Boathouse Made From Shipping Containers

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Boat builder Steve White from Belfast, Irland has recently constructed a houseboat made from shipping containers. He intends to live in it and has parked it in the Brooklin marina. White was helped in bringing his project into existence by SnapSpace Solutions, which is a Brewer company specializing in repurposing containers for living and office space, as well as Ellsworth container homeowners Jennifer Sansosti and Trevor Seip, and boat builder Andrew Baldwin.

The houseboat is constructed from two recycled shipping containers, which are offset and joined together by a wall that extends up to a second floor loft. The entire house is set on a 30’x50’ barge and creates a cozy, spacious home. The entire houseboat measures 24’x40’ and has around 1,000 square feet of living space, which includes two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen.

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The outside of the containers was painted red, while large windows were cut into the sides to let in the maximum amount of natural light. The interior is fitted just like a real house, and includes radiant heat floors, a fully equipped kitchen and bamboo flooring. The house is heated by a propane gas furnace.

White opted for shipping containers as the main building units of his new houseboat because they are affordable, structurally sound, green and only require a minimal investment to make them habitable. They are also designed and built to last in marine environments.

The builders were, however, faced with the challenge of how to make the large steel structure float. In the end they designed a barge, which is basically just a box. The flotation is made possible by plastic pontoon cylinders filled with foam. These are impervious to salt water and very sturdy when placed in the water. Though out of water, the cylinders can’t support the weight of the home.

Another challenge faced by the builders was the thick steel hull of the containers. They had difficulty cutting it, since it was hard to cut and prone to flexing and bending. In the end they used a steel frame to firm it up and make it more rigid.

White and his wife plan to stay in the house for part of the year, and rent in out during the summer months. He also has plans for the construction of more such houseboats made from shipping containers.


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  • G. Poulton

    These have been used for constructing small houses in Canad and the US. I think most are less than 500 sq ft. This is huge compared to most I have seen and most likely extremely expensive. Absolutely lovely though

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