Shipping containers can be quite impressive. They’re durable, cheap and highly portable; perfect for moving goods across the sea or storing your possessions in a safe space. But they’re now used for even more than that. As ISBUs – that’s an intermodal steel building unit, a technical term for a container used in a construction project – containers have found themselves acting as bars, restaurants, swimming pools and even homes!
We’ve recently touched on why containers make such a perfect home for your business, but do the same positives go for turning a big metal box into a home? In this article, the Unit Hire team discover whether shipping container homes in the UK would ever work on a big scale.
Aside from the odd appearance on Grand Designs, container homes never really end up in the public eye. Despite this, there are some great examples of fully liveable container homes across the globe. While many of these projects are installed primarily as art pieces (or just as a way for architects to show off their skills) a number of residential container-based buildings have been set up with fantastic results.
Container homes have been used across Europe as a low-cost housing option to great success. From the colourful containers of Amsterdam to the floating ‘Urban Rigger’ of Copenhagen, container homes certainly seem to be working – once the potential residents have been convinced, that is.
Container homes are green, cheap and durable and they seem to be growing more and more popular. But what we want to know is whether a shipping container home here in the UK could feasibly work well.
Well, they already are. Up and down the country, people have been living their container home dreams right here. Whether it be the private homes on sale for £35,000 in Sheffield or the brand new container accommodation for the homeless in Bristol, these container-based residences are definitely having an impact.
As to whether or not there is a future for container homes in the UK, an entire university dissertation has been written on the topic by University of Westminster student Owen Connolly. Connolly asserts that – due in particular to the rising cost of land in British cities – container homes are absolutely viable in the UK.
While many currently view container homes primarily as a useful temporary solution, there is no reason that they would not be a viable option in the UK. It seems as though the time has come for us to follow our American cousins into the wonderful world of container homes and unlock the wonders of low-cost housing for everyone.
Wait just a second. While container homes may well be a fantastic source of relief to the UK’s housing crisis and a very viable housing option across the country, building a container home isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
Firstly, you have the issue of planning permission to think about. If you’re planning on building a container home to act as a ‘permanent development’, you’re going to have to apply for planning permission. We mentioned in our previous article on planning permission and containers that you shouldn’t have any problems installing a container home on land that you own, but you could still run into a couple of hurdles.
When it comes to actually building a container home, the process may not be as straightforward as you initially think. While many of the container-based developments we are exposed to look as simple as piling some boxes up and welding them together, there’s a lot more to it. Cutting out doors and windows in your home all compromises the structural integrity of the architecture, so you’ll have to be sure to reinforce your home. Plus, if you want to go as cheap as possible and use only second-hand containers, getting them to stack comfortably will be far harder than it would be if using brand new containers.
Ensuring that your container is fully structurally sound and well insulated can make that cheap-as-chips steel home of your dreams a little more expensive than you may think. However, the effort can certainly lead to great success with the right amount of care and attention.
Container homes are definitely viable in the UK, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your own construction project! For a wide range of both new and used containers, for building purposes or otherwise, get in touch with Unit Hire today!