Building homes using shipping containers has been all the rage lately and few can deny that these structures lend themselves very well to building sustainable, cozy and unique homes. But not everything about using shipping containers as building blocks is perfect. This article looks at the main pros and cons of shipping container architecture, starting with the good stuff.
One of the more niche trends in sustainable design of the past few years has been the re-use of shipping containers in order to create the structure of a building. Due to their convenient size, shipping containers are well-suited for use in houses and their appeal lies in their apparent simplicity: you get a room delivered in one piece, and you can stack them together to make multiple rooms or join them up to make larger rooms.
This is perhaps the most obvious benefit. Hundreds of thousands of steel cargo containers are discarded in ports across the globe, mainly due to one way shipments of goods, since it is cheaper to just load and send new containers, rather than transport empty ones back to the port of origin. This problem is especially noticeable in North America, where import of goods exceeds export. Reusing the containers as homes also saves a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted for melting them down.
- Cost Effectiveness
Shipping containers are already the perfect shape to be repurposed into homes, so a home built out of them is much cheaper than a same sized home built the traditional way. Shipping containers can also be obtained very cheaply, sometimes even for free. Almost all the structural work associated with building a home falls away when using shipping containers, and even people with no architectural training can build a home for themselves using them.
- Structural Soundness
Shipping containers are built to withstand the harsh conditions of ocean travel. They are designed to bear heavy loads, withstand harsh climatic conditions, as well as rough handling. ISO standard compliant containers can also easily be stacked one on top of the other to create multi-story homes. Due to their robustness, such homes are earthquake and even hurricane proof, which makes them extremely safe and perfect for building in natural disaster-prone areas.
- Ease and Speed of Construction
It is quite possible for a person to build a home out of a shipping container by themselves. Most people opt for hiring a design firm, though, or cutting the containers in off-site facilities. Despite this, it takes considerably less time to build a home out of a shipping container, and most can be assembled within a day or so, if all the pieces have been pre-cut off site.