California's largest shipping container home project lands in Redondo Beach

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They're normally seen at shipping docks headed from shore to shore — but they can do more than just haul products. After two years, one family's goal to build two homes out of 14 shipping containers is one step closer to completion as the final five containers arrived Tuesday. 

The Lucia Container Home project in Redondo Beach fits two private residences on a 6,000 square-foot lot — one will be 2,100 square feet and the other 2,300 square feet, according to family member and project manager Paula Dowd.

Project architect Peter DeMaria's Logical Homes has helmed similar homes fabricated from up-cycled shipping containers. The giant metal boxes have even recently been transformed into an apartment complex for homeless veterans in Orange County.

Dowd said that they believe that this project is the largest private container home project in California — and possibly the nation. Looking globally, shipping container homes have been constructed in London, Scotland and Amsterdam, which is home to the largest container city in the world — well before the U.S. caught on to the trend, according to The Environmental Magazine

Their decision to take on the project was spurred by a desire to care for an aging parent while also building an environmentally sustainable home, Dowd told KPCC. The units will be occupied by the multi-generational family, with her mother in one of the homes and her family in the other.

Building with shipping containers as the structural base bypasses the use of five acres of trees, according to Dowd. By eliminating the use of wood, they've saved about 30 percent in construction costs of the house's frame compared to the traditional method.

“This is an alternative, that although not extremely less expensive than conventional builds, is slightly less expensive,” she said.

The framing is where the money is saved — everything else is what you would expect. The family still had to pay for things like flooring and lighting. Still, almost everything in the house is environmentally friendly on some level — the home is furnished with bamboo floors and recycled glass tiles. 

“Where it made sense and where we could find a way to do this that was gentle on the planet, we chose to do it that way,” Dowd said.  

The most time-consuming chunk of this process: getting the project approved by the city. Dowd said she hopes that sharing her story will help make it easier for others hoping to create similar homes, taking care of the environment — and their families.

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