Alternative housing solutions

As traditional house prices continue to move out of the reach of many first-time buyers this has created great interest in alternative housing solutions. In the past it has been difficult to obtain finance for alternative housing projects but government assistance and a blossoming financial sector are addressing these issues. We will now take a look at a new trend in the alternative housing market known simply as container houses.

Container houses

When people mention container houses the first reaction is often one of puzzlement and confusion. This type of affordable alternative housing has emerged as a consequence of various TV shows having picked up on the idea. As the name suggests, these “houses” are built from an array of shipping containers joined together and often renovated to look like a “normal house”.

These are extremely strong structures as traditionally they are stacked seven or eight high on large shipping vessels. It will obviously depend upon how many shipping containers you require but second-hand they cost around £1000 (for a 40 foot container) and between £3000 and £4000 for a new container.

Pros and cons of container houses

Unfortunately, it is not simply a case of stacking up containers and having a ready built house. There will be changes required, structural improvements and this can take time and money.


• The cost of the shipping containers is relatively low (but engineering/strengthening work can bump up the cost)
• There is nothing more environmentally friendly than using an old or new shipping container as your new abode
• These structures are built to last many years, crossing seas around the world, and are therefore extremely durable
• Whether looking for new or second-hand shipping containers they are extremely easy to purchase with relatively quick delivery times
• The basic structure of a container home can be up within just a matter of days

However, there are some issues to be aware of when looking at container homes such as:

The metal will overheat in the summer and can be extremely cold in the winter which brings in another cost, that of insulation
• Cutting costs with second-hand shipping containers is fine in theory but in practice any damage (such as twisting) may deem your property unsafe
• With some of the older containers there can be a problem with rust and even when adding insulation to clean containers they must be tight to the metal to avoid issues with condensation
• As some shipping containers are literally decades old they may well have toxic paint which can be expensive to remove safely
• Once you start cutting holes for doors and windows the surrounding area will need reinforced
• When joining container “rooms” the joint must be perfect to avoid potential weather damage

Funding for container houses

The cost of building a container house is but a fraction of the cost of a traditional property but it is not simply a case of stacking containers on top of one other. There will be engineering work required, possible planning permission from the local authorities and insulation is vital. However, demand for alternative options such as container houses continues to grow as does the array of companies offering finance.


Container homes are likely something you either love or hate and there is probably little in between. While they are not for everybody, the cost is but a fraction of the funding required when building a new property. There are also properties on the market today which at first glance do not look like container homes due to their “disguise”. In many ways they are comparable to the simple wooden jigsaw homes of years gone by which could be erected in just a matter of days.

The UK government has recently announced a £1 billion fund in tandem with Barclays to extend the breath of the UK construction sector and bring smaller companies into play. This should assist with funding for alternative types of property at affordable prices.

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