The container homes come fully-furnished and in 'turnkey condition' complete bedsheets and soap - ready for the new owner to spend the first night there
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As house prices continue to soar and buyers find it more and more difficult to get on the market, could the solution be inside a giant metal box?
A Dundalk-based company, GTL Containers, is now offering one, two, or three-bedroom homes at a fraction of the usual cost with prices coming in between €60,000 to €85,000.
The catch is, these new low-cost homes are made from converted shipping containers.
READ MORE:Ireland house prices: The salary you need to buy a home in every county in 2022
However, some buyers are finding this a more attractive solution than taking on the burden of a huge mortgage they will be paying off over the next 35 years.
And to others it is a temporary place to live as they go through a transitional stage in their life, from getting a divorce to single people who simply need an alternative living solution.
The couple behind the business, Berni Moore and James O’Kane, who are both in their 50s, spotted a gap in the market to create low-cost luxury properties when they were forced to stay in Ireland over the pandemic.
“It’s James’ brainchild, he built his own container home about four or five years ago,” Berni told the Irish Mirror.
“We were talking about moving back to New Zealand and just with the pandemic we ended up staying here.
“We didn’t know if the Irish market was ready but we thought we’ll build a couple of show homes and worse case scenario, we will sell them off.
"But luckily it just exploded from there.”
A one bed home (converted from a 20 foot high cube container) starts at €59,950, a two-bed starts at €79,950 and a three bed from €84,950 - with the option of adding more living space on for a cost.
They use both old and new shipping containers to create the miniature homes which they advertise as being delivered to you in 'turnkey condition' - ready for the new owner to spend the first night there.
This means they come complete with kitchen appliances such a cooker, microwave, toaster and kettle, and even bedsheets and soap in the bathroom.
“When you walk in, you would not know you’re in a shipping container,” said Berni. “It’s fully insulated, it’s got a beautiful bespoke kitchen. It’s got big large open windows and sliders.
“It’s completely fitted and furnished. Your bed’s made, your crockery’s there, your towels are there.
“Because it’s a constrained space, we spent over a year researching the products that we would use and, other than the sofa, the furniture is bespoke, built to fit the space.”
Before and after pictures show how the amazing transformation takes place from a shell of steel to a fully-furnished home.
And business is booming. GTL Containers now has a team of 12 as well as premises in a factory and more orders than they can take on.
“We opened our doors officially on the last weekend of October,” said Berni.
“We thought maybe we’d tick away with two or three [orders] a year and within the first two weeks we had almost a dozen orders.
“We realised very quickly we needed premises, we needed more builders.
“Now we’ve got a team of about 12, we’ve got premises in town in a factory setting and we’re building about three a month."
They do most of their advertising on Instagram and the customers who buy the container homes are a “complete mix”
“We have young people starting off, people who don't want to be owned by the bank for 30 or 40 years,” said Berni.
“When I was growing up you had the traditional route; go to university, come out, get a good job, and save some money for a deposit for a house.
“People are not thinking, ‘I don’t want that’. So a lot of people in their 20s or 30s who want a base try and buy it outright or get a loan and pay it off in a few years.
“[We get] a lot of people who are separating, their marriages are finishing, their relationship status is finishing and they live in large houses and don’t want that lifestyle for the latter part of their lives.
“A lot of single people who want something that isn’t going to be a large financial overhead.
“We had an open house last weekend and we had a farmer in his 80s and he was giving the farm to one of his children and he just wanted to settle into something comfortable.”
Meanwhile, some people with land purchase the container home while they wait for a new house to be built or to rent out as a holiday property, with the option of selling it back to GTL Containers in a few years.
“You can move the 40ft one-bedroom container in 15 minutes and have it on a trailer and move it somewhere else,” said Berni. “We would buy back a one-bedroom because they’re quite popular.
“If you were looking at temporary planning while you were building or you had some land that you wanted to AirBnB over a summer or two and trial it out. There’s loads of [options].”
The main issue their customers run into however, is achieving planning permission for the container home. While it may take months to come through, if ever, some customers can get approval in a number of weeks.
Berni advised that one thing that can help the container get approval is to put cladding on it so it doesn’t have the look of a shipping container on the outside.
“Planning is another big question mark,” said Berni. “It varies from council to council so we don’t deal with planners directly, that’s the customer’s responsibility.
“Planning in Ireland is quite traditional so it’s kind of expected to look like a house, be on the road front and have a certain look.
“The one-bed container is planning exempt as it’s under 40 square metres if you attach it as an extension to your house.
“One of our customers just got planning last week and she was waiting about six to eight months. Another customer got it in about seven weeks to it depends on where you are.
“Some people use planning consultants, and it differs from county to county. There are so many variables.”
However, a moveable, comfortable home at a fraction of the usual price is certainly a revolutionary way at looking at housing.
“It’s great that people have embraced it and are taking it on,” said Berni. “They look great, they’re lovely inside.
“It’s just an alternative style of living. It just gives you a simpler quality of life which makes you think, ‘we don’t need all this space’. People who have larger houses are buying more stuff to put in them, simply because they have more bedrooms.”
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