The owner of a shipping container company is calling for planning laws to be relaxed on alternative housing in Ireland to help tackle the housing crisis.
Berni Moore and James O’Kane, both in their 50s, spotted a gap in the market for cheap ‘alternative’ housing solutions in Ireland just before the pandemic.
They set up their business, GTL, and began building homes from converted shipping containers, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional Irish house, from around €60,000.
Now their orders are going through the roof and have sold over 30 container houses since October 2021.
But Berni, originally from Dundalk but who lived for 27 years New Zealand said planning laws are still too strict for innovative building solutions to take off in this country.
She said: “The planning laws in Ireland are very traditional and they would not be conducive to alternative lifestyles, including log cabins or container homes, but people are in desperate need of housing.
“Big developers get pretty good favor and planning exemptions. It seems like you can build monstrosities everywhere, but they can relax the laws a bit.
“In New Zealand they give planning dispensation for anything under 30 square metres, you just need to register your toilet.
“They’ve relaxed a lot more because they’ve realized that people have big families and nobody can afford to build big extensions to accommodate the growing population.”
A GTL one-bed container home, converted from a 40 sq ft shipping container, starts at €59,950 – with the option to add more living space at a cost.
Most read in The Irish Sun
At the moment, a single-bed container is planned to be exempt because it is under 40 square meters if it is put on to extend from a house.
Everything after that is a “grey area,” says Berni.
Berni, who also works as a full-time management consultant, said all their luxuriously appointed homes are turnkey.
She said: “Everything you see is included in the price, the sofa, the bed, the kitchen, all the appliances, crockery, kettle, toaster, we try to supply everything.
“Most people like to stay in them the night we finish delivering, it’s a bit of a novelty to be able to stay the same night it’s built. We are there in the morning, we leave at night and the owners stay in them that night.”
Berni and James aim to sell “three or four a year” but business soared after they launched last October.
She said: “Many people during the pandemic have changed their minds and are prioritizing their quality of life and moving out of the big cities.
“People like them because of the affordability, but it’s also an alternative lifestyle that you can get quickly and you can put it anywhere. As long as a 40-foot truck can access the site, you can put it there.”
As house and rental prices continues to soar, Berni said more innovative housing solutions are needed Ireland to help deal with the housing shortage.
She said demand is also soaring as Irish people are more “open-minded” about where they call home.
She said: “We have been told that houses should have a gabled roof and should be on the road and have small windows for aesthetics and to blend into the landscape, but people are exposed to different styles of homes now.
“People are looking more on Instagram so design awareness is growing now, and people are thinking twice about where they can live now.
“Traditionally people wouldn’t have thought of living in a metal box but it’s amazing what you can do with them on the inside to make it come alive.”
“In the Celtic Tiger era, if people did well they wanted to show it off with a big house and a big car, but the mindset is changing now and people are thinking ‘do I really want to be tied to a big mortgage until I retire and further’?
#demand #container #homes #roof #deal #crises