Shipping container homes are common in many countries due to their cost-effectiveness compared to conventional homes.
But they're rarely seen in Malaysia.
Inspired by tiny houses and container homes on the Internet, Zaizul Azri Mohamad Mahayudin and his wife Hamizah Baharuddin re-created their own 'industrial' version in Meru, Klang
Zaizul, who's a full-time primary school teacher in Shah Alam and a part-time photographer, shares with SAYS that they always wanted a Scandinavian home concept, but construction costs were too exorbitant for them.
Instead, the couple decided to go for a minimalistic home using shipping containers.
After hiring container contractors in Port Klang, they began the construction process in 2017, and it's been an ongoing process for them, as they've been using their savings gradually.
He shares that finances were one of their main challenges because they had chosen to avoid taking any housing loans and were depending on savings from their photography business, along with some help from family members.
There were also difficulties during the transportation and installation process due to the narrow space of land. Plus, managing short-and-long-term effects on weather sustainability.
But despite the setbacks, the couple has been able to make the space their own!
Calling it 'Kotak Teduh' or 'Rumah Sederhana', the 900sqft home may be small but it has a living hall, master bedroom, workstation (which doubles as a second bedroom), kitchen, and two toilets
It also has a balcony, which they use as a space to chill at, and a spiral staircase that connects the living room to the workstation.
On top of that, Zaizul adds that they set up a hutan kecil (mini garden) that is managed by Hamizah, who is also a full-time photographer and editor of their photography company, Tied The Knot Photograph.
Despite the common belief that container homes attract heat, Zaizul explains that it's actually not as hot as expected
"There are various methods that can be made to reduce heat as well as humidity. What we did was just install an exhaust fan and an air conditioner. But we rarely use the air conditioner.
"We just switch on the fan and exhaust fan."
"In addition, we also plant a lot of trees to balance the nature of the hard container and also to get oxygen and reduce heat," he explains, adding that if people have more budget, they can install insulators.
"We did not install the wall like shiplap, fluted, etc because we wanted to maintain the character of the container itself. So far, there are no more major issues related to extreme heat and humidity."
It cost them roughly RM120,000, excluding the exterior and interior home appliances and cost of land.
Some of the items were DIY-ed by the couple themselves, such as the sliding door that was made with a collapsible grille they'd found in a used wood and metal shop
"At first we wanted to buy the grille but the shop owner gave it to us for free because it was rusty and damaged. We took it home and remodelled the fence and made the finishing touches."
They made one of the lighting structures and a little fish pond with an aluminium basin, and used recycled materials for the door, table, racks, and more.
He shares all of the details around the house that they both love, including two round windows that were installed to look like a submarine.
The uniqueness is the character of the container house itself, Zaizul says, adding that the house was built with privacy in mind and inspired by a similar home they'd seen in Perth, Australia.
After spotting a metal deck on the construction site, he says that they were inspired to combine metal and concrete elements for the fence.
"It may be strange in Malaysia to use a metal deck as a fence because it's usually used as a roof, but we love it."
Aside from living a minimal life, Zaizul's one piece of advice at the end of the day is: "Do whatever that makes you happy."
Regardless of whether it's perfect or not, he shares that it's their home, a place where they can recharge and be creative.
You can follow and check out more about Kotak Teduh on Instagram.
Once travelling is allowed again, you can experience what it's like to live in a cool container home too: