Static Caravan or Container Home?

Static caravans fill a need. Owning one seems to indicate status and standing as, for the ordinary working-class person, the static caravan is a holiday home.  It’s somewhere you can go at a moment’s notice, it’s a treat for your children and their families and it can be a money-earner.

But they are not cheap.

Container homes are as good as the real thing.  In fact, they’re actually better.

As a result of an increase in exports from China, there is an abundance of shipping containers and, as they are usually used only once, these containers are therefore in almost new condition.  They come in a variety of sizes: the standard size is 20’ x 7’ x 7’6” high, though there are also shorter and longer ones available.  Made of non-toxic steel, these shipping containers are not only environmentally friendly but also corrosion-proof and resistant to climatic weather extremes. A perfect example is a container home which was being used as a research centre in the dense rainforest adjoining the World Heritage Centre in Queensland, Australia.  Unfortunately, Cyclone Larry with winds speeds of up to 180 mph hit the rainforest in March 2006 and, although the makeshift roof that the researchers had put onto the containers was destroyed, the containers weren’t damaged at all. (

I’m not sure the same can be said for static caravans.  News reports in the past have spoken of caravans being knocked off their footings during gale-force winds and, with time, the roofs do rain in.

Professionally recycled shipping containers are more than holiday homes.  The sky really is the limit.  They can be used as student accommodation, granny flats, disaster relief accommodation and even sales offices on building sites.

Today, there is growing demand for affordable accommodation but house prices are just not within the average person’s price range.  Container homes made from recycled shipping containers could fill that need and there are professionals who turn these into prefabricated houses in one-third of the time of a regular build. One standard container is ideal for a single person, though these containers can be stacked or attached alongside each other, to create bigger container homes.

Taking green issues into account, these modular buildings benefit the environment and local government are keen to take this approach.  A container home can be ready for use in as little as twenty weeks after the paperwork has been completed and the experts out there help you with that, as well!

The Container Home Era

When you think about mobile homes, they come in different guises.

The original caravans of let’s say sixty years ago, were pretty basic.  The living room part converted into a sleeping area, the kitchen was maybe no more than a very small fold-down table which also converted into a bed and the cooking facilities offered only gas rings. They were probably sited quite close to home because, in those days, not many people had cars, so travelling there would have been done by bus.

The water supply was via a plastic flagon, which was filled at some caravan site tap and the toilets were communal.

At that time, there was also the Volkswagen (VW) camper van, which has remained a fashion icon, very much part of the cool image of the wannabe surfer.  I remember that the cooking facilities were very basic and the vehicle was more or less a people carrier.

Then came the grander luxury caravan, too long to tow but offering separate bedrooms and a separate living area and kitchen, as well.  Even today, these make good holiday homes and some caravan sites used to offer permanent residency, though the rule was that it was best if the site closed down for at least one month of the year, so that community tax wasn’t an issue, as the caravan wasn’t truly a permanent home.  It’s what you would call a loophole in the law, which I believe the government are now trying to change.

Eventually, the motor home arrived.  Today’s models include a bathroom but this room is so small, that having a shower means soaking the toilet, at the same time. I have heard many stories of retired people selling up and moving into a motor home, with a dream of seeing the world.  It might be a good idea but only for as long as it lasts.

So, for decades, people have been enjoying the pleasures of the container home and it seems that it doesn’t stop there.  We are now living in an eco-friendly era, where green container homes are becoming permanent accommodation, with the advantage of being movable, as part of the construction process.  The main frame is a recycled shipping container and, via green building techniques, the container is decked out with excellent insulation, water-saving systems and renewable energy supplies. All in all, it’s affordable accommodation and is bought as a completed unit.  When it arrives at its pre-prepared destination, it simply has to be plugged in to the necessary household utilities and away you go.

With today’s concerns about the environment, green accommodation is a priority and shipping containers are sturdy, sustainable and stackable, so you don’t have to stop at one. Your personal container home can be designed to your taste, a choice of cladding ensuring that it fits in perfectly with the surrounding environment. There are some good websites out there, where the shipping container concept is described, including how recycled containers address green issues.

It will be interesting to see if such green accommodation will also infiltrate the caravan scene, or be seen in the next generation of holiday park home sites.  I for one would definitely be interested.