Shipping container homes aren’t just a trend. The eco-friendly process of using massive shipping containers to fashion housing units are beginning to spawn entire developments that make good use of reclaimed materials. Now an Idaho developer and architect are planning a 17-home subdivision in Garden City that will be completely built from shipping containers. The subdivision is planned to debut in the summer of 2016.
The project is the brainstorm of David Hertel, who ran an architecture practice in Sun Valley for 22 years, and developer Pleasanton Trust. Their subdivision has been submitted to Garden City Planning and Zoning for approval. The homes would be built next to the city’s racetrack. Hertel is inspired by the idea of living small, even though he has not built with shipping containers before. Hertel says he lives in a 1,000 square feet home himself.
“I’ve always been a proponent of small living spaces for environmental reasons,” Hertel said. “This was an opportunity to do that on a pretty wide scale.”
Shipping container housing has gained popularity in the U.S. after being pioneered in communities around the world. The shipping container moment started with individual units, with most people building their own homes. There are many websites that now offer plans and advice, plus referrals to builders and architects with experience. Hertel’s development is part of the next phase of shipping container mania: the creation of actual communities. A similar project is now underway in Detroit, where the containers will become apartments.
Shipping containers measure are 8 feet wide, 40 feet long and 9 feet tall. Hertel’s houses will be made by stacking four containers – two high and two wide. A garage will be added below to the ground floor, making the homes three stories. All together the containers will create about 1,400 square feet of living space. One of the advantages of the build is that it will take up relatively little land. The community is planned to sit on just 1.2 acres. Hertel’s project will become the first container living community in Idaho.
“I think this subdivision of all-container homes is going to be maybe inspiring for people to start thinking in these terms and see what can actually be done with a readily available resource that’s basically recycling,” said Hertel.
Garden City is behind the idea, since it fits with the density levels that the Garden City Code is promoting. Although many assume that container gardens are an obviously cheaper way to build, this is not always the case. Container home builders and bloggers have noted that shipping containers are actually a commodity. The actual price of a container varies according to global shipping containers. In January, Hertel said there was a surplus of containers, which is one reason it made sense for him to choose the containers for the project. “The idea is to create an affordable housing with very durable and attractive exterior that will last 100 years if it’s maintained,” he said.
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