Sarah House, an affordable green container home
Sarah House Utah is a small non-profit organization intent on creating affordable and sustainable housing for people on low incomes. Jeffrey White was inspired to found Sarah House Utah after witnessing an artist friend’s struggles to find suitable safe housing at low cost. The group would like to eventually build small communities of low-income housing using shipping containers, recycled or sustainable materials and volunteer builders. Sarah House is the first product of their efforts, serving as a prototype for future attempts.
White designed Sarah House and did much of the construction himself. His design uses two 8′ by 40′ containers placed side-by-side. The small wood-framed entry at the front bumps the floor plan up to 672 ft2 (62.4 m2). A roof supported by glulam beams was built on top to form wide overhangs, a covered entry porch in front and a larger porch or carport to the side. That allowed the metal container ceiling to be left exposed on the inside. The walls, however, were insulated and finished on the interior so the durable container walls could function as the exterior siding.
The front half of the house is an open living / dining / kitchen space. The back half has one bedroom, the bathroom with shower, and a small flex-use space that could be used as a home office, exercise area, etc. White used “high-cube” containers, 9’6″ tall, to gain an extra foot of ceiling height throughout. The kitchen is built along one side wall. Next to the fridge is a utility closet containing an efficient tankless water heater, and beyond that is space for a stacked washer and dryer. Generous windows, including a row of clerestory windows over the kitchen, let in plenty of light. The sliding bedroom door was custom-built by White to resemble an antique tansu chest.
Sarah House ended up costing approximately $110,000 including the land. That was more than White had anticipated. However with a completed design, experience with the permitting process, and lessons learned during the construction, he hopes that future versions can be built for under $75,000.
Enjoy the photos!
Click a thumbnail to view a larger photo, then click on the photo to advance to the next one.
Photographs courtesy of Jeffrey White / Sarah House Utah. Via Tiny House Blog.
Text copyright 2014 SmallHouseBliss. All Rights Reserved.
Expensive for such a small square foot… Good luck
On another video he said the land cost, regulation fees, and labor added to the cost especially the land cost which was $40,000.
This and the video and other materials I have read do not convince me there is any type community being built for starving artist or anyone else for that matter. They clearly state they will sell the house to someone that can afford it and use the money for something else.
This could have been much cheaper if the intent was what they claim it to be.
Even “starving” artist should take a hint. Starvation is the clue to find another way.
Simple, but beautiful. One of the best container home designs I’ve seen. I hope Mr White is able to make his Sarah House community dream come true some day. It would be just the perfect place where I would want to retire.
I agree with you on every level!!! I wanted to do this too, but found out it was not affordable at all! I was able to find a new home in an older part of town for a lot less then what it would take to build this container home on the video,…sad to say! ):
$110,000. is a lot of money to invest in 2 “ship containers” when there are still a large number of homes on the market (in Rural areas) in that price range and less. New const. is $100. per S.F. and land can be found between 10- $30,000. If you look around. If a person wants to shop on Craigslist and other sites for bargains on building materials from leftover NEW flooring (in the box) to Roof Trusses & antique “Barn Frames” those deals are out there too. I’ve been in Const. since 1979 and I know how to build both residential and Commercial structures. Building material prices have a wide difference in prices when you start comparing.The most expensive isn’t always the best Quality! You have to do your homework and it’s best to have a person with Knowledge and experience involved.As Always, “Check on their References” before you do anything! (single most important)
Great pictures of Sarah’s House. I am planning and building my own tiny home on wheels (8′ x 24′). I agree with Tom Konan that you can shop around and find deals on building supplies. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore’s are a great place to look. This week I got: vinyl flooring for my bathroom; shower tray/base; 24 brand new sheets of bead board wainscotting; and a solid wood door with window and frame for $104 Canadian. Tomorrow I am picking up three used 3′ x 5′ double hung windows for $25 each. I bought a 1970’s travel trailer ($250 )and I am demoing it for the frame. In the process I salvaged a propane stove, double kitchen stainless steel sink, and a stainless bathroom sink. The Tiny Home movement is allowing people to learn new skills and build their own tiny home and live without a mortgage. I am very fortunate to have a landlord who is going to let me park my tiny home on his property with water and hydro hookups.
I am planning to build something similar from two containers and looking for inspiration I came across these container homes. And as I started to count the prices of materials used and the amount of work I plan to do of my own I could never get to price as high as you ended up with. Could you elaborate more what were the most valuable lessons you learned during the construction and what would you do differently next time? It would be much appreciated. Thanks.
More about the construction and cost are explained in this video. Really enjoyed watching this!
As Jeff White explains in the video, the cost breaks down about $4,100 for the container (cheaper if it was near a coastal city), $40K for the lot, $25K spent on infrastructure for water/sewer lines, plus there were additional expenses because of specific Salt Lake City codes that required extra work. He says the actual house comes in around $55-60K and some of that has to do with the learning factor. Compare this with the 3 BR Habitat for Humanity home behind it that’s priced around $195K
I love it! Now if I could only afford a lot in Maui to stick this….oh yea!
The house looks great, but I’m struggling to see where all that money went! The finish looks ok, but with a couple of shipping containers being available for less than $10k, was it just a case of the land being expensive?
Pingback: 672 Sq. Ft. Green Container House
Pingback: Updates 6.23.15 | Make Your Own Peace
Pingback: THE SARAH HOUSE - DWELL BOXES
In addition to the raw cost of the containers, add in for cutting out door and window openings, installing/welding in new opening frames, roof support beam and columns and delivering to job-site and placing by crane.
Additional expenses, but normal to most house construction, included excavation for full perimeter concrete foundation, floor, wall and roof insulation, interior wall and roof framing, roofing, flashings, doors, windows, cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, electrical rough and finish, HVAC, floor and wall finishes, trim,interior and exterior painting, exterior concrete flatwork and landscaping. In addition to land costs, utility hookups to the street were required (and about $10k), architectural and engineering fees, Building permit and Public works fees.
This was a useful experiment and proved that unless you factory produce, at a high volume, shipping containers will cost about 10% more than conventional construction.
The Sarah house is what me and my wife need it retirement.
Dear Jeff, the home looks great. Did you start your order and delivery company, I wasn’t able to find it online.