Shipping containers could be ‘dream’ homes for thousands

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I know 2 people who live in shipping containers and they seem to really like it… “Shipping containers could be ‘dream’ homes for thousands

It was a side trip through a destitute, ramshackle neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, that detoured Brian McCarthy from building houses in Albuquerque to an idea to offer the very poor a chance to own a home. His answer lies in a humble steel shipping container 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8½ feet tall.

McCarthy, 30, and three partners, Pablo Nava, 22; Kyle Annen, 23; and Mackenzie Bishop, 22, have made a prototype out of a standard shipping container that hauls goods worldwide — a 320-square-foot home with a kitchen, bath with toilet, sleeping areas, windows and a bright blue door. The exterior is painted with a white epoxy coating that has light-reflecting properties to prevent the sun’s heat from penetrating.

Each small house includes hookups for air conditioning, ventilation, electrical and water systems, and the units ideally could be set up in small communities to make accessing utilities more efficient.

The idea began to take shape several years ago, when McCarthy went to the Mexican border city on a field trip as part of an executive MBA program. He found himself impressed by the sophistication and rapid growth of industry in Juarez but shocked when the bus cut through a poor neighborhood on the way out of the city.

12 thoughts on “Shipping containers could be ‘dream’ homes for thousands

  1. We need to see more of this kind of thing.
    I was thinking of how re-using containers would be good for housing 20 years ago; I’d get off the bus on a bridge by my house, and there were hundreds of containers stored in this huge lot.
    And evidently, they’re not worth the expense to ship back (usually to China)… easier to make new ones and send them over here.
    Only real practical issue I would see is climate control in an environment that gets cold in winter (I know Chicago winters).
    Make believe problems would include “make them Accesable”, and “I don’t think it’ll meet fire code in this town”,
    380 sq-ft. is PLENTY for most people, they just don’t want to think about it deep enough.
    Hell, last 2 apts. I’ve had have been less than 250 sq-ft, it helps one to de-clutter and de-stress.

  2. Nice! I wouldn’t mind living in one of those. We might need to convert those empty shipping cartons into houses here in the US if the economy continues to go where it’s heading.

    I’d customize my own like this:
    * Have a small european sized refrigerator instead of a big one.
    * Replace the oven range with a couple of portable electric stove top burners and a microwave.
    * Remove standalone diningroom table and replace it with a table attached to the wall with hinges and held up with a kickstand so that the table collapses when not needed.
    * Ditto with the bunk beds, attach one side to the wall with hinges and suspend the other side with a rope so that the beds fold up when not needed.

  3. I plan to live in one, eventually. It’ll be about 4-5 containers, two story, with a spiral stair. An on-demand water heater will be a must.

  4. A quick check of ebay suggests that a used shipping container can be had for ~1500.00 not including shipping. Then, of course, you’d have to buy a small plot of land to drop it on.

    One of the biggest problems would be insulation in all but the warmest climates. Once you add double walls with decent insulation I fear you’ll loose a lot of interior space. Maybe, with the limited size, you could look into more efficient/expensive insulation options that are thinner. Another issue is getting it to meet residential building codes. This would vary by town/county/state and would also be subject to convincing the inspector that this wierd idea is actually reasonable.

    As has been mentioned, a fold down table would go a long way towards making more living space as would a fold up bed (like a murphy bed), smaller appliances, and maybe a second container for storage space. It would be quite do-able if you planned the space out well.

    The last thing I can think of would be flooding. You’ll probably want to look into some kind of pillings to raise the container off the ground 1/2 foot or so. This will ensure that water doesn’t flow in and destroy all your stuff in a bad storm.

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