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Alternative Investment Ideas for Shipping Containers

Instead of fixating on that perfect property, it’s time to start thinking outside the box in your investment planning – or rather, to start thinking about the box. Used shipping containers are ideal for building a range of industrial-grade facilities on a budget, while still allowing you to keep your options open. Starting with used shipping containers, you can then seek out the perfect niche as an investor.

 Store It Up

 One viable option for repurposing shipping containers is creating storage facilities; whether that be college students who need to store their junk for summer, or people storing inventory for small businesses, storage facilities or big business.

Used shipping containers are an ideal platform for a storage facility because they protect their contents from the elements, are spacious enough to create numerous small units within, and have a low initial investment. Its significantly less expensive to build a storage facility than it is to build homes on the same property, and the revenues are often greater. Add in the cost savings from using shipping containers, and you’re looking at a health ROI!

Down on the Farm

Farming and raising livestock are traditional operations that can benefit, financially and logistically from repurposed shipping containers. That’s because these businesses require a lot of room for housing animals, feed and machinery. Building all the individual structures from the ground up can be very costly and time consuming. With shipping containers, however, you can save time and money by introducing sturdy, prefabricated structures to your business, increasing the facilities ROI. And unlike the people who frequent other real estate investments, like hotels or even stores, the animals aren’t very interested in the aesthetics of their housing and surrounds.

 

With these factors in mind, are you prepared to invest in something different? By considering properties outside typical residential or commercial spaces and developing them with low-cost shipping containers, you can achieve significant returns on your original investment. But these ideas are just scratching the surface of the myriads of alternative ways you can use shipping containers for an investment. Let us know your ideas in the comments section below!

Container Homes Around The World

When you think about living or staying in a Container home, you may think that the experience will feel minimalist, cramped, or even like you are “roughing it”. These Container Home owners around the world beg to differ!

Our first Container home we will visit is in Brisbane, Australia. Using over 30 shipping containers to construct this container “mansion”, the architects included 4 bedrooms, a gym and an art studio. While this isn’t your typical container home model, it is a testament to the shipping container as a viable, sturdy, and even luxurious building material. This home cost around $450,000 to build, but was well worth the investment, as the owners eventually sold the house for double the build cost! That’s called smart investing, mate!

Graceville Container Home

Graceville Container Home in Australia

The next Container Home we will explore is called The Caterpillar House, located just outside Santiago, Chile. This home was built by world renowned architect, Sebastián Irarrázaval. Constructed out of 12 shipping containers, this house was built to render electronic air conditioning unnecessary. This house uses the cool, natural mountain breeze to pass through the house in a passive cooling system!

Caterpillar House

The Caterpillar House Container Home

The last home on our quick tour is located in Kansas City and was designed by a former toy designer, Debbie Glassberg. She built this house from five shipping containers, with the main goal in mind to show that building out of shipping containers doesn’t have to be super-industrial or minimalist. In fact, it can be playful and quirky. She painted the walls in Tiffany blue, and adorned the ceilings with hand-sculpted tiles!

Kansas Container Home

Debbie Glassberg’s Custom Container Home

More than anything, these home designers and architects have shown the versatility of shipping containers and the customization that is possible when you are building your own Container Home! What is on your wishlist for your dream Container Home? Let us know in the comments!

Five Things You Should Know Before Building With Shipping Containers

Constructing a shipping container home is an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it can also be a challenging experience. One of the main things to keep in mind is, shipping containers are unique as far as building materials go. As such, they have their own confounding issues as well as fascinating advantages

I want to address some key issues here that you’ll need to know before you construct a container home and is supplementary information to our recent blog: Are Shipping Containers DANGEROUS to live in?

Not All Containers Are Equal

This is a very important aspect you’ll need to keep in mind before purchasing your container. The most common types used for buildings are high cube, standard and refrigerated. In addition to determining the type of shipping container that will be best for your situation, you will have to decide on the condition of the container that will be most appropriate. Shipping containers are available to be purchased as new, used and one trip containers.

One aspect to keep in mind, is that a high cube container will give a smaller space a deceivingly roomier feel, an aspect that many container home owners say is a game changer. The high cube containers are approximately 50% more expensive than standard containers, but most agree that the extra foot of height is indispensable.

Know Your Local Zoning Laws and Building Regulations

No matter whether building a shipping container home or a traditional building, it is extremely important to know the local regulations. Failing to do this research in advance can spell disaster. It is especially important when constructing a shipping container home, since your local zoning commission may not be familiar with this type of construction.

Once you’ve finalized your plans, but before construction has begun, go to your local planning office. At this meeting, you can determine how receptive they are to your plans. Without prior experience with shipping container homes, some may need some persuasion prior to accepting your ideas.

The only time you don’t need planning permission is when you’re outside your city’s zoning laws. In this case, you generally have the freedom to construct whatever you want, providing the structure is safe. We still recommend speaking with your local planning office to confirm you are truly outside the zoning limits. For more information on shipping container zoning laws and regulations visit our recent blog post.

Don’t Change Your Design During Construction

One of the biggest reasons why all types of homes take longer to build and cost more than expected is because the design gets changed while the building is under construction. The time to change your design is during the planning stage. It is very important to commit to your final design before you begin construction.

Make sure to do as much research as possible before building and ideally, visit several container homes to get inspiration before you commit to your design. A good architect will not only produce the 2D elevations, but many can product 3D renderings as well.

Don’t Cut the Containers…Too Much

 

Like most building materials, shipping containers can be used to build anything from inexpensive homes to multi-million-dollar mansions and everything in the middle. However, most people decide to use shipping containers because of the cost savings benefits.

Maintaining as much of the container’s structural integrity as possible will save money. Any time you cut steel out of your container it costs you both time and money. Not only will you have to pay to remove the steel from your containers, you will also need to to reinforce the opening.

If you look at the cheapest container homes built, one thing they have in common is that they have not modified the original structure extensively.  Of course, opening for doors and windows have been cut, but they haven’t removed large sections from the walls of the container.

Finding Contractors Can Be Difficult

People use contractors because they don’t have either the time or the skills to construct the building themselves. This applies to traditional building as well as shipping container homes.

Since shipping container homes are a relatively new building model, the number of contractors who specialize in this type of construction are somewhat limited.

Of course, you can purchase an already finished structure from the different models offered by CargoHomes. These structures arrive pre-finished and the only aspect you will need your contractor to complete is the final set-up and site preparation.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you should be in good shape to begin your container home adventure! Be sure to check out our other blog posts on this subject and leave your ideas in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Dallas Fort-Worth Constructs Plans for First Neighborhood of Shipping Containers in US

A Rendering of the New Development

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News tells of a development going up in the neighborhood community of McKinney Texas made completely of shipping containers. The project, initiated by Habitat for Humanity is looking for a solution for low-income residents in the DFW area.

When complete next year, Cotton Groves neighborhood will contain 35 homes made from repurposed shipping containers, a community center and a playground. But first Habitat must raise the 4.5 million required to complete the project.

To make the homes as affordable and low maintenance as possible, each will be outfitted with solar panels on the roof to help keep energy costs low. The exterior walls will use fiber cement siding and reclaimed wood for balcony fascia, as well as thin veneer stone for accent walls. The cantilever roof system has a low slope to aid rainfall drainage and gives an accent to the otherwise boxy-looking exterior.

“It says we are forward-thinking. We are innovative. We are willing to look at something different so that we can maximize a piece of property because property is getting very expensive and very scarce,” says Celeste Haiduk Cox, CEO of North Collin County Habitat for Humanity.

The template uses four 8×40 shipping containers that together equal 1,280 square feet, arranged in a couple different configurations for the different models planned. Each home will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a walkout, a second-floor balcony as well as a covered car port for two vehicles. It takes approximately six to eight weeks to construct this re-imagined version of a modular home.

So far, the organization has received a grant of $877,521 from the McKinney Community Development Corp. to complete engineering designs, construct roadways and lay sewer and waters lines for the largely undeveloped property.

Does this sound like a neighborhood you’d like to live in? Habitat will sell the homes to qualified, low income residents at 30 percent of their gross monthly income. Appraisals will determine the market value of these newly constructed homes, so an estimate for the final cost is still in the works, says Cox.

Can Living In A Tiny Home Save You Money?

At the onset, investing in a Tiny or CargoHome can seem quite daunting. Yet the long-term benefits of living in a smaller, more efficient home will pay off.

Many families already living in a large home find they first need to make a mindset change by decreasing their personal possessions and adjusting their priorities. These are some of the more difficult hurdles to overcome before making the leap.

Living in a compact structure with minimal storage space can be challenging. As is the case with many tiny homes, open familial spaces make for great gathering spaces, but aren’t very conducive to privacy.

The benefits?

For Gabriella Morrison, the biggest perk is no longer being financially stressed. Their family built a tiny home in Ashland Oregon in 2011, and they estimate that in 5 years the home will have paid for itself in savings just from not having a mortgage. Not to mention having no utility bills due to their solar panel array and water sourced from a well on the property.

If your ambitions include going off the grid, the savings can pile-up even faster. Because of the energy-conscious design of a CargoHome, a relatively small solar array can fuel an entire home very easily. Rainwater harvested from the roof or utilizing a well from your property can both save your pocket and the environment in the long-run.

Think outdoors. People who gravitate towards tiny houses often tend to be outdoor-oriented. Tiny houses are also natural fits for rural spaces or vacation rental opportunities. And if you live in a tiny house with favorable weather, outdoor living on decks supplements the inside spaces.

Using less fossil fuels, less non-renewable resources; just deciding to make your existence in a tiny house is a win for the environment and your decisions to help the planet will just cascade from there. Every day is a green day. Of course, living with less translates into more for other areas of your life – more time, more money, more balance…

 

Simplify Your Existence

It’s all the rage these days: decrease your carbon footprint, simplify your existence, go eco-friendly. Yet is it just a fad? These two families sought a simpler lifestyle by downsizing their homes. Let’s see what they have in common…

The Longneckers were living the American dream, with plenty of material items and a giant home to boot. Yet they found themselves wanting more–or rather less. A desire for adventure and spending more time together prompted this family to sell the home and much of their possessions.

A shiny 1972 Airstream Sovereign was the perfect solution for their sustainable dreams. In just six months, the couple transformed the vintage home on wheels into an off-grid living space, complete with plentiful storage, modern décor and a workshop.

Despite its 220-square foot size, the trailer is fully functional for the family of six. The kids have fold-down bunk beds, which can be changed into two couches. A luxurious kitchen and dinette allow the family to eat and cook together, and at night, with just a few maneuvers, the dinette can easily convert into a king-size bed.

Now, the Longneckers live and work wherever they feel the need to explore, with all the comforts of a single-family home in a sustainable “adventure mobile.”

The Heeringa Family

Matt & Ilse Heeringa of Hawk’s Bay New Zealand were living in a 5,000 square foot home complete with swimming pool and tennis court. Yet they found themselves buried under the constant maintenance required to keep their home and gardens intact. They were so busy keeping up their home, they had no time to spend together as a family!

After selling their large home, the family purchased two used shipping containers and set off on a trek to make them into a home. Placing the containers side by side and opening-up the two halves enables the space to have a deceivingly spacious feel. A galley kitchen runs the entire length of one container and a large living space gives this family of 5 the space they need to spend time together.

Solar Panels placed on the roof produce all the energy required for the home, while a custom rain collection system and compostable toilets all work together to make this home the eco-conscious haven it was intended to be.

 

What about you? Is your large home secluding you from spending time together as a family? Thinking of downsizing into a more efficient home? Let’s get this conversation started…shoot us an email or write us in the comments below. Cheers to a simpler life!

A Shipping Container Prefab Lab Is Built in Only 4 Hours

When classroom space was becoming limited at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, representatives from the school looked to MB Architecture for a fast, effective fix. By utilizing prefabricated structures based out of 4 retrofitted shipping containers, the architects were able to design and deliver just that.

“The budget required that we explore options beyond conventional construction,” said MB architects. The project arose out of a grant of only $100,000 and was prefabricated, delivered and installed in half a day at a cost of slightly over $200,00. What’s more, is the structure was fully operational just a few days later!

 

 

The design stems from MB Architecture’s prototype prefabricated Insta House – a two story home (also based out of 4 modified containers) with a bedroom upstairs and a main living area on the ground floor, built in the Hamptons in 2009.

The new Media Lab on the middle of campus exemplifies the speed and efficiency of prefab cargotecture. Built double wide and double tall, the boxy two-floor building offers 960 square feet of adaptable meeting spaces and performance areas for the Department of Experimental Humanities.

 

Installation of the Media Lab in only 4 Hours!

 

Following assembly, the team, directed by lead architect Maziar Behrooz, added trim boards between the upper and lower floors and connected the electrical and plumbing lines to the site utilities.

The architects expressed the multiple functions of the Media Lab through designing flexible and open-plan spaces that cater to meetings, lectures, workshops, performances and more. A glazed garage-style door swings up to open the double-height main room to the quad, while also creating a stage for concerts and theatrical events.

Large windows and doors were installed to allow-in copious amounts of natural light while also framing campus views.

 

 

While reconfigurable furniture includes chair seating for up to 16 people, the stairs can also be used as auditorium-like seating for lectures. The downstairs space of the Media Lab is open for reservations to the Bard community, and offers a variety of products, including sound recording equipment and a television.

 

 

Bard’s example of urgent space requirements only goes a little way to exemplify the many uses of shipping container construction. Since the installation of the Media Lab, other universities have considered the container route for educational spaces as well as student housing. The possibilities are endless.

Got ideas? Shoot us an email or reply in the comment section below…we’d love to hear from you!

 

Are Shipping Containers DANGEROUS To Live In?

Lots of people come to our site and see shipping container homes and fall in love with how incredible they look and how eco-friendly they are. But one question normally lingers in the background of their thoughts, “Is living in a shipping container safe?”

First off, we need to define exactly what kind of fears are lurking in the minds of these potential buyers and then address those issues one by one.

So today, I am going to address some of the most common concerns and how your CargoHome can be the desirable haven it is intended to be.

Question: Do Shipping Container’s Container Harmful Chemicals?

This is the most common question for any potential container home buyer and it mainly stems from the possibility of hazardous chemicals either in the waterproofing of the flooring material or the paint which may contain phosphorous or chromate.

While a simple solution to any of the above-mentioned concerns would be to simply buy a new shipping container directly from a manufacturer, this would also take away your eco-minded dreams.

Some simple solutions are the most practical. Spray foam insulation on all the interior wall panels greatly improves your container’s ability to maximize efficiency and also produces a vapor barrier against any potentially harmful toxins in wall paint.

If you want to be completely safe from possible toxins in your flooring, you could remove the original wooden flooring and replace it with marine plywood from your local hardware store.

In the example below, a simple non-breathable flooring underlayment was laid straight over the original wooden flooring and then the desired finished flooring material could be laid directly on top of the vapor barrier.

Vapor Barrier Installed Above Existing Flooring

Question: Are Shipping Container Homes Hurricane Proof?

These questions are no doubt inspired from the photo’s we’ve seen of hurricane Katrina. In the photos it shows wooden homes which have been completely annihilated by Katrina, however lying on top of the wood are completely intact shipping containers.

Containers Survive Hurricane Conditions

Shipping containers are designed to be stacked up to nine high when fully loaded with over 26 tons of cargo in each container. It’s not surprising these containers stood up to the test of Katrina.

We are now seeing a spate of shipping containers being used as emergency disaster housing- this is because they are so tough. The most well-known occurrence of this being in New York.

In April 2014 New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program. Guess which prototype won the program?

You guessed it… A Shipping Container Home.

New York aims to use shipping container homes as stackable apartments which can be used as post-disaster housing. The fact that these homes are stackable makes them perfect for densely populated areas such as New York.

You can read more about the post disaster housing program in our recent blog post.

 

Now you know exactly how safe shipping container homes are to live in, what are you waiting for!? Let us know what you use your shipping container home for in the comments section below!