September 02, 2016

Hidden Gems: IQ Container Homes!

Welcome back to the Hidden Gems section! It's been a while, I know...and to make it up, I found something so interesting to share with you guys!! This nothing related to beauty though, but I think this is the right time to share something innovative about housing alternative.

I'm not a property expert, nor a council consultant or anything, I am just a normal citizen that started to pay attention to New Zealand, Auckland's property market for the last one year and honestly, I am not excited to see overseas investor coming in with cash offer to buy houses, leaving the first home buyer struggling to even score a chance to bid. So, I decided to look around and find what are the other interesting in property scene apart from " that house sold for bloody 400K above reserve" kind of news. :(

Fortunately, from where I used to sit at work, I was surrounded by successful people, investor, and great entrepreneur. That is where I heard about container home business. So, I goggle up and found out that we have that kind of business in here!! And guess what, the lady behind this amazing idea sits 5 steps away from my desk!! Say what???

So I, literally approached her and hoping she would agree for the feature in this blog, and SHE SAID YES! She accepted my proposal!
- no ring involves tho - 

Meet Brenda Kelly, the spreadsheet Queen, my amazing and sweet colleague and the owner of IQ Container and read up her inspiring stories! You might want to own one!

What makes you started IQ Container Homes?
Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by small homes. Utilising the likes of clever storage solutions, innovative furniture and good design principles to make the most out of small spaces. When it comes down to it, the majority of us can live quite comfortably in a small space, one that is much more economical and less wasteful than your traditional sized home.  
NZ currently has one of the highest average sized dwellings in the world yet with an aging population, high proportion of singles, couples holding off till later in life to have children and the huge increase in the cost of housing, the demand for smaller homes is on the rise. It just doesn't make sense to keep building McMansions. I believe there is a gap in the NZ market for small homes. My passion for small space design, coupled with a desire to create affordable, sustainable, quality homes led me to take the giant leap of faith to start "IQ Container Homes Ltd" in 2013.

How long have you been living in Container home?
Faced with the realisation that gaining consent for such an alternative concept was going to take time and $, driven by the desire to stop paying rent, get some hands on experience with container construction and test different materials I embarked on a father daughter project of building one of my smaller designs, a prototype of sorts, to put on my land and live in while I awaited approval and construction for my larger home. This small off-grid unit which I aptly named "My Tiny Container Palace" served as home for 1 1/2 years and I loved it. Having since completed my larger council certified 45m2 2 bedroom home, I subsequently moved into this where I have been living for the last 6 months. I like to walk the talk.

What was your first impression of living in there? 
Living in "My Tiny Container Palace" was an awesome experience. Being only 10m2 in size, it forced me to downsize, go minimalist and taught me just how little is needed to have a very comfortable home. The design still allowed for a kitchen, living area, bedroom, office space, separate bathroom and plenty of storage. I lacked nothing! What's more it was completely off grid so I had no monthly bills.

Were you ever wish to go back to conventional house? and what are some of your favorite features on your container home? 
Having now lived in 2 container homes, I can't envisage ever wanting to revert to living in a conventional home. Containers are virtually indestructible, recognised as earthquake, hurricane and fire resistant. While our homes are smaller than most, our designs make effective use of space. While not completely off-grid, my larger home that I now reside in still features solar and rainwater harvesting (rainwater from the roof is recycled for use in flushing the toilet and clothes washing) but is grid tied allowing me to draw from the national grid for potable water and additional power. An eco-friendly gravity fed vermiculture (worm) based system is utilised for wastewater.  Fruit trees, composting facilities and a vege patch complement this sustainable home. Our homes are all constructed with superior insulation and non-toxic materials with photovoltaic (solar) system and rainwater recycling as standard. Not only do I have a healthy, warm, low maintenance home but it is environmentally responsible with minimal running costs.

What are three things any first-time container home owner must do? 
If considering your own container home;
A) Do your research. If you're hoping to build one yourself be prepared for a lot of R&D, expense and liaising with the council. If you're thinking you can purchase a few second hand containers and knock something up yourself on the cheap you are sadly mistaken, there is a lot involved. Definitely achievable but don't underestimate the time and cost. 
B) Ensure your site is easily accessible by road for delivery and that there are no covenants restricting this type of home in your area. Like any home, consider a design and orientation that makes the most of your site, sun and views. 
C) If looking to downsize, ensure the size and design are going to work for you and your family. Individual containers are quite narrow (interior width is around 2.2m wide once fully lined and insulated) Consider the use of dual purpose storage maximizing furniture to make the most of your space, don't assume your exiting furniture and entire wardrobe is going to fit, be realistic.

What’s the best way to enjoy the container home? 
I recommend building a large outdoor living area to supplement your container home, our layouts are all designed for indoor outdoor flow and an undercover deck can double the size of your living area and provide ample space to entertain year round. 
With eco-features such as photovoltaic system (solar panels) learn how to best utilise these. eg. Set your dishwasher and washing machine etc to run during the day when you're generating your own power to save on cost.
If looking to utilise as a bach or rental, it is not uncommon for a premium to be gained due the the novelty factor and environmental features.

What are the best selling design?
Our designs cater to a number of people and situations. Our small off-grid Great Barrier model is popular with fans of the tiny house movement after a cosy permanent home for themselves or couples after a weekend getaway for their site in the middle of nowhere or temporary accommodation while building. Our 2-bed Russell model is popular as a bach or minor dwelling. While our 3-4bed Paihia model is attractive to families.

With so much happening on the property scene, what's the best advice to invest in container home?
Container homes are constructed off-site and are relatively quick to build. While not cheap (if done properly), they are affordable. Due to requiring minimal cost effective pile foundations, they are often a suitable solution for difficult sites where traditional construction would prove cost prohibitive. They are also transportable, so if for some reason you wish to on-sell or move them at a later date this is a viable option. They are gaining momentum for first home buyers and investors and will assist ease the housing crisis.

How much can we expect to spend for a container home?
Our homes all feature a solar system and rainwater recycling as standard and can be delivered nation wide. They start from as little as $90k+gst (for a 1bed) through to $232k+gst for a 3-4 bed model. This price excludes consents, delivery and site works (foundations, connection to services and any decking/landscaping required)

What advice would you give to future owner?
Don't be afraid to try something different like a container home. NZ building code and strict council inspections mean these days homes are designed and constructed to survive a minimum of 50years. A well maintained container home will surpass that, providing a safe, warm home for several generations. 

What's the best thing about living in container home? 
It's hard to chose the best thing about living in a container home. If I had to chose, it would be the sense of security it provides (knowing its virtually indestructible) and the eco-features that ensure it is healthy, warm, environmentally responsible and has minimum running costs.

Are the container home suits couple or more to family?
Container homes have been described as lego for grown ups. Due to their modular construction they can even be added to over time if a client wants to start small and add on once family circumstances change and/or finances allow. For example our 2 bed Russell unit suitable for a couple, can be converted into a family sized 4 bed Paihia model with the addition of another container featuring 2 bedrooms and a bathroom.

What are some common misconceptions about container home?
The most common misconception about container homes are that they can be built cheap. While a containers themselves are affordable, everything that goes into a container home is as per a normal house. In addition engineering and reinforcing is required to accommodate windows and doors and specialist insulation is used which all adds up. The other common misconception is that they will rust. Containers are mode from corrosion resistant Corten steel and a specialist steel paint is used which if maintained correctly (we recommend an annual wash down and repaint every 10years depending on the environment) will prevent any rusting.

It's amazing, isn't? Do you want to see more?

Check out this cool video by BRYCE from Living Big in a Tiny House. I got permission from Brenda to publish this video, and both Bryce and Brenda are amazing in the video! DO subscribe to Bryce Video for more cool stuff he has! That dude is AMAZING!!

'Till the next Hidden Gems' section!


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