For Zack and Brie Smithey, the smell of old tires will forever be associated with home. “It reminds me of the early stages of construction here,” he said, from the couple’s dream home in St. Charles, Missouri. (Note: the house does not do not it smells like tires.)
In 2016, the couple built their three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom, two-story, 3,000 square foot structure made up of eight shipping containers, those big metal boxes you see carrying all kinds of goods (including, sometimes, tires).
These containers, made in Shanghai, traveled 12 times around the world carrying goods before landing in a yard in St. Louis, where the Smitheys went to inspect their future home.
Brie said: “It was always kind of surreal to go into this container yard with thousands and thousands of shipping containers and think, ‘We’re going to live in it’?”
Malcolm McLean, an American trucker, first applied himself to the shipping container in 1954, and his invention changed the way we live and do business. Today, it is estimated that 90% of all goods transit through no less than 170 million shipping containers circulating around the world.
And increasingly, people are using them in ways their inventor could never have imagined. Homes, cafes, restaurants, offices, swimming pools, even a stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, have been built from shipping containers.
The Smitheys were drawn to shipping containers because they offered a chance to recycle and show off the couple’s unique style. But staying on budget for the project meant doing almost all the work themselves.
Zack said: “A lot of people have unrealistic expectations for the price of a container home. They forget that the expensive parts, like kitchens and bathrooms and HVAC, electrical and plumbing, are still there. .”
The result of their work is a gorgeous home full of quirky and fun, upcycled details.
Another result? Zack started a side business helping other people build container homes.
“We had no idea of all the opportunities that have come our way since building this house,” Brie said. “That’s pretty crazy!
“I think people see the way houses have been built all these years and they think that’s what they should do. But you can express your own creativity however you want. And I think that has been a way for us to do that.”
Proving, maybe, that good things happen to those who think inside the box.
For more information:
Story produced by Anthony Laudato and Aria Shavelson. Publisher: Emanuele Secci.