March 21, 2014

Containers Provide Housing Alternatives

Shipping containers can be used to build low-cost, creative homes like this one
 in Georgia, USA.
There is a good chance that a lot of what you own came to you via a shipping container. It is estimated that 90% of the world's trade goods travel by container, and since it costs less to make new containers in places like China than to transport empty ones back, there is a glut of them.

There are a total of about 17 million containers in the world, many of which will remain at their destination never to  be filled and put to sea again. Fortunately, instead of seeing them as a disposal problem, people are seeing how they can help provide low-cost, and often funky, alternative homes.

When we first moved to the west coast we considered buying a piece of land and building a simple, affordable container home. The idea was appealing since we live in an area where there are thousands and thousands of containers are available for purchase due to our proximity to local ports.

In 2013 almost 3 million shipping containers passed through the Port of Vancouver, BC, and eight million through the Port of Los Angeles, USA. Any major city that is a shipping hub will have used containers for sale, including delivery.

Our container home plan was put on hold when one acre of Pacific rainforest increased in price during a local bubble to $150,000 dollars or more, putting it over our budget.

Now that we are headed to an area of the country where an acre of land can be purchased for as low as $5000 dollars, we are looking into container home designs once again. Almost half a million shipping containers of consumer goods come into the port of Halifax every year.

Nice open space.

A 40 ft used container on the east coast costs about $3,000 dollars, and if we did some of the work ourselves, we could have an affordable home suited to our purposes and new location.

Using used containers as a building resource can be quick, simple, and affordable. It also helps to re-purpose some of the hundreds of thousands of forgotten containers stacked in storage on shipping grounds around the world.

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