Posts Tagged ‘shipping containers’

Are Americans Hunting for the Single Sectional Manufactured Home Alternative?

June 23rd, 2017 Comments off

Backcountry Containers, Credit: Curbed

The hands down king of affordable permanent housing in the U. S. is single section (a.k.a. ‘single wide’) manufactured homes. On a cost per square foot basis, they are hard to beat, as U.S. Census Bureau – and other research from sources such as Zillow, or the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) – demonstrates.

But the media interest—love affair?—with tiny houses and prefabs, such as the container housing highlighted in this report, makes it clear that manufactured home professionals have an opportunity in disguise to connect with a new wave of different kind of factory-built housing interest.

That opportunity – if unrealized – is also a threat to the HUD Code industry, say some industry experts.

Container Housing Overview

Metal shipping containers are made so inexpensively in China to send goods to foreign markets that it is not worthwhile to return them for the next shipment.  That results in those metal boxes lining U. S. and other docks by the thousands.

With the current emphasis on recycling and re-purposing existing resources, a number of enterprising folks are converting them into tiny houses—some as getaways, others as permanent housing.

Termed by Curbed as “an eco-friendly alternative to traditional building materials,” several companies can deliver them within ten weeks. There are also Do It Yourself (DIY) plans for those handy with a torch and ball-peen hammer, but converting a steel box into a home can be rather arduous.


Ball-Peen Hammer.

Containers typically come in two sizes—8 ft X 20 ft or 8ft X 40 ft. The smaller one yields a nominal living space of 160 square feet, the larger one comes in at about 320 square feet.

Houston-based Backcountry Containers offers a 40 foot model that sleeps up to five people for a dollar shy of $45k for the starting price—about $144 per square foot. The 20 foot container model, 160 square feet, starts at $33,000, or $206 a square foot.

All offer their hip, signature, rooftop deck (see featured image above).

(Honomobo containers, Credit: Curbed)

Alberta-based Honomobo offers several different models beginning with the HO2 studio home which at 362 square feet offers an open living area with a kitchen, separate bathroom, a nook for a bed and work area, and large window on one side that brings in natural light.

At $76,646 it rounds off to just under $212 per square foot. All their homes are built to local building codes and rest on permanent foundations.

Honomobo’s two-story, 1,408 square foot model offers the top floor solely for the master suite with walk-in closet, tub, shower, private toilet and den, with an additional bedroom on the first level. It comes in at a little over $190 per square foot.

(Zulu Queen by Rhino Cubed, Credit: Curbed)

Named after a ski run at Telluride, Colorado, the 160 square foot Zulu Queen from Boulder, CO-based Rhino Cubed features a full kitchen and offers an artistic, rustic flair with a 1250-watt solar generator. At $48,400 it comes in at $302.50 per square foot.

The finish-it-yourself model, the NakedTainer, their least expensive is 160 square feet for $33,600, or $210 per square foot. Their largest model is 640 square feet, for $149,000, about $233 per square foot. All models are built to the International Residential Code.

The View from MHVille

As MHLivingNews and MHProNews publisher and industry consultant, L. A.”Tony” Kovach, reminds manufactured housing professionals that these numbers should shake loose the cobweb thinking that being content with the current level of sales of MH is just all right. It’s not.  See that popular post, linked here.

LATonyKovach-Louisville-2015-mhpronews-com-275x156There are arguably few industries that are better poised for potentially explosive growth than manufactured housing. America, indeed much of the world, needs affordable quality homes. Factory home-building provides that option,” he says.

MH sales have fallen from the heady days of the late 1990s, hitting bottom with the housing downturn in 2008, but have risen steadily since 2009 to just over 81,100 new HUD Code homes in 2016. This is where HUD’s Secretary Dr. Ben Carson’s point about home ownership leading  to wealth building makes sense. Don’t manufactured homes make more sense than tiny container housing, in many if not most applications?

More Containers, and Comparisons 

Custom Container Living of Archie, Missouri offers generous options for the interior and exterior, as well as raising the roof above the standard eight feet to 9.5 feet for the 40 foot long models. The basic backyard bedroom 20 foot model sells for $25,900, about $157 per square foot; one of the 40-foot models with 312 square foot, including a generous third of it as a porch, sells for $47,900, a shade over $153 per square foot.

Montainer Homes from Missoula, Montana bills itself as providing backyard homes (local municipalities permitting) with prices that include site prep, foundation, utilities, delivery and installation, all of which adds about 20-30 percent to the price. Their two module model begins at $85,000 for 320 square feet, about $265 a square foot, but totally custom made to order from stem to stern. The single module model starts at $45,000 for 160 square feet, or about $281 a square foot.

U.S. Census Bureau Manufactured Home Statistics

The average sales price of a single sectional manufactured home as of Dec. 2016, according to the Census Bureau, was $49,900. A 14×70 foot single section manufactured home is about 924 square feet – which is a typical model, although the 16 X 80 is a more popular size.  Those homes are made to stringent standards under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Code for manufactured homes, which turned 41 earlier this month. Using the smaller 14×70 size to be conservative, that works out to be some $54.00 per square foot.

By contrast, while many container units are made to the IRC or other code, it’s not always clear to what standard, if any, shipping container homes are constructed.  And perhaps more important, which is more appealing, home like and livable?


Interior and exterior views of single sectional, multi-sectional and even multi-level HUD Code manufactured homes.

The cost of a HUD Code single sectional amounts to some 60% less than the least expensive container home described above.  That typical single sectional is four times less than the most expensive container home profiled.

While it may make environmental sense to use that discarded container, when compared to manufactured homes, it may lead someone to ask, “Where is the beef?” Perhaps it’s hiding under that pet rock, or beneath the Cabbage Patch doll. ## (News, analysis.)

(A recent MHProNews story, linked here, also discusses the Tiny Homes.)

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

Submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News on MHProNews.

Billion-Dollar Micro-Modular War – Housing Homeless, but Unions Balk Over Importing Units From Abroad

September 21st, 2016 Comments off

panoramicinterestsmicromodularhousingsfchron-postedmanufacturedmodularhousingindustrydailybusinessnewsmhpronewsThousands are homeless in the storied city by the bay, and cardboard boxes are a clearly undesirable option. Developer Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests has his sights set on developing inexpensive, modular supportive housing for the throngs of homeless, which he will then lease back to the city, according to sfist and The San Francisco Chronicle.  But labor unions are understandably unhappy with the idea that the micro-modular container housing units aren’t made in the U.S.; rather, they would be coming in from China.

The Daily Business News has covered this trend extensively over the years. Editorially, MHProNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach has warned on the Masthead blog periodically for some years that cheap, imported units from other nations could undercut domestic modular and manufactured housing producers. Is that day now upon us?

Kennedy has been pitching San Francisco City Hall on his plan for the past year, citing that his units can be built far faster than conventional structures for half the cost. His proposed location is above a publicly owned parking lot at Highway 101 and Caesar Chavez Street.

The Community Housing Partnership is also looking to build a 100-unit complex of modular units made of wood-framed components in a separate development.

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has also pledged to spend $1 billion dollars over his second term to house 8,000 homeless people. While he likes the concept of modular housing, he mentioned that details needed to be worked out. This is where the hurdles begin.


The main construction unions that would be involved have taken issue with the fact that Kennedy’s metal boxes would be built in China, not made by American workers.

Local unions also believe building-code requirements are less stringent for modular construction.

Jeff Kositsky, head of the newly created Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing also questions Kennedy’s proposal to build on city-owned land, saying there are already too many demands being made on scarce public property. While he takes issue, he’s not against the concept.


I love the idea,” said Kositsky.

The city is interested in finding ways to lower construction costs and the length of time it takes to build, and modular housing is certainly a promising development — and not just for homeless housing, but all housing.”

We’ve been kind of holding back on pushing the subject further until we have something concrete for people to come see and experience,” said Kennedy. But after we get this unit in front of my office, I want to talk more.”

carolgalnte-twitter-ucberkley-manufacturedmodularhousingindustrydailybusinessnews-mhpronewsKennedy also shared that he will pay for construction himself, then lease the complex to the city for $1,000 per month, per unit. If he has to work with private land, as opposed to public land, the lease cost would then rise to about $1,200 per unit.

 We should be able to work things out,” Kennedy said.

I’m willing to sit down and talk if it meets code, provides good jobs, and if he’s not talking about using public land — that land is precious, and we have to be good stewards of it. We’re already master leasing from private landlords (of residential hotels). Why not this, too?” Kositsky said.


The head of the Community Housing Partnership, Gail Gilman, said that the organization’s wood-framed units would be constructed in Idaho.

We should really have the city rally and come together to say, ‘Let’s try a couple of modular projects and see how it goes’because homelessness is a crisis here, and we need to try things.” Gilman said.

Kositsky shared that modular construction is not by definition low-quality housing — there is plenty, used for hotels and dorms and more, that has been high-quality.”

The final word comes from Carol Galante, a UC Berkeley professor who specializes in affordable housing and urban policy.

Modular construction saves time and money — at least 20 percent in construction costs and 40 percent in time — that’s been proven,” she said.

We can do this.” ##

(Image credits are as shown.)


RC WIlliams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News, MHProNews.


Modular Container Housing to House At Risk Women and Families in Vancouver

May 18th, 2016 Comments off

Vancouver__modular__atira_womens_resource_center_credit__imageMHProNews has learned the seven story modular housing complex made from old shipping containers rising in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia is headed up by the non-profit Atira Women’s Resource Center, which already has a 12 unit modular building providing housing for women in town. This 21-unit housing project is for women and their families, according to

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said, “We know the housing market is very difficult for people on low and fixed incomes and we urgently need creative projects built at low cost.”

The building will include seven micro units and 14 two-bedroom units with community space and retail on the ground floor, as requested by the Strathcona Residents Association. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation is contributing $600,000 to the project. Other community groups involved in the project include Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services, Sheway, and Watar.

MHProNews reported May 13, 2016 another project involving affordable modular housing in Vancouver is divided into two separate sites. One on High St. will have 40-80 micro units, each with its own kitchen and bath. The other modular complex will have 40 units but with a shared kitchen. ##

(Image credit: Atira Women’s Resource Center–modular housing complex)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Modular Container Homes Proposed for Homeless in BC Canada

March 29th, 2016 Comments off

containers_shipping__now_the_canstay_motel_in_bonnie_allen__cbc_dot_caA new Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada company intends to capitalize on the housing shortage in this city east of Vancouver by converting shipping containers into homes, as tells MHProNews.

Honomobo owner Devon Siebenga said his homes will range in size from 320 to 649 square feet, by combining up to three modules, and can be used in backyards or on city-owned land to help with the homelessness problem.

Siebenga’s brother runs a company that repurposes containers into office suites and storage units for the oil industry, so he is no stranger to the concept, but his buildings will be larger, 26 feet long X 24 feet wide.

He said a single unit will cost around $100,000, but postulates the modular homes will put a big dent in the homeless population of Kelowna.

With the first container home already approved, the company is set to launch in June. ##

(Photo credit: Allen–containers converted into motel)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Dubai-based Company moving on West Coast Workforce Modulars

February 27th, 2016 Comments off

Dubai__Monitac_Remotely_Possible__credit__modular_container_homesMonitac Remotely Possible, headquartered in Dubai, UAE, is beginning to provide modular farmworker housing to farms on the U. S. west coast made of shipping containers. Containers are altered into six to eight bunkhouses, or can be used for living or office space. They can be stacked three stories high, and sell for $26,000 to $35,000 each, depending upon the configuration.

The containers have high-efficiency lighting, heating and air conditioning that are solar powered and computer controlled, and considered green for using less energy, according to capitalpress. Co-founded by Shaun Shulba, a native of Seattle but who lived in Dubai for 13 years, the four-year-old company has built up to 1,000 bed modular workforce camps, primarily for mining and defense contractors in Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and eastern Africa.

The company is currently working on an affordable housing project in Vancouver, and providing relief housing for survivors of the cyclone that hit Fiji Feb. 20, killing over 40 people.

A grower who has operations in California, Oregon and Washington contacted Monitac last July, resulting in Monitac’s opening a factory in Vancouver, B. C. and an office in Lynden WA, as MHProNews has learned

While they assert the steel containers last longer, the company also builds wood-framed, manufactured home bunkhouses, and provides septic and greywater treatment systems. Monitac sees a promising future in building for farmworkers, the military and firefighters.

Competition for workers is increasing and providing quality of life for workers is a way to ensure you will get quality labor in quantities you require whether H-2A (visa foreign guestworkers) or domestic,” said Shulba. ##

(Photo credit: Monitac Remotely Possible–modular units for housing or office)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Homeless Residents Occupying Modular Container Homes in Honolulu

February 10th, 2016 Comments off

hawaii__hale_mouliola__homeless_modular_units__staradvertiser_creditFollowing a story MHProNews last reported Oct. 19, 2015 regarding housing the homeless in converted modular shipping containers in Honolulu, Hawaii, the last of the 25 units has arrived at Hale Mauliola on a patch of Sand Island. Each home has a programmable combination lock, screen doors and windows, and insulation.

Families pay rent of $130/month, singles pay $100/month, but residents who work 20 hours a week pay nothing. The goal is to move people into more permanent housing within 60 days, according to staradvertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell, however, wants to move cautiously. This is a test,” Caldwell told reporters Monday. “We’ll modify, we’ll adjust. … This is a first step.” Noting the modular units of Hale Mauliola occupy one of four acres, and that more containers could be added, the mayor said, “We want to make sure it’s working before we add to it. … We’re not going to rush.”

Since the first occupants began arriving in Nov., 2015, 38 people have moved in, although six have already left for more permanent housing. Full capacity of 80 to 90 residents are expected by late March.

The final structure, a dining hall has yet to be installed. The facility has a housing specialist who is charged with getting residents into more permanent housing, a full-time social worker case manager and seven staffers.

Daily shuttles take residents to support services in Iwilei for drug and alcohol counseling as well as medical treatment.

Bedspreads and curtains as well as palm trees, planter boxes, benches and artwork were all donated. ##

(Photo credit: staradvertiser–modular shipping container homes at Hale Mauliola))

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Modular Container Homes in Costa Rica will be Off the Grid

December 9th, 2015 Comments off

Costa_Rico_modular_homes__bio_caribe__creditEdsart Bedsier, a native of Holland but now a 22-year resident of Costa Rica, has built houses around trees, and his Crystal House is made from recycled glass bottles, according to ticotimes. His next project, as MHProNews has learned from Jim Maher, is to convert unused shipping containers, many of which are stored, unused, in Limón,

costa_rico_modular_home_under_construction__bio_caribe__creditinto self-sustaining, solar-powered homes, utilizing water cachement for all the water needs.

He has hopes of building 50 modular container homes on his 308-acre property in the rain forest at Bio Caribe near Puerto Viejo on the southeast Caribbean coast. The acreage will be divided into 2.5 to 5 acre lots, and while he will not require buyers of the lots to build container homes, he plans to build ten container homes and hopes to motivate other to do the same.

Water cachement containers will collect the 120 to 160 inches of water that falls annually, which will then be filtered and stored in tanks under the house.

Container homes have been built in Costa Rica in the past, but Bedsier thinks his will be the first self-sustaining homes. He said, “I’m creative and I like to recycle materials. For me it’s an experience to build with something different.##

(Image, photo credit: ticotimes–top–Bio Caribe, model of modular container home; bottom–Bio Caribe, photo of container home under construction)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Company Ships Converted Modular Container Homes Worldwide

September 15th, 2015 Comments off

Container_modular_home__MODS_International__creditWhile MODS (Modular on Demand Structures) International of Grand Chute, Wisconsin has sold 300 modular homes worldwide converted from shipping containers, Jose Atencio and his girlfriend, Aubrey Lorge, are combining four of the units to make a 1,100 square foot home to be sited in Menasha, WI, the first of its kind in Fox Valley.

An employee of MODS, Atencio, noting that the home costs about $100 a square foot, designed the two-bedroom unit that will include an office, bathroom, kitchen and even a basement and all the amenities that go with a home. They originally planned for the home to be in Winnebago county, but encountered regulations that did not account for solid metal sides of a single-family home.

You can build a metal house if you want,” said George Dearborn, director of community development for the Town of Menasha. “We’re supportive of newer technology. The designs I’ve seen are pretty nice-looking buildings.

HGTV intends to film the construction of the home in October as part of a TV reality series titled “Living in a Box,” as postcrescent informs MHProNews.

MODS President Douglas Larson conceived the idea after seeing a motor home parked next to a shipping container, and noticing the similarity in size, thought he could build a better option for temporary housing. Single units have about 320 square feet of space, making them ideal for hunting cabins, summer cottages and oil field workers in North Dakota. ##

(Image credit: MODS International)

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Repurposing Containers into Modular Homes needs MH Licensure

September 10th, 2015 Comments off

modular_container_homes__bigsteelbox_and_huffingon_post__credit__CanadaSnapSapce Solutions Inc. has been retrofitting old shipping containers into restrooms, offices, concession stands and storage units in the former ZF Lemforder plant since 2011 in Brewer, Maine, as bangordailynews informs MHProNews.

In an August cease and desist letter to SnapSpace, Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Mann said, “It has been alleged that your firm is attempting to site/locate a one or two family dwelling (manufactured by you) in the Bangor/Brewer area. Please be advised that manufacturing or selling a manufactured home is engaging in unlawful unlicensed practice.

SnapSpace applied for a manufactured home license through the Maine Manufactured Housing Board in 2011, but never completed the application. SnapShot’s president, Chad Walton, said members of the board visited the headquarters and agreed that what the company was doing did not require a license.

However, Walton says whether he’s designing a storage space or a home from the containers, it is more like a stick-frame construction because the container is only a shell and not a prefabricated modular unit. He adds the state laws are aimed at manufacturing plants where cookie cutter-type homes are produced on an assembly line, whereas each of his buildings are custom made to order.

The letter from the attorney general’s office warns Walton that for every home he builds from the containers he may be subject to a $10,000 fine as well as criminal charges. Walton said all his projects are engineered to meet the International Building Code (IBC) standards in addition to local codes and ordinances.

The state has issued a notice asking communities if they have any of Snapshot’s homes in their area. ##

(Photo credit: huffingtonpost-Big Steel Box modular container homes)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

A Modular Container High Rise in Densely Packed India

September 4th, 2015 Comments off

india_modular_container_high_rise__fastcoexist__creditIndia’s Architect Shekar Ganti won an architectural competition for skyscraper designs for Mumbai, the largest city in India with a population of 18.4 million, a port city with a plethora of shipping containers. Ganti uses a supporting structure to stack eight unit-high levels of modular shipping containers, like boxes stacked on shelves with the wiring, stairway and plumbing running up through the central support.

Each residence is comprised of three containers, which are bolted into place, as fastcoexist tells MHProNews. Outdoor corridors are lined with perforated clay bricks that provide shade but allow air to flow through. The complex would utilize solar panels and wind turbines for power, and LED lighting.

The design is narrow, suitable for the camped streets of the Dharavi district, in the middle of the city, a crowded slum of between 300,000 and one million people covering 535 acres. ##

(Image credit:fastcoexist/Shekar Ganti-modular shipping container housing)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.