Monday, October 16, 2017

A House From Amazon - A Good or Bad Idea?

I came across a recent article touting the amazing house that you can purchase online from Amazon and it’ll only cost you $36,000 (plus about $3,700 for shipping).

The “prefab” home is a new shipping container, and it can be placed on 12-inch concrete sonotube footings or a solid concrete slab. The structure weighs 7,500 pounds according to the description found on Amazon.

This 320 sq ft shipping container “Tiny House” would at first look seem to be an inexpensive way to live off the grid or in your parents back yard. Or maybe on a Walmart parking lot as it would blend in quite well with the Motorhomes and homeless people sleeping in their cars.

Features include:
  • Tiny home—prefabricated from new shipping container. Fully finished.
  • Includes bedroom, shower, toilet, sink, kitchenette, living area.
  • Double patio doors within secure container doors.
  • Bottom sewer connection, easy side water and electrical connection.
  • Includes appliances shown. Fully insulated. Heated & air conditioned.
The home is manufactured by MODS International, a large shipping container modification factory in Appleton, WI who builds some really good looking commercial and residential stuff.

The appeal of a house delivered to your lot in the remote back woods, a tiny house community or even into a city seems like a good idea.

However there is a dark side to this that nobody seems to be talking about. First, in the majority of states, this would be an illegal structure both from a safety and a zoning viewpoint.

Next is getting this shipping container home to your lot. $40K only gets it to your lot. How do you get it off the the carrier and onto your foundation that must have the septic plumbing prepped to receive it. You can’t simply ‘slide’ it off the carrier. You’ll probably need to hire a crane to set it and a have a couple of friends there to help.

Don’t forget the well and septic need installed prior to it’s arrival plus the cost of an access road to your lot and the cost of the foundation. Add building permits, if you can even get one in most states, the cost of having the house stamped and approved for actual occupancy and the cost of the lot and suddenly you hear the continuous “Cha Ching” of the money pit.

These costs can quickly add another $100,000 or more to the cost of your new home. And God forbid that you want to put it into a state that requires a sprinkler system. Another couple thousand and maybe a costly reserve water tank if you are putting it in a rural area which is where most of these will probably go…….Cha Ching!

And what do you have for your $150,000 +/- investment? A glorified chicken coup with secured steel doors and windows? And if you ever decide to move it you will have all those extra costs again.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but maybe you should just look at getting a tiny house on wheels and pay rental for a campsite that has septic, well and electricity already there waiting for you to hook up. A nice THOW should cost you about what this steel coffin/prison cell would but if you get tired of the view you can simply pack up and leave. Or better yet, buy an RV trailer, put a tow hitch on your car and your total investment could be under $30,000.

Good Idea or Bad Idea? I think you know my opinion.


Anonymous said...

that's a lot of money for a shipping container that looks like a prison cell right down to the metal doors. I also like the AC unit stuck in the wall like an afterthought. I'll bet it is one of those energy wasting 5000 BTU units sold at Lowes.

Why not just buy a 12' x 40' single wide, get a better house with a warrenty.

Steve L said...

a better choice

Gilbert Meier said...

How about an energy efficient house, same area but 13ft x 26ft, for $14,750. It is installed in 2 hours by unskilled persons. It uses new composite materials, strong as steel, but four times lighter and resists fire, water, mold, corrosion and chemicals. It offers the flexibility to create multi-floor layouts in increments of 4.2ft. Check it at