Many people are reconsidering their building projects because of the new container home trend. The question that almost everyone is asking is, “Are container homes a better option?”
Container homes are just as they sound, they are homes built from steel shipping containers that are known to carry goods in trains, trucks, and ships across oceans. Houses of different shapes and sizes can be built by combining two or more of these containers.
The containers usually come in sizes of 10, 20, and 40 feet. The size of the home you want will determine what containers will be used and how many. Typically, a home with a 10 feet container can provide about 100 square feet of floor space. This means that a simple multiplication exercise can help you to determine what sizes to go for, and how much money you should include in your budget.
It is true that building a home is no simple feat. That is why it’s important to weigh all available options before making a decision on the style, and financial commitment required to start a building project. Our goal is to make things simple for Ghanaians/Africans in the diaspora (who are interested in owning property in Ghana) to know the housing options available here.
ADVANTAGES OF CONTAINER HOMES
- It is cost-effective. Container homes are more affordable than normal brick homes. They are also low maintenance, which means that you don’t have to prepare a big budget to have your home in good condition over time.
- Containers are readily available. There are over 14 million containers that are no longer in use and can be converted into beautiful homes, offices, etc
- It may be a good recycling approach. Building a home with a container may be a good way to ensure that they do not rust away after they have served their purpose of transporting goods.
- They are durable. Because shipping containers are used to transport goods to far destinations, they are built with steel to protect the content they’re carrying (even under the worst conditions). This makes container homes more durable than normal homes.
- It saves time. The shipping containers are prefabricated so the building process is quicker and shorter than usual. This makes it a good option for emergency shelters, etc.
- Recycling may not be the best option. Many architects prefer single-use shipping containers for these kinds of homes but containers which have only been used once have more ‘shipping life’ hence, using them for something else is not a better option than using them to ship another set of goods.
- They may have structural issues. The roofs of shipping containers are mostly not built with the same strength as the sides so another roof would have to be built to prevent it from caving in. Reinforcements are also required for places that are cut or joined with another container.
- They may not be safe. Purchasing a container may not come with information on what it previously transported therefore, you may purchase a container that may be potentially hazardous. Developers have found safe ways to treat containers before use but it’s still important to note that this is a risk factor.
- Limited space. Because the containers are pre-fabricated, and designed to fit a train, truck, or ship, they come with limited space. Insulation and plumbing alone can take a lot of the space. Some creative developers have found ways to expand the space with excellent container merging designs however, this issue of limited space is still a challenge for DYI projects and developers without expertise in this area.
Unlike what you may have heard, container homes are not always cheaper to build or more cost effective than traditional concrete homes. The good thing is that because they are usually prefabricated, they are more likely to be cost effective, however, there are other factors that influence the building cost. These include, the location of the building, the intended size, the overall design and interior finishes.
The actual cost involved in purchasing the container itself can range from $1,400 (for smaller, pre-used containers) to $6,000 (for a larger, brand new 40-feet container). It is important to note that brand new containers are more costly than older containers. A steel container has a flat metal roof, exterior walls, and a metal frame that can act as a foundation for your home; these features are frequently mentioned as cost savings because extra money is not spent on building these parts (as the case would’ve been for a traditional concrete or wood home). Even though this assertion is true, you may still have to pay for the cost of moving the container from a warehouse or manufacturer to your building location, treating the container, insulating it from heat, and completing other interior finishes.
Apart from these factors, you’ll also have to pay for a parcel of land for your container home. The good part is that container homes can be built on (well levelled) land that may not be appropriate for traditional brick or wood construction. For instance, If the building site is rocky or hilly, shipping containers can be elevated on solid pilings rather than spending extra money for excavation, etc.
Container homes are built faster than typical concrete or wooden houses. Even though container homes are still susceptible to normal building delays, the most basic container home can be built in a matter of days or weeks, depending on the amount of finishing work required by your selected design. More sophisticated homes will typically take at least a few months to complete. If you want your building ready in a day or two, there are companies which can prefabricate the structure offsite before moving it to your land to be erected. These prefab-style shipping container homes are typically smaller in size, but they arrive pre-assembled with nearly everything you need to move in right away.
This is definitely better than building a traditional concrete house which can take months to complete due to bad weather, and other building challenges.
BUILDING A CONTAINER HOME IN GHANA
There are basically two options with regards to building a container home in Ghana:
- buying an empty shipping container and using it to design the home you want or
- buying a prefabricated container home that fits your style.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost and design options.
If you decide to buy an empty, brand-new shipping container, it will most likely come from a Chinese manufacturer. The Chinese own over 82 percent of the world’s steel shipping containers and they also have prefabricated homes that can be shipped to any part of the world including Ghana. It is undeniable that the Chinese Container Home Association (CHA) has taken over the international market.
Used shipping containers are a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective choice, but they must be thoroughly inspected to ensure that they don’t pose any health risk. You need to take note of the container’s certification/ product description to determine its durability and other vital information. Some containers are certified to move products internationally, while other certifications indicate containers that are wind and water tight. Some containers are labelled as “one trip” and thus, may provide an excellent blend of value and decent condition. Be careful to avoid “as is” containers because they may have been used to transport dangerous chemicals, or may have corrosion, doors that don’t seal, or holes; these are not suitable for home construction.
Brand new, used shipping containers or even prefabricated homes can be purchased and imported from China or ordered from real estate companies in Ghana. Because of shipping costs, it is more advisable to buy from Ghanaian companies. With about Gh¢ 40,000, you can erect a sleek apartment or office for yourself. A finely-designed family-sized house may cost around Gh¢ 150,000 or more depending on the style of design. This is relatively cost effective than building a conventional home or apartment in Ghana which may cost between Gh¢ 65,000 and Gh¢300,000. You can contact the following companies for your container home in Ghana.
This is an international architectural, construction, and design firm that specializes in commercial, residential, and public sector projects.
TELEPHONE: +233 307010236. ADDRESS: no. 9 5th Circular Road, North Labone Estates Labone, Accra EMAIL: email@example.com
This is a real estate company that creates alternative housing solutions by using shipping containers that are sustainable, durable, convenient, and affordable.
Address: Orgle Rd, Accra, Ghana Telephone: +233 55 171 5723 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karmod Prefabricated Building Technologies is a leading Turkish company that was founded in 1986 and has since completed projects in over 90 locations worldwide.
WhatsApp: +90 530 322 99 23 Skype: karmod.en Fax: +90 216 304 06 85 E-Mail: email@example.com Mobile: +90 530 322 99 23 Phone: +90 216 392 00 02
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR CONTAINER HOME.
- Contact the Metropolitan Assembly (of the region you want to build) for a building permit by following the required procedure including submission of application to the Secretariat of Statutory Planning Committee (SPC). Reach out to us if you need any help.
- Consider natural light when creating your building design. Steel shipping containers aren’t open to natural light so you must consider integrating glass doors or skylights when creating your floor plan to make your interior area appear bright and open. If the available space is insufficient, consider acquiring a high-cube container, which is slightly taller than a standard shipping container.
- Before you buy a shipping container, make sure it is in good condition. As with any large-ticket item, it’s critical that you look out for dents in the siding, rust on the exterior, and leaks, which can be costly to repair throughout the construction process.
- Make a plan for plumbing and electrical installations. Unless you intend to live off-grid, you’ll need to find a trustworthy electrician (who is experienced with shipping container construction) to design and install specialised electrical systems for your home. You’ll also need to hire a plumber to do your plumbing work including connecting water and toilet facilities. We can help with this, reach out to us.
- Plan for reinforcements and treatment (especially for used containers). While shipping containers are made of strong steel, certain alterations, such as cutting holes for a door or huge windows, can make the containers weak. You need to plan for concrete, metal, or plastic reinforcements for your container home.