Tiny Home Village of Shipping Containers in Oakland, California

Luke Iseman and Heather Stewart were tired of paying San Francisco rents and had always dreaming of living in a shipping container so for less than one month’s rent they bought a used shipping container ($2,300 from the Port of Oakland) and began to convert it into a home.

They rented an abandoned lot near the port in West Oakland where they parked their new home and began renting out other containers to friends, while experimenting to create an ideal transportable home. Their 160-square-foot home cost less than the price of a car to fit out. For a total of $12,000 and about 3 weeks of labor, they had added bamboo floors, a lofted bed, a porch, photovoltaics, fast Internet, LED lights, a shower with on-demand hot water, a Humanure toilet and a basic kitchen (a camping stove as oven and cooktop and “instead of a propane RV fridge,” they bought a $150 freezer from Home Depot and hacked it with $20 in parts [sensors and an Arduino] to run on a third of the energy of “Energy Star $2000 refrigerators.”)

Iseman and Stewart call their tiny homes “Boxouses” and they plan to sell them fully built for $29,000 apiece. They will also provide plans for those who want to convert their own container…

DIY kits, plans, and finished products at: www.boxouse.com

15 Responses to Tiny Home Village of Shipping Containers in Oakland, California

  1. Lynda says:

    Good for them! Innovative and efficient use of land that has largely been abandoned. I hope the city leaves them alone.

  2. Nancy says:

    Enjoyed this video very much. Interesting what things they worried about that haven’t been problems ( neighbors) and the things that turn out to be difficult ( watering the garden) it was also interesting to see a basic functioning house not a designer model.

    • Lee says:

      Ah but there are problems like the builders not have zoning permits from the City for the permitted usage of the land. They forgot how the drive their neighbors craze by drilling hammering and knocking on metal containers and driving heavy equipment all times of the night starting a 5:00 until after 10:00, oh they don’t care. And that they compost human waste which creates a stench is so horrible it smell like dead bodies. This is not something you would want next door . I could be done but not the way they are doing it, they are going to create a health hazard.

  3. raj says:

    how much to buy and to rent a space there?

    • Lee says:

      They said in the article they are doing something new and experimental and ILLEGAL and some point they are going to be removed because of the disregard on the zoning laws. So you might want to reconsider renting there.

  4. hanan says:

    Just a side note re: the freezer control: an electrical motor draws every start instant 1.58 times the normal draw after reaching its regular speed. an off and on for short while will defeat the savings purpose. Also they have to make sure the high pressure start delay relay works properly.

    • They say the on/off thresholds are 34F. So it’s not just turning on/off quickly. I suspect it’s on for a few minutes and then off for much longer.

  5. Any ideas where are going to buy shipping containers for modified homes?

    • Jst1man says:

      This is something that bugs a lot of people. Where are shipping containers and how to get them modified. I can tell you this. Any Major Port can do it. In fact, most ports have a company that will do most of the labor for you. In Oakland CA. They have a few companies that can do it. It’s a nice side business. Containers are really cheap, so as to allow you to build cheap. 5K for a 1 trip container, but if you shop around, it can get a lot cheapers. I have been designing my own ideas for container homes and have come up with straightforward designs. All of my designs use 6x 8X40 containers or more. older containers are cheaper than newer ones and you can save money. But remind yourself that you still have to get them cleaned and treated because of chemicals, but these companies handle that for you, even delivery.

  6. C says:

    How much is the abandoned lot cost in rent for them? Obvious it’s not cheap even to rent a large lot for storage. But they are illegally renting the other containers out for $900 a piece which is ridiculous.

  7. Jasmin Espy says:

    How can I get in touch with Jst1man? I”m interested in learning more about your designs and pricing.

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