7 Shipping Containers Make a Cool (and Affordable) Home in Michigan

For a region with roots in the transportation industry (hello, automobiles!), it's not a huge surprise that metal shipping containers were repurposed into a stylish private residence.

In the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, this 2,308-square-foot home -- with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms -- recently wrapped up its construction by ModEco Development. It's listed for $429,900 and took one year to build.

"In Michigan itself, it's unique. There's not a lot of these (developments) going on," says Michael Dimitrieski, the listing agent with Right Realty. "They have other projects with containers they'd like to do."

Still, Motor City is keen on this repurposed take on homebuilding. Construction costs are cheaper and a shipping container home takes much less time to build than a typical home. In July, a multifamily project born out of 18 shipping containers built by a different developer debuted in Detroit's North Corktown.

Seven shipping containers (five 40-foot containers and two 20-foot containers) and a mix of brick and vinyl siding make up the Royal Oak home's design. The home includes a two-car oversize garage, a rare amenity in this suburb due to smaller lot sizes, says Dimitrieski.

A tech-savvy perk is the Wi-Fi -- enabled garage and security camera system. Extra insulation and a Rhino Shield ceramic coating were added before the drywall was installed.

"You won't get cracking, you won't get peeling, and it actually gives it a small R-value," says Dimitrieski.

Each bedroom has a walk-in closet, there are hardwood floors throughout, and the kitchen features granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. There are also two balconies, including one off the master bedroom. An office/den on the home's main floor could double as a dining room.

In building the Royal Oak home, ModEco Development looked to designs in other cities for inspiration.

"It surprised us that shipping containers are used more than we think. It's definitely something that's growing in Michigan," says Dimitrieski. "You can really make these how you want. They can be 10% to 15% cheaper than traditional construction."

What's it like to live in Royal Oak? A vibrant downtown with independently owned businesses -- plus the eye-catching, live-work space Flute House -- attracts a mix of ages and cultures, says Dimitrieski.

"It's a very trendy city that has a lot of different styles of homes. We felt that (this home) fit that area well."