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Shipping Container Chic

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis August 4, 2014 09:07 AM

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container house.jpg

Ready for shipping container living? You know the big crates piled high atop massive oceangoing ships. No joke, shipping containers are fast emerging as one of the hottest new trends in housing.

So says James Roche, chief executive of Houseplans.com, an architectural firm that drafts and sells thousands of house plans for the DIY crowd.

You can buy one of these big containers for $5,000 - many have been used to ship an array of products and consumer goods from China, only to be mothballed after arrival in the U.S.

Basically, now you have your frame. The challenge comes in transforming it from a ten by ten by twenty foot metal box into a stylish-looking, modern home.

That's where Houseplans comes in, selling designs crafted by architects for everything from containers and modular houses to traditional, stick-built homes.

Here's a striking $1,900 container design by Minnesota architect Paul Stankey at Hive Modular.

"It can be hard to tell it was a shipping container," Roche says.

Right now, business is booming at Houseplans as young couples and empty nesters search for alternatives to buying a house in an increasingly pricey real estate market, Roche notes.

"One of the things that's happening that is good for us is that it is becoming less and less affordable to buy an existing home," Roche says. "If I have to pay $650,000 for a house I don't really want, well then it starts to make the (DIY) economics work."

Shipping container homes - cool or crazy? What's your take?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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