Our new construction project is fast sprouting out of the. This project is a 3 bedroom terrace twin-duplex built entirely with shipping containers. Shipping container housing in Nigeria is fast growing, the purpose of this blog post is to show and not just tell you what the project is about, so I will keep you updated with images.
With a limited timeline, site preparation for the container foundation and procurement of materials ran as simultaneous as possible. Arrangement for the containers was already made and some had been inspected and certified okay. Delivery of some of our procured materials would be delayed by the weather, as the estate has a policy that trucks supplying materials be not allowed entrance until 3 days after fall. Access road is a challenge in most construction sites and if you are considering container architecture, charity begins with the road. A Hiab delivered our first container, a 20 foot container which at the moment is a store house but would be converted to an apartment at the end of the project.
Our next stage was the routine concrete work which includes digging, filling, blinding, casting, and striking the formwork. Our foundation beam at the two ends and in the middle was raised about 300mm above the other beams to give a clearance above the site ground level. This clearance would be covered to prevent it being a hideout for reptiles and other animals. Sometimes people leave these spaces open. Apparently getting a good container costs some patience – what doesn’t require patience in Nigeria. Containers with a few years of work are good to work with as they have good edges, no side dents, rooftops without holes; however most logistics companies don’t sell such containers. The containers you will get will have some undesirable spots somewhere, but it shouldn’t be excessive. Containers bought from reputable companies come along with the container’s documents; which is the few pages documenting the age, last owner, manufacturer etc.
The containers didn’t arrive until 4-5 days after the designated date due to some activities at the port. By this time there had been rainfall and the access road required more filling. It is always better the containers arrive before the crane. It took us up to 5 hours to get the crane ready to lift the containers as it got stuck twice at the access road and on site. Finally the crane picked the containers after it had been tied. With some wheeling, raising, rotating and pulling we got it where we wanted it. By now it was 7pm, already past sunlight and with no floodlight it was safe to call it a day. An extra day and extra payment for the crane. The crane guys came the next day and it only took us 3 hours to mount the remaining 3. We paid particular attention to the alignment of the crane. Dealing with container truck drivers is a herculean task. Most times they work with logistics companies different from the company that supplied your containers. On site you can’t convince them to do things properly since you don’t have a direct relationship with them. We would have preferred to have the truck drivers come in a particular sequence, but they were having none of it.
Plates, universal beams, universal columns, angles and more are the materials you will be more familiar with for container architecture. The structural work is basically of steel works. Due to the extensive works we had to use a 15KvA generator as we needed at least 3 machines to work simultaneously. All steel sections bought were painted to prevent rust. Areas for windows, doors, were marked out and the cutting was done using angle cutters and gas cutters. Water is one of the biggest problems with containers, keeping the vertical water (the top of the container) out was a huge relief. This was achieved by applying concrete solutions mixed with admixtures, and by felting. We are now ready to receive the next set of containers.
Having made the cuts, the next stage was framing the structure which other partition and covering materials would rest on. This includes partitions, door frames, window frames, stair case and more. The grinders, cutters and welding machines combined do make some noise. On a lighter note it is not so much as to make the neighbours wonder why they are unfortunate to be the building beside ours. By now a lot of people who walked or drove by, paused, stared at the containers with a puzzled face. As the cutting continued and it became obvious it wasn’t a warehouse, the pause time has increased, while some have walked down to ask more about the project. Shipping container housing in Nigeria is gradually getting its own awareness.
After so many delays due to rainfall and its effect on the access road, the weather forecast gave us the all-clear to make preparations for the 50-ton crane and container trucks to deliver the remaining 4 containers for the 1st floors of the twin duplex. Now all is set, all the containers required for the project are in position. The structural work, mechanical and electrical for the ground floor have been completed. There would be some fast-tracking on the 1st floor so we can still achieve our project completion in October.
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