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Container homes: What you must know about the biggest little housing fad

It's hard to contain the growing excitement around this new way of living but the container home dream is not without its pitfalls and traps. ISTOCK

Container homes: What you must know about the biggest little housing fad

Container homes are the latest big thing in the housing world – but for many, they remain a mystery. And there are hidden traps you need to avoid. So for anyone who’s still in the dark on this trend, we break down everything you need to know about container living.

Container homes: What you must know about the biggest little housing fad

Container homes: The pros and cons – and where to start

What are container homes?

They are exactly what they sound like – homes made from the steel shipping containers that you see carrying goods on ships and trains.

Living the "container life" can be a really affordable way to get a roof - or a few roofs - over your head. ISTOCK

If you think outside the box, you can turn your container home into an impressive multi-level dwelling. ISTOCK

The average container makes a small box of a home – much like a tiny home.

However, by using multiple containers and putting them together building blocks, people are creating large and impressive double-storey residences.

What are the advantages of a container home?

Living the "container life" can be a really affordable way to get a roof - or a few roofs - over your head. ISTOCK

Living the “container life” can be a really affordable way to get a roof – or a few roofs – over your head. ISTOCK

One of the most immediate benefits of a container home is the price tag.

They have much lower construction and maintenance costs when compared to building the average home.

Another advantage is the quick turnaround – as many container homes are available as prefabricated modular homes, they can be built in a factory in as little as a few weeks so you can move in sooner.

It's far quicker to assemble a container home than building a traditional house from scratch.

It’s far quicker to assemble a container home than building a traditional house from scratch. ISTOCK

There is also the perception that container homes are a ‘green’ alternative to conventional dwellings, as they are recycling existing materials that would otherwise just pile up as waste.

What are the disadvantages of a container home?

One major downside is that there isn’t much space in the average shipping container, and this limits design choices and makes insulation and plumbing a challenge.

You may also struggle to obtain a building permit, as container homes are still relatively uncommon. You’ll need to check carefully with your local council as to what their regulations are.

The retail industry has also seen the benefit of container dwelling, as the Cashel Street Mall Re:START in Christchurch has shown.

The retail industry has also seen the benefit of container dwelling, as the Cashel Street Mall Re:START in Christchurch has shown.

An additional concern is that you won’t know what the container originally held – was it harmless consumer goods or hazardous industrial materials?

You have to ensure your contractor is dealing with any toxic elements before constructing your building.

Can I get a container home Down Under?

Make sure you check the local rules and regulations around container homes before plonking one down. ISTOCK

Make sure you check the local rules and regulations around container homes before plonking one down. ISTOCK

Certainly! Many people have already constructed container homes in Australia and New Zealand, and demand continues to rise.

Indeed, many companies dedicated to building these homes are now popping up across both countries.

However, make sure you do your research and find a contractor who is experienced in creating these homes – and before you even start thinking about purchasing a container, ensure you are familiar with your local government’s rules regarding living in such a dwelling.

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