01 / 09 / 2014
Construct paper containers. Proceed to stack in countless orientations. Develop into plans. The containers themselves gave us a module to work with that helped us define our spaces, or else we would never have finished the design. It was easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning stages of design so we had to continually circle back to what matters most to us, and keeping things relatively simple is something we've always strived for. If something started getting too complicated we backtracked until we found a simpler way.
We moved to the beautiful Pacific Northwest in the spring of 2013 and immediately knew we could stay here forever. The trees, the mountains, the water, it is so freaking beautiful here we could hardly believe it. Having lived in both Michigan and Southern California beforehand and very large urban areas we were ready to settle down in the quiet 'burbs of Seattle. An hour ferry ride from Seattle but with none of the fuss of a big city, we found Bremerton, WA to be just what we were hoping for.
Not long after we arrived we realized the potential of all the land available here. Building a home in San Diego was a pipe dream, but here in the PNW, it became a real possibility. Being an architect, and an architect drop-out (Gretchen hates rules and regulations, which is why she switched majors from architecture/interior design to graphic design), we knew we had to do something different, and that something standard would never cut it with our acquired design aesthetic.
So we decided to be ass-hats, thought it would be fun and different, and resolved to design our home with shipping containers.
05 / 27 / 2015
Find a property and redesign the house to fit the site. Might be recommended to find the property first, but you know, we like to do things differently.
Luckily the house didn't require many changes to fit the site, a simple mirroring of the entire house did the trick.
2015 - 2020
Work with engineers and contractors to establish building costs. It took us a while to find the right contractor and subcontractors to give us estimates. It took a couple of years just to find the right concrete subcontractor. And it also took us a while because we welcomed two new members to our family in 2015, which definitely set us back. But luckily, they've been worth it ;)
2015 - 2019
Try to get funding. Just try, I dare you. Go to your normal bank and tell them you want to build a home out of shipping containers.
I think we tried at least nine local and national banks. None of them would work with us. Some of them wanted to work with us, but the higher-ups shot the project down. No one was interested in a project that was considered unconventional and a gamble for resale, no matter how great our credit was/is and how little debt we have. The worst part was that each financial institution took their sweet ass time getting back to us so we would sit waiting for months, just to end up getting turned down.
We ended up learning that we could no longer approach these banks asking for a construction loan for a container home, we started asking for a construction loan for a pre-fabricated steel-structured home. Once we tried that we got further, but once it came down to it, 5+ months later, they ended up turning us down too.
Jason refused to give up and ended up finding the lenders we are using today, which specializes in "common-sense loans." FINALLY!
01 / 29 / 2020
Once we knew we had secured funding we invested in submitting for our building permit.
And then the coronavirus happened. Thankfully the building department was still open and reviewing documents. The project ended up getting hung up on needing a new soils report (amidst a pandemic) and getting answers regarding questions in the initial review.
Because of the pandemic, all construction was put on hold from April through May anyways, so even if the permit was ready, we couldn't have moved forward. We finally pulled our permit on 06/24/2020, almost five months after submission.
06 / 17 / 2020
Meet with the contractor and formulate a construction plan and schedule. We reviewed a typical construction schedule and tweaked for our unique circumstances. We double-checked bids and budget to ensure we were still on track.
06 / 26 / 2020
Begin site work. We mowed the brush and shrubs from the construction and septic areas. We also had an arborist double-check some of the big Douglas firs and maples to ensure their health and safety.
We considered this big step a definite cause for celebration and popped some bubbly as we considered this the kick-off to our home construction.