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Container house, is it really low cost?

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  • May 6th, 2020 10:21 pm
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Newbie
Jan 26, 2019
30 posts
30 upvotes

Container house, is it really low cost?

We are in Great Vancouver are and is looking for a new house. Wife searched the web and was suddenly very into container house, thought it's cool, simple and much cheaper to build.
Before doing research, my logic tell me if that's true, container house should have been the main stream in GVRD, since we have the highest average house price in the whole country.
After a few clicks, I found that for a simple container house, the cost for parts and pieces might be $100-150/square foot. it looks cheaper than to build a wood frame house in Vancouver, BC, which runs between $200 and $350+ dollars per square foot. But how about the permit from City, any restriction? and foundation, since the container is heavier than wood frame, will the foundation cost more than wood frame house? will the container last long in Raincouver? even with the above unknown info, I feel that in the long run, container house wont' be much cheaper than typical wood frame house here and might even cost when time past by, might need the coating every year to survive from the rain. Really appreciate if some professional can give me more info to nail my conclusion.
12 replies
Deal Expert
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Feb 11, 2007
15662 posts
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Oakville
mortgageseeker wrote: We are in Great Vancouver are and is looking for a new house. Wife searched the web and was suddenly very into container house, thought it's cool, simple and much cheaper to build.
Before doing research, my logic tell me if that's true, container house should have been the main stream in GVRD, since we have the highest average house price in the whole country.
After a few clicks, I found that for a simple container house, the cost for parts and pieces might be $100-150/square foot. it looks cheaper than to build a wood frame house in Vancouver, BC, which runs between $200 and $350+ dollars per square foot. But how about the permit from City, any restriction? and foundation, since the container is heavier than wood frame, will the foundation cost more than wood frame house? will the container last long in Raincouver? even with the above unknown info, I feel that in the long run, container house wont' be much cheaper than typical wood frame house here and might even cost when time past by, might need the coating every year to survive from the rain. Really appreciate if some professional can give me more info to nail my conclusion.
Wait for the market to crash. May take 6-12 months. Household debt is too high and there's gonna be some correction as a result of the lockdown.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9651 posts
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Paris
engineered wrote: Wait for the market to crash. May take 6-12 months. Household debt is too high and there's gonna be some correction as a result of the lockdown.
Government debt in US is about to get crazy. I’m sure cdn gov debt isnt much better.
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Feb 11, 2007
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Jerico wrote: Government debt in US is about to get crazy. I’m sure cdn gov debt isnt much better.
Yup, and all of the air bnb rental homes/condos will fail due to lack of travel. People without jobs and no savings because they've been running up debt and living beyond their means will need to sell their homes, maybe even at a loss if they bought recently.
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Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
engineered wrote: Yup, and all of the air bnb rental homes/condos will fail due to lack of travel. People without jobs and no savings because they've been running up debt and living beyond their means will need to sell their homes, maybe even at a loss if they bought recently.
Big city condo market about to tank.
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2304 posts
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Alliston, ON
You still need land to put the container house on, land is the expensive part, not the house itself
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
807 posts
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schade wrote: You still need land to put the container house on, land is the expensive part, not the house itself
This, 100% this. Basically serviced land within an urban boundary will cost you as much vacant as it would with a really rundown house on it. So you could just buy a rundown house and do all the work you'd have to do to a container house anyways.

Container houses seem to be more so of a fad, sure, if you just need shelter, and its in the middle of no where, where land is free and codes are relaxed, then you can do a very basic "shelter"/home for pretty cheap.

All things considered, if you're going to finish a container, you still need to frame and insulated the inside, and do everything you would for a normal house. So you may save a bit on exterior finishes, but that's about it in terms of an apples to apples comparison.

Most developers can build townhomes for under $150/sqft, assuming there is no underground parking.

All in all, the issue with building a house within an urban limit, is most of the time, serviced land will cost you as much with a rundown house on it compared to the same land which is vacant.
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
3166 posts
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Toronto
I don't know for sure, but I tend to think given the amount of modification a seacan needs if it's going to be connected to other seacans and function as a dwelling, it would be cheaper and more effective to build from scratch.

Lots of factory-built construction options out there that give you an incredibly efficient building, quick on-site construction and are very environmentally friendly with significant efficiencies resulting from centralized construction, reduced material waste etc.

Seacans also limit you in terms of design. Ceiling height etc. are all pretty restricted. If you do go beyond the basic confines of a seacan's dimensions, you're basically tossing 75% of the seacan in the metal recycling bin so what's the point?

They're a cute idea, and for basic storage on a rural property buying a single, decommissioned seacan is a cheap way to get a shed on site that is very secure. No thief is bringing a torch to cottage country but they do bring chainsaws. For some urban-industrial pop-up type places they look the part, and if stacked simply, might be a quick and effective way to build.

But if you want an interesting looking, energy efficient home, hire an architect, explore pre-fab construction techniques and build something with a strong resale value that a container house will never have.

Save money now, lose money later is what likely would happen with a house made of seacans.
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What I would look at is not necessarily a container house, but a prefab house that can be put up quickly.
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Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
torontotim wrote: They're a cute idea, and for basic storage on a rural property buying a single, decommissioned seacan is a cheap way to get a shed on site that is very secure.
I think they are great for a shed. You could probably put siding on them to make them look “nicer” over time too.
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Oct 19, 2008
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GTA
Jerico wrote: I think they are great for a shed. You could probably put siding on them to make them look “nicer” over time too.
There's a container shopping area in Toronto called Stackt
https://www.blogto.com/city/2019/04/sta ... -now-open/
Glass looks good on them, there are US based companies selling mods for containers. I worked 6 weeks in Texas one November and containers are used for storage sheds, hot a hell when its 25* celsius in a container. CP Rail is using containers In Cambridge outside Toyota plant and other satellite locations.

I saw a swimming pool online built from a shipping container with top cut off.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2015
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Canada, Eh!!
engineered wrote: What I would look at is not necessarily a container house, but a prefab house that can be put up quickly.
Agreed.

A year or two ago on HGTV channel they had show where showed how prefab house put together.

Get land and foundation... the rest is relatively easier.

At the time they showcased a company in Quebec that was in prefab houses business. Should be some out west as well.
.......
July 13, 2017 to October 25, 2018: BOC raised rates 5 times and MCAP raised its prime rate next day each time.

2020: BOC dropped rates 3 times and MCAP waited and waited to drop its prime rate to include all 3 drops.
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Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
Zamboni wrote: There's a container shopping area in Toronto called Stackt
https://www.blogto.com/city/2019/04/sta ... -now-open/
Glass looks good on them, there are US based companies selling mods for containers. I worked 6 weeks in Texas one November and containers are used for storage sheds, hot a hell when its 25* celsius in a container. CP Rail is using containers In Cambridge outside Toyota plant and other satellite locations.

I saw a swimming pool online built from a shipping container with top cut off.
My kids dance studio uses one as prop storage. Some condensation issues in there when it is cold at night and hot during the day (like this time of year).

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