Named after a San Francisco sculptor who could not afford a permanent place to live in her expensive city, the Sarah House Project in Salt Lake City, Utah is one man’s attempt to build an affordable home out of castoff shipping containers.
Sara Putnam, (the “h” for the project had already been added to a banner advertising the building) who recently died from cancer was living at an artists’ colony at the Hunter Point Naval Shipyards — where she wasn’t supposed to be sleeping. Her friend, Jeffrey White is building a 672 square foot home out of two 8×40-foot shipping containers. While visiting the Naval shipyards one night, White noticed dock workers unloading containers and thought about turning the big metal boxes into homes. The Sarah House Project has been funded by grants, donations and money raised by Jeffrey’s custom made funeral urns. He said in a recent Salt Lake City news report that his small, custom urns take up less space below ground, just as he hopes his home will take up less ground — above the ground.
The home will have a combination living room, dining and kitchen, a bathroom and bedroom and a day room. Jeffrey had originally put a 40-foot container on his driveway and started converting it into a house, but ran into trouble with city officials. Now the home is being built on some land procured by a local nonprofit, the Crossroads Urban Center, and when completed, will be sold to a low income family or couple.
Jeffrey estimates the cost of the project, including the land, at $108,000 – $115,000. This, he says, is close to the cost of a conventional home and is higher than he expected, but White hopes he’ll be able to bring those numbers down in future.
“I would love this house to come somewhere in the $60,000 – $75,000 range,” White said.
Photos courtesy of the Sarah House Project