Strong as ship: RVA nonprofit builds southside home with unique materials


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Local nonprofit project:HOMES works to find solutions for affordable housing needs across Richmond, and their latest build has a story inside the walls of a Southside home.

“I feel like it blends right in, which was our goal all along,” Director of Neighborhood Revitalization for project:HOMES, Marion Cake, said.

A ‘For Sale’ sign sits out front of the home, though it’s already under contract. But the sale of the home on a formerly vacant lot isn’t remarkable — it’s the bones of the house that are significant.

“It gets a ton of interest because it’s actually made out of decommissioned shipping containers,” Cake explained.

Marion Cake

Four bedrooms and two bathrooms, all tucked into less than 1,000 square feet. There’s insulation on both sides of the metal framing.

“One of the things that makes this a little better than a modular house is that it’s made out of pieces that are just innately more portable,” Cake added. “Shipping containers are made to be moved.”

From the backyard, you can see it clearly: Three frames of shipping containers all sitting on top of foundation and capped with a roof. A crane helped make the whole project happen.

“Shipping containers are insanely strong, they provide a good building block that you can build a house onto,” Cake said.

project:HOMES partnered with ‘IndieDwell’ and Virginia Housing Development Authority, plus local and state government, to bring the project to life.

The nonprofit is pleased with the finished product and figuring out where to go next with this unique concept.

“We want it to look like a house that honors the characters of the neighborhood, it fits into Richmond, but used the innovative style and technique of a modular home. I think there’s a lot of possibilities.”

Most of the home was actually built in Boise, Idaho. The containers were then shipped to Richmond and assembled together.

The home was listed for $130,000 and is already under contract to a low-income buyer.



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