5 Reasons You Should Use Shipping Containers for Your Home

Around ten years ago, design firm Zigloo was one of the first Canadian companies to create a home out of shipping containers. Since then, its use has become more widespread and many design and architecture firms are looking for ways they can use it to create chic, sustainable homes. If you’re trying to decide on your next home, below are five great reasons to looking into shipping containers.

It’s Sustainable

calgary-is-green-5-Reasons-You-Should-Use-Shipping-Containers-for-Your-Home-4

As an eco-conscious consumer you’re familiar with the three pillars of a sustainable lifestyle: reduce, reuse and recycle. Worldwide, there are millions of unused shipping containers sitting at docks or shipping yards with no intended purpose. In fact, for many companies it has become cheaper to simply make new containers than to ship the old ones back to their original location. By repurposing these containers you’re saving natural resources such as lumber and also reducing labor needed to create these new homes.

You might be asking yourself, why not just recycle the steel in these containers? Unfortunately, it takes around 8000 kWh of energy to fully melt it down and make new beams or other building materials. In comparison, modifying these containers into homes simply takes 400 kWh. While it will still require some additional lumber, insulation, wiring, steel beams and other materials to make it livable, ultimately it still has far less impact than melting down the container or building a brand new home.

It’s Affordable

calgary-is-green-5-Reasons-You-Should-Use-Shipping-Containers-for-Your-Home-5

Whether you’re purchasing an old or new home, the costs associated with it can be mind boggling. The materials, labor and time ends up hiking up prices. Depending on where you plan to buy a house it can easily cost a half a million dollars. Container homes are much cheaper as the basic structure of the house is already provided. Even when you take into account the time and labor it will take to cut out the designs and construct the inner framework, it still ends up saving you time and money. Consider this, it takes only a few weeks to build a container home versus a few months for a regular home. In fact, for many potential home owners, it can even be 50% cheaper to use shipping containers as the base of the home than natural materials like wood, cement or brick.

It’s Durable

calgary-is-green-5-Reasons-You-Should-Use-Shipping-Containers-for-Your-Home-6

Shipping containers are meant to withstand harsh natural conditions and high loads in any direction thanks to a high grade Corten Steel frame. In fact, they were designed to withstand over 23,000 kilograms of cargo. As well, in order to save space on trains and boats, they were made to easily stack vertically and horizontally. While these containers are generally only used for 10 years, they have an indefinite life span and rarely require maintenance. As you can see, they’re the perfect shell for a solid house that will absolutely last you a lifetime.

It’s Modular

calgary-is-green-5-Reasons-You-Should-Use-Shipping-Containers-for-Your-Home-7

It’s easy to put together a home quickly and even tack on additions with shipping containers because the sizes are all consistent. Most shipping containers come in a few sizes ranging from 2.4 meters wide to 3, 6, 12 meters in length and 2.9 meters tall. You can also design it in any way you want since you can easily stack the containers in any way you like. In essence, you can view the containers as Lego blocks of your home. If you realize you’ve outgrown it, you can simply purchase another and then connect it to the main portion of your house. Creating new additions to your house is significantly faster than traditional ones.

It’s Customizable

calgary-is-green-5-Reasons-You-Should-Use-Shipping-Containers-for-Your-Home-8

Depending on how much time and money you want to spend on your container home, you can make it look as chic or futuristic as you like. The main thing is to sit down with the architect and designer and inform them of your vision. From there they can sketch some ideas and you can choose from a list of your favorites. There are hundreds of container homes around the world, many of which look like traditional homes. Of course, if you want it looking like your dream home, you need to ensure proper communication between your designers and contractors.

While container stores might sound like an amazing opportunity, there are still many things you’ll need to keep in mind when building it. The most important thing many people who have traveled this route before is to always check up on local building codes and make sure you build properly for the climate in your location. The containers themselves might be generic but things like fire regulations and natural disaster standards are not. Besides this, the next most important thing to remember is proper insulation. Steel tends to absorb and lose a lot of heat quickly so if you live in an area that fluctuates between highs and lows, you’ll need to make sure you paint the home accordingly and insulate. It’s best to try and find others who have built in your area or approach a design team who is familiar with your region.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!