean travel but might contain harmful chemicals which could be dangerous for the homeowner. In addition, once renovations are begun, for instance cutting doors or windows, the strength of the shipping containers may be significantly reduced.
Although the idea of using shipping containers is more complicated than it might seem at first, it is still a viable consideration for those pursuing sustainable living options. Whether considering building a guest house behind your existing home, a cabin in the woods, or a larger home for your entire family–as green technology continues to develop container homes are definitely something to contemplate.