I don’t know about you, but when I used to hear the term “affordable housing” I’d think of value-priced St. Cloud condominium listings, some of the nicer area mobile home parks, or maybe fixer-uppers likely to be snatched up by professional house flippers (ultimately to become slightly less affordable housing).

When I heard “affordable housing,” I did not think “packing crate.” Nor did I think, “steamer trunk” or “storage unit.” That turns out to be entirely appropriate; nobody is volunteering to live in those.

Where I missed the boat was that I did not think, “shipping container.”

But that was then—this, as they say, is now. Those simpler days are behind us. Shipping containers, it turns out, are the latest in affordable housing. And I must say there are some real possibilities for tricked-out shipping container homes.

Before dismissing the idea out of hand, first, consider the real advantages. Shipping containers are those nearly boxcar-sized metal enclosures they pile 15 high on giant vessels that play the high seas, bringing products near and far in great quantities. They are flood and fire-proof. Containerhomes-info points out that they can “face wind, rain, salt, typhoons, extreme weight, dropping and bumping.” They are made of Corten steel, stronger than regular steel and, you’ll have to admit, probably stronger than whatever your current St. Cloud home is made of.

Recycling enthusiasts realize that shipping containers are only used for 10 or 15 years even though they can last much longer! Also, since they are from 20 to 40 feet in length, when combined as modules by forward-thinking architect types, they can actually form sizable spaces. As thedigitaltrends website puts it, “one man’s retired shipping container is another man’s crazy, high-end modular home.”

And here’s the practical coup de grace: there are 24 million empty shipping containers sitting on docks all over the world! Empty! Waiting for an enterprising St. Cloud architect to create the next model modular masterpiece—with an almost certain resulting publicity blitz. The reason the publicity blitz is likely is because most of the current stars of the movement seem to be in far-off places like Copenhagen and Equador (at least the prettiest ones are there).

If you have a few moments, go ahead and Google best ideas about shipping container homes (see the one with what looks like a putting green on top?) or shipping container prize winners. Honestly, some are beautiful—but I’d say it has a lot to do with the lighting.

I don’t happen to have any award-winning shipping container homes listed at the moment, but when it comes to more traditional and affordable St. Cloud housing, give me a call!

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