Homelessness is a growing problem in the UK. The number of people without a permanent home is rising due to many factors including higher house prices and financial strains – made worse by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding solutions to this rise in homelessness involves several different approaches, but one of the solutions is by converting bespoke units into homes.
Shipping units were originally designed and built to carry cargo around the world. They are designed to be safe and secure, whilst easily stacked, and easily moved between different modes of transport. This also makes them ideal for use as a construction material. We are seeing more and more constructions utilising these units, including restaurants, offices, and homes.
By essentially ‘upcycling’ a standard unit into modular accommodation, you are finding a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to begin to tackle homelessness.
Although conversions are a relatively new concept, there have already been several projects in the UK where they have been used to construct self-contained accommodation units to help to combat homelessness.
One of the first pop-up accommodation projects in the UK was in Brighton in 2013. 36 people with a history of homelessness were given accommodation in pop-up units, constructed in just 14 weeks.
There have also been other projects in Bristol, London, Essex, and Birmingham, all helping a number of people to get out of living on the streets.
Converting into Homes
Whether you are looking to design your own home or run a project to help to tackle homelessness, the process of converting a standard unit is simple for the customer.
Before you start, you will need an acceptable plot of land – one where there is a level, solid foundation. It is important to check what the local planning regulations are to understand whether you will need planning permission.
Accommodation can be built using just one shipping container for a small home, or several joined together – either stacked or side-by-side – for a larger property. If you are looking to build several houses in a sort of ‘flat’ formation.
You can then work with a design team to design the home. They will use computer-aided design to aid in this process, being able to accurately plan important factors such as ventilation and airflow, as well as get a detailed idea of the dimensions and layout of the home.
There are some features that will need to be added to make them habitable for people. This includes applying an insulating lining to ensure that the home does not get too hot in the summer or cold in the winter, adding windows and doors for easy access, ventilation, and natural light, fitting electricity and lighting packages, plumbing systems, and partition walls.
Other features can also be added – any racking or shelving that may be required for storage, the fitting of kitchen work surfaces, or ramps for step-free access, for example.
All of these features can be worked on during the conversion process, meaning that the home is delivered to the site ready to be connected up and habitable almost straight away.
Homes for the Homeless
Pop-up homes are an ideal way to help to combat homelessness in the UK. They are not only an eco-friendly alternative to bricks and mortar constructions, but they are also cost-effective, and give you a great amount of flexibility over their design.