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Outside the boxes, builder can't contain himself in Edmond, Oklahoma

Container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond built by Greg Roberts. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN]
Container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond built by Greg Roberts. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN]

EDMOND — Greg Roberts thought outside the boxes for a home design, and it landed him with three of the things, big ones — big enough for a place to live in.

Rather than contain himself, he offered it for rent: a home made of steel shipping containers.

The 940-square-foot home, at 226 W Hurd near downtown Edmond, built from plans by Kevin Slemp, of Edmond's Phi Design LLC, is a head-turner. But Roberts, still thinking, thinks it fits with what downtown is becoming.

"With several new restaurants and exciting new venues in the downtown area, it is becoming more and more obvious that the sleepy little downtown of Edmond is beginning to show signs of life after the businesses close down at 5 p.m.," said Roberts, a broker with Keller Williams Realty. "I have been a real estate broker for almost 25 years and helping people buy and sell properties is what I do.

"This time, I took a chance and tried something 'outside the box' on my own. I needed to be the guinea pig just in case the project was not successful."

The two-bed-, two-bath home is made from three cargo containers 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet tall. Roberts ordered "one-trip" containers, meaning they were manufactured and used once, getting them from their points of origin to Houston.

Getting them here and putting them together wasn't as easy as 1-2-3.

"The complications began early and seemed to continue until the containers were finally delivered," Roberts said. "After the containers were delivered in Houston, fabrication began on the openings and the structural support. The containers were finally ready to ship to Oklahoma. The piers and welding plates were in, the lot was prepped, and the city had blessed the project to proceed.

"Then the call came in: 'Mr. Roberts, we had a problem during transport.' "

Somewhere in Texas, a truck hauling one of the containers hit ice and lost its cargo. It was totaled. The other two went to storage while a replacement container was fabricated and delivered. It took several weeks. Then it took more time to coordinate delivery.

Delivery day was a long day.

"It was imperative that the containers be delivered in a very specific order," Roberts said. "We had a crane and operator waiting for delivery of unit 1 well before our scheduled delivery time of 9 a.m. We were anxiously waiting and ready. At 11 a.m., the first container came. However, it was actually container 3. We could do nothing with this unit until the other two units were set in place. Unit 2 came a few hours later, but unit 1 did not arrive until late in the evening.

"I not only learned that patience was not a particularly strong trait of mine, but I learned that you have to pay a crane operator whether he is working or sitting in his crane all day doing nothing. Not to be deterred, we set all three units in the dark. The crane operator was amazing, it was not his fault the trucking company had completely dropped the ball and we were all at their mercy."

'Something different'

Once in place, he said, construction "was pretty comparable to a 'regular house.'"

The three containers sit on 16 concrete piers with welding plates extending 18 inches into the concrete. The units were welded to the plates. The home is engineered to withstand an EF2 tornado.

It is completely wrapped with 2-inch closed-cell foam insulation. Waterproof flooring has 1/8-inch foam underneath for additional insulation and sound reduction.

"It functions like a large ice chest. We added ventilation to allow fresh air and air movement," Roberts said.

Kitchen cabinets and countertops are from Ikea. Light fixtures came from specialty lighting stores, Wayfair, Ikea and local hardware stores. Custom artwork was designed and painted by Claire Johnson, a University of Oklahoma graphic design student. Steve Ward designed and built the folding bartop and decorative hickory address piece.

The cost was comparable to that of a traditional home, but Roberts built the container home to impress, not because he thought it would be less expensive.

"I was initially going to build a 1,000-square-foot frame house very similar to the others in the area," he said. "But after weeks of deliberation, I just decided that I did not want to build something that everyone has already seen over and over in Edmond. The trend for years has been smaller homes with more energy efficiency and higher quality. I believe this concept fits very well into that description. The container house is an environmentally friendly means of construction. It is designed to be extremely energy efficient, safe and very cool.

"Inspired by local builders that have always impressed me, it was fun to do something different. I believe people like to be surprised and a home in downtown Edmond made out of a cube of steel seems to surprise a lot of people. Although we chose to leave many characteristics of the container intact from the inside, it feels very comparable to a traditional home. The kitchen is open and the living room is spacious. We have good sized bedrooms with very cool lighting elements. The home definitely has a modern feel, but it is also very warm and inviting."

Related Photos
<strong>Greg Roberts shows the kitchen of the home he built from shipping containers at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN]</strong>

Greg Roberts shows the kitchen of the home he built from shipping containers at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1b579118e132a54263b6c0553e3b995e.jpg" alt="Photo - Greg Roberts shows the kitchen of the home he built from shipping containers at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Greg Roberts shows the kitchen of the home he built from shipping containers at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Greg Roberts shows the kitchen of the home he built from shipping containers at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-56eb75ead4a16b87a5e30d0f1d4f944b.jpg" alt="Photo - A crane operator lowers one of three shipping containers into place at 226 W Hurd. [GREG ROBERTS] " title=" A crane operator lowers one of three shipping containers into place at 226 W Hurd. [GREG ROBERTS] "><figcaption> A crane operator lowers one of three shipping containers into place at 226 W Hurd. [GREG ROBERTS] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-caaa9782bbf5ca32a5dde86234843dab.jpg" alt="Photo - East side yard of the house built from shipping containers by Greg Roberts at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" East side yard of the house built from shipping containers by Greg Roberts at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> East side yard of the house built from shipping containers by Greg Roberts at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-05afa95106fa054101a95c42c1ccbd99.jpg" alt="Photo - Custom art by Claire Johnson in Greg Robert's container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Custom art by Claire Johnson in Greg Robert's container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Custom art by Claire Johnson in Greg Robert's container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9193271ac06623d145d2fb4b43dd025f.jpg" alt="Photo - Master bath in the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Master bath in the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Master bath in the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-716c98cbc73d6bf13e94f89f23715402.jpg" alt="Photo - A view down the hallway of the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" A view down the hallway of the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> A view down the hallway of the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-407d75d14c3a1bed4db4a108f69af571.jpg" alt="Photo - Main entrance of the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Main entrance of the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Main entrance of the container house. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5299847264d0286163f0be8f029d6326.jpg" alt="Photo - Laundry room at 226 W Hurd. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Laundry room at 226 W Hurd. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Laundry room at 226 W Hurd. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c367044b4120a7b8bc29023447e4cf1b.jpg" alt="Photo - Greg Roberts talks about his project, a container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Greg Roberts talks about his project, a container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Greg Roberts talks about his project, a container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-888b4438a0f8ea99cfb4b0f8cfdf4aae.jpg" alt="Photo - Container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond built by Greg Roberts. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond built by Greg Roberts. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Container house at 226 W Hurd in Edmond built by Greg Roberts. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure>
Richard Mize

Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked... Read more ›

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