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Next Phase Of Tiny House Movement Brings Shipping Container Homes To Portland

Who says that a tiny home needs to be a miniature house? What about a regular-sized shipping container with windows and a stove?

You’ve seen them here and there online as personal projects, but alternative dwelling builder Montainer is streamlining the process of refurbishing shipping containers into 192-square-foot living spaces.

The Montana-based company Montainer hopes to take its shipping container prototype to cities that need more affordable housing later this year.

Co-founder Patrick Collins said the Missoula, Montana-based company started a little more than a year ago, picking up the shipping containers from Seattle when the big metal boxes would normally be up for recycling. This week, Montainer unveiled the first prototype, named the Nomad 192, in downtown Missoula. The plan is to eventually take the shipping container to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

“We produce them here in Montana, but where the most need for them is in places where housing is expensive,” said Collins. “They can actually be a really good value for people in those cities.”

The liveable shipping containers cost $65,000, which includes installing household amenities like plumbing. The first Nomad 192’s are expected to ship out in early 2015.

“We had seen these homes being built all over the world, but normally it had been a one-off construction project, or a do-it-yourself project,” said Collins. “This makes these more available.”

But you can’t just buy a piece of land, put a Montainer on it and call it good: The city of Portland requires people who wish to purchase an accessory dwelling unit to complete a permitting process. The ADU must be smaller than the main house whether it’s attached or not, and the city has to sign off on the final design.

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