New on the market are container conversions.
I found William Alpizar completely by chance when I spotted the model house of a single container at Santa Ana, just west of San Jose. The brightly painted unit with its mock tile roofing and wooden deck also sits next to the main highway heading to Ciudad Colon and was too cute to resist.
William is presenting this housing option to the public with forty-foot aluminum insulated refrigerator containers being ‘cut and pasted’ into compact, secure cabins that provide almost instant residential solutions. The model house reminded me of a spacious trailer or boat interior with compact fittings cleverly distributed for maximum use of available space.
It is fully air conditioned with a double bedroom at each end, ample closet space and wall brackets for a TV. The center section is the living area with fitted corner sofa seating, open plan kitchen with cabinets, microwave, stove-top burners and dining counter incorporated. The sofa can make up into another double bed with storage underneath.
A bathroom with shower stall, hot water and wash basin lies between kitchen and one of the bedrooms. With floor to ceiling sliding glass doors in the living area that lead out onto the (optional) deck area, there is plenty of light and feeling of space.
Since the containers come ready insulated, they do not require extra roofing against weather or variable temperatures and internal condensation is not a factor. However, for aesthetics, or to cover the deck area, a roof can be attached if desired.
Different housing designs are possible by adding on additional containers either side-by-side or creating a second floor, by literally screwing them together. Since units are not welded, it is much easier to alter or disassemble the whole for moving.
The unit sits on cement bases with approximately 50 cms free space below so all water and sanitation pipes can be slung underneath for easy installation and access. Electrical wiring is fed between the inner and outer skin of the container and ceiling tiles are hung to give just under 8 feet interior height.
Other potential uses for containers are hotel cabins, school classrooms and extra office space.
The main advantage is speed of construction. A simple single unit can be fitted out in one month and transported anywhere with road access in the country. A security option is for metal shuttering over the main entrance and windows so the unit can be locked down and left impervious to the vagaries of the climate or vandalism.
At US$18,000 for a completed, fitted out and installed container unit, it isn’t the cheapest per-meter option of the three alteranive home options we have featured but it gives a fast-track choice for instant living space, ideal for new residents to place on their land while the dream home is being completed, and it has the flexibility of converting into guest or extra family quarters later on.
Being mobile, the unit could ultimately start out in Central Valley and end up as a weekend home on the beach!
Ing. William Alpizar (506) 383-8800, Email: email@example.com
Written by Vicky Longland – Vicky Longland has spent all her adult life in Latin and Central America originally as head of the translation department for an international human development organisation and currently working as a freelance translator and writer for several national and world-wide publications, specialising in people’s issues, the environment and lifestyles.
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