WHICH CONTAINER AND WHY?
I thought to do a post about the sizes of container we chose and why as it is one of the most common questions people are asking now …When we first started on this “quest” and looking at shipping containers as a way to get a home we got a bit carried away LOL… One of our first plans was 4 x 40ft containers in a square with a courtyard in the middle … Another was them all stacked at angles … then as time moved on and we REALLY started looking at them we realised quite a few things …..some of which may or may not apply to where you may be so I will start with the ones that apply if you are in Greece…
If you buy a plot of land in Corfu and you are outside village boundaries then before you can get a liscence [permit] to build anything you must have a minimum of 4000 sqm of land. The size of the land denotes how many square meters you can build – our maximum with 5300 sqm was around 230 sqm house [we didn’t need that much!]. ALSO you must be 15m from each boundary – so beware of long thin plots! This last point was a pain for us and meant we had to redesign a little [again!] …….. now still at this time we had not been to see Yannis at the depot where we had decided to get the containers from, so off we went…
He was so helpful letting us trot around the yard and opening containers etc … and there were 40ft standard and 40ft pallet wide and all the 20ft designs as well… and in our heads we were using 40ft standard high but we did keep looking at the high cube….So we had found our depot and supplier and now he would send his driver Manolis to come and see where they were to go…
So there we were using these wonderful standard height 40ft containers for our design….. nope……and when I say it, it seems daft we didn’t think of it but sometimes you just need to step back… of course when I bought up Manolis we were at the bottom of the village and JUST starting to drive up and he started to laugh ……… and I didn’t even need to ask as I saw it there and then ….. there was NO WAY he could get up that road with a 40ft long container …… so back to the drawing board – well actually they were lego bricks but you get the idea…
So then we remade the design with 20ft standard containers …. While we were waiting for the liscence [permit] we bought and had delivered an old 20ft standard to use as a shed while we prepped the land ….this in itself was rather dramatic as there is one part of the drive where Fotis [the crane driver] had part of his wheels off the edge – I couldn’t watch!….. Now in all of this time, Jamie had still been growing …. And growing…. And was now 6ft 7 [2m]…… SO when the standard height 20ft arrived we knew we had to change ….
A Standard height container is 2.59m high …A High Cube is 2.90m high…. So quick call to our engineer and all the containers on the design were changed to High Cube …. Now when you say it in dimensions it REALLY does not sound much but the difference it has made is ENORMOUS…..the high cubes feel so much bigger and airier!! When you take in the flooring that will go down and the false ceiling it will have it gets smaller so my advice is to budget for High Cubes….. if it is your house and not a shed or a workshop DEFINITELY get High Cubes! Jamie was thrilled when the first High Cube arrived – he felt he could move, unlike in the Standard….
So that is basically why we have ended up with High Cube 20ft containers – the area we had available, the ACCESS [we had overlooked!]to the land, and the space we needed to be comfortable ….
The other thing of course which will affect the budget is how old you get your containers…. The cheapest ones are the old “multi –trip” ones which although still do the job BUT will take you a long time in cleaning up…. Also, I was a little wary of what might have been shipped/spilled in them when so old …..We have gone for what they call new but are actually “one trip” so they have done at least one trip somewhere … All of the ones on site now are “one-trip/new” and are all made in 2020. Some are actually less than 1 year old – often they are literally made new and used within days of manufacture.
When you make your plan and decide what and how many containers you may need – if you do go with High cube make sure you can get them, we were nearly messed up as of course with “COVID” trade was less and so things were not moving and we had to wait to get our last 2 containers – so make sure you can get what you need especially if you want “new” rather than old!!
Also do not forget to budget for actually having the containers delivered and put into place!
Your journey is amazing. It is just so wonderful seeing it come to fruition. People tell me to buy a refrigerated container because they are better insulated. Do you think this is ne essay? Thanks
Sorry for the late reply [ was in hospital – all good now lol] – to be honest depends on the container itself.. if you buy one of those you will have much less space inside… also be quite difficult to add windows etc as you will have to cut through the container and all the insulation- depends on your plan … so far we have been fine with ours being insulated on the outside so we get maximum room inside…. I am way behind with the blog but hoping to catch up now and will do a post on the insualtion – best SJ
Your project is inspiring. I have 2500 sm of land in Chios that I inherited from my dad- I’m planning to follow in your footsteps with a container home, any recommendations of sourcing/engineer/architect would be greatly appreciated!
Morning to you and thank you for the kind words! A lot of the engineers are not keen so you may have to ask a few until you find one – do persevere though and to be honest we had such definite ideas of what we wanted [many years in the making lol] we basically just drew up the plan and he made it into a proper one to apply for the permit… Also let us know if you would like to come and visit the site… You might want to think about buying the containers soon as possible as they have literally doubled in price since we started….!! as have most of the building materials ;-( Feel free to email us if you need anything else ..
You have done an excellent job on this plot, and I really looking forward to Adopt the idea in the near future, as I bought a plot 1000sqm in Corfu Acharavi of Greece and wish to get an idea of how much did containers in different sizes cost? How does things works? What is the labor cost and where should I get the container from? And is it safe to buy used ones?
I have many questions to ask, but I shall leave that to a different time.
You seems to be doing a great job and looking forward to see it done.
All the best Guys.
Morning Joseph and thanks for the comments – the first thing you need to find out through an engineer [ we can recommend one if you haven’t got one] is how much of your plot is buildable? Not all plots can be built on with these new laws coming in and some that are buildable still can only have so much built on them…. so that is what you need to do first – check how much is buildable and where – for instance, our plot is 5300 sqm but as we are outside the village boundary we could only build 220 sqm in total and we must be 15 m from each boundary line…. if you need any more info feel free to email us on email@example.com
I have been looking at doing something in Corfu… looked at MADI buildings… then had a brain wave!!! Containers! I look online and what do I come across but your blog.. how amazing!
I will keep a close eye on progress with great interest.
Where in Corfu are you?
Well done and thank you for making it possible to become educated 😂
Morning Wayne – thanks… we are in the south – near Messonghi …. Off-grid installation this week finally!
Valuable tips!! I’ll use it when I build my container house 😉🙋 ♀️
Thank-you for the positive feedback – it is quite hard to write the posts sometimes as there is so much we want to tell people to help them get it right first time and keep the costs down…
At the end of the day this is why we have chosen to build from them – not just easier, but we could never afford to build a stone/brick house here it is sooo expensive… 😉