The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Shipping Container Homes

nj shipping container home 01

Shipping Container Homes are – as the name suggests – modulated from prefabricated shipping containers, which are known for their intrinsic strength, comparably wider availability and relatively low cost. A single shipping container is constructed of weathered steel, and is generally of 8 feet width, 8 feet height and can be bought in either a 20 feet or 40 feet length. In a bafflingly innovative concept, dwellings can be constructed by stacking existing shipping containers and revamped into modernistic, fashionable yet green, affordable homes.

The Good:

In this case the economical factor truly stands out, as shipping container homes cost significantly less when compared to traditional houses of the same area, functionality and space. The reason – well it is the building material itself i.e the shipping container. They are already pre-existing components, and hence the cost of procuring conventional building materials – such as bricks, cement, stone etc along with steel reinforcements – is totally nullified. Moreover the discarded shipping containers are made use of, in effect giving them a second life of utility which gives us a viable yet renewable green option. And since we are considering the green option, we should also think about the considerable amount of energy saved, which otherwise would have been expended in manufacturing and processing of the building materials and metal scrapping. Adding to that they have the advantage of being constructed speedily, as is normally the case with prefabricated housing.

Moving onto their structural ability, what can be stronger than steel? The containers themselves are designed to be exposed to heavy loads, harsh climatic conditions, and regular rough handling. So naturally the dwellings have substantial structural strength of their own. And come to think of it, they are also fire resistant, hurricane resistant and even termite resistant!

Can this be better?

Yes, the containers themselves can be modified with variant range of comfort products and appliances. Even the design process can be complemented by modular, efficient usage of spaces, all in fraction of normal cost.

The Bad:

All is not well, when we consider the shipping container’s inability to mitigate heat. As they are made of metal – which is a natural conductor of heat; controlling temperature inside the house becomes a major difficulty. Again the ‘metal virtue’ comes into play, when we think about the used containers and the rust involved with them. This can hamper the structural stability to some degree.

From the constructional viewpoint – enough free space availability is a priority, for moving and handling of those modular containers. Also the exact estimation of the cost and setting can’t be made, variably depending upon the means and mode of transportation of the components.
From marketability’s perspective – these homes are just not considered as realistic, viable housing solutions by the average customer, especially in comparison to the standard prefabricated dwellings.

Can these be avoided?

Resoundingly yes, in view of the advancements made in fields of technology. Temperature control can be regulated by proper insulation, just as rusts can be avoided by proper measures like galvanization, chrome plating or even usage of rust resistant. As for marketability, it is really not the fault of the dwellings; competent marketing strategies can always be initiated.

The Ugly:

It should be taken into account that firstly shipping containers were not manufactured for the purpose of building homes. They are definitely not suitable for ‘criss-cross stacking’. Moreover in some cases it has been found, that harmful paints and solvents are used in the container’s composition. They can have possible adverse effects on the human health. Even the previous cargoes carried by the containers could be toxic and radioactive – the long term consequence of such contaminants can have pronounced harmful ramifications.

Why are we so critical?

Because the gases that would be emanated out of the paints used in containers can even cause cancer. And even the long term attributes of the environment friendly application of these houses is still debatable at the least.

The Bottomline:

At their ‘heart’ the shipping container homes embodies strength. Being composed of weathering steel, innovative people as well as inspired architects are looking forward – to using these hardy components as building materials. Furthermore they can be modified exclusively and rather efficiently, of course depending upon the degree of one’s initiative, will and taste.

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