Shipping container home taking shape in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- One of the more unusual homebuilding projects in Cedar Rapids took a big step forward on Monday.

A crane lifts this 10,000 pound shipping container into place on a foundation in southeast Cedar Rapids. This is the first home in Cedar Rapids to be built using old shipping containers.

Cargohab is building the first home at 527 30th St. Dr. SE in Cedar Rapids to use old shipping containers as the main building blocks. A week and a half ago, the foundation was ready but the containers were still waiting in a Johnson County storage yard.

On Monday, they were hauled to the building site and lifted into place.

The Cargohab group got the idea from other commercial and residential projects around the country that have used old shipping containers.

Since each container weighs about 10,000 lbs., it took a 75-ton crane to do the heavy lifting. Builders are using four of the all-steel containers as the main structure of the home.

Fred Zehr, one of the investors, says since this type of container home is new to Cedar Rapids, the entire process is a learning experience.

“There’s definitely a learning curve with it that’s for sure. Once you get past the idea of a container, it’s just a standard residential home although the outside will look different,” he said.

For now, Cargohab investors plan to keep the “shipping container” look on the outside but finish the interior with traditional materials.

Zehr says as word of the project got out, group members are getting calls from other people in eastern Iowa interested in a second cargo container home.

But he says for now, this is a one-time experiment to see if it works, if it saves on construction costs and if buyers are interested.

Once they have the answer to those questions, they’ll know if they want to do it again.