Self Sufficient Living With Containers

If you’re looking to save the environment; save cash and get off the grid, then you should be looking at shipping container uses for home and office. Take a look at these three self-sufficient shipping container constructions.


Image by Jim Dickson via Flickr

Home Number 1

Bill and Roseanne Glennon, a couple from Canada took to building their dream home – made from 30 used shipping containers. The sea-can home has gained a lot of interest from tourists and designers alike. But the couple from Calgary aren’t the first people to construct a liveable, self-sufficient container home.

Shipping containers are structurally strong, economically sound and perfect for creating unique, self-sufficient homes. They offer plenty of space and there’s always the option to add more containers for more space.

What’s more, compared to building materials for conventional brick and mortar houses, shipping containers can be bought at low costs to create the mainframe for a home.

Inspiration for the Home

The Glennon’s dream home was a little more elaborate than some. They wanted a big house but the budget needed to stay at under $1 million. But after years of touring show houses, they realised that their budget might not get them what they want. That was until they read an article about shipping container architecture. Mr Glennon put his carpentering and scaffolding skills to work to design the dream home completely from recycled containers.

Each of the 30 shipping containers weight about 5000 kilograms and can take a load of around 30kg. The containers were stacked to create the mainframe of the four-story building. There are two levels above ground as well as a media room, garage, walkout basement and two enclosed decks. The entire home has been designed to keep it completely off the power grids by using solar and wind systems to generate power.

The Eco-Advantages

So the shipping container dream home will not be connected to the local power grid. For this to happen, a wind generator and energy-efficient windows have been installed as well as a 4.8 kw solar system. The interior wooden walls are insulated from outside and inside so they won’t need as much power for heating in the winter. There won’t be much power needed for heating, either, as a big portion of the home is underground. A solar water heater has also been installed.

The Feasibility

The couple bought each container for $3 000 each and the estimated cost of their house is about $125 per square foot. This works out to be a lot less costly than the rates of urban houses in today’s times.

Home Number 2 – A Self-Sustained Cabin

Shipping container uses are many. One man wanted to create an off the grid and self-sustained home from two shipping containers. He wanted to be able to live comfortably and enjoy all the usual home amenities for up to a year or so at a time.

To realise his dream he purchased tow shipping containers and welded them together to create a cosy, cost-effective cabin. The water is heated with the help of solar power or, if necessary, by wood stove. A well provides access to water.

Together the two containers measure 40 foot by 16 foot, with around 640 square feet of interior space.

Home Number 3 – Studio H:T

This shipping container house also operates completely off the grid. The taller central section of the home is not a container, though, and hasn’t been fashioned from parts of a shipping container. That space houses the dining and living areas with a little storage space on top.

However, two shipping containers flank the central space to either side of it. The containers make up the home’s bedrooms as well as home office space and the kitchen.

The shipping container home has indeed achieve an entirely-off-the-grid living space. It has incorporated non-mechanised design and included green roofs, passive cooling and the orientation of the building as well as window design has worked to minimise solar heat gain. What’s more, it seems that some sort of exterior cladding was applied to the shipping containers – this would be another effort to mitigate solar heating.

The Sauna Box

Another ingenious use for shipping containers, the Sauna Box first took off in 2005 but since then its creators, Castor, have created a number of custom units and continued to update them. The Sauna Box is constructed within an 8x8x8 foot shipping container. There is western red cedar; insulation and even a wood-fired stove as well as stove pipe running out the roof as well as door into the sauna box. There’s even an electric guitar hook up; iPod stereo; bronze antlers and magnetic truck light, not to mention a rooftop solar panel.

The Solar Box is also an off the grid unit. It is powered by the solar panel and heated with wood, so it is a completely self-sufficient unit. Once the cargo doors are closed, the sauna protects its occupants from the elements as well as keeping it safe when it is not in use. The boxes can further be customised to suite the buyer’s taste and site. It’s a great addition to the backyard or remote cabin or even on the roof of a building if the roof can handle the load. It’s highly cost effective too at $41 000.

Final Word

Shipping containers have a multitude of uses and are so cost effective that self-sufficient living is now easily within reach.