It takes time to adjust to living inside a steel box. Timothy Ader did not, initially, like the idea of staying at Wenckehof, a student village in Amsterdam made up of 1,000 recycled shipping containers. But three years after moving in, he has no regrets.
“My first impression of the containers was, ‘It’s ghetto stuff – I’m not living there,’” recalls the 24-year-old. “But I started visiting a friend of mine living here and started to like the place. Then I moved in and I realised how good it was. I’m really comfortable in my container and I have a lot of space of my own. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world right now.”
The notion of living in a converted (or unconverted) storage container is nothing new…you drop into various preparedness forums and you’ll see posts that go way back on the topic. You’ll also see posts from folks who have made their own habitable/storage spaces out of used shipping containers.
The biggest contention on the issue of shipping containers as survivalist retreats is that it seems lotsa folks want to bury them, a’la Terminator 2, and they just ain’t built for that sort of thing. Sure, they stack, but thats because they sit on the corners which are built for just that sort of thing.
I live in a somewhat cold envrion…by the time you pad a shipping container with insulation and the other goodies necessary to handle -20 weather you’re probably better of building a ‘real’ structure. But…I think that fo their original purpose they are ideal. I could see dropping one on a couple concrete piers, and then building up a concrete or forced earth berm on three sides to conceal it and using it as storage at a retreat location. I often wonder if it would make sense to just crib it with lumber and encase the whole thing in a few inches of concrete and rebar, using the container, basically, as a form.
There’s a place down the road from here that sells ‘retired’ containers. They also have the short 20′ ones and those look terribly useful. A fella could probably, with the help of his buddies and a few jacks/winches, manhandle one of those wherever he needs it on his property..in the barn under the hay, in the falling-apart garage under a tarp, or even out in the thick brush, concealed by netting, paint, and timber.
Someday, if I ever get a place in the stick, I’ll probably have a container or two tucked away in some hidden location where I can keep gear, a vehicle, etc. But, in the meantime, the developments in the ‘normal’ communities regarding the development of container-housing construction will come in handy later on. ‘Zon has no shortage of material on the subject….
But by the time you finish framing, cutting out metal, etc, etc, you’re pretty much where you would have been if you had started with a regular cabin built from scratch. Why re-invent the wheel? Check out the military CHU if you want to see what mass-production can do to make a container livable. As expected, Wikipedia has some info on the subject as well. As I read it, the huge amount of containers available is because we import more crap from overseas than we send out…so there are plenty of containers to go around. Since I don’t see that changing any time soon, it makes sense to think of them as a handy resource. If nothing else, they can build a hellaciously cool perimeter wall if you backfill them.