Building homes with shipping containers
If you’re considering a North Carolina beach vacation, you could stay in a shipping container, just a short walk from the shore.
The two bright blue containers are about $125-$150 per night and sleep about three people each and sit on adjoining lots, according to their Airbnb listings.
Each of the steel “Conchs” is about 320 square feet and were built in 2015-16. They feature air conditioning, organic linens, mahogany hardwood floors, teak outdoor showers, WiFi, private decks and more.
Beach access is right at the end of the street.
Tiny homes, including those built from shipping containers, are gaining popularity as “affordable, eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives to traditional housing,” The New York Times wrote in 2017.
But while areas including Carolina Beach, Wilmington and New Hanover County allow the renovated containers to be used as homes, Kure Beach outlawed them in 2016, after hearing about the Conchs’ construction.
During an April 21 meeting, Kure Beach mayor pro tem Graig Bloszinsky said 15 residents said they did not want the town to allow the container homes, according to The Island Gazette. The town’s planning and zoning board voted 4 to 1 to disallow them. The council ultimately voted 3 to 1 to ban the container homes from Kure Beach.
Wilmington already has a whole community of shipping containers called the “Cargo District.”
“Containers are loved by the hip and the practical, artisans and DIY-ers, engineers and construction foremen, as they are both sustainable and affordable,” New York Times writer Kenneth R. Rosen wrote last year. “And used 20- or 40-foot containers can be obtained for as little as several hundred dollars apiece, so it’s not surprising that some industry professionals consider them the future of home building.”
Modern shipping containers were actually invented by a North Carolinian.
Malcom Purcell McLean was an entrepreneur who began his career as a truck driver and “reinvented worldwide shipping” more than 60 years ago, according to a 2001 obituary in The New York Times. He was called the “Father of Containerization.”
McLean, of Maxton, was the son of a farmer. His legacy began when he hauled empty tobacco barrels into an old trailer. Three years after high school, he and his siblings opened the McLean Trucking Company.
McLean said the idea for shipping containers came to him in 1937, while he watched longshoremen loading and unloading goods in Hoboken, N.J., his obituary said. He figured sorting and packing cargo into containers would make the whole process more efficient.
So in 1955, McLean sold his share of the trucking company and bought an Alabama steamship company, according to the obituary. The next year, a converted World War II tanker sailed with 58 containers on its rigged decks, and his company, “Sea-Land” expanded from there.