Shipping Container Home

Excessive high rentals around Hong Kong have borne shipping container home for rent on the online marketplace. Markbox is one such company in Hong Kong that makes container homes, measuring 30 square metres. At HK$150,000, it is half of the down payment required for a modest apartment in the country. While these container housings are increasingly popular, they are, surprisingly, mostly illegal. This is because the housing needs to meet government standards that ensure ventilation, lightning and fire-safety facilities. The area should also be set aside for residential use. 

Since 2016, there was twice the number of orders for shipping containers with a whopping 40 percent designed for housing purposes, due to its low costs. The attractive pricing even led the government to explore container homes as a solution to the housing shortage in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service is even building homes for those who are awaiting public housing, in country’s poorest district.

Aside from Hong Kong, there are those in the US who are looking to container homes for sustainability. In 2012, there were more than 5 million shipping containers left dormant. Shipping them back to Asia would prove too costly, and melting them to re-use the steel would require huge amounts of energy. Shipping container homes are not just cheap, they can be built quickly- one just has to stack the containers and cut the openings for the windows.

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Shipping Container Modification use as Container Home Photo: Future Sustainable Construction

While shipping containers are used in a variety of ways today like this, shipping containers have come a long way.

History of Shipping Container

Before shipping containers came about, shipping was handled manually from factory to vessel to warehouse, etc. This resulted in lots of delays and hence profit losses. Cargo was loaded in odd sized wooden cases’ dock loaders had to unload freight from trucks and transfer them to ships. Enter Malcolm McLean, the father of shipping containers. McLean had owned the largest trucking company in the United States in his time and he had thought hard about making transportation seamless. McLean then purchased the Pan Atlantic Tanker Company, along with its shipping assets and explored different ways to make loading and unloading much more efficient. Finally, he came up with the shipping container, which is strong, reliable, resistant and easy to transfer, resolving the problems he had faced in the past. The first shipping container was shipped in 1956 and it was called the Ideal X, departing from Port Newark to Houston.

McLean changed the freight industry completely with his invention and forever revolutionized the way international trade was conducted. So often, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is relying even more on online purchasing. If not for McLean, the world may not experience freight like we do today- convenient, safe and much less labour intensive. Before, loading and unloading would take up huge amounts of labour which meant higher costs of trade, yet longer times needed for transportation. 

Today, shipping container globalisation has led to nearly 90% of the world’s cargo to be transported using containers, turning the world economy on its head and bringing the world closer together. Transport costs have nearly become non-existent due to the rise of shipping container standardisation around the world. This has opened up new opportunities for companies to migrate to other countries with lower production costs, such as China, where nearly one-third of global containers move through its ports.

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Using Shipping Container Home for a Sustainable Future

The future of shipping container home holds many exciting opportunities for building a more sustainable world. Aside from housing, some containers are even repurposed into buildings for people to work in. Starbucks, global coffee chain has even used containers to build a drive-through coffee shop.

A University in Thailand has even build a new campus almost entirely out of recycled shipping containers, from its ports in Bangkok. What is unique and environmentally friendly about the container campus is that it reduces the use of concrete, which produces significant amount of greenhouse gases, for construction. Rather, the containers are seated on a concrete pad and welded to steel plates. 

There are endless possibilities to the simple-looking shipping containers. 

If you would like to buy/rent shipping containers, explore the feasibility of using repurposed shipping containers for your premises, or even use containers as a setting for filming, feel free to speak to us today.

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