Container house open to view
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.