The new craze for small living spaces appears to be living in container homes. And yes, by that we do mean actual shipping containers, 8 ft x 8ft 6in, with around 150 sq feet of space – converted into living spaces.
It sounds bizarre at first glance, so we decided to do some research and find out if there is actually some sense behind this idea, and found that it’s actually nothing new at all. People have been living in repurposed shipping containers for decades, especially in towns around ports in developing countries
We have looked at the safety concerns, practicality, cost and environmental impact of buying and converting containers into homes and shared our findings below. This should give you an insight into the realities of living in a container box – who knows, maybe you will be tempted to downsize.
Before we get into the finer details, it is best to begin with the fundamental requirement of a potential living space – is it safe?
Obviously shipping containers are not designed to be human homes – their primary function is to transport goods across oceans for weeks on end. To enable them to keep the goods inside dry during stormy seas and free from infestations they are treated in two ways that make them questionable for habitation.
Firstly, the floors are wooden, and are soaked in pesticides.
Secondly, the walls are coated in a strong paint containing phosphorus and chromate to protect from salt water and storms at sea.
These two aspects are obviously of real concern to individuals considering converting them into homes.
There are of course a few ways to protect yourself from exposure to the chemicals, some more costly than others.
Other worries about safety of living in a shipping container include concerns over the ability of such a home to withstand hurricanes. The good news is that they are strong and durable, so should be able to bear hurricanes and floods rather well. They have even been chosen as emergency disaster housing in some instances.
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