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Just a few miles from my house, there is a piece of land with two old shipping containers placed about 20’ apart and parallel to each other. There are also two large barns and several smaller outbuildings, but no house. I was always curious about this place, since it had the feel of a train depot, but trains don’t run through here.

When I was in real estate a few years ago, the owner called me to get a rough value of this property. I was thrilled to be able to go through the gate and inspect this oddity.

Like I said, the containers were parallel to each other with their sliding doors facing each other. A concrete slab with radiant floor tubing was laid between them. The plumbing was stubbed out at one end, where the mechanical room would have been. Now, this place had been sitting vacant for years, so it was surely outdated plumbing (Entran2?!). I couldn’t give it any value, but I was excited to see that someone thought about using shipping containers as living quarters so long ago. Someone had great insight!

Here are ten container buildings to inspire you when you need an outbuilding or a home. At the very least, I hope you are inspired to recycle in a big way!

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1.

Victoria house built from eight containers (http://gliving.com), night shot in winter (owner: Keith Dewey)

Victoria house built from eight containers (http://gliving.com), night shot in winter (owner: Keith Dewey)

“They can be stacked, laid side by side or arranged in less symmetrical and more creative ways. As a basic building block, the possibilities are pretty much endless. And all it takes is minor modifications — i.e., cutting out windows, like you see here — to make it your own. Better still, the containers protect against hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and fires — and termites hate ‘em” – G Living green building, (read the original post…)

2.

Affordable Shipping Container House in Quebec, this time in the day time, spring (lowimpactliving.com)

Affordable Shipping Container House in Quebec, this time in the day time, spring (lowimpactliving.com)

3.

ISBU shipping container converted into housing (renaissanceronin.wordpress.com)

ISBU shipping container converted into housing (renaissanceronin.wordpress.com)

“Because the end result of an ISBU based home is “a home made of steel”, you get a sturdy, stout, strong (get the idea) home, that is ready to take on whatever Mother Nature throws, and it’ll probably fair much better than that tract home you used to live in.” (read the original post …)

4.

Krabi province, Thailand Shipping Container Home

Shipping container, Thailand Krabi province

“The container home is not quite acceptable for people in Thailand even though there are more articles, discussions and exhibitions than [before]. It may be because of the old look of the container itself, or the confidence of the structural strength. Also, not many people are sure how to get it done.

But I think if you want to have a small house, this is a great option. You can use two or three containers and make your own house very quick and inexpensively. Nowadays there are many great architects who can give you advice. Also, the idea of “reuse” is great [for] our planet!” (read the original post …)

5.

Modular shipping container house from Toronto-based development company MEKA

Modular shipping container house from Toronto-based development company MEKA

Toronto-based housing company MEKA — that is, modular, environmental, kinetic, assembly — made national headlines with the launch of small container homes this week. 

Seeking the ultimate trifecta of style, sustainability, and affordability, this start-up aims to produce “the most luxurious living spaces with a clean modern sensibility, at super affordable prices.” (read original post …)

6.

Sarasota, Florida shipping container house (http://earthship.co.nz)

Sarasota, Florida shipping container house (http://earthship.co.nz)

“There are lots of them, and they’re widely available across the entire country. At any one time in the U.S., about 125,000 shipping containers are available for conversion to houses. “(read original post …)

7.

Casa Incubo in Costa Rica

Casa Incubo in Costa Rica (image from containerhomeplans.org)

8.

Manifesto House in Chile (image from containerhomeplans.org)

Manifesto House in Chile (image from containerhomeplans.org)

9.

Mike Corvi's shipping container based work area (http://tinyhouseblog.com)

Mike Corvi’s shipping container based work area (http://tinyhouseblog.com)

“Mike bought a slightly used empty cargo shell for $2,900 and than with the help of a of skilled builder, and a couple of friends and lots of hard work and in about 6 weeks time, constructed this office retreat in his back yard.” (read the original post …).

10.

isbu shipping container livestock barn (http://renaissanceronin.wordpress.com)

isbu shipping container barn (http://renaissanceronin.wordpress.com)

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Imports from China come in steel shipping containers, but the US does not export in them. One-way garbage piles up at shipyards quickly. Within the last decade, however, clever home designers and avid recyclers have started using them as storage units, offices, studios, sheds, garages, dormitories and homes.

Why not? They are sturdy, having been built to withstand tons of freight and a trip across the ocean exposed to wind, typhoons, salt air and water. Shipping containers are also mold resistant, and the Corten steel they are made of does not rust. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect home envelope?!

 

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.