Shipping Container House - Idea


I was 32 years old and the year was 2008. I decided to build a house for our family. My father did the same thing when he was that age. It felt like a natural thing to do. I knew it is going to be a long-term project.

Houses in New Zealand are traditionally build using timber. In Europe, where I come from, building is traditionally about masonry. Neither timber nor masonry sounded good to me.

Samuel J. Hudson is a friend of mine. I know Sammy since I moved to New Zealand. We used to go to a pub in “pre-quakes” Christchurch called the Dux for a pint or few. When I said to Sammy that I plan to build a house he mentioned shipping containers to me. I did a bit of research on the Internet and I knew I found the right building material. I think Sammy didn’t really believe that I am going to do it. He wasn’t alone.

Getting my wife on board was hard.

I started working on iterations of possible shipping container houses. I used plastic bricks (that I borrowed from kids), cardboard, ruler, pencil and sketchbook to make 3D or 2D models of houses.

Things started moving forward when we purchased a section on outskirts of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Few layout iterations later I made the final iteration of layout of shipping containers for our new house and then I sat down with my wife and together we created floor plan of our house.

Basic information about the house

  • 200m2
  • Master (+ ensuite), kids, guests bedroom.
  • Kitchen + dining + living + sunroom open space.
  • Bathroom, toilet, laundry connected to the open space via small hallway.
  • Office.
  • Deck outside of the open space and the office.

Features I like about the design and the floor plan

  • Space used to the maximum; we have only one small hallway.
  • Main entrance goes via services container; which also provides good weather/thermal barrier.
  • Central living/dining/chillout/kitchen area with opening to the deck.

Sometime back in 2008

Having a pint with Sammy J Hudson at the Dux as per usual.

Among loads of other things we are talking about contemporary housing and what materials can be used to build houses.

Shipping containers came up as one of the options.

What a great idea, I thought!

I got really excited about the whole thing and started doing research on the Internet.

February 2009

Started making first iterations of the house design. Playing with ideas.

First iteration of the house design (Feb 21 2009):

First iteration of the house design (Feb 21 2009)

June 2009

Lot of research done in the area. We are looking for section to buy that would suit our plans.

Section in Diamond Harbour (June 8 2009):

A section in Diamond Harbour (June 8 2009)

Section in Westmorland (June 17 2009):

A section in Westmorland (June 17 2009)

Next: Prep-work