You can buy a container home in SA for as little as R100,000

 ·11 Apr 2018

Specialised shipping container seller and converter, Container Structures, is selling customisable and transportable container homes and other structures in South Africa for as little as R100,000, depending on what you’re looking for.

Container homes are becoming a popular affordable alternative to the normal housing market, which has become priced beyond what the average South African can typically afford.

The housing type made waves in 2017 with the launch of the Drive Lines apartment block in the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, which is constructed entirely out of these shipping containers, and offers affordable living for rents as low as R4,000 per month.

The average house price in South Africa has boomed to around R1 million, while data from bond originators shows that the average first-time buyer is only granted around R800,000.

For less than the difference (R200,000), prospective home owners can buy a small container home to call their own.

According to Container Structures MD, Percy Khoza, a simple ‘bachelor pad’ made from a single 12m long container (28sqm), can cost as little as R100,000 with all the requisite construction (insulation, plumbing etc) – moving up in price as more features are added.

A 2-bedroom unit could be between R160,000 and R220,000, depending on the finishes, he said.

At R100,000, a container home apartment is a fraction of the price of a similarly sized unit in Cape Town, which could set a buyer back R1.26 million.

“The units are in the standard sizes for shipping containers, but the benefit of having this type of accommodation is that two units can be fitted together or even stacked, creating enough room for everybody in the family,” the group said.

“On top of this, our units are sturdy and fully transportable, giving you the choice of your housing location.”

According to Khoza, it takes about a month to build a unit, and the group is currently working on several student accommodation projects, similar to the Brixton development it was contracted to build in 2015. New student accommodations are being built in Auckland Park and downtown Joburg on Eloff Street.

The MD said that there has been keen interest in container homes in South Africa, but challenges remain – particularly with municipal regulations, as the officials aren’t familiar with these alternative building methods.

Below are some examples of how Container Structures is using shipping containers to build a variety of structures, including student housing, small apartments, and even schools and restaurants.

Student housing

Learning centre


House layout

International trends

International architects Lot-Ek, the designers behind Drive Lines in Maboneng, have several design programmes around shipping containers, showing what can be accomplished with the versatile structures.

Among the group’s designs are a hotel, apartment blocks, a multi-level family home, and free-standing units which can be built anywhere in the world.

Read: Why more middle-class South Africans are looking to move into shipping containers

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