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Contain yourself: The stylish homes with surprising back stories

Author:Beverley Johanson


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They’re almost indestructible, capable of withstanding practically any kind of weather, economical to build and ready to move into in a matter of weeks. And, you are doing the planet a favour by recycling thousands of kilograms of steel.

Shipping container homes are becoming increasingly popular for all these reasons and more. Containers are also getting second lives as cafes, accommodation and a range of commercial applications.

Michael and Julie Redpath, with Lucy and Alice. Photo: Michael Redpath
Pharmacist Michael Redpath, his GP wife Julie, and daughters Lucy, 14, and Alice, 12, have just finished building a holiday house in the stunning rural area of Gloucester in NSW.

It was partly the location that prompted the container build. It is difficult and expensive to get tradespeople to work for long periods of time in remote locations.

The Redpaths’ architect-designed house – with three bedrooms and two living rooms – took about 12 weeks to complete, which is a little longer than usual. “Our house was a bit of a challenge. It’s at the top of a steep site and it’s two storeys,” Mr Redpath says.

container homes
The Redpaths’ container home at Gloucester under construction. Photo: Michael Redpath
The ground floor, which is bedrooms and bathroom, used one 40-foot (12.2-metre) and one 20-foot (six-metre) container. On the first floor, placed at right angles to the lower level to create decks, two 40-foot containers create a living room with views down the valley.

“We did something a bit ‘out there’. Architecturally, it’s fairly striking,” Mr Redpath says.

The Redpaths’ container home at Gloucester under construction. Photo: Michael RedpathThe Redpaths’ container home at Gloucester under construction. Photo: Michael Redpath

The home operates off-grid, with solar power and batteries, tank water with river water back-up. It even has its own sewage system.

Container homes can flash their industrial credentials or be made to appear like a traditional house inside and out using any of the finishes available on the market.

Almost all of the transformation from cargo container to house happens in a factory. That’s where insulation, lining, kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing and wiring are done, adding further economies to the build because problems that can besiege on-site building, such as bad weather, have no effect on the outcome.


Moxon Bros also worked on this container house. Photo: Moxon Bros
Moxon Bros also worked on this container house. Photo: Moxon Bros


Container Build Group, based in Lismore, fitted out the Redpaths’ Gloucester home. Third-generation builders, Troy and Aden Moxon of Moxon Bros, prepared the site, assembled the home and took care of the final finish.

Container Build Group chief executive Jamie van Tongeren says it’s important to get the right container. Some people even buy them new to avoid the dents and knocks that secondhand containers can have.

Most of the containers destined to be turned into homes in Australia are new when loaded onto the ship – and that is the only time they will be used. Known as “one-trip” containers, they are generally in excellent condition.

However, not all containers re suitable for housing. It’s essential to know what has been carried in them and to avoid any that have had toxic or chemical cargoes. Mr van Tongeren uses containers that have brought white goods to Australia.

He began Container Build Group about 12 years ago and supplies container buildings across Australia, including units to councils for offices and meeting rooms. Other applications include cafes, a golf club, commercial work of all types and an increasing number of homes. The business has been so successful that he has just expanded into Hawaii.

Mr van Tongaren says that, in his experience, shipping container homes don’t present problems with permits for councils or financing for banks, and the houses are built to standard builder’s contracts.

Councils do treat permanent container homes as they would any other building; all the usual approvals, engineering, plans and inspections are required.

The homes offer a fast turnaround, are eco-friendly and cost effective.

The cost of having one built will vary according to design, location, site works and fitout. Mr Tongaren says a base model two or three-bedroom house starts at about $190,000 but can cost up to $450,000.

“We can supply a 20-foot (six-metre) granny flat, fitted out for about $27,000,” he says.



Owners turn to shipping container homes to save time and money

A NEW housing trend is making waves across Sydney, with home builders using recycled shipping containers to create cool and quirky homes and granny flats.

Already popular throughout other parts of the world, demand for shipping container homes has grown considerably in Australia, as owners search for innovative ways to minimise costs and time.

The family’s home is made from seven shipping containers. Picture- Darren Leigh Roberts Source-News Corp Australia

The family’s home is made from seven shipping containers. Picture: Darren Leigh RobertsSource:News Corp Australia

CEO of Container Build Group Jamie Van Tongeren said Sydneysiders were keen to dive in, as there had been a massive upturn in demand for both residential and commercial property.

“Interest has been doubling every year for the last six or seven years,” he said.

“It is never slowing down, it only seems to get busier — it’s a cheaper, quicker way to build.”

With all the major building done within the factory, it can take just one day to assemble the structure, and as little as six weeks to complete a home, Mr Van Tongeren added.

The process begins by drilling holes into the ground, which are then filled with concrete and steel posts. The containers are then lowered onto the posts using a crane and welded together. Other features like the roof are then added.

Inside their Bundeena home. Picture Darren Leigh Roberts Source-News Corp Australia

Inside their Bundeena home. Picture Darren Leigh RobertsSource:News Corp Australia

It is the speed of construction where money can be saved on things like rent and labour, with the overall price in Sydney for a larger container home relatively similar to that of a standard brick property.

Smaller projects are more cost effective, with a container granny flat costing around $25,000, four times cheaper than using conventional materials.

James Lister and Kelly Ross built their split-level Bundeena home using shipping containers, attracted to the different look and design.

Built from seven separate containers, their architecturally designed three-bedroom home took four-and-a-half months to construct and cost around $550,000 to complete fully furnished.

“We love the aesthetic and look of it structurally,” Mr Lister said.

This Cronulla property is another example. Credit- Container Build Group Source-Supplied

This Cronulla property is another example. Credit: Container Build GroupSource:Supplied

“We had seen shipping containers used in so many different structures, we just thought why couldn’t it be a permanent fixture — it just seemed logical,” Ms Ross added

Using a recycled material was a big factor in the decision, with most containers classified as brand new, having undertaken just one overseas trip to Australia.

“We understand building does create a lot of waste but most the materials we used were recycled. The containers obviously helped,” Ms Ross said.

Other examples include another two-storey home in Cronulla made from eight containers and a three-bedroom property on the NSW north coast.

They are very popular in rural locations. Credit- Container Build Group Source-Supplied

They are very popular in rural locations. Credit: Container Build GroupSource:Supplied

Builder Aden Moxon of Moxon Bros specialises in assembling containers homes, and said there were different finishes available to suit the owner’s taste.

“You don’t have to stick with the traditional container look … timber and cladding can be used with it,” he said.

Originally published as Would you live inside a shipping container?


Ship-shape home solution

These popular cargo carriers are making waves in modular housing circles, writes Jennifer Veerhuis.

They may have originally been designed for life on the high seas but shipping containers are now experiencing a wave of new interest as a form of accommodation.

As Australians become more open to alternatives to traditional bricks and mortar, homes made from shipping containers have become a viable and in many cases quick way of creating new housing.

Read the full article (PDF 1.8Mb): shipping containers article


Container Build Group in Daily Mail Australia…

We have featured in the news again which shows the interest from the media and the people of Australia.  It highlights the benefits and possibilities of a mere shipping container and creating a small Granny Flat through to the Luxury Home we all dream of owning.  Follow the link below to view the article:


Container Build Group in The Daily Telegraph

Once again, Container Build Group has been featured in Australia’s mainstream media, this time by Real Estate reporter Aidan Devine, published in The Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail and other syndicated newspapers.


Click HERE to read the article



Container Build Group in Daily Mail UK

This week, we’ve been featured by the Daily Mail (UK) in their article: “Worth their fright in gold – Are luxury shipping containers the answer to Australia’s over-heated property market?”

Desperate home owners are turning to shipping containers as an affordable – and quick – way into Australia’s property market.

The strange trend has exploded across the nation, according to the CEO of the Container Build Group, Jamie Van Tongeren, who says buyers are attracted to the unique homes because they are cheap and quick to build.

Buyers are intrigued by the freight alternative to property – with three-bedroom homes costing about $170,000, and taking only 10 days to build.

‘It has already taken off. In the last 12 months we have doubled our revenue and I’m probably getting 50 to 70 inquiries per day,’ he said of his home grown business.

Click HERE to read the full article

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