Friday, July 31, 2015

Rents are so High in the SF Bay Area that People are Moving Into Used Containers

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 a piece. They will also provide plans for those who want to convert their own container. One of the couple’s main goals is to set an example for container housing that can be compatible with life in one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Currently their homes are too small to be permitted in the area, San Francisco minimum size standard was recently lowered to 220 square feet, but Iseman and Stewart think the country needs more examples to inspire regulators/cities to allow for smaller and more portable structures.



  1. Textbook case of value being subjective. Some people have constructed nice homes with these containers with windows and patios, especially those who used two or more of them. Homeowners insurance should be cheap. What's not to like?

  2. A couple more years and people will start renting out dog kennels as tenement housing. I simply don't understand people's devotion to living in San Fran (no offense Wenzel. If you can afford a decent living then it makes sense). I have been there several times and wasn't impressed at all. I don't get it.

  3. Those containers are designed to be stacked. Put anothef on top and you are over the 220 sqft minimum. Nothing says the 2nd contaijed has to be finished. If can be just one big game room.