Sunday, May 8, 2011


My name is Rachel, and my boyfriend's name is Alan. We are both post-grad students, in Psychology and Mathematics respectively. We have been in a relationship for 7 years, and recently moved to the High Desert town where Alan's parents live.

Facing the end of our apartment lease, we found that the monthly rents for apartments in neighborhoods that we didn't like would run us over $1000/mo (a several hundred dollar a month increase from our previous lease), plus utilities. Given that we are full-time students drawing on stipends and loans, that would make our already tight budget impossible to cope with. With the encouragement of Alan Sr. and Marie, Alan's parents, we began looking into 'alternative' housing.

Almost on a whim, and on Alan Sr's suggestion, we decided on building a container home. We are using an ISO standard 8'x8'x40' shipping container that Alan Sr and Marie had already purchased during the building of their (conventional) home for storage and placed on their property. They are very generously 'donating' the use of the container to us, as it will be placed on a permanent pier system on their property, and be there long after we are gone, likely used as a guest 'cabin'.

Normally, a container of this size would run you anywhere from $1200-$3000 used, and upwards of that for new manufacture. This particular container cost $2500 about 5 years ago.
The Budget

I believe we are looking at an overall budget of $4000, from bare container to livable. This does not include interior decor, exterior refinements, or any furniture we may need. It DOES include all fixtures, construction material (drywall, wood, electrical, plumbing), water heater, and windows and doors. This means that if we, at a minimum, stay in the container home for over 4 months, we will have reached the break-even point with rent. Any time spent over that will net us around $1000/mo in savings, with a stipend for electricity, internet, and propane use being paid to Alan Sr and Marie. In the sidebar I will be updating, starting today, with how much money has been spent on what.

We are incredibly lucky in that we have skilled people in the family, and will be able to accomplish much, if not all, of the build without the use of outside contractors.

In my next post, pictures and an optimistic timeline!

1 comment:

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