For a few years now, Sunshine and I have been researching shipping container houses as an alternative means to shelter. Most container houses modify the container and set them into a larger structure and permanent position. To our mind, such designs loose the true value of a container - its portability. Without portability, a container house has very little added value over a standard pre fabricated house. The cost works out almost the same, as a standard 20 foot reconditioned container costs around $3000 in Australia. Our design retains the portability, with all external elements fitting either inside a container, or on top, ready for transport.
The reason we want a portable home is so we can relocate once. Our plan is a two stage approach to home and land ownership, attempting to keep our weekly payments as low as possible.
Most people in Australia either stay in debilitating rental situations averaging $400 per week (our's is $500), or cripple themselves with a 30-40 year mortgage, carrying average weekly repayments of $600, or much more if interest rates spike.
- We aim to find a vacant block of land and offer the owner 50-$100 rent per week, and a earth or concrete slab surrounded by a productive garden and food forest at the end of 5 years.
- We'd then secure a personal loan of 30-$40 000 for the prefabrication, additions and delivery of the container house. The weekly repayments on such a loan would be around $300 for 3-5 years.
- The land rent and house repayments would total $350-400 per week. So we'd save $50-100 per week compared to renting. That's $2500-5000 per year, or 10-20 000 over 5 years. $10 or 20 000 is enough for a 10% deposit on a cheap block of land outside the major centres.
- The containers would be paid off at the end of the first 5 year term, and then we'd move them onto the new block and gradually build them out with earth so to move the containers out and make a shed next to the earth house - hence the need for the retained portability.
- Our repayments would then reduce to around $300 per week for 30 years - half the average everyone else pays, that we'd then put to extensions and modifications.
This plan gets us out of the rental trap, where it is impossible to save anything towards a mortgage, and keeps our living expenses as low as possible in this inflated and exclusive Australian economy.
Here's a set of photos of inspirational projects and our design in a cardboard model.
Costing breakdown - new, recycled and 2nd hand materials:
- 3 modified containers delivered: $15000
- Insulation and linings: $3000
- Roof and trusses: $7000
- Kitchen made of modified filing cabinets: $2000
- Waterless toilet: $1000
- Bathroom: $1000
- Plumbing, storage, pump, outlets: $3000
- Power generator, storage, cable, points, lights: $5000
- Rocket fire, thermal mass heater: $500
- 1x (4x2m) ebay window/door: $1200
- 6x (1.2x1m) ebay windows: $1200
- 5x ebay doors: $1000
$40900 for 72m2