Con­tainer house open to view

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - NEWS - Lau­rilee McMichael

If a con­tainer can sur­vive a sea jour­ney half way around the world, then life on a New Zealand sec­tion is a cinch.

What’s more, th­ese sturdy fire, hur­ri­cane and earth­quake corten steel cre­ations also com­ple­ment the move to­wards smaller, en­ergy ef­fi­cient homes.

It’s a trend Brenda Kelly of IQ Con­tainer Homes is tap­ping into with her com­pany’s fo­cus on pro­vid­ing homes made from ship­ping con­tain­ers.

Brenda, who says she has al­ways been pas­sion­ate about small space de­sign with a sus­tain­able fo­cus, be­gan IQ Con­tainer Homes in 2012.

The con­cept is sim­ple. A client se­lects a stan­dard de­sign or works with the com­pany to de­velop a cus­tom de­sign. Then a new con­tainer which has made just a sin­gle trip from China is brought into Auck­land. A specialist steel paint is ap­plied and en­gi­neers cut the holes for win­dows and doors and do the struc­tural re­in­forc­ing. Plumbers and sparkies do the plumb­ing and wiring. Builders do the fram­ing, in­stall in­su­la­tion, line the in­ter­nal walls with ply­wood and do the fit out. All this is done off site. Auck­land Coun­cil signs off the houses and then the home­owner gains con­sent from their lo­cal coun­cil for the earth­works, foun­da­tions and con­nec­tions to ser­vices. The con­tain­ers are trucked to the sec­tion and can be off­loaded us­ing a hiab. From there, they are at­tached to pile or pole foun­da­tions, joined to­gether with a sil­i­con-based sealant and flash­ing, hooked up to ser­vices and — hey presto — a new home. The process takes around 10 weeks from is­sue of con­sent, de­pend­ing on the size.

Brenda and IQ Con­tainer Homes have been based in Auck­land for the last seven years, where the homes are still made. But Brenda has re­lo­cated to Taupo¯ and her new home — a con­tainer home, nat­u­rally, is also go­ing to serve as IQ Con­tainer Homes’ Taupo¯ show home.

Her two-bed­room 45sq m home at 24 Brunette Drive, Aca­cia Bay, is three 20 foot ship­ping con­tain­ers con­nected in par­al­lel and sup­ported by tim­ber piles, which al­lowed space for a car­port un­der­neath. Brenda says the ad­van­tages of con­tainer homes is they are durable, weath­er­proof, ver­sa­tile, in­su­lated to a high stan­dard, can be re­lo­cated or added to if nec­es­sary and are suit­able for slop­ing sites. The com­pany has sold around 15 con­tainer homes so far and she says they are pop­u­lar as hol­i­day homes and first homes, mi­nor dwellings such as sleep­outs and granny flats and even com­mer­cial uses such as of­fices.

“There used to be a time where peo­ple would screw up their nose at the thought of a con­tainer home but they’re tak­ing off around the world. They’re mod­ern, they’re funky, peo­ple are more re­cep­tive to them th­ese days.”

Brenda says the de­signs in­cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­men­tal prin­ci­ples where it makes sense. For in­stance, go­ing off-grid is un­nec­es­sary in most sit­u­a­tions, but so­lar pan­els, which have a six year pay­off but last 25 years, are “a no brainer”.

So too is stormwa­ter har­vest­ing, to save on wa­ter costs.

IQ Con­tainer Homes in­stalls 1 times the min­i­mum build­ing re­quire­ment for in­su­la­tion which saves on heat­ing and cool­ing and the in­su­la­tion it­self is a closed-cell polyuretha­ne foam that uses re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles and soy­based poly­mers.

Brenda says with chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics, the big­gest hous­ing de­mand to­day is for one and two bed­room houses, “but no one is build­ing them be­cause you can’t get the money out of them”.

She says in­creas­ingly, re­tired peo­ple, young cou­ples and sin­gle peo­ple liv­ing alone do not need or can­not af­ford large houses.

“The beauty of con­tain­ers is that you can add one over time so as your fam­ily ex­pands you can add an ad­di­tional con­tainer or two for an­other bed­room and a bath­room.”

Brenda says a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that con­tainer homes are sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than stan­dard homes.

“They are af­ford­able, but not cheap. There are things like spe­cial en­gi­neer­ing and in­su­la­tion that add to the cost. We fo­cus on qual­ity fitout and sus­tain­abil­ity with su­pe­rior ma­te­ri­als and meth­ods.”

Costs, which start at $70,000 for a stu­dio model and rise to $280,000 for a four bed­room, two bath­room home, are ad­di­tional to land and on-site costs.

Brenda will be open­ing her home up for view­ing by ap­point­ment and is hold­ing an open day this Satur­day, Jan­uary 18 from 10am to 3pm, with a sausage siz­zle from 11am to 2pm.

The ad­dress is 24 Brunette Drive, Aca­cia Bay.

The IQ Con­tainer Homes show home at 24 Brunette Drive, Aca­cia Bay.

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