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Couple’s 620 Sq. Ft. Container House in Dallas, TX

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This 620 Sq. Ft. Container House in Dallas, TX is a guest post by Amber Richter – share yours!

Our container house is 620 sq. ft. with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It will be finished at the end of August! Spray foam and drywall are done. House is painted. We put the floors down and building the kitchen now. When all is said and done our container home cost about $60,000. Once we decided to go all in and start this project I rented my condo in California, quit my job, and moved to Dallas so we could start building.

The most difficult part of transitioning into a tiny home? Selling all of my furniture and clothes. Definitely, a difficult thing to do. A tiny home forces you to only have what you need. Our bedroom closet is also our laundry room and water heater room, which leaves me space for maximum of 10 outfits plus some PJ’s and shoes under the bed. Nothing else. It’s been fun to find small furniture pieces together that works for the both of us.  A great way to start our new life. Please enjoy, learn more and re-share below. Thank you!

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620 Sq. Ft. Container House in Dallas, TX


Images © Amber Richter

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When my boyfriend and I first met we both were interested in getting land and building a house. I wanted a container house and he wanted a tiny log cabin.

We compromised. Tiny container house! Well, I wouldn’t say it was an even compromise, but he’s happy with it now. And its Tornado Resistant which is a bonus.

Since starting this project we have done so much research on tiny homes and container houses. We knew we wanted to show the world that you can build your own house and live mortgage free.


My boyfriend also had a dream to build a pond and fish in his own backyard… and being from California, my dream was to always have a body of water in my backyard.. so we knew the pond was the first thing to get done!

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Our favorite part about building a tiny home? Quality time with family! Everyone helps out and we all make memories doing it. My dad even flew in from California to help with electrical and installing light fixtures. Everyone is excited and supportive of our adventure.

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Our favorite feature of the tiny home? The view! When you open the front door all you see is the 9 foot x 16 foot patio door that looks out onto the backyard pond we built and the small forest. Sunset views are phenomenal. Really brings the outside in, and makes the place feel much bigger.

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Images © Amber Richter 

We can’t wait until we’re finished! In September we will be putting up our modern wood exterior siding. I ordered it from China which saved us $3,000 and it will be here in a few weeks.

Our big thanks to Amber Richter for sharing!

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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 53 comments… add one }
  • mildred lane
    August 1, 2015, 7:25 pm

    I watched a tiny home where the lady did not put in kitchen cabinets and I was impressed. it gave her more room. she had shelves for her dishes etc. I am still researching. thanks

  • D. Lowery
    August 1, 2015, 7:43 pm

    The author mentioned about these containers being “tornado-proof”. Living in Oklahoma and having gone through too many of these storms…the only “tornado-proof” buildings I’ve ever seen have been built underground. How are these container homes considered “tornado-proof”?

    • Rick
      August 3, 2015, 2:42 pm

      A standard shipping container was designed to withstand winds of up to 175 mph. That is equivalent of an F3 Tornado…with additional steel reinforcements, closed foam spray foam insulation and the container welded to the foundation…this particular container may withstand even more. I wouldn’t say “proof” but very resistant to most storms in Texas.

    • Kate
      August 3, 2015, 3:18 pm

      You stated: “The author mentioned about these containers being “tornado-proof”. ”
      Sorry, that is not what I read.
      “We compromised. Tiny container house! Well, I wouldn’t say it was an even compromise, but he’s happy with it now. And its Tornado Resistant which is a bonus.”

      That all being said, I’m not a scientist so I have no authority nor experience about the truthfulness of that statement. Perhaps it may have something to do with mass and proximity to the ground? When I was in TN, I bought deer resistant plants. I am sure there may be conditions that will cause deer to nibble on them but, with all the deer we had on the mountain top, it didn’t happen. Just my 3 cents worth.

      • Amber Richter
        September 30, 2015, 11:21 am

        Thank you Kate! Yes.. I said “tornado resistant”. Mainly because of the sheer weight of the containers and that they are welded to concrete piers foundation that go 6 ft into the ground. Coming from California this was a must 🙂 I just posted after pics if you want to check them out!

    • Sgmaps
      August 4, 2015, 1:07 am

      Actually the author said tornado resistant.

      • Amber Richter
        September 30, 2015, 11:37 am

        True.. I definitely said Resistant 🙂 Thanks for the comment! Just posted after pics if you want to check them out!

        • Alex
          September 30, 2015, 2:01 pm

          Thanks Amber! I got your email too- I’ll get the updated pics posted here ASAP 😀

    • January 20, 2016, 3:24 pm

      I build with containers and he is correct: the boxes can withstand winds in excess of 175 mph but the issue is the glass (as in any home). If built properly container homes are extremely quiet, very energy efficient, almost zero maintenance and cool as heck! The downside: they’re not as inexpensive to build as people are led and misinformed to believe.

    • Paul
      April 9, 2016, 8:48 am

      Tornado proof buildings are built all the time. A company in TX builds them all over the world and in Texas of course. They are ABOVE ground. Many schools in tornado prone areas are built by them.

  • Comet
    August 2, 2015, 10:11 pm

    I wondered that too—I have seen pics of trains flipped by tornados; these are the same containers that were ON the trains–minus even the considerable weight of the train “trucks” and wheels! Unless there is some sort of super strength anchoring system going into the ground that we did not see?

    Very nice idea and view!

    • Rick
      August 3, 2015, 2:52 pm

      These particular containers were welded to their foundations with steel plates attached to rebar that was placed inside the cement pier before it was set… This was done in 15 locations (1 for each pier).
      I would say that might be a suitable anchoring system for containers not to move or get blown away.
      A 40′ shipping container weights 5000 lbs.

  • August 3, 2015, 2:33 pm

    Used cargo containers are painted with “LEAD” paint, and are not safe to live in. I manufacture NEW housing out of NEW containers, and specify NO LEAD PAINT.

    • January 20, 2016, 3:29 pm

      It’s not “lead based” paint but the dust from sanding is toxic. Lead would be the least of your worries from this stuff. Spray foam insulation seals these issues up internally. The real problem is the off-gassing from the chemicals impregnated in the floors. New containers have thick gauge plastic versus laminated woods. My first container bought in 2009 had mahogany laminated floors. Yes, mahogany.

  • Kate
    August 3, 2015, 3:23 pm

    I am not a big fan of TX, but I can understand the draw it has on you. I love the patio doors that center on your new pond and trees. I hope you will be very happy there. Am thrilled your families/friends have gathered in force to help you realize your dream. Priceless memories!!

    • Amber Richter
      September 30, 2015, 11:23 am

      Thank you Kate. I am actually really happy here. Moving your entire life to a new state can be really intimidating but my family and friends have been so supportive. I come home every night to this beautiful home on this beautiful land and know I made the right decision. We are very happy and have no regrets 🙂 Check out our after pics, I just posted them! 🙂 http://www.xtracrafty.com/p/container-house-project.html

  • Brandi
    August 3, 2015, 4:15 pm

    For the guy that spoke of the lead paint……..aren’t you a little old to be chewing the paint off the walls???? LOL Just kidding. In most cases the lead paint will be covered up with the interior walls. Glad that you can afford the new ones, I certainly couldn’t afford it at this point. What do you normally pay for the new ones with out lead paint?

  • vee
    August 3, 2015, 7:05 pm

    I really admire this young couple and, so far, what I’ve seen is
    very appealing! I would love to see the final product. BTW: I would
    kill to have the lovely water/lake right outside my door. Their excitement is contagious and I wish them the best of luck!!!

    • Amber Richter
      September 30, 2015, 11:26 am

      Thank you Vee!! We are so excited with what we have accomplished. The pond was the best money we ever spent! Its such a great view to wake up to every morning 🙂 We just posted after pics if you want to check them out! Thanks again for the kind comment!!

  • Nikki
    August 3, 2015, 10:15 pm

    I have been following the tiny house movement this past year and I really like the construction details included with this story. Helps me to contemplate whether tiny would be cost effective for me. I especially like the huge window, the flooring and those pendants! I would be very interested to see the total amount spent upon completion. Great design so far in my (limited) opinion.

    • Amber Richter
      September 30, 2015, 11:29 am

      Hi Nikki! Thank you for the compliment! We really enjoyed this process… such an amazing experience. If you have any questions feel free to ask! The cost of any tiny house depends on where you are and how much you can do yourself. If you are contracting out for framing/electrical and plumbing expect to spend between 40,000 to 60,000. We are on the higher end of this as we used spray foam insulation and upgraded the interior a little bit. I just posted the after pics if you want to see them! good luck with your project! http://www.xtracrafty.com/p/container-house-project.html

  • Susanne
    August 4, 2015, 1:29 am

    I am so curious as to why they left California to go to Texas….

    • Amber Richter
      September 30, 2015, 11:31 am

      Hi Susanne! California was awesome.. but quality of life.. not so much. Texas provides a lot of opportunity. We were able to build a home on gorgeous land and be mortgage free. Cant do that in California 🙂 So far no regrets with my move 🙂

      • Karen
        November 3, 2016, 10:45 pm

        Hi! I would love to move to Dallas from California — for the exact reason you stated. I’m trying to figure out where in the DFW area I can buy a piece of land that I can put my tiny house on. I was just wondering how you found the land and what the building codes were (or where I can find that information). Thanks!

  • linda
    August 4, 2015, 10:21 am

    Susanne – if you haven’t heard, Texas is booming!

  • April
    August 6, 2015, 6:50 pm

    I was just wondering how did you guys deal with the heat and moisture? External or internal insulation? I’m told the best way to combat the heat with a shipping container is to 1st do external spray foam this stops the initial heating of the metal. The other matter condensation is a problem when it comes to metal. What to do? I’m thinking about doing the same here in Mississippi.

    • Amber Richter
      September 30, 2015, 11:34 am

      Hi April
      We ended up using Spray Foam Insulation on the interior which keeps out most of the heat and prevents moisture build up. We haven’t had any problems. We are also going to install insulation boards to the exterior underneath our modern siding. Still waiting to get that installed 🙂 The only problem we have with heat is through those large patio door windows… they let a lot of heat in so we keep our solar blinds down during the hottest part of the day.. Luckily we are finally entering the Fall and it is cooling down! Good luck with your project!! We just posted after pics and details of our insulation if you’d like to check it out!

  • Liz Bernal Walton
    September 2, 2015, 1:55 pm

    These young folks are living my dream. I’m just beginning to do my research. I am 70 but look 55 and act 14! I love the water and would love to have a container home by one of our lakes in Austin. Dreaming…

    • Amber Richter
      September 30, 2015, 11:36 am

      Hi Liz! Thanks for your comment!! We love Austin.. such beautiful lakes. Its actually surprising how many container homes I see in Austin TX! I say go for it! 🙂 Thanks for the comment! I just posted our after pics if you want to check them out 🙂

    • January 25, 2016, 3:32 pm

      See the LC40 at leedcontainers.com – just might fit the bill.

  • Lauren
    November 4, 2015, 9:46 pm

    I’m from Dallas and have dreamed of doing the same thing y’all are but can’t afford any land in Dallas proper. Was curious where you looked and where you decided on.

  • Dr. Howard
    November 18, 2015, 5:05 pm

    I am very interested in how you did this in dallas. I am in the process of getting my ducks in a row. I would like to speak with you or email some of my challenges. Hoping to get some answers

    • Alma
      January 23, 2016, 12:19 pm

      I am interested as well. Any thoughts of where in Dallas area?
      Container home, home on wheels or what? It is an exciting concept.

      Alma Willis

  • Bruce
    January 8, 2016, 3:39 pm

    My wife and I have been considering having a 440 ft tiny house built for us and placed on a small piece of laned, which we would purchase. I live in Far North Dallas, TX. Did you have any zoning issues with the size of the your house?

  • Mel
    January 12, 2016, 6:14 pm

    Looks great! I am in San Antonio and have been researching container homes for a while. I’m ready to build but i haven’t found anyone who will lend or finance for this type of project. Any ideas for this or was yours a cash project? Thanks!

    • January 25, 2016, 3:17 pm

      If you own your land outright the banks will finance container homes. These aren’t “tiny homes” on wheels that a deadbeat could drive away with to avoid the banks. I build with containers (leedcontainers.com) and financing is the biggest impediment to home buyers.

  • Alma
    January 23, 2016, 12:15 pm

    I am 63 and wanting to retire at 66. I want a tiny home in the DFW area as well but not sure I can find a lot to build on. I would like a slab foundation and about 400 sq ft or less. Anybody have any thoughts about areas to look in or maybe start a small tiny house village? With a paid tiny house, retirement will allow so much freedom. I have already down sized from a home to a 600 sq ft apartment, next more my tiny house, fingers crossed.

    • January 25, 2016, 3:37 pm

      A 40′ container provides 320 sq/ft of buildable space and net livable space of 292 sq/ft. Figure about $150 per sq/ft for REAL building costs (a nice place, too) plus soft costs (permits, fees, etc.).

  • Paul
    April 8, 2016, 7:47 pm

    Nice house. But, if I were in the Dallas area I would have sprung for this: http://domebuilder.com/html/2_br_-_1_bth.html

    $20k more (same sq/ft cost) but tornado, fire, hurricane & bullet proof. Plus appliances included

  • Kiann
    July 26, 2016, 12:00 pm

    What area of Dallas are you in? I’ve been looking for a community but haven’t found any towns around Dallas for tiny houses.

  • Jane
    March 13, 2017, 1:37 pm

    Please share where in the Dallas area you can put one of these homes. I think this is the biggest hurdle. Thanks 🙂

    • Natalie C. McKee
      March 14, 2017, 10:25 am

      I’d recommend contacting your local zoning board 🙂 They are the folks with the answers! The rules are so different in every town, it’s impossible for Alex and I to keep up with them all.

      • Jane
        March 14, 2017, 12:17 pm

        I was assuming you have your house somewhere in Dallas or the Dallas area? As far as I know no city is allowing them around here unless maybe you build it like an RV. I think you have to go outside of the city limits.

        • Natalie C. McKee
          March 15, 2017, 10:44 am

          Hi Jane, sorry I think we misunderstood each other — this isn’t my house 🙂 It’s this couple’s and I’m afraid I don’t know where they parked it.

    • Amber Richter
      March 15, 2017, 11:48 am

      Hi Jane
      The house has been in two different locations, both are outside of city limits. You really can only do this in the County. And even if you are in the county you MUST look at your deed for “deed restrictions”, some say “site built only” or have square footage requirements.
      Also, if area has an HOA you need to make sure they approve house and location prior to transfer.
      Good luck!

  • Taylor S.
    April 23, 2017, 1:09 pm

    I love the container home and I am strongly considering building something very similar. However, trying to find a container that has not been treated with pesticides has been very difficult. Do you have any container sellers you would recommend using? What advise would you give to a potential container buyer?

  • James Waite
    August 6, 2017, 8:55 pm

    Oddly i found this house for sale in Terrell Texas, about 45mins from Dallas. My guess is that its outside Terrell, hence the land. Land can be very reasonable from roughly Terrell/Greenville Tx and on east from there. There are a few really nice lakes and big trees in East Texas. Hope all is well for this couple

  • Candace Mcclish
    April 29, 2018, 5:17 pm

    Where did you build your home in Dallas Texas? We are starting the process of plnning now and have been unsuccessful in finding a lot of location in alignment with building codes.

  • jacky
    June 27, 2019, 1:16 pm

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Goldocean has more than 10 years experience in managing container yard&depot in China .Moreover we are devoted to selling shipping containers through one way cargo to North America.

    Through the cooperation with the powerful forwarding in logistic market,now it is available for sale from China to Dallas

    Our price:1000/20GP 1600/40GP 1700/40HQ(Used condition) 1900/20GP 3200/40GP 3300/40HQ(one trip)

    Please don’t hesitate to contact with us.We are looking to receive your reply about any question you have.

  • Mark
    July 22, 2019, 12:48 am

    What area, or zip code, did Dallas government allow you to build your home? /Couples 620 container house

  • Cindy
    July 27, 2019, 12:01 am

    Obviously not in Dallas. No response to questions regarding location. I live in Dallas and you cannot build a container home like this in Dallas. You cannot even build a tiny house. So many zoning laws stacked against smaller home.

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