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Red Steel House: He Took 5 Shipping Containers and Created This!

Dashael had experience in commercial construction, making him a perfect candidate to complete this epic three-story shipping container home, built out of 5 shipping containers. While hardly tiny, the home is actually split in two — the bottom 950 square feet are Dash’s personal abode, while the top 900 square feet make up his Airbnb.

He even used a container standing upright to house a giant industrial staircase which connects all three “sections” of the build. The inside of the Red Steel House includes a loft bedroom, two bathrooms and a washer/dryer unit.

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His Container Home & Airbnb Construction

He cut the steel out of the doors to make huge windows.

Here’s the loft bedroom (there’s also a bathroom on this floor).

The fifth container is the stairwell.

VIDEO: 3-Story Shipping Container Home

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    December 31, 2021, 8:01 pm

    Lot of good engineering in this build. Also a lot of great design ideas and imagination. Absolutely lovely, and while there’s lots of steel, all the wood adds a lot of warm and cozy atmosphere. Love the kitchen. Amazing structure. Great job!

  • jerry dycus
    January 1, 2022, 6:43 am

    A lot of wasted material with most of the worst parts of a container home and little of the benefit.
    What’s with the steel I beam frame greatly increasing cost, work? The whole reason to put up with containers is to use them as the structure to lower cost. Here they raise the cost.
    And containers should be staggered, almost never one right next to another to double the space they make for near free.
    You need to design it so the steel doesn’t make a thermal bridge increasing heating, cooling costs.
    Nicely done other than those.

    • James D.
      January 1, 2022, 5:58 pm

      Well, watch the video, he’s an engineer and he worked with another engineer on the design to provide over 50 pages of math to show the planning dept that it would more than meet all requirements as part of the process to get the okay to build it. Since, it’s always difficult to build a non-traditional structure for the first time in a given area, especially as they can be overly worried about liability.

      He then built a basically earthquake proof house using 5 containers for about 80% of it, making a very spacious interior, but he still kept the costs low enough that he can sell the property for about 4 times what he put into it…

      The living space is also insulated, with thermal breaks, etc… There’s just sections, like the stairs, that are not part of the living space and thus left exposed like a deck or patio would have been…

      Something to keep in mind is unlike THOWs, containers don’t always get to avoid needing to meet local code and zoning requirements because they get set on foundations. Often requiring needing to hire an engineer or treating it like a traditional structure with the need to add additional framing structure. Multi-level structure, especially, would have to meet a range of requirements that may be complete overkill but they may not have allowed its construction otherwise… Building in the traditional housing market means following the rules of the traditional housing market…

      • jerry dycus
        January 1, 2022, 6:50 pm

        There are thermal bridges all through it in the I beams, etc. As for engineers they are not very good.
        We have a fair number of container homes in Florida, my county even with our hurricane codes wasn’t a problem without the exoskeleton frame, it’s waste, cost, thermal bridging.
        Really the whole reason to use a container is it’s strength. It doesn’t save $ in materials as causes a lot otherwise not needed expenses like cutting, welding, the covering, insulating, etc them up you might as well just build the wall without it, cost wise.
        I haven’t forgot about any of that. Doing it greatly increases value so worth it. I’m not a fan of most THOWs as another wasteful thing, rotting a perfectly good expensive trailer under one.
        Just design it as the trailer, bolt on an axle, tongue if it needs to be moved or on a flat bed tow truck, trailer.
        My job here is pointing out screw ups, ways to save so others reading these don’t waste their time, money.

  • James D.
    January 2, 2022, 12:53 am

    That’s all well and good but I believe you’re making a number of assumptions.

    First, it actually depends what the intended form and function of the structure has to be for what is the best way to do it. Since, anything beyond a single container, with little to no modifications, starts adding costs to go beyond but sticking to that would not allow a wide range of other designs that would be required to meet different needs that a single container would not be able to, which could defeat the purpose of building the home in the first place if it can’t actually meet the needs it’s intended to serve or do so efficiently, and this extends even to using multiple containers…

    Thing to understand is added costs doesn’t mean it doesn’t take other costs away in other areas to balance it out. There’s more than just one way to save on costs. The fact he can sell it for about 4 times what he put into it, which wouldn’t be the case if he didn’t save anything on the cost of construction, is not insignificant and he did use a lot of low cost materials besides just the containers. So the containers are not the only cost consideration here…

    Second, just because you see metal on the interior doesn’t mean it’s a thermal bridge because it doesn’t mean that’s a continuous connection. In fact, when he showed the wall structure, he not only pointed out the fire rated drywall layer and insulation in the wall cavity, but also a thermal break layer and the metal beams are spaced far more apart than regular framing would be for less impact as well on the insulated envelope, which doesn’t include the non-living space that won’t be heated or cooled and thus don’t effect the energy efficiency of the living space…

    Only the door ends of the containers, which he converted with glass, would still be an exposed area of the living space but that could have easily been part of the design to not only provide views and natural light but to take advantage of the sun and seasonal changes to help regulate the home and thus doesn’t automatically mean it’s a design flaw but could actually be an advantage. Insulation can be great but it isn’t the only way to engineer a space to be efficient and there’s more factors to home performance as well than just efficiency that effect quality of life and actual functionality…

    When building larger structures, other considerations also come into play. Like compartmentalizing a structure also means it becomes more difficult to provide air flow to the whole space and you start to need to add things like ducting and more advance control systems to handle multiple zones, all of which adds costs… Versus large open spaces that may require more heating and cooling but are simpler to engineer and can avoid other costs and can even be what’s more economical. Among other considerations of why modifying the containers can be what actually makes more sense for the given application on a building of this size.

    Third, while Florida code requirements are strict, they don’t have a monopoly on strict code requirements and dealing with earthquakes can have very different structural requirements from what is required for hurricanes. WA is also more similar to CA with it’s bureaucracy, etc. and how those requirements can have significant effect on costs.

    So what’s most economical can actually vary and isn’t always the same in different parts of the country. Saving on one aspect of costs won’t mean much if it results in a bigger cost increase somewhere else…

    KISS is great in principle but it has to be applied to homes, which are not simple and involve the complexities of people, the environment/location, and all the things that effect our housing market, which is one of the reasons there will never be one size fits all solutions that works equally well for everyone, in every situation, everywhere.

    So it’s more about finding what’s appropriate, which can be very different from one situation to the next…

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