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Container house: 7 inexpensive models with potential for expansion

From the idea to the finished home in just four months? Container houses make it possible. The short construction time, the lower costs of the container house compared to a traditional house and the possibility of being able to reduce or enlarge the home as required are convincing more and more builders. Container houses simply hit the pulse of the times: sustainable yet stylish.

Container house: 7 inexpensive models with potential for expansion
Container house: 7 inexpensive models with potential for expansion

What is a container house?

A container house is a residential or commercial building that is built from one or more sea freight containers. These types of houses are not only part of the global upcycling movement, but also fall into the Tiny House and Modular House categories.

The original idea of ​​the container house community was to use a 40 foot discarded freight container to build the house. In this way, something old and used was turned into a new, inexpensive living space that can be transported from one place of residence to another on a sufficiently large truck trailer and can exist completely independently.

In the meantime, however, there are also house builders who use ten new shipping containers for the house that has been set up in a permanent place. This takes the basic idea of ​​the container house ad absurdum, but also shows how a supposed niche idea for freedom-loving builders with a rather small budget is gradually becoming a building trend, because the look and the comparatively quick construction time convince many. Because a container house is up and running in about six to ten weeks, depending on whether you build everything yourself or collaborate with a company.

How big can a container house be?

The basic idea for a container house is a 40-foot freight container - that is: 12 meters long, 2.43 meters wide and 2.49 meters high. The smaller 20-foot freight container is 6 meters long. Both are available in the so-called high cube version, i.e. 2.90 meters high. Anyone who opts for this variant of the 40-foot container has a living space of 29 square meters.

Construction site containers have now become an alternative to shipping containers. Because if you work with a real shipping container, as soon as you cut holes in the trapezoidal sheet, you have to do a lot of additional work to stabilize the rest of the container again. Construction site containers inherently have a steel frame and therefore meet all the requirements for stable statics.

In principle, as many containers can be built next to each other and even on top of one another as you, the client, want to have. Most container houses for private individuals, however, are bungalow houses, i.e. built flat with all rooms on one floor and without a basement. But there are also more and more terraced houses and apartment buildings in container construction. Many people appreciate the tiny houses as a holiday paradise.

In the meantime, there are also prefabricated modules in container construction, which are then assembled like a prefabricated house. Many manufacturers of container houses work with the module system - in which the floors, sanitary facilities, windows and so on are included in the construction price. The container houses are also called modular houses because, for example, before the birth of a child, you can add a module, e.g. a small 20-foot container, as a nursery and then remove the container again when the newborn has grown into a student can leave. A container house grows or shrinks with your current life situation.

A fact that makes the residential containers ideal accommodation for students. With more students living in a university town, the container student dormitory provided by the city administration can be expanded without much problem. If there is a low student age group, the containers can be dismantled and used elsewhere, for example as winter emergency accommodation for the homeless.

How much does a container house cost?

A used sea freight container can be bought for 1,500 euros to 4,500 euros, depending on its condition. For a total price of around 10,000 euros, with minimalist equipment, you can call a basic container house your own shortly afterwards. Small prefabricated modular container houses are available from 90,000 euros. There are no upper limits in terms of the number of containers and the interior fittings, like in a stone house. Speaking of stone houses: if you are planning a quick expansion of your home, a container house could be the perfect house extension. Especially when you know it's just a temporary need for more space. Garages can also be built from the containers.

In order to correctly calculate your ancillary construction costs, you should consider the following: In addition to the book, the transport of the empty freight container, the individual module parts or the entire house to you or your building partner costs around 1.50 euros per kilometer. Plus, if the container house is set up in a permanent location, the costs for the foundation as well as for the pipes and connections.

Similar to caravans, container houses can also be constructed to be energy and water self-sufficient - even if they are planned in a fixed location and not as a transportable tiny house. In terms of costs, it then depends on how self-sufficient you want to be.

What do you have to consider when building a container house?

Reading a development plan correctly is not easy for laypeople. It is therefore important that you first inquire with the building authority responsible for you whether a classic container house can even be built in your desired building area. Roof height and shape, facade color or the window depth - in some building areas there are specifications that can only be implemented in a container house if you do without the classic container charm. Then another building area would be more suitable for your project. Or you opt for a flexible modular house in the container house style.

As a second step, you should consider whether your container house should be transportable or whether it should be permanently in place. If it is to be transportable, it is placed on a large trailer and fixed, so the trailer forms the floor and, as soon as the house is up, is supplemented with a cladding of the rods and wheels - you also need an extra staircase for this.

In the case of a permanent container house, you need to lay a concrete foundation. It is also advisable to tackle the foundation three to four weeks before the container house is delivered, because when the base is ready you will have to wait two more weeks to be able to put your house on it. Even during the planning phase for your container house, you have to think about very good thermal insulation and a sophisticated ventilation system, because a container house must also comply with the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV 2014). You can find out which regulations apply to your container house and which values ​​you have to adhere to online or from the responsible building authority. In addition, fire protection class 30 must be met.

As with a traditional house, you need a building permit for expansion or extension work and must adhere to all the regulations that also apply to stone houses. The great advantage of the container houses in the event of a renovation project is that new materials can be easily installed or technical details can be retrofitted. If you want to add a container module as an extra room to an existing stone house - for example as a care room, guest room or wellness oasis with sauna - there are almost no limits to the size and layout of the new room. From around 17 square meters of usable space, a tiny house makes sense as an extension.

Seven container houses in comparison

If you don't want to do the work of planning and building yourself, you will now find a wide range of container houses. Not all are made from classic sea freight containers. Some just imitate the look and are in reality modular houses. Or even transportable tiny houses.

1. "Piccolo Leone" from Easy Home

With just 19.14 square meters, the "Piccolo Leone" is one of the smallest modular houses on the market and therefore falls into the transportable container house category. With a length of 6.6 meters and a width of 2.9 meters, the manufacturer Easy Home from Bavaria accommodates a bedroom, a bathroom with shower and an open living and kitchen area, in which two more people can sleep thanks to a pull-out sofa. The basic equipment of the Tiny House also includes a TV connection, a refrigerator, an oven and a stove. A washing machine can even be installed in the bathroom for an unspecified surcharge. The facade is designed with wood. The price of the little lion is only communicated by Easy Home on specific request.

2. “Minimal House” from Cabin Spacey

Consisting of the classic wooden body of the Cabin-One base with large windows and a daylight bathroom, plus a loft bed for two people (alternatively there is a double bed system for four people), the kitchen including built-in appliances and the so-called SpaceMax, a storage space system consisting of Shelves and a bench with storage space, the modular house costs 99,900 euros. The dimensions of the container-shaped base are 3.43 meters wide, 10 meters long and 3.69 meters high - although that is not the height of the room itself, but the height of the pointed roof that is placed on the base. A window is built in as standard above the handmade, bunk-like bed for a view of the starry night sky. There is also a terrace. The “minimal house” can be transformed into a smart home or a tiny house with designer furniture for an additional charge. A show house from the manufacturer Cabin Spacey is in Weinstadt.

3. "Residential, guest, weekend house variant two" from Comma-Container

The classic container house from this provider from Lower Saxony measures 3.50 by 10 meters and thus offers 29 square meters of living space in the form of a hose. This includes a bedroom (large enough for a double bed), a bathroom with shower and an open living and kitchen area of ​​12.87 square meters. The order in which you arrange the rooms, for example the bathroom as the last room on the transverse side or connected directly to the kitchen, is up to you. The house also has the classic container charm from the outside - although the facade, if you don't like it, can be designed according to customer requirements. Price at the manufacturer Comma-Container on specific request.

4. "ECO A2" from McCube

With a built-up area of ​​59.2 square meters, the “ECO A2” container house is one of the larger modular houses. The 6.4 by 11.5 meters are perfect for a plot of around 300 square meters. In the standard equipment for the ecological cube, the spruce wood walls are insulated with hemp and the facade is designed with larch wood. The purchase price of 159,900 euros also includes the infrared heating, the wood-aluminum windows, the parquet floor, the electrical installations and the sanitary equipment. The terrace, which you can access from the living and kitchen area through a large glass door, is 20 square meters. The parents' and children's bedrooms are adjacent to each other. A vestibule and a small bathroom complete the modular house from the Austrian manufacturer McCube.

5. "LH 05 floor plan 9 wood module" from the company LissyHaus

The company LissyHaus from Möhnesee generally offers several purchase options for their houses. The turnkey model “LH 05 floor plan 9 wood module” costs around 202,100 euros. Talented do-it-yourselfers can buy the container-shaped modular house with a usable area of ​​87.90 square meters for around 132,000 euros and equip it themselves. In addition to the planning documents, the production, the wall system, the facade design and the ceiling and roof construction, this price also includes the roofing, the windows and the front door for the 9.43 meter wide and 12.85 meter long house. In addition to the 14 square meter terrace, the "LH 05" offers the buyer two bedrooms, a large bathroom and a guest toilet, a technical room, a hall and a spacious living and kitchen area in the style of open space. For a total price of around 179,300 euros, the manufacturer LissyHaus from North Rhine-Westphalia will also take care of the heating, electrical and sanitary installations as well as the floors.

6. "U-Bungalow" from the Onoxo-Home brand

Onoxo-Home, a brand of Kerngesund Haus GmbH, offers most of its models in several dimensions. For singles, couples or families. This is also the case with the “U-Bungalow”, which can be from 73 square meters to 126 square meters and looks as if a third container had been placed as a connecting piece between two containers. Even if Onoxo does not see itself as a tiny house or container house manufacturer, but wants to see his houses as full-fledged houses, they have great visual similarities with the square-elongated construction of a container house.

With a width of 4 to 4.5 meters and a maximum length of 13.5 meters, there is space for up to three bedrooms. The Baden-Württemberg manufacturer completes the "U-Bungalow" with a utility room for washing machine and Co., a bathroom and a large living and kitchen area. The terrace, which acts as a visual link between the two module parts on the left and right, is 20.8 square meters. The manufacturer advertises that the house can easily become a flexhome, an expandable modular house. For example, a winter garden. The addition of a carport with storage space is also not a problem. The price is only available on request, but Onoxo-Home informs you that a house with around 50 square meters, without a kitchen and starting with the foundation, costs around 120,000 euros.

7. Container house for self-assembly by the Combi-Box company

The Austrian company Combi-Box offers a modular system in which you, as the building owner, work with the company's experts to manufacture a house that is tailored to you and tailored to your needs. The modules, which are either 2.50 or 3 meters wide and up to 12 meters long, form the basis for the building, which is a maximum of three stories high. In order to be able to build a house, at least two starting and one middle pieces are needed. These cost between around 7,000 and 12,000 euros, and the middle pieces between around 6,000 and 11,000 euros. According to the manufacturer, its design is characterized by a high degree of flexibility in the division of the interior spaces, and all facades and roof designs are also possible. All commercially available materials can be used in all areas. In addition, the basic material of the modules is absolutely not susceptible to mold and moisture.