Felix and Lizzie Williamson installed a shipping container into the garden of their Bilgola home. Picture: Justin Lloyd.
SOMETIMES thinking outside the box means living in one.
With the cost of real estate on the rise, savy Sydney homebuilders are increasingly taking a more unorthodox approach to their dream pad — with a growing trend for turning industrial shipping containers into fully detached homes and granny flats.
The concept is already reasonably widespread in the United States and Canada, but has recently spread to Australia as homebuyers seek to stretch their dollars to the max.
- HARD TO BELIEVE: Some container conversions look so much like regular houses they can be hard to spot. Picture: Container Homes Designer Domain.
- Container homes can cost a fraction of the cost of conventionally built homes. Picture: Container Homes Designer Domain.
- The homes are most popular in rural areas where builders can be hard to find.
- Container homes can be constructed from multiple containers.
- The interiors can be fitted with any of the features of a normal house.
- The container homes are considered eco-friendly because many are not permanent structures.
- Container suppliers say interest in the concept has grown substantially over the last year. Picture credit: Container Houses Designer Domain.
- Containers can be stacked to nine levels, allowing for multiple applications.
Container Build Group chief executive Jamie van Tongeren, who converts containers into houses, granny flats and offices, said interest had exploded in the past year as people began to search for alternatives to costly and often lengthy construction projects.
“We’re getting up to 70 inquiries a day, ” he said. “People like the containers because they are fully insulated, just as comfortable as a normal house and take just three weeks to make.”
Mr van Tongeren said the low compartive cost of container homes was often a major contributing factor in people’s decision-making process.
While a regular 200sqm three-bedroom Sydney home costs about $400, 000 to build with modest fittings, a three-bedroom shipping container structure of roughly the same dimensions ranges from just $150, 000 to $300, 000.
Similarly, while it can cost well over $100, 000 to construct a granny flat in Sydney, a container conversion can be completed for half the price at about $42, 000.
That includes additional installation costs such as transport, council fees and setting the containers onto concrete blocks.
Container homes have proved extremely popular in remote areas where a lack of local tradespeople makes building conventional homes difficult.
Mr van Tongeren said this was because the containers are converted to homes in factories it removes many of the delays and costs associated with working on site — but added city dwellers were quickly catching on.
“There are no rain delays, no builders on site digging. No need for scaffolding or portaloos, ” he said.
Northern Beaches actor Felix Williamson said he recently had a container room installed in his garden after learning it would be eco-friendly.
His container has bi-fold doors, picture windows and a roof embedded with grass and succulents. It took three weeks to build and was installed in his backyard with a crane over a few hours.
“I had wanted to build a cottage out back as a man cave, but found out there was a sewer line running underneath so we couldn’t build foundations, ” Mr Williamson said.
“This seemed like the perfect solution. If anyone needs to do something under it we can just move it.”
Quickshack managing director Rufus Harding said Mr Williamson isn’t alone and that container homes have become popular with homeowners who put a high priority on the environment.
“They’re in fashion right now because they’re sustainable. You can also do some high-level stuff with containers. You could build a five-star hotel and people wouldn’t know the difference, ” he said.
The container home shells normally take only a few hours to install, but the entire process of setting them up on site takes up to three days.