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Solar Tiny Container House Built with Cob

Living in a tiny container house may not be for everyone. In a country where the average house size is 2400 square feet, most people could not imagine being in 160 sq. ft. or less. But creating a comfy, functional container home became an obsession for one person. Christoph Kesting, the creator of The Container House in Guelph, Ontario, sold his own home to finance the 18-month project.

It comes down to the basics. Everyone needs shelter, food, and water. In the modern world that translates to four walls and a roof, somewhere to sleep, a way to cook your meals, clean running water, a place to wash, and a method of disposing of your waste. Everything else is a luxury. Kesting and a group of volunteers worked together to transform the former shipping container into an environmentally friendly tiny home.

The Container Home is structured with mostly recycled or repurposed materials and gets its power from a large solar panel on the exterior of the box. Its structural design maximizes sun exposure with two large French doors. The home is also designed to be partially buried into the side of a hill to help with temperature control.

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Tiny Shipping Container Home Built with Cob

Solar Tiny Container House Built with Cob

Images © Container House Ontario

Inside the container home, clay, straw, sand and water form cob, a mixture used to insulate a combustion chamber to create the rocket mass heater, which warms the home throughout the winter. Kesting said a two-hour fire would allow the cob to absorb enough heat to throw warmth for around 20 hours. The home also includes a composting toilet with a lavatory system that allows you to pull a lever and keep urine separate from feces. A venting system helps dry out the human waste and over a period of time, it can be re-composted.

The Container House currently resides on the market awaiting its first inhabitant. Currently for sale at $48,000 – Could you see yourself living the simpler life in a tiny container home like this?

Solar Tiny Container House Built with Cob

Images © Container House Ontario

Video: Tiny Container House in 60 Seconds

Video: Interview with Christoph Kesting


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Kaitlyn is a writer, coordinator and project manager based in beautiful New Bern, NC who served 5 years as a Sergeant in the United States Marines. Tiny House Talk is honored to have her as part of the team.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    January 19, 2015, 6:37 pm

    Nice! I also appreciate the “60 Second Video” of the construction process. I am at my wit’s end with those looooooooooooong, boring, drawn out videos that go on for 20 minutes or more of featuring a micro house. The videos take longer to watch then building the darn thing…almost. 😉

    I really liked both videos and the finished concept. 😀

    • Brian
      January 20, 2015, 4:27 pm

      Thanks for saying what I am always thinking. Quick short videos and less of the drawn out 20 minute dialogues. Thanks for sharing and cheers from Australia

      • Lisa E.
        January 20, 2015, 5:19 pm

        I don’t mind if the video is longer as long as it pertains to the house, the building of the house and the materials/appliances in the house. What I don’t enjoy is a lot of social chit-chat about kids, pets, or things that can’t possibly interest an audience on the other side of the world. We are here to learn about housing and the building of housing and all that pertains thereto. Okay, the one-line comment about the pet cat is fine, but to get lost in homeschooling or how to cope with kids and their transition into tiny housing is really the type of subject that is better addressed elsewhere (like start a parenting blog for tiny housers or something.)

        I like it best when you get a contractor who is walking through and around the house going over all the important things you need to be aware of, or include in your build. I built a vardo a decade ago in Canada and brought it down to Florida. At that time, no one ever mentioned stabilizer bars; something that would have changed the quality and safety of my trip down.

        I want to know more about inverters and hot water on demand (pros and cons), I want to know more about installing tile (pros and cons) and things like “floating floors” and the whys and wherefores of SIPS, water tanks, generators and their installation and proper use, etc. Listening to parents agonize over (fill in the blank) that isn’t house related shouldn’t be on the menu IMHO. There are other and better venues for such things.

        • kristina nadreau
          February 8, 2016, 8:19 pm


      • Cahow
        January 21, 2015, 9:34 am

        Hi, Mate! How’s it going in Oz? It’s a Foggy-Doggy Day in Michigan; so dense you can cut it with a knife. Oh, and it’s SNOWING through the fog, too. Very, very odd, indeed!

        I appreciate your agreeing with my comment about the insufferable length of some of these tiny house videos. HELLO??? E.D.IT.I.N.G., Folks, Editing!!!

        Lisa addressed the sore points, below. Stick to the FACTS, enough with the camera following the dog trotting around the yard, the blah-blah-blah about your garden, 5 minutes of showing the tiny house being dragged down the road, and the long drawn out shots of the path leading up to your home. I watch a lot of cooking videos and they are succinct and to the point; no chatting about the pot holders, which Fairy Liquid you use, or showing puppies, kittens or babies brambling about.

        I find that I use the feature on youtube where you place your cursor over the video bar and you can see WHEN they finally move on to another subject and I then FF to that event. I’m just too busy in real life to sit and waste watching a 20 minute video that could have been trimmed to 10 minutes.

        • Brian
          January 21, 2015, 2:25 pm

          Hi Cahow, no snow here just a balmy 32 deg. I will often only look at videos that have a max length of 3 to 4 minutes. Sometimes the music track that is added to some is horrendous, however, I do appreciate that this is a matter of personal taste. Cheers from Aus

        • Cahow
          January 22, 2015, 10:17 pm

          Good Day, Brian. 😀 I’m in complete agreement about the horrendous choice of music some of these videos have attached to them. In fact, when there is a LACK of music in many videos, I leave glowing feedback thanking them for their restraint.

          Back to the length of videos, the DUMBEST one I ever suffered through was 18 minutes…featuring the move of the tiny home to it’s final installation. And that’s ALL it was: 18 long, exhausting minutes of video of the house being filmed from a car behind it, as it went down the road. Snooze-ville, extraordinaire!

  • kid
    January 21, 2015, 11:58 pm

    What’s that white stuff on the ground? 🙂
    Went to the web site to see what it is you guys did. Saw some construction photos (somewhat) a lot of crayon sketches, but not much else as far as actual design or what it looks like finished except for the outside shot (which was only one shot).
    If I were a buyer and only had the photos you showed to go by, I would say no. Sorry but just trying to get you to re-look at your site and what you offer.

  • Mary Ann
    May 3, 2015, 6:34 pm

    Too bad Kesting is so laid back that he is unable to generate any excitement about the project. What he states…building 160 sq ft was so stressful he had to stop working on it; the composting toilet is not included in the price; also some insulation is extra etc. can’t seem to explain to students what he has done or why? What we don’t know is…what are the appliance’s; the cob is cracked; where can home be located re zoning info from the City; the floor plan; etc.
    Do you really want to buy from someone who says they would do it differently next time? For $48K still has lots of work before it’s finished. What ideas from the experts have been incorporated? Sorry to say pictures look like a poorly planned tiny home built by inexperienced volunteers…

  • Kim
    June 18, 2015, 1:40 pm

    Ill-conceived, badly finished and over priced– I was surprised. Sadly, a tiny-house fail. Makes me worry I might end up the same way if I don’t plan well before building my own. I am considering starting with a mini-trailer (tear-drop sized) and seeing if I am really up to the build before putting a lot of money and time into a full sized tiny project.

  • Kelly Libert
    June 18, 2015, 2:31 pm

    Charming idea to combine container and cob. But, you completely lost me at,”A venting system helps dry out the human waste and over a period of time..” I couldn’t move beyond the idea of smelling feces drying when I stepped outside. Good way to keep away guests, I suppose.

  • Comet
    June 19, 2015, 7:43 pm

    Is that birch log suppossed to be—structural? Because–if it IS–the entire place is doomed within a year. Birch is lovely but it rots almost instantly when it is cut. And it rots from the inside out turning into a pulpy mass that might LOOK sound–but it will smush as soon as you touch it!

    I did not watch the vid as they lost me with the pretty but completely NOT functional piece that looks like they are expecting it to hold up the side of the place–which it might not in actual fact BE doing–but shows a certain lack of thought to me. Which a lot of the comments from folks who dug deeper bore out—-

  • Beatriz
    June 21, 2015, 11:46 pm

    How not to make a tiny house. Massively disappointing and overpriced. Liked the brevity of video. I don’t click on anything longer than 4 mins and FF often. Cheers, also from Australasia, where you must have porches and flyscreens.

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