Have you ever seen a shipping container home with a site-built extension? There are growing number of examples of this design, but not all can hold up to strict engineering standards for structural integrity. With that said, Relevant Buildings developed a model that exceeds all the necessary standards to create a functional and charming house. They call it the De Lux—available in multiple sizes using 20 or 40-foot containers.
The De Lux 20 is made from two 20-foot containers, plus a 10-foot wide “bridge.” This is a stick frame build-out that connects the containers together to create a 26-foot-wide living space. In total, it is 586 square feet. Relevant Buildings delivers the completely finished two shipping container elements. One side includes the main bedroom and a living room. Then on the opposite side, in the other container, an entire kitchen and the bathroom are fully built-out, inclusive of flooring, appliances, cabinetry, etc.
From there, the bridge is constructed on-site by a local contractor/builder. Another required site work component is the pouring of a foundation. The De Lux 20 could be put slab, crawlspace, or full underground foundation. Retired couple Bob and Mary purchased one to use as a guest house. They opted for the underground option to have all the utility connectivity tidy—power, water, and sewer lines that ran to their main house.
Bob and Mary truly love their small shipping container home with a site-built extension because of the openness between the kitchen and living room. Also, they really like the feel of the high ceilings. They opted for the De Lux 20 with high walls providing a 12-foot ceiling and a standing-height loft. While they opted for a small footprint ladder, a spiral staircase is another great option for maintaining an open feel in the primary living area.
Their Big Takeaway About their Small Container Home
“Mary and I, and our family, and extended family, are now a really big fan of a container home. I wasn’t sure, but I’m a huge fan. The efficiency of these homes are incredible. If you were to compare it to our house and air conditioning or electricity or whatever, it’s just an incredibly efficient lifestyle, which we really appreciate and value.
And I would also add they’re very quiet, very peaceful inside. And you don’t hear the noises as you do in some homes, especially in our case, an older home. And so that entire, complete set of efficiencies we love. And then your ability to transform it by way of decorating, it’s not that significant of a project. So we can change the look and feel over time. We’ve not done anything as of yet. But over time, we can change the look and feel to continue to make it ours. So that’s also enjoyable.”
The Cost of their Shipping Container Home with Site Built Extension
“The cost of this structure was a lot less expensive than it would be if I built an additional home, or if I did a reconstructive project next to my main house here. Its price was preset based upon the design. We didn’t make one change, so we had no change orders with the container folks. It was to be a three-payment installment—a down payment of $50,000, another payment of $50,000, and one more payment upon completion and satisfaction of $50,000. And it’s exactly what it was, and exactly as it was proposed, contracted, and completed.
Our next level of build-out, which was that 8 feet between the 20-foot containers, that was bid but with an unknowing of what that pricing was ultimately going to be. Plus, we were in the middle of COVID. That created some challenges for us from a pricing standpoint. And we spent more money than was anticipated, even though it was not contractual. It was a moving target because our local builder hadn’t done it before.
And then the additional build-out was approximately $40,000. And so I think we are all in on this space for $200,000. And while on the one hand, it’s a lot of money. On the other hand, it’s a very complete home. And the efficiency associated, the cost of supporting the home, is much lower than our other houses.”