More and more home builders live in stylish container homes. Why? The construction is fixed, high quality, and inexpensive. Container houses are ideal for frugalists as a home, but can also be a worthwhile investment as an asset. All the more so if everything is planned and executed as a self-sufficient construction.
Modular construction is not an invention of container manufacturers. If we think of Le Corbusier and his modular, post-war apartment buildings in the East and rhe West, and the associated dreams of democracy and equality, then it becomes clear that modern modular architecture has shaped our living environment for about a century.
Recently, there has been more and more talk of container houses in private housing. There are several reasons for this: Firstly, you can live just as smartly in prefabricated modules as you would in a brick-built, traditional residential building. Second, prefabricated houses made of containers are often up to a third cheaper and third, the construction time is many times shorter than in traditional housing. I have tried here to outline the benefits of this particular modular design to the state of things in terms of container house and I think frugalists should deal with the issue.
The idea of building a house out of containers is about the same age as the container itself. Occasionally there have been projects for years, in which ship containers have been converted into houses. In the haze of the US Tiny House Movement miniature houses were created – individually and handmade. The fact that the concept has become more professional, however, is only a development of recent years.
Why Are Container Houses Trendy?
Containers hit the nerve of the time. They are movable, stackable, freely combinable and cheap. And it is precisely the refugee crisis that has caused European manufacturers since 2015 to be gratefully received by the public sector and, consequently, by a broad public, as they have had a practical and quick-to-implement response to housing shortages with their products. Since then living in a container is no longer reserved for ascetics and dropouts.
Container Houses As Individual Projects – “Ship Containers Are Only Moderately Suitable!”
Unlike vendors specializing in the construction of buildings made from container modules, individual projects such as the Modern Shipping Container Cabins are often built from real shipping containers.
Some experts speak against this container: “They do not use shipping containers, quite the opposite. The idea was always shadowed. It initially appears attractive and cheap, but that is only partially true. Yes, the shipping container is cheap, but it requires an immense effort to make it suitable for housing and approval. “That is partly due to the construction method:” As a closed box of trapezoidal is very stable, but as soon as you cut holes in it, it becomes very unstable. Then you have to improve a lot and stabilize the structure support again that it holds together.”
For example, the containers are produced for temporary use on construction sites. Here you have floor, ceiling and a support at every corner. “This problem of the statics can be resolved with a steel skeleton. In that case it doesn’t need any supporting walls anymore. If I now place several modules next to each other, the supports are only on the outer walls, inside you have free play”.
Owners also do container construction for container holiday homes for investors who can generate interesting returns. If holiday homes are planned and built as self-sufficient structures, they can be built practically everywhere, even in areas which have not yet been developed by electricity, sewage and road networks.
So very interesting as a cost-effective investment and income object for people who opt for financial independence and thus an early retirement lifestyle.
The Cool Container House Is Also Unbeatable In Price
For builders in the orientation phase, container houses offer some big advantages. “The quality, the construction time, the flexibility is higher than with normal houses. In addition, a container house is depending on the equipment up to 20-30 percent cheaper as a conventional construction. “And, last but not least: you still have no loss of comfort.”
What such a house ultimately costs depends’ on several factors: “For example, if you want a spacious home of 250-300 square meters, the price per square meter is around $1,000 to a maximum of $1,100 gross, including transportation, installation, and taxes. The smaller the house are, the more expensive it will be, since the logistics will remain, but less mass will be moved. Miniature houses with a floor space between of 50 to 100 square meters then rather cost $1,200 to $1,300 gross.”
Other not to be underestimated advantage here is that you can create your container houses with manual skills yourself even faster and cheaper doing it yourself.
What Is The Planning For A Container House?
After the preliminary planning by an architect who is budgeting the project from the customer, they get a pretty fix price already. “You can calculate conservatively, with a fluctuation of 5-10 percent. Until the building application is done, the final cost price can then also be set permanently – but always with reservations, for example, if the client spontaneously changes from PVC flooring to parquet.”
“The engineering services have to be purchased separately the more complex the construction project is planned”. “The client comes up with an idea that must then be further developed together with an architect and engineer’s office. Then you can take a manufacturer on board and work out the design options as well as the schedule with the architect and the engineer. When the approval planning is done, we start with the execution planning and the technical planning, where the design is then adapts to the local conditions. Once the building permit is approved, the house is already produced and in parallel to the ground and foundations are prepared. The architect also coordinates the assembly and completion of the project till the end. ”
Construction Time: 6 Weeks Between Order And Delivery Of A Container House
From the project order to delivery of the modules the time schedule is set to roughly 2 months. “For example, in a one-family house with 10 modules, the containers are delivered and set up in one, maximum two days. It may also be that two days full throttle delivery, then the internal work must be done and then they get the next batch of modules delivered in the second week. “Similar information are made public by other companies which often have delivery times of 8 to 10 weeks after contract signing.
The interior work on a detached house takes about a week and they include:
- Connection of the modules
- The closing of thermal bridges
- Fill and paint
- Solar power system and electrical installation
- Heating equipment
- Water collection and processing system
- Wastewater treatment plant
How Are Container Houses Produced?
As with other prefabricated houses, the advantage of container houses is also that the modules have a high degree of prefabrication in a dry, clean and always the same warm factory. This makes it possible to work very accurately and weather independent, which speeds up production process as well as the delivery and installation time immensely.
Wood Or Steel – Various Container House Manufacturers And Their Construction Methods
There are wooden construction types as they have been developed in vertically erected container projects. In these work as well as with steel frame projects the “cell phone reception is still no problem”. As buildings with timber frame construction are rather used for private housing as on the other hand steel is more common in commercial construction projects. Container houses are often made of wood and for tempo-housing genuine ship containers are used.
Questions About Statics And Foundations Of Container Houses
Can you stack any number of containers on top of each other? “Currently projects that should be six stories high and even higher are built”. “Manufacturers, however, must then significantly retrofit the modules of the first floor, to make certain that you can build such buildings with the standard dimensions assuring the stability in the same time. Reinforce is one variant, but a sturdy outer steel skeleton could be another solution. You can almost imagine this as a high-rise, into which you then push the containers.”
What kind of foundations are necessary for container houses? “Every 2.5 to 3.5 meters you need a support point for the frame”. “Such a house can stand on pillars, so on point foundations, or ideally on a strip foundations to assure a better stability. On stands it cools down more easily. Rarely do the developers wish for a cellar-built building.”
The Building Permit For A Container House: Where Can You Build?
Anyone who plans to build a container house or wants to do it himself, simply said, has to go through the same procedure as any other home builder. There are no special conditions here. The building must comply with the local development plan, which in many residential areas also stipulates the buildings’ height, window and roof shapes, and must of course be approved by the building authority.
It is easy to plan and build self-sufficient buildings using container modules combined to the idea of earthships, which gives you a great deal of flexibility with the choice of the construction location where you want to build your home or yield object.
Container houses and the Energy Saving Ordinance
For container houses no exceptions are made in the Energy Saving Ordinance even though they use renewable energy sources. There is no problem as: “The provisions are of course kept, because the values are well below relaxed. In the buildings, in addition to the normal insulation, another layer of insulation is applied, a layer that works like an emergency blanket and with which we can reduce heat losses by a further 85 percent. ”
By default, container houses are insulated with mineral wool or PU foam. “Ultimately, it’s a question of faith. Which material will be taken in the end, each developer may decide for himself”.
Heating Technology For Container Houses
Heating takes place at container buildings by wood and pallet ovens with night storage heaters. “Except in the bathroom and kitchen, the containers are kept dry as much as possible, because water is the Achilles heel in every building if something goes wrong. With the furnaces, we can dispense with the installation of heating pipes, which could be problematic at the crossings, because we would have to drill into carrying parts. ”
Other companies use similar technologies and use a water-heated underfloor heating system or an air/air heat pump, whichever is most useful, as some suppliers even have gas water heaters in their program.
Current Application Areas For Container Houses
Container systems are currently on the rise in the construction of foreign students’ dormitories and kindergartens. In 2005, Tempo-housing realized a huge container campus called “Keetwonen” with 60 student apartments in Amsterdam. For that, they had their own shipping container line pre-produced in China. Also, in Germany there are now container house projects and of course a number of newly created accommodations for refugees. In addition, there are more and more exciting container family houses in high-quality design, which point to a new and promising modular construction trend.
So why shouldn’t you also make use of the possibilities of these cost-effective construction methods for yourself.
Have you already had experiences with such cost-effective modern style container housing projects? Please let me know in the comment box here below and share my post with your friends on social media.