Location on a budget: a container home over a San Diego hill

After purchasing a piece of land in the mountains of unincorporated San Diego County, Mike and Shawn McConkey set out to build their dream home from shipping containers. “This is zoned agricultural land out here so you can actually have a little cottage industry or a winery… or a container house.”

With the help of architect Chris Bittner, they designed a 700-square-foot cottage from three containers (one of which they found on the property). By building most of it themselves, Mike and Shawn kept things affordable: the total cost was 0,000, including design fees and permits. They also budgeted by living for two and a half years in a 28-foot travel trailer while they waiting for permits and to complete the build.

They stayed on budget in the interior by mixing IKEA and reclaimed items with a few high end pieces, like a 00 rolling garage door that opens the home to the outside and unobstructed mountain views.

The home is a hybrid of containers and stick frame structure with ceilings as high as 13 feet between the containers to made the small space feel larger and to allow for natural cooling. To keep the home running at peak efficiency, the McConkeys put in a cool roof (white, to reflect the hot San Diego sun) and a high efficiency tankless water heater.

Since completing the home, Bittner says he’s received 50 calls from people interested in their own container home dreams. “They all start with, ‘I’ve always dreamed of building a container home, how much does it cost? Is it the same as framing?’ And I tell them all the same thing, ‘It certainly can be the same as framing, it can quickly get more expensive than framing.’”

Mike, who is a building superintendent for his day job, is happy he had the chance to make his own grown-up LEGO construction. “I always played with LEGO blocks and stuff as a kid. I just like to build stuff. It’s a hobby and what I do for a living so it’s kind of natural to take something unique and transform it.”

More on Mike’s project: #thecontainerhomeproject on Instagram

OBR Architecture: www.obrArchitecture.com

Original story: https://faircompanies.com/videos/location-on-a-budget-a-container-home-over-a-san-diego-hill/
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20 thoughts on “Location on a budget: a container home over a San Diego hill

  • September 7, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Look like a rat-rod container house on the outside needs a good paint job but I think the owner is scared to use a paint brush  , lol .

  • September 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    I thought I was watching the opening credits for MASH at the start

  • September 7, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    That is one gorgeous home.

  • September 7, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    well you dont have to look at it. if they built it and theyre happy shut your fucking mouth. i love this channel but i hate the trolls that neg every post. if you dont value tiny living or minimal cost off grid living then youll never get it. but those of us that see the value..

  • September 7, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Wonderful concept. I love the combination of industrial feel (keeping the containers as containers), and rustic feel (the use of recycled materials from Habitat, and the rescued timber from San Diego Urban Timber – get that water mark off the counter – I notice everything). Once it's finally completed, and it nearly is, this will be a wonderful home. And I LOVE the site! Congratulations!

  • September 7, 2017 at 11:07 pm


  • September 7, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Very nice layout! I like the juxtaposition of the Corvettes, American flag, while seeing the Chinese shipping names on the containers.

  • September 8, 2017 at 12:27 am

    I really like the roll up windows. $3k is a lot, but worth it.

  • September 8, 2017 at 12:36 am


  • September 8, 2017 at 1:30 am

    california city house less than 10 yrs old 100,000.00 for 2-3 bath, 3-4 bedroom.

  • September 8, 2017 at 2:11 am

    When container building first came out I thought what a great, fast, easy, cheap way to go. They are none of those things unless you want to just plop a single one down. Unless you like breathing toxic fumes, you better rip out the floor and use some sort of vapor barrier on the interior walls. I don't know what this guy paid for the land and I don't know the size of this house but he said it cost him $160,000 and he did most of the work. What kind of a deal is that? A stick built house would have cost him a hell of a lot less without the hassle. Of course it wouldn't have the cool factor. If you like the look, build a conventional boxy home and use container walls cut off for the sheathing. I'd strip the paint off and let the corten steel rust which I like the look of. To give you an idea of prices, check out what you can by a brand new home in Texas for with the land and already finished. You've got to wonder why it cost him so much. Materials aren't any cheaper in Texas.

  • September 8, 2017 at 2:40 am

    At least he's got a Vette.

  • September 8, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Nice to see a build that ended up great. I am in the middle of designing one and i am curious about the remark you made about bonding the containers together. Do you mean that the container itself is now part of the 'ground'? I hope i understand that part correctly, all metal parts are then connected with each other so you not get a difference in potential. The only thing i worry about is lightning, if everything is connected then a lightning strike would kill all your electrical equipment and any person in it that touches anything metal. Or do you have some sort of protection against lightning added to it? Did you have some documentation that you can share about the electrical connections? I am in Thailand and unfortunately an 'electrician' is not as skilled and bound by 'code' as in your country. I have to make sure it is safe by doing the research.

  • September 8, 2017 at 3:37 am

    What about the space between the wood roof and the top of the orignial containers? For storage?

  • September 8, 2017 at 4:30 am

    I would love a container home. it's more structurally solid than a regular home. ppl don't realize that although it costs just as much or if more than a conventional home, in the long run it'll pay off. the maintenance would be minimal. don't have to worry about termites or cracked foundation. no roof replacement or rats in the attic. if you think about it, for conventional home you're paying hundreds thousands of dollars for sticks and plywood and sheetrock. I'd rather have metal.

  • September 8, 2017 at 4:57 am

    160,000 you got ripped off

  • September 8, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Goddamnit paint that ugly rusted piece of shit

  • September 8, 2017 at 5:52 am

    I live in San Diego, and am not impressed with this at all.It looks tiny and cramped and we won't even go into living in an area like that and the dangers. They would have been better off just buying a manufactured home.

  • September 8, 2017 at 6:33 am

    This looks like lake Hodges's

  • September 8, 2017 at 7:29 am

    This is an interesting and innovative build ! From a pure economic perspective though, I have to agree that a conventional build would probably have been cheaper and easier (compliance with building codes etc).

Comments are closed.