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Building Amazing Homes & Mobile Spaces Using Shipping Containers

Cargotecture — the practice of repurposing shipping containers into living spaces — has a certain appeal to minimalist homeowners who value sustainability. The nearly-indestructible steel structures are eco-friendly since they are recycled and recyclable. They’re also rather easy to find and transportable – i.e., they’re purposively built to be moved worldwide!

When it comes to housing, shipping containers are incredibly customizable — offering a wide range of layouts, sizes, and endless architectural possibilities. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find anything from a tiny off-grid shipping cube in a remote location, a mobile working space, to a high-end mansion in a bustling urban area.

However the biggest benefit is probably being able to live mortgage-free – which for many people translates to decades of lifetime recouped from the onerous task of repayment that could take a large percentage of a working income for perhaps 20 years.

And since nothing is as inspiring as getting a chance to hear from people who actually build shipping container homes, Mat and Danielle from Exploring Alternatives did just that. They visited a Toronto shipping container yard run by Storstac, which is a company that sells and builds shipping container structures.

Below are some of the takeaways from their interaction with Anthony Ruggiero from Storstac:

• Shipping containers come in different standard sizes—but you can request custom length to meet your architectural needs.

• The material of shipping containers is known as COR-TEN steel – a special steel that is highly resistant to elements and harsh conditions. It needs to be – to survive exposure to ocean spray! They are designed to last for 10 to 20 years of shipping use with little-to-no degradation. This means that you get a sturdy and durable house to last a lifetime.

• You have the option to either buy new or used shipping containers. New ones have only been used once and are best for living spaces while used ones have been in service for at least a decade – and you have no idea what was shipped in them.

• Rapid deployment. A container conversion can be created off-site and then delivered to its final destination complete – so rather than a build that might take many months, once the concrete pad is put down, the container can be dropped and the utilities hooked up and you are done!

Although shipping containers have a ton of advantages, they’re not without blemish. For example, some neighbors may not appreciate their aesthetics – and working with steel (cutting, welding) is not as simple for many DIYers as woodwork. There’s also the issue of building code challenges regarding the use of nontraditional materials (so check your local codes first).

Building Amazing Homes & Mobile Spaces Using Shipping Containers
Building Amazing Homes & Mobile Spaces Using Shipping Containers – Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRwGRvMhQT8

Couple Build Amazing Shipping Container Home For Debt-Free Living

Building the house of your dreams without a hefty mortgage weighing you down is a liberating feeling. Just ask Jaimie and Dave who built their very own “Garden of Eden” – a shipping container home for debt free living.

In a casual interview by Bryce Langston from Living Big in a Tiny House, the lovely couple narrates their inspiring and equally moving story — which included overcoming adversity when Dave suffered a brain bleed. But despite their challenges, they held onto their admirable dreams and pushed through.

The outcome was a beautiful, functional, and downright artistic shipping container home in a serene compound. What’s even more impressive about their achievement is the fact that the entire home was a 10-month DIY project—drawing on Dave’s background experience in metalwork and construction.

According to Jaimie, the project actually helped Dave recover from his health issue by offering a form of therapy to improve his cognitive abilities and dexterity. The house is built from a 20ft shipping container stacked on top of a larger 40ft container — connected with a spiral staircase. The difference in length at the top was used to create an impressive ‘upper deck’ that functions as an outdoor living space.

The interior of the home is just as impressive as it’s exterior. Much of the design is custom made to their unique needs and preferences. And despite living in a tiny home, the couple owns most of the conveniences you’d find in a conventional big house—including full-size appliances such as a dishwasher, fridge, etc.

The house (including grid connection and plumbing) is estimated to cost around $80,000 putting it in a relatively affordable price range relative to USA house prices that are typically many times higher.

Couple Build Amazing Shipping Container Home For Debt-Free Living
Couple Build Amazing Shipping Container Home For Debt-Free Living – Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZURIKHf6Es

You Only Need 2 Power Tools – Here’s What They Are… 2 Most Important Power Tools

Many DIYers getting started in woodworking tend to worry about fitting a ton of power tools into a modest budget. Luckily, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to get started. According to The Honest Carpenter, the only power tools DIY builders actually need are the circular saw and cordless drill.

These woodworking tools are relatively inexpensive and they allow you to tackle any project to a reasonable degree. They serve the two main processes in carpentry; cutting wood to size with precision and fastening parts to create a structure.

1. 1/2″ Cordless Drill (18V or 20V)

Whether you’re a skillful carpenter or a DIYer who occasionally dabbles in woodwork, a cordless drill is an indispensable part of your toolkit. It acts both as a screwdriver and a drill for seamless fastening. Part of the appeal of a cordless drill stems from its wide range of uses and high portability, thanks to the rechargeable battery under its hood.

But according to The Honest Carpenter, you should take care not to invest in a lower voltage piece of equipment. Aim for 18V or 20V varieties that can handle heavy tasks without whimpering half-way through a drill.

2. Circular Saw

A circular saw is a versatile tool that’s ideal for both fine woodworking and carpentry. It can stand in place of other cutting tools such as table saws.

A circular saw handles several tasks and cuts through piles of timbers in minutes with high accuracy. The power tool is also portable—meaning you can carry it around for DIY projects in odd locations. Additionally, it comes in corded and cordless varieties — but the former offers more power.

Do have any other power tool that you feel should make the list?

You Only NEED 2 POWER TOOLS (Here's What They Are...2 MOST IMPORTANT Power Tools)
You Only Need 2 Power Tools – Here’s What They Are…2 Most Important Power Tools – Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4qnbxy8Oys