Sea Containers

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Barry says “it was a cheaper way of going about building a house” Les says “the end product still stacks up to looking like a brand new home” See yourself living in a sea container? No? How about if we add a veranda, a roof, windows - you'll need paint - garden would be nice... See yourself here now? And how about we tell you this 3 by 2 will only cost around 60 grand. Bet you're interested now. They're look like giant Lego pieces, but these five sea containers ... in time... will become the home in which Diane and Barry will grow old together.

Diane says “I had no idea until Barry suggested it - I'm like, sea containers?” Forty foot long... at the moment their lives are packed up inside the cavernous space. Eventually, this will be their kitchen and a great view from their wrap around verandah. Solar powered...a generator will pick up the slack on those cloudy days the containers will be insulated ,welded together - and made of steel - well, they may even be safer than houses.

Diane says “well, they won't move cos we're on an earthquake run and with the steel pipes the containers are sitting on and the concrete, take a huge earthquake, probably still wouldn't move it”

Assuming you can even find someone willing to take on the job; building new homes can take up to 2 years at the moment. Barry intends to do most of the work here himself and he has a full time job, so he'll be doing it after hours. Even so, he reckons he can have these sea containers ready to live in within 12 months. And remember – the final product will cost around sixty thousand dollars. Until the new house is built, the shed's home for the couple and their two dogs. It has everything including the kitchen sink, but getting out will be like moving to a palace.

Local Shire President Les Eyre reckons, as good ideas go, the sea-container- housing sea-change is a cracker. “Obviously a much cheaper alternative, but the end product still stacks up to looking like a brand new home” Les says, like country towns across Australia, Brookton in WA is crying out for housing. Diane and Barry might be starting a trend in their town. Les says “maybe no-one's thought outside the square before and these are the first that are doing it”

But not all councils are as taken with the idea, “they would look scrappy” John Giorgi CEO of Perth's Town of Vincent says his country cousins might give sea container housing the tick, but he won't... claiming they'd create second class housing, even ghettos. “I don't believe it's being snobbish asking for a minimum acceptable level of housing for community, for our children and for our families”

Les Eyre says “that looks like the perfect colour bond home there's no ghetto-ish about that whatsoever, nothing wrong with it at all” Maintenance worker Darren Banney is one of about a dozen workers living in sea containers in Mackay. He says it's not the Taj Mahal, but it's neat, clean - and in a town where accommodation's scarce, it's available. “For the time, it's convenient. It's a nice area out here; beach is only about 20 metres that way. Hotel up the road”

Barry and Diane say other families might find the humble steel box is the answer to their housing prayers. “It just means they'll have a decent roof over their heads for a much cheaper price” Barry knows it's a big job - but he and hard work aren't strangers. Housewarming party? Sometime next year.