On Being Car-Free, Shipping Containers and Transportation

I don’t drive. Never have, and don’t really have the intention to learn. To most, the cars conjure up visions of independence, convenience, and accessibility. For me: money, money, money… oh, and boredom. Why would I drive when I could be reading a book? Yes, yes, I come a unique, perhaps insulated (perhaps naive) position, but I am okay with that. I have never felt like I was missing out.

Well, until, recently. For a second, I was a bit worried about how I was going to start the project. The first step is usually the hardest. I have this block of land with nothing on it in the middle of Murraylands. I wanted to start by building a shed. First, I thought, I’d buy a used shed off Gumtree. Most require the buyer to dismantle. That would require me, and a mate with a vehicle, to spend a day dismantling the thing, move it, and then reassemble it at the block. Or I could have paid somebody to do this. All this considered, I would have probably spent $2,000+ doing this plus a few weekends hard work, with nowhere to stay—other than a tent, I suppose. The next option was to buy a brand new shed and have it delivered and then slowly assemble it—with a mate or my father. Again, I would be looking at the same sort of money and time, and would require assistance.

Then the obvious solution dawned on me. A shipping container. I have done the phone around and for just over $2,000 I can get a 20’ shipping container in decent—watertight—condition. Add to that delivery of about $450. The best thing about choosing a shipping container is that it is complete. I would head to the block perhaps the weekend before delivery, do a little site preparation and that’s it. The structure itself is complete and can be used to store things. Straight away.

What’s more, many suppliers will allow you to keep the container on their premises and access it as a storage unit in the interim. This suits me perfectly. As down here in Adelaide I want to buy building materials and need a place to store them. By doing this, I can have them delivered directly to the container. And when the time comes I can relocate it and its content to the block, saving on an extra load of freight.

On the subject of transport, I have been phoning around local and Adelaide-based freight companies and suppliers asking for quotes. Naively I thought it would be cheaper to buy in Adelaide and freight it to the block. Wrong. To have a pack of 90x45mm timber delivered by one supplier in Adelaide would set me back $240 just in delivery fees. Fortunately, a chat to the local Mitre 10 (in Tailem Bend, 30km from the block) revealed that I’d pay an extra $0.75/metre for the timber but the delivery fee is a piddling $40. I’m happy to hear this as I would prefer to support local operators, and indeed this store is family-owned.

So the plan is this. I shall purchase a shipping container and start accumulating building supplies, which I will have delivered directly to it. I found some ripper corrugated iron on Gumtree the other day for $5 a sheet (1800mm lengths). Once I have a full load, I will have the container delivered to the block. Then, I intend to line half of the container and use it as a camping space—so that when I am working at the block I have some place comfortable to sleep. Actually, I am getting ahead of myself. Over the next week I intend to go up there for only the second time, to take measurements, do some sketching, and chat to some of my new neighbours.