It’s safe to say that it would be hard to imagine the ocean freight industry without shipping containers. There can be millions of containers at sea on any given day, with nearly 90% of every purchased good shipped in a container at some point. Some may say it’s cheaper to buy a new container than pay to send a used container back to its origin country.
Shipping containers are primarily used to hold and transport cargo to and from its destination. But recently, they have started to become more popular. But not in the traditional way. Ever wonder what happens to containers when they can no longer be used? You could have easily driven past one disguised as a home without realizing!
10 years ago, Perter DeMaria built the first container home in the US. So even though shipping container homes seems like a trend, it has actually been a great way for carriers and container yards to get rid of used containers. Selling old containers so they may be refurbished and turned into cozy homes is the best way to recycle them.
“People see shipping containers every single day of their lives – on the road or standing in a port or coming in by ship. They’re just the wallpaper of life,” said Rune Sorenson, managing director of container sales for Maersk Line. “But these are more than just something to carry cargo. There are so many things they can become.”
Transforming a plain shipping container into a home can be very expensive. The first thing you need to know is the difference between different containers. There are high cube containers and regular containers that measure 20 or 40 feet.
High cube containers are harder to find and more expensive. They are ideal when wanting high ceilings, stairs, or extra lighting since they are a foot taller than regular containers. Although high cube containers are the same length and width, they are considered larger. That is a plus. But that can also result in more expenses during construction.
Regular containers can be 20-foot or 40-foot long. These are the most common containers in ocean freight. They are mostly used to transfer LCL and FCL shipments so they are a lot easier to find than high cube containers.
When using a shipping container to build a home, the framework is mostly done. This means, depending on the architecture, construction time is a lot quicker and at lower costs. Because most homes are built using used containers, they are considered to be eco-friendly. With global warming being a worldwide issue, each container-turned-home is making our carbon footprint smaller.
Building a home out of a shipping container can be dangerous. First of all, toxic chemicals are used to paint the exterior of containers to prevent rusting and wear on the sea during shipment. Plus, if buying a used container, flooring is often sprayed to avoid pesticides so that should be kept in mind as well. Lastly, there is no definite way of knowing exactly what a shipping container has been used to transport. Not having that specific information can cause problems when building a container home.
There are many pros and cons to weigh before deciding to build a container home. So, is it just a trend? For now, it does not seem like it. With entire offices, schools, and even restaurants being built from shipping containers, the options are endless.
"The problem with these costs is that they’re often impossible to predict and are thus hardly ever considered when analyzing and comparing ocean freight rates"
Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers