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Couple Transforms Shipping Containers Into Tiny Homes Near Port Of Oakland

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Luke Iseman and Heather Stewart were tired of San Francisco's sky-high housing costs crushing any dream of every owning property in one of the world's most expensive cities.

So for $2,300 -- less than the cost of renting a one-bedroom in San Francisco -- the couple bought a used shipping container from the Port of Oakland. They rented an abandoned lot in West Oakland and began building their new home.


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"We shouldn't have to live in the middle of no where to afford to build our own house," Iseman, 30, says in a video documenting their experience.

Containertopia: cargo container tiny home town on Oakland lot by Kirsten Dirksen on YouTube

For $12,000 and about three weeks of labor, they built out their 160-square-foot home complete with solar panels, a dish for internet, compost toilet, shower with on-demand hot water and a basic kitchen.

"It's pretty much my dream post-apocalyptic cyber-punk set-up," Iseman says, adding "I don't see any giant reason why we shouldn't at least have permission to experiment."

But a challenge lies in zoning codes that designate the lot as a vacant parking lot not intended for a residence. In the video, Iseman says they'll continue living in their container, even though they recognize they're breaking the law.

"Part of this is us not having dealt with (zoning laws), another part of it is just us being risk-seeking and making a bet that enough people are pissed off about how unaffordable it is to live in such a great city.

The couple is now experimenting with more efficient ways for constructing efficient container homes called "Boxouses." They plan to sell them fully-built for $29,000 apiece and also provide plans for those who want to try converting their own container.



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