If you want to change the world and you have decided to set up a non-profit organization/NGO or maybe you already run it - sooner or later you will have to face budget constraints that make it difficult to achieve statutory goals and further development of your business. One of the main costs is often rent (or building) headquarters - after all, it is usually the heart of the organization and the main place of work. However, there is a reasonable alternative to classic solutions that allows for significant savings - containers, which can be successfully adapted for utility purposes and function as a seat and workplace.
What is a container and what is its structure?
Container is a construction that we owe to the transport industry. Used primarily for transport, but gaining more and more popularity among people looking for a cheaper housing alternative and entrepreneurs who want to start or develop a company at low cost.
Their wide application is due to the rigorous standards they must meet. Transportation is an extremely demanding industry - and facilities where goods are transported must not only withstand very long operation in harsh conditions, but also be easy and cost-effective to produce.
As a result, the container is not only cheap, but also extremely durable, long-lived and resistant to, for example, weather conditions. Its construction is based on a metal frame surrounded by walls, and by installing insulation, windows, electrical installation, sewage system and all other elements necessary for use, it can be easily adapted for utility needs.
This makes containers used as offices, houses holiday homes, staff quarters, warehouses and even apartments - which, thanks to their high flexibility and the ability to be combined with each other containers can be adapted to the needs of both singles and the whole family.
Why is it worth choosing a container as a headquarters instead of a classic office
All these features make containers often chosen by companies - and they are also great as the headquarters of non-profit organizations / NGOs. Here are the main advantages of this solution:
Renting a seat is usually a considerable cost, not to mention building a dedicated one building. The container is not only much cheaper, but also offers much greater flexibility and design freedom, thanks to which you can easily adapt it to the individual needs of your organization.
Will the headquarters be used by a small number of employees on a rotational basis? There are containers available on the market from 6m2, which may prove to be an ideal solution for small non-profit organizations / NGOs with a small budget.
Expense container, which has already been adapted to utility needs, is about PLN 17000 - 27000. A low burden on the budget is also its maintenance - the need for repairs and renovations is rare and is cheap to implement. Heating costs are also low thanks to high-quality insulation.
For many non-profit organizations / NGOs, especially those related to the fight for the environment, this will be an extremely important advantage containers. Their production and use is associated with a much lower amount of generated waste, making this solution friendlier to our planet.
Ease of expansion and flexibility
The containers are based on modular construction - which means that they can be easily combined with each other, obtaining usable space tailored to individual needs. Thanks to this, you can choose a small container at the beginning of your business, and over time, when your organization develops - you can easily expand the headquarters in a way that will allow it to be used by more people. The container can be expanded both horizontally and vertically, i.e. in layers, thanks to which the expansion does not have to involve a greater demand for land for development.
Short lead time and easy assembly
The construction and assembly of a container as the seat of an NGO/non-profit organization is not only low cost, but also saves time - the whole process usually takes only a few weeks.
Or at least it will be if you choose to a container that has been adapted to the needs of use by the manufacturer/seller. If you buy a “raw” container, you will have to organize all the necessary work yourself, which may slightly reduce the costs, but it will certainly extend the duration of the entire process.
The purchased container still needs to be properly equipped, e.g. with desks and cabinets, but many sellers/manufacturers are able to help and simplify this stage of work as well.
What requirements must a container meet as a non-profit/NGO headquarters?
The container as the seat of a non-profit organization/NGO must meet the same conditions as any other place intended for human work, which are specified in the Regulation of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy on general occupational health and safety regulations. The workplace and its equipment must allow working in safe, hygienic and comfortable conditions.
This means, among other things, ensuring adequate ventilation, lighting, temperature, protection against intense sunlight, moisture and ensuring that the workplace does not pose a threat to the health or life of employees.
Remember that when choosing a container that has already been adapted to function as, for example, an office - it meets all these requirements! Here are the most important obligations that must be met by the workplace specified by Polish law:
When ensuring adequate lighting in the headquarters, it is worth remembering that the workplace should also have access to natural light. In the case of containers, this is not a problem - they are equipped with windows that provide plenty of sunlight. When choosing artificial lighting, it is worth choosing LED lamps, which are characterized by particularly high efficiency and low energy consumption.
Sanitary and social facilities
The law guarantees employees the ability to use sanitary facilities, allowing, for example, to prepare coffee or eat a meal. The construction of sanitary and social facilities and the requirements they must meet (specified by law) depend, among others, on on the number of employees using the office and the nature of work. The minimum equipment will usually include a cabinet, a kettle, a microwave oven, chairs and a table, but to increase the comfort of employees, it is also worth thinking about a fridge (even a small one) and a coffee machine.
There must also be a toilet and a washbasin in the workplace - of course, if you run a larger organization and there will be more people in the office at the same time, it is worth thinking about more toilets and washbasins.
Ventilation, temperature and moisture protection
The minimum temperature set by law that you must ensure at your organization's headquarters is 14°C, and in the case of frosty days - 18°C. It is worth remembering, however, that the legislator also requires that the temperature be appropriate to the nature of the work required. 14°C may be sufficient for intense physical work, but for office work, the temperature recommended by specialists from the institute of occupational medicine is 23,9-26,7°C in summer and 20-22,8°C in winter.
Containers adapted to the needs of use are properly insulated, so maintaining the right temperature is usually not a problem. If you decide to install the insulation yourself - in the case of containers, wool with a thickness of approx. 100 mm and a laminated board fixed from the inside are recommended. The roof must also be insulated, where wool is also used. Remember that insulation not only keeps you warm container in winter, but also protects against overheating during summer heat.
In addition to the temperature, the room must be properly ventilated and protected against moisture - you also do not have to worry about this when ordering a container prepared to serve as a workplace.
Does a container as a seat require a building permit?
Polish law is not unambiguous in determining whether placing a container requires a building permit.
You certainly don't need it when the container will be used for less than 180 days. In this case, it is enough if you notify the architectural and construction administration authority of your intention to place the container before starting the work.
However, in the case of a non-profit/NGO headquarters, you are probably interested in a longer lifespan - in this case we recommend obtaining planning permission.
This will not always be necessary, but the issue is often subject to individual interpretation by the decision-making body. If you have doubts and would like to avoid obtaining a building permit, it is best to consult a legal advisor who will help you make the right decision based on an analysis of your individual situation.
How to get a building permition?
You can submit an appropriate application at the city office or poviat starosty. Before submitting the application, it is worth asking what exactly the documents should be submitted - the requirements sometimes differ depending on the office.
The application for a building permit is considered by the office/starostwo within a maximum of 65 days. In the event of a negative consideration of the application or failure to consider it within the required time limit, you have the option of appealing to the local government appeals board.
A company headquarters in a container is one of the best ways to reduce the costs associated with running a non-profit/NGO activity. Regardless of whether you run a small organization with a few employees working on a rotational basis or your business has a very extensive structure. The flexibility and expandability of the container will allow you to create a workplace ideally suited to the needs of your employees, meeting all the requirements set out by Polish law.
The container will also work well for representative purposes, and the eco-friendliness of this solution will have a positive impact on the reputation of your organization.
If you have any questions or are considering buying a container - contact us and we will help you make the right decision!