NEWCASTLE designer Sean McGilvray insists he is not mad.
The savvy innovator declares he knows a way to simultaneously convert a big steel box into a house within weeks, cut down on dreadful waste, improve housing affordability and – the clincher – he can teach the masses to do it too.
“I believe in what I’ve done,” Mr McGilvray said after a building demonstration in Carrington on Friday.
“I truly believe this is going to help a lot of people.”
Mr McGilvray set about the “extremely difficult” task of converting used shipping containers into homes about two years ago.
While admitting shipping container conversion was not a new concept, Mr McGilvray said he had reinvented the construction process, making it more practical, even to the point where the rapid-build design could be rolled out in natural disasters.
The trick, he said, was “thinking outside the box”.
“There’s a lot of companies around Australia that do container modification, but they only use brand new containers,” Mr McGilvray said.
“It was hard work, but I can use any container – that’s because it’s only used as a bracing. We’ve finally come up with a system that is one-third of the cost, one-third of the labour and one that meets building standards.”
Mr McGilvray’s construction differs in that it is built with a frame on the outside of the container.
He said the design process also eliminated the need for welding.
And, critically, he believes the finished product does not look like a shipping container, which allows for council approval.
“Let’s be honest: you cannot live in a shipping container. It’s too hot – you can’t do it,” Mr McGilvray said.
“This design has a structural frame, it’s insulated, there’s conduit pipes for electricity and the steel is away from the sunshine.”
The Contain Yourself owner wants to share the do-it-yourself design through a series of video tutorials, and hopes to soon kick off a crowd-funding campaign.
“People think I’m mad for doing that, giving it away, but I’m not,” Mr McGilvray said.
“There is something like 27 million unused shipping containers world-wide. It is actually cheaper for China to make another shipping container from scratch than return ship them.
“Housing affordability is a crisis in this country … and that’s a terrible thing in a country of our wealth, so I really think this can help.”