Category Archives: Building regulations

Irelands First Fully-Compliant Container Home

While researching and working on our 5k extension project, I have met some really extraordinary people working on fascinating housing alternatives, not least Carol Tallon and her wonderful team motivated by passion and good intention, who have managed to see their vision made real of turning a shipping container into a low- cost fully compliant home.

This is the press release from Carols’ website

Ireland’s first fully-compliant shipping container home will be built on the grounds at IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Arts) over three days, from Thursday 27th to Sunday 30th November as part of an innovative charity initiative set up by Carol Tallon, Buyers Broker International and Derek Trenaman, Ceardean Architects.

The 40sq. ft container, which will undergo extensive refurbishment, will be donated to charity for the benefit of homelessness in the hopes of housing a family in time for Christmas.

The project which began over two years ago has seen more than 60 professional and trades people, many of them members of Ireland’s largest business networking group, BNI, donating materials and countless hours of their time to the project completely without charge. From plumbing to electrics and interior design services, thousands of work hours have been put in to turning the container in to a state of the art home.

Throughout the course of the project, volunteers had to overcome a number of obstacles due to the Irish climate and increasingly onerous building regulations since the beginning of this year as well as meeting and surpassing all safety standards and regulations.

carol tallon 002

A team of volunteers build the unit in 3 days

Speaking of the innovative and ambitious project, Carol Tallon, Buyers Broker International said, “Up to now, Ireland has been left some distance behind the changing global trends for housing, namely the departure from the notion of permanency or lifetime debt which has given rise to a more moveable society that needs flexibility in terms of home ownership. A low cost model of housing was inevitable after the property market crash, and this container project shows that there are new housing solutions available to accommodate different lifestyle choices for Irish people. We are hugely proud of getting the project to this stage and look forward to seeing it being utilised as a home by a worthy cause.”

Also speaking of the project, Derek Trenaman, Ceardean Architects and member of BNI’s Prosperity Chapter in Maynooth said “We are delighted to bring the project to the stage where it is now ready to show to the public and be used as a home for such a deserving charity. The level of support and goodwill from fellow BNI members who are small business owners has been phenomenal with everything from the disused shipping container to the state-of-the-art energy technology being donated absolutely free of charge – it really goes to show what we can achieve when we work together.”

Albert Perris, National Hostels and Homes coordinator with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul said “we are delighted to be part of this exciting and innovative project and extremely grateful to Carol, Derek and all the team for working with us every step of the way, in bringing this project to fruition. The Society is keen to explore and contribute fresh thinking and creative solutions to the current housing crisis, particularly innovative and cost effective solutions that in no way compromises on housing quality”

The build will take place on the grounds of IMMA from 27th -30th November and is open to the public daily from 10am to 5pm, free of charge.

Media contacts on this project are Christine Duggan of MDpr, Tel: 087 964 1729 or Carol Tallon, Email:
Further information can be found on

For inspiring container home ideas look at our Container Living blog post

We have been lucky enough to collaborate with Carol and Tom from Hear me Roar Media They have filmed some of our project so far check out some of the clips from the 5k Extension.

Ripple Container,Exterior

Bamboo cladding on the exterior

view of solar panel

Solar panels and exterior insulation bring the unit up to passive housing standards

container at night Imma container Interior ,  living room Interior view


Self-Build using Recycled Materials

Following our great success with our experiment in which we built a fantastic work space for €44.95 out of recycled and reused materials , I received this comment in my inbox from the Architect Andy Burdon whose brains I pick occasionally specially when  I am looking for advice on building regulations or cutting edge green technology. I thought this comment  worthy of a blog post…

The problem with self-builders using recycled materials

“A major problem with the proposal to construct an extension constructed from recycled or  re-used materials is the legal requirement to comply with statutory requirements, primarily Planning Control and the Building Regulations. Understanding or interpreting these regulations and applying them to a self build construction may be beyond the expertise of aspiring self builders. There are several sources of self-help books or even “Wiki How” web pages that can guide prospective 5Kers through this maze of requirements and regulations.

However, the fundamental problem is how can one be certain the proposed building is compliance with the regulations and is structurally safe and sound? Traditional building techniques such as concrete foundations and block or brickwork walls are sufficiently proven to allow for safe construction , but in your project these components and techniques are likely to be too expensive. Given the budget allowance, alternative construction techniques may be required.

These questions lead inevitably towards the necessity to seek relevant expert advice and guidance, before and during and sometimes even after construction. For the most part , this service can be supplied by a competent Architect or Engineer, however, it is unlikely that this service will be free of charge. With a stated budget limit of €5K, this may be a problem.

The use of second-hand, or re-used components present difficulties in terms of quality control for structural components of any extension. Without independent testing and certainty it is unlikely that a structural engineer would be satisfied with the use of reused components. It must be remembered that any professional involved with the project is taking on a “duty of care” and would be liable if anything were to go awry.

A solution to these impediments may be to employ an Architect/ Engineer/ Supplier/ Fabricator with the skill , training and relevant insurances to design and supervise the installation of a low-budget structural “frame” set onto designed foundations and made of specified components , which can then be safely infilled with floors, walls, windows and a roof formed from reused or recycled materials as required by the aspiring €5Ker. This is a similar, but more site-specific solution than the use of a cargo container cut away to allow for various uses, and it avoids the expensive cost of cranes ! Although a cost will arise for this service, the ability then to proceed re using / recycling materials becomes a viable option providing appropriate materials are used. I believe this option offers great potential and should be further investigated.

Best wishes with the project

Andy Burdon

Thank you Andy, While I recognise the importance of a strictly regulated, compliant construction sector, it does as you say put a huge financial burden on our miniscule budget in terms of affording competent professionals. Your suggestion does however allow us to be creative and experimental insofar as infill material is concerned and attempt to save costs that way.

In this excellent article from Dublin architect Tim Lavin weighs up the advantages and disadvantages of tried and tested components such as Timber Frame, SIPs(Structurally Insulated Panels), Insulated concrete Forms (ICF), Glass, Steel and Strawbale to construct the frame. The article outlines construction methods and planning permission for attaching an extension to your house as a self builder. Well worth a read!

We welcome any advice or thoughts that any of you out there might have of how we might work experimentally and creatively within the constraints of our budget and bureaucracy!

They did it in Brighton!

Cast your eyes on these images of The Brighton Waste House, the first permanent building in the UK to be constructed from waste, surplus material and discarded plastics, all under full building regulations and with planning permission! brighton waste house facade Two thousand recycled and weatherproof carpet tiles clad the exterior facade while old vinyl banners are used as internal vapor control layers. framework Foundations made from ground-granulated blast-furnace slag support a framework comprising salvaged plywood beams, columns and timber joists rescued from a nearby demolished house. denim_Jeans in‌sulation Old plastic razors, denim jeans, videocassettes, and 20,000 toothbrushes were inserted into the walls as insulation chalk wall To improve energy efficiency and thermal conductivity, the builders constructed rammed earth walls out of chalk waste and clay. Whats more exciting is that the project engages local community and serves as an open research project Find out more about this exciting project by BBM architects here