Container Homes Provide a Fast and Cost Effective Method to Achieving Comfortable and Durable Living Accommodation.
When Considering Any Alternative Construction Method, It Is Diligent To Ask The Right Questions. Here We Address Those We Most Commonly Hear, As Well As Dispel Some Popular Misconceptions....
We live in the tropics.... don't these container homes get too hot?
No, but they certainly would if correct practice is not applied. The key elements are shading, insulation and airflow. Some home-sites may provide natural shading, although at Eco Kompakt, we recommend that all container constructions for the purpose of habitation, carry an independent roof.
These are normally simple, galvanized sheet structures that keep the container skin shaded from direct sunlight, but also provide protection from the weathering and acoustic effects of tropical rainfalls, with the correct pitch to aid in efficient run-off of rainwater, and to carry solar panels, if required.
Aside from examples where a container home is to be externally clad, Eco Kompakt use only closed-cell polyurethane sprayed insulation for it's superior properties in the reduction of thermal transfer and equally it's efficiency for interior cooling. This is the only method that meets US Code for 'R' values in tropical climates.
At Eco Kompakt, we survey your site conditions to make maximum advantage of environmental aspects, such as cooling breezes, and correct design orientation to sunlight for placement of glazing.
How durable is a steel container home against bricks and mortar.... Doesn't steel just rust away in the end?
No, not if properly maintained. Shipping containers are built to withstand the harshest conditions at sea and from high-tensile, corrosion resistant Corten® steel.
The maintenance schedule is longer term than with traditional construction types, with fresh marine-grade paint needing to be correctly-applied only every 8-10 years, to a container home protected from direct sunlight.
At Eco Kompakt, all products and finishes are considered at design stage to minimize routine maintenance.
A shipping container home will last for as long as it is cared for.
I live on the mountainside.... Can I have a container home?
When planning a container home, consideration should be given to the suitability of the home-site.
A site must be accessible to heavy transport and lifting equipment. In Costa Rica, accessibility can sometimes be dictated by the season, so the correct time of year to build is another factor in some cases.
Generally, a container home construction pad should be relatively flat, as some of the economic advantage of building with containers is lost to greater foundation and/or structural steel requirements.
That said, some of the best examples of multi-container structures around the world, have been designed to take advantage of steep inclines and the bonus advantages they offer, such as unbroken views.
Future climatic conditions and unpredictable weather concern me..... How do container homes stand up to the changes we might face?
In a nutshell?..... Right on top!
In detail..... An unmodified container, correctly anchored to it's reinforced concrete pier foundation, will withstand wind speeds of up to 145 mph, nearly a force five hurricane. Shipping containers rate grade 12 for wind resistance, withstanding 196lbs/sqf to lateral force applied. That is nearly nine times greater than that required of US building code.
Ok, but what about the earthquakes..... we get a few big wobbles here?
The structural frame of a shipping container is seismically tested to, and exceeds loads greater than in compliance with California code. Shipping containers are a seismic 'pass' for planning purposes, and no further consideration needs to be given to their performance as a shake and rattle proof building envelope.
But floods...... Costa Rica suffered unusually high rainfall this year and a lot of flood damage to property?
Shipping container homes are typically built off the ground on raised concrete pier sections and are therefore flood-proof.
The height of the pier foundations can be increased for construction on land which may be more susceptible to floodwater.
An unmodified shipping container in itself is fireproof, and with no structural timber used for roofing, a shipping container home has a better chance of surviving a surrounding wildfire, than most other types of structure.
I want my container home to be a temporary home...... Is it possible to re-sell and/or relocate my container home later?
Absolutely, for single 20' or 40' modules. Attention is paid at design stage for the possibility of future relocation with selection of material and finishes that will tolerate re-lifting and relocation. Roof structures are designed to be demountable in this instance. Due to involved engineering and welding work, it is not viable to relocate merged and/or stacked container home arrangements.
Can I be less dependent or off-grid for energy with a container home?
Yes. At Eco Kompakt, energy efficiency is already built in to our design specification, with features such as spray foam insulation, low energy lighting, inverter-type air-conditioners and double-pane insulative glazing available as an optional.
With grid electricity being one of the higher monthly expenses here in Costa Rica, it makes sense to consider at least partial, or even full powering with solar electricity, made possible by advancements in battery storage technology, or with grid tie-in to the national supplier, ICE.
Eco Kompakt work with highly experienced solar system designers and installers, to tailor self-sufficient energy systems to the specific project and customer´s power requirements.
We can also offer pumped well-water filtration systems, rainwater collection and composting toilets, as well as other sustainable living innovations, for those that wish to be wholly self-sufficient, while maintaining a great quality of living standard.
Ok...... so what does a container home cost?
The cost of a finished container home depends on a number of variables, including but not limited to; specification and level of finishes, location, foundation requirements, connection to existing service infrastructure and energy saving/producing features included.
A modest specification, fully-finished, 20' accommodation module, such as our 'Singapore', starts at around $15,000 as a connection-ready unit.
Larger models become more cost-effective per square foot, with a 'Vancouver' fully-equipped 40' home at $25,000-$29,000,
dependent upon specification level.
Please visit our 'MODELS' page to see some of our pre-designed homes and modules.
Anything else to consider?
A few more positives, yes. As already outlined above, we consider container-based construction method to be particularly advantageous to conditions in the tropics, for seismic, wind, fire and flood resistance.
Container construction also holds further benefits over problems commonly found with traditional construction method here in Costa Rica, such as the eradication of rising damp issues and prevention of bug infestations.
With all service entry points sealed off, construction raised from the ground, and without voids or structural timber, the jungle's beasties are far less able to make your home theirs too!
Eco Kompakt also utilize trapped and vented drainage systems to deter bugs and eliminate drain odors.
Coupled with the unique possibilities of a relocatable home, and with insulative capabilities for more efficient interior cooling, container homes provide many solutions to inherent issues with construction in tropical climates.