From shipping container to compact cottage
This compact home set among blueberry fields and overlooking the Mostertshoek mountains is the perfect spot for a bit of rest and relaxation.
Watch the last rays of the sun tint the mountain peaks pink, take a shower under the stars and relax with your pooch by the fireplace...
Sounds idyllic? Then Claire and Duncan Dicey’s eco home – a self-contained cottage made with shipping containers – on the farm Palmietvlei near Wolseley in the Western Cape will definitely tickle your fancy.
“The stoep and small jetty on the dam that my husband Duncan and I built are my favourite features,” says Claire. “And, of course, the outdoor shower!” The couple started building their getaway spot in October 2017 and it was completed in January this year.
“We call the house FamTin, short for Family Tin. Shipping containers are made of metal, after all, and this one is big enough for an entire family.”
Claire had always liked the idea of a container home. “Recycling and re-using is very important to me. I love giving new life to discarded items.” >>
The house consists of two containers, side by side, with a stoep out front.
Claire did a lot of research before she and Duncan tackled the project. “We found a company online that specialises in converting containers into homes and ordered ours from them. The builders began construction in October 2017 but we later parted ways with them and a builder from Bredasdorp, Deon Morkel, completed the project. I drew up the plans and he handled construction.
“Our first task was to construct the base on which the containers were set – this was built with bricks, as was the stoep. The containers were delivered by truck and erected on the base using a crane; then the welding, carpentry and roofing was done.
“On the inside, we insulated the walls with MagnaBoard and then painted them. We left the shipping container as is on the exterior so that one can see exactly what it is.”
Claire recommends carefully selecting a company to do the conversion: “Make sure you agree on what a quality finish entails and ensure that they can complete the project on time. Now that we’ve found someone we can trust, we plan to build more houses like this one next year.”
Part of the farm
Claire and Duncan live on another farm near Palmietvlei. “Only FamTin and another guesthouse, The Riverstone House, are located on Palmietvlei, surrounded by berry and pear orchards,” she explains. “The Riverstone House sleeps nine but if there are more guests, they can now be accommodated in FamTin.” A path leads from The Riverstone House down to the Breede River.
Palmietvlei is about 80 hectares in size; Duncan farms with blueberries and Claire keeps horses, but she also does training and she organises horse safaris.
“We have 16 stables with 21 horses. I train nine of them every day; the others are either too young or retired. My company, Equiknow, takes clients to Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands for equestrian events and we go on safaris in the Okavango.”
Claire spared no expense in making the container home as comfortable as possible. “I love being creative and had lots of fun decorating. I always try to see how much I can accomplish with as little as possible or how attractive I can make something look without spending a fortune.
“Anyone can achieve a lot with an abundance of cash. I like the challenge of re-using items with the help of local craftsmen. I buy furniture at auctions and junk shops and knick-knacks at conventional retail stores. Sometimes I plan ahead for certain looks; at other times I simply put different things together and see how it turns out.
“I’m not influenced by fads and I use what I like. At the moment, I’m partial to bright colours such as yellow and burnt orange.
“The décor in FamTin is country-chic – because when I step in here, I want to relax.”
THE HOMEOWNERS Claire and Duncan Dicey WHERE Wolseley, Western Cape SIZE 96m²
Claire played an active role in preparing her home’s terrain, although she had help with the initial planning. “An excavator was literally on our heels as a friend and I painted lines with lime so that the operator knew where to excavate soil from the slope and move it to the dam.” Intaba Environmental Services designed the veld garden surrounding the house.
The floor is sealed cement. “Not tinted, just sealed – exactly as I wanted it,” says Claire. Yellow mug from MRP Home