A shipping container home may seem like a bizarre concept, but it is a low cost and innovative housing solution. Explore the financial and practical benefits of a container home, and find out how you can finance your purchase.
It’s not all futuristic and swanky designs when it comes to shipping container homes.
From cost savings to lower maintenance, and improved construction time, a container fit-out may be a viable and sustainable property choice, which can be customised to suit your lifestyle and location needs.
Read on to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of a container home, how much they cost, and how you can improve your chance of financing this kind of purchase.
What is a shipping container home?
A container home is a type of modular or prefabricated (prefab) home that is manufactured off-site in a factory environment.
The modular unit is comprised of shipping containers that have been refitted for use as a modular property.
The unit is then transported to the property location, where it’s either assembled by tradespeople or by the property owner (for a basic DIY unit).
Shipping container homes can be customised to fit specific size and design requirements.
What are the pros and cons of shipping container homes?
- Improved construction time. A container home has a relatively short construction time as it can be assembled within a matter of months. The automated construction of prefab homes provides you with greater certainty as the construction process isn’t subject to delays by weather conditions.
- Personal design. You can customise the size and design to suit your location and lifestyle needs. For example, the container home could include designs that are suited to your location, such as the energy rating for the suburb.
- Lower ongoing costs. Generally, a container home will require less maintenance as it will be resistant to extreme weather conditions or structural defects.
- Carbon friendly. The automated production process and the structurally sound materials used to build a container home have a lesser impact on the environment, which can help minimise waste. For instance, most container homes are fully insulated with double-glazed windows which can help you lower your utility bills.
- Transportation cost. Depending on the location and whether or not there is easy access, transporting the container home to the property site can be expensive. Depending on the nature of the job, the unit may need to be transported by a hydraulic lift, which could set you back around $10,000.
- Factory cost. When setting your budget, you should consider the cost of renting the factory space where the container home is being constructed.
- Difficult to access finance. Due to the unconventional nature of shipping container homes, many lenders will view you as a risky borrower and may impose strict guidelines for a construction loan. This can make it hard to access the funds you need to build your container home.
How much does it cost?
Depending on the size, structure and design, a shipping container unit could range from $15,000 for a basic fit-out to around $50,000 for a 12m two-bedroom container.
Remember to compare several quotes before deciding on a shipping container provider to ensure that you're getting the best deal.
Is it hard to qualify for finance?
It can be challenging to qualify for finance to construct a shipping container home due to the limited options available. Lenders tend to be conservative with this type of construction and most banks won’t lend you funds for a property that isn’t permanently fixed to the site.
While these types of applications are handled on a case-by-case basis, you may be able to qualify for finance if you communicate well with your lender, and demonstrate that you have financial discipline (e.g. a strong savings record) which indicates that you are in a sound position to service the loan.
Here are some challenges associated with financing a container home:
- Strict lending guidelines. Unfortunately, most lenders have strict guidelines about when they can release funds for a modular home. Many lenders will not provide funds before a certain building stage has been reached, such as after the property is connected to services or once a certificate of occupancy has been issued by a surveyor. In some cases, a lender will only provide you with the funds once the home is completely installed.
- Loan security. As banks have no security over the container while it's in a factory, they can be reluctant to provide progress payments to the builder.
How can I get finance for a container home?
If you’re thinking of taking out a construction loan to finance your container home, consider speaking to a mortgage broker to help you understand your borrowing options. Provide as much detail as possible about your construction plans and consider approaching specialist lenders that may have more lenient lending criteria.
Here are some additional ways you can boost your chances of being approved for finance:
- Consult the experts. Speak to your lender or a licensed mortgage broker and explain your plan for constructing a shipping container home. You may want to show your research and put forward details such as the floor plan, budget and timeframe.
- Specialist lenders. Although many lenders are reluctant to lend funds for a container home, some specialist lenders may be able to offer you funds prior to the container home being fixed to the site. Do your homework and speak to several brokers as they can draw upon their panel of lenders to find one that may be more lenient.
- Offer equity. If you can, offer the lender any equity that you have as security for the loan as this may make it easier to qualify for a construction loan.
- Guarantor loan. Another option is to ask a family member to go guarantor on the loan for you as this may increase your shot of being approved for finance.
Speak to a mortgage broker about your shipping container home
Who supplies shipping container homes?
There are several container home providers in Australia, including:
- Shipping Container Homes Australia
- Container Build Group (Sydney)
- Rubix Modular (Brisbane)
- Cube Modular Homes (Perth)
Are container homes safe?
Most shipping container homes are fully insulated for climate control.
They are ideal for remote Australian conditions and are resistant to extreme weather such as cyclones or flooding.Back to top Image: Shutterstock