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Containers of Hope, a $40,000 Home by Benjamin Garcia Saxe

By • Jun 16, 2011 •  Selected Work 

Benjamin Garcia Saxe has recently completed the Containers of Hope project with a budget of $40,000.

Located in San Jose, Costa Rica this container house is the result of a close collaboration between the architect and his clients, who went on to construct the building themselves.

The 1,000 square foot home is composed of two 40-foot used shipping containers set together with a raised mid section and clerestory windows.

More shipping container houses here

Containers of Hope by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture:

“Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta dreamed of living in their fantastic property 20 minutes outside of the city of San Jose, Costa Rica; where they could be with their horses and enjoy the natural landscape. They made the very bold choice of exploring with me the possibility of creating a very inexpensive house made out of disregarded shipping containers that allowed them to be debt free and live the life they always dreamed of.

It was important for me to provide them with the sunrise, the sunset, the spectacular views, and overall try and create a feeling of comfort and home. A roof between the two containers, made from the scrap pieces of metal taken to make the windows, not only creates an internal sensation of openness but also provides a cross ventilation which is surprisingly sufficient enough to never have to turn the air conditioning on.

The final cost of the house ($40,000) is lower than the cost of social housing provided for the poor in Costa Rica. Perhaps this project begins to expose the importance of design as a tool to provide beauty and comfort with a very low budget in the 21st century, whilst using creativity to not only redefine a scrap material such a disused shipping container, but perhaps to even show that there are viable, low cost, passive alternatives of temperature control to adapt to a very intense tropical climate.”

Already this proposal has began to spark a great deal of interest and could become one alternative to solve the issue of disposing of disregarded shipping containers in developing countries, as well as begin to solve the large gap which first time buyers encounter when purchasing a home.”

Photos by: Andres Garcia Lachner

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58 Comments to Containers of Hope, a $40,000 Home by Benjamin Garcia Saxe
  1. Monty says:


  2. garagecat says:

    The midsection really opens up the design. Makes for nice sized rooms. Very well done.

  3. Jokarus says:

    Good idea but this is way too expensive!
    It should cost less than 10k.
    It has to be affordable for people having a modest salary.

    • Steve says:

      what are u talking about??? a smiliar condo of this size would cost $150k PLUS where i live in california.

      • Michael Self says:

        Steve, you are so right. Jokarus is unrealistic. I plan to build a shipping container house in the Los Angeles area in about 2 years.

    • shannon says:

      Im sure you could lower the cost by not decorating so modern, Im sure the flooring and the bathroom and furniture where a big part of that price. You could make it affordable for you.

    • PAC says:

      I live in the UK and containers really range in price, eg due to any damage which the container might have endured on its travels. Take time to contact all ports, container owners, etc. from my research the price of the containers are actually coming down in price. If a container does have some damage, try to design around that area so it will not be visible. Most important do a lot of research into all the possibilities of containers as living spaces and costs. Good luck.

    • HOMfoundation says:

      you’re right! project can be completed for at least half the price.

    • Tandrea says:

      Yeah I agree… those shipping containers run about 3K ea. This is absolutely a DYI — Go to Ikea and do it yourself.

      • Rock says:

        Here near Los Angeles ports, the largest (40 ft) containers are $1,500 e one use ones, just used once are under $5,000.

    • Tellhimhe'sjokin says:

      Where does Jokarus live???? He’s pulling our leg! Under 10 grand? That wouldn’t even buy an ikea fit out in Oz!
      Some people expect labour to cost nothing although they would sure defend their income!

      • Rock says:

        We all have avocations (hobbies) that we do not pay for, do not get paid for, and still give us great satisfactions.

    • Yvette says:

      I love your comment, in these days, not many people can come up with $40,000 all at once, and getting some sort of financing when credit is less than desirable is also a deterrent. I totally understand your concern here. Perhaps it’s best to focus on the main issues of your investment of $10,000 like, foundation, container supports, windows and doors and modify the rest to achieve your goal. That’s what I plan to do as well.

    • Sal says:

      A used 40 ft container by itself costs between 3500-4500 usd. In this design they used 2 of them so you are already looking at 7000-9000 usd so your 10,000 for the entire project is extremely unrealistic.

      • Rock says:

        Here in USA near big ports, tens of thousands of these biggest 40 ft containers are $1,500 each is you buy them from a broker. There are cheaper sources. And yes, there is moving costs, maybe as little as $2/mile if within 200 miles.

    • David610 says:

      I agree with Jokarus. This type of housing should be priced for the lower income people. Those who would have no way of owning a home due to their income not those who thinks it’s fashionable and could afford the higher price. That’s what’s driving the price up. If the containers are under 10 grand throwing up some interior walls/flooring and basic plumbing/electrical shouldn’t drive the price to 40 grand or more.

    • Akiko says:

      Are you nuts?! $40,000 is the completed cost, and is fantastic! Where I live, a place that size, would be 140K plus! A typical family car costs more than 10K, I don’t know what planet you live on, but it can’t be earth…lol!

  4. Shapewear says:

    This is damn amazing for a truck container.

  5. terry tyre says:

    are there plans.

  6. DDekor says:

    Amazing, i love it!

  7. Carolina Man says:

    Where I’m from, they call this a Double Wide, and it ain’t nothin’ new.

  8. Richard Melnick says:

    I am not the least bit surprised this brilliant creation was created by someone with your education and experience. Regarding the “double wide” comment. I’ve been in one of those – walls so thin you can hear the neighbor sneeze and the toilet flush three neighbors down. A shipping container is in stark contrast…and power to the masses in need of living just a decent life. A bizzilion years ago – in Mexico – when they had passenger trains – we passed a family living in a boxcar on a rail spur…it was absolutely beautiful with candlelight reflecting on the old wooden walls of the boxcar. Smart idea way ahead of its time [1969]. I will always remember how beautiful – how truly elegant their surroundings were – absolutely not be look looked down upon but admired.

  9. Architecture Linked says:

    Beautiful idea. Reuse, save money, and create something useful, yet beautiful. Well done!

  10. Robyn says:

    I see another trailer in a few of the pictures. What is that for? The floor plan only shows two trailers in the design. Also, I think if someone were to use upcycled items like diy furniture and reclaimed barnwood flooring or bamboo flooring it would lower the cost significantly and could still look absolutely wonderful and modern…

  11. Rami says:

    It looks cool, I love the interior design and everything looks just perfect… You know, I recently found the photos of a Qatari Prime Minister’s house that costs him 47 millions, well, I actually think that this containers house looks much better…

  12. Dan Sokol says:

    I convert shipping containers and can attest the $40K construction cost meant a lot of sweat equity. There is NO WAY POSSIBLE to build this home for $40K in the US. The glass, steel work and permits would eat up most of that budget.

    • Neil says:

      I also find the cost to be not credible – there is $40K in materials in the interior and windows ALONE. How much were the concrete piers set in the ground? Architects fees? Welding? Sandblasting and painting? Electrical? Plumbing? Septic? If there was a cost breakdown I think you would see that either the majority of materials/labour was comped/donated to this ‘project’ or the accountant was inebriated…

      • Bobby says:

        This project was done in Costa Rica. Here in Costa Rica, there is a company which sells containers move in ready for $14k. Everything done, electrical, water, interiors etc. so $40k is VERY accurate for this project.

      • Matt says:

        Do you have the name of the place to get those in Costa Rica for 14k bobby?

  13. Bob says:

    Any Videos?

  14. Kim says:

    Is this expensive I would like to know more about this

  15. Britany says:

    I would love to have one of these built on my property in Florida. This would be a great guest house. Does anyone know who I could reach out to?

  16. Tori says:

    How would it be in the Winter. Living in Maine, having 4 seasons. I love this idea~ Great job!

  17. Amanda Davidson says:

    how can I purchase one of these? Or find a contractor or builder (I’m located in Delaware USA)

  18. Tandrea says:

    I love it… this design just give me goose bumps. Very inventive…. beautiful interior. I love all the windows and DEBT FREE

  19. K.G. Etheredge says:

    An amazing design and affordable. Would be interested if a home like this can be financed or if you have to have cash up front? Financibility is key in affordability of this home. Not many of my folks that need housing can afford to $40,000 up front. Zoning may be an issue depending on where you build. LOVE the design and concept and would be interested in replicating…

  20. Brandan Moore says:

    I think it would be a great idea to keep the original doors from the container attached but permanently open with a little roof cut from the spare metal over top. Then have a sliding glass door to inside. Just as a little dry room to wipe off your shoes before you go in

  21. D. Subodh says:

    Great.Works of art. Very very inspiring.

  22. Jan Frederiksen says:

    Amazing and very beautiful. How about insulation and the large Windows? They must be very expensive? In Cold climates the insulation will take a lot of Space, not leaving much for the occupants I gueass. Any thoughts on this?

  23. Yvette says:

    I absolutely love this design and I would love to build one. My concern is about price, but would focus mainly on foundation and structure supports more than decorating the inside. I was curious about something. Could the roof that supports the overhead windows be redesigned to collect rain water?

  24. Eagle says:

    This is offered on alibaba.com by rayfore. Go to alibaba.com and reach for Ray-pch-307. It is priced at 12k dollars plus shipping.

    • Susan says:

      No, it’s not. A Chinese company is just using this picture to sell their (overpriced) shipping containers.

  25. Ava Cristi says:

    Shipping-box houses have became popular in today’s modern world. And it would be great to have this luxurious house. But the concern is about the pricing. It is never consistent but I admire the design. Best for nature lovers.

  26. Neil R says:

    Can I ask.. Would it have been more cost effective to have the containers delivered and placed by a “side loader” thus saving on the crane hire costs>
    of the crane?

  27. Brittany A says:

    What are the dimensions of the shipping containers used for this project?

  28. Antonio says:

    Where do I find/contact Mr. Benjamin Garcia Saxe?

  29. pat says:

    I want to develope this project in chile , i wonder if its possible (gota ask the city ) to see if its legal .
    Im new to this , im young and i want to invest here , i really consider this for my project this year .
    Can anyone help me ? Where should i start , architect ? Anything will help thank you

    • Luis says:

      It’s a project. there are plenty of construction videos on the internet and even free plans that you need to see on your own. People have posted their construction’s positive and negative findings along the construction project and that will be your primary guide. There is no school or architect that will teach you this things. Take your time and make it into your own project. Once you figure out what it is that you didn’t know about “building a shipping container home” in Chile then take YOUR idea and knowledge to the next step….. don’t ask,(trust me, they will say no) use what you learn and show a plan. Hire an architect for your permits and keep in mind that only if you present your self with confidence and knowledge people will listen.
      consider this facts = earthquake safe, reusable materials, green construction, add solar or geothermal if possible.
      good luck

    • Carlos Fdez says:

      Pat, look for arqtainer in Chile…
      They may help you with your proyect…
      I really loved the LIRAY HOUSE proyect…
      I’ll guess you gonna like it too…

  30. Ray K says:

    It is just to bad that each country that is hosting the Olympic games, Wold Cup, Doesn’t take this process to heart, so that when the games are done, low income families could have a great new home to call their own. You could tie in i.e. jobs for keeping the containers / exterior, interior repair, landscaping and such for the whole complex after the games are done. Imagine the pride you would have to work in say a World Cup games as a user, vendor, or xxxx type. Knowing you will be living on such a historic site after the games are done!.

  31. lilly says:

    I’m curious if container houses are suitable for colder environments and how hard (and expensive) it would be.

  32. don hall/bearcreekresearch says:

    The idea is unbeatable … the path to get there however is a little torturous. Each county, city and state in the USA (of say, over 10k people) have building codes which often defy gravity. I venture to offer the idea wherein the design is not only artsy-craftsy but also totally self reliant. Using a single “container” expanding the living space useable space via patio (look at Bob Villa shade ideas) centrally located green space or gardens, then incorporate screen portions of deck, patio, connecting tunnels/walkways, for humid south, possible movable glazing for winter solar room, maybe consider moving Japanese style partitions and off you go. Space which incorporates gardens and shared spaces acting as rain collection points, PV solar( 315W SolarWorld panels work great, inexpensive Mother Earth type solar hot water (maybe plan on using my favorite Eccotemp propane hot water backup) buying a super efficient (so far) 5K sine wave inverter, ten marine batteries from maybe a Walmart or similar place, picking up very inexpensive furniture at Habitat ReStore locations? (just ideas) experiment with food and herb gardens / aeroponic is very productive, pound down your very own gravel and brick paver driveway (porus paving) flowers, repurposed lumber and windows … now you’re talking! I have used a solar cooking oven for over twenty years, Burns-Milwaukee works freakin great! Recently, all my lighting is LED and two new induction cooktops and a very handy convection oven cut electric use in half. Helps that I use the extreme but very serviceable Haier 1.2 cu ft washer (RV style) … forget the dryers just use the sun or indoor natural heat for that! I have succesfully used the incredible simple and effective Jos. Jenkins compost toilet design (tested in my older $250k suburban Ky. home) Boring to many maybe but this tiny home idea will only get stronger. Think about it.

  33. Daniel Kuhn says:

    Imaginative design, affordable and innovative thinking. I would love to order a completed, 1000 square foot home of this design. If the full price is 40k turn-key (plumbing, electrical, finished interior and flooring) it seems fairly priced to me.

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