35 Affordable Self-built Container Homes in Dallas, USA
The US Christian housing charity Habitat for Humanity is to build 35 affordable shipping container homes in Dallas, Texas, USA. It has built the first home on the 2.78-acre lot, called The Cotton Groves, so the volunteers involved in building the homes can learn the techniques of building the family townhouses. The current layout has four shipping containers connected together to make a three bedroom, two bathroom home.
According to the Dallas Business Journal, “I would think we can cut our construction timeline in half. We can serve twice as many families,” said Celeste Cox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Collin County. The first six homes will be rolled out by the beginning of 2020 and the rest over the course of 12 to 18 months after that.
This is a key facet of shipping container homes – they can be built extremely quickly and save on labour costs while providing the same quality as a bricks-and-mortar home.
Volunteer ‘sweat equity’ labour
The simplicity of construction of shipping container homes lends itself well to the way these homes are being constructed – using volunteers with no previous building experience who are performing ‘sweat equity’ labour.
The homes are sold to people who are on low incomes – US$24,000 to $42,000 a year who are families with children. Should they make it through the application process (there are more than 10 applicant families per house being built on this development) they will be assured of a mortgage of no more than 30% of their monthly income every month.
The way that Habitat for Humanity gets their money back on this is through sweat equity. According to the charity website, this is around 500 hours of unpaid labour, generally in the construction of the homes that are being built, though also for the charity’s other interests. There is some question as to the quality of the final results, though again these homes will have to be inspected by the local authority in the normal way before being signed over to the new homeowners.
The home you can see in the video is a training platform for those performing the sweat equity. The containers are pre-cut and reinforced in a factory environment where some volunteers will be learning metalwork skills to prepare them. Others are on site readying the foundations, then come the trades through the construction process.
Some research about the charity suggests that Habitat for Humanity saves money from other sources too – the Home Depot DIY chain donates a lot of materials for the construction, and there is every likelihood that the containers themselves were supplied at a low price. Thanks to charity status there are costs saved in land acquisition as it competes using its morals and ethics to undercut rival developers’ bids.
Good quality, affordable homes?
On many levels the concept of the future homeowner qualifying for a new home by helping build it is a good idea. It gives an extra layer of ownership of the home as they learn and apply their skills to make somewhere for their families to live in at a vastly reduced cost.
Add in the economics of container home architecture and you have a scheme where people can get a home that is better and more spacious than they may otherwise be able to afford. Is this something that could be done here in Australia?
With thousands of people made homeless in the recent wildfires, a scheme like this could help people rebuild their lives from the dirt and ashes they are currently in. Used 40ft containers cost as little as AU$3,000 a unit and could be used to rebuild entire communities nationwide. If a scheme like Habitat for Humanity appeals to you and you could replicate the model, call us at Gateway Container Sales today to discuss your needs!